There’s pretty much one way to poop indoors: In a toilet. No real room for creativity. Or at least functional creativity. When you’re camping, though, the world is your canvas. Dig a Leave No Trace six-inch hole and make yourself comfortable. Here are seven different strategies, of which we can recommend five. Actually, just four.
1. The Squat
The original outdoor stance. Just like it sounds. Dig a hole, put your butt close to the ground, and make the magic happen.
2. The Tripod
Sometimes more comfortable than the plain old Squat, this is when you dig a hole, squat over it, and place a hand behind you for stability. It’s definitely a more active position and probably safer if you have any reservations about your, um, solid waste getting on your shoes or hiking boots – the Tripod puts your bum farther south of those north-facing feet.
3. The Tree Hug
If the roots cooperate, you can dig a hole close enough to a tree, and if the tree’s not too big around you can wrap your hands or arms around the trunk for support as you squat over the hole and rock it out.
4. The Natural Toilet
Sometimes you can get lucky and find a fallen log or a large, well-placed boulder to hang your butt off as you poop over the edge. This is an advanced technique, and as scouting an appropriate prop can take time, not to be attempted when you’re in a hurry.
5. The Lean-Poo
Much like the Natural Toilet, except you press your back against rock or tree, which takes some of the weight off and allows more clearance. Two precautions, both heading off the same tragic result: Make sure your heels aren’t dug into loose, slippery soil, and confirm that the tree or rock won’t fall or roll under your weight.
6. The Sometimes When We Touch
I don’t actually know anyone who’s pulled this off, but we used to demonstrate it at the beginning of trips I helped lead for first-time teenager backpackers. Get a partner, face them, grasp their hands in your hands (or their wrists in your hands), and place your feet opposite theirs. Squat back simultaneously, evacuating into perfectly-placed six-inch deep holes in concert as birds sing, butterflies dance in the air around you, and Julie Andrews sings off in the distance. Might be too intimate for many.
7. The Clench
This is like all the other pooping stances, except you don’t actually take a poop. You just tough it out for two, three, sometimes five days, because you are deathly afraid of shitting in the woods. I had a teenager do this for five days on a backpacking trip in the Wallowa Mountains once. By day five, he was cranky and far more excited than a person should be by the sight of a pit toilet once we finally got back to the trailhead. He went in, came back out, and said, “I don’t think that was all of it.” I said, “There’s no way that was all of it. That was like the cork on a bottle of champagne, buddy. The rest is coming sometime today. ”
Camp Notes is a big high five to the fun of sleeping outdoors and all that comes along with it. You know, camping and stuff.
Photo by Taylor McKnight