How to S*** In The Wilds

By Dave Roberts   

on November 24, 2014    5/5 (1)

How to S*** In The Wilds

The squeamish should click away now…

So here’s a picture of a cow to save your delicate little eyes from the truth about what we all do on a roughly daily basis.


Still here? Good. I think this is something all of us wild campers have in common. We’ll try and keep this as clean as possible, but we make no promises. It’s essential that if we have to go in the wilds that we do so with the minimal impact on the environment, others and ourselves.

1 – Do you really have to? Can you plan your route to pass strategic facilities? If you’re on a day walk, you really shouldn’t need to unless you’ve got a condition or it really is an emergency!

2 – OK, when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go I suppose and here’s our full guide.

The ultimate cure for constipation?

Photo credit: qcom / Foter / CC BY-SA

The Facilities:

Far enough from water (minimum of 30m) and from paths. If it’s not far from the paths and you think it’d make a good lunch spot, then so would others. Move on!

Private. This is going to be next to impossible on a busy mountain on a busy day. Though the side drains on the Miner’s Path on Snowdon would demonstrate that this isn’t always the case.

The ideal spot will have a back-rest boulder, something flat at just over 90 angle for support, but not so angled that your aim is impaired. Your quads really will thank you for it.

You’ll then need to dig a cathole, at least 15cm deep for which a boot heel usually suffices. Use a tent peg, or a trowel if you insist on carrying too much kit. Don’t use your spoon.

You should be so lucky!
You should be so lucky!

Photo credit: Max Henschell / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Using the Facilities.

This can be awkward, but having that rock behind you can make the ‘squat’ a lot more bearable. Common sense prevails here – just make sure that your aim is true.

Biologically speaking, going in this manner is much better for us. Squatting is the natural position, and despite the fact that we’re not used to it, the whole process is more biologically efficient than sitting on normal facilities. Many non-western countries have squat lavatories, and that’s because it’s the natural position. We’re used to the sitting, so this makes the whole process a bit trickier than it should be as the relevant muscles are less developed without the daily workout they would otherwise have.

Keeping things squaky clean.

Sphagnum Moss – free, antibacterial but can leave you feeling a bit gritty. Can be buried.

sphagnum moss

Wipes – The cleanest option, but you’ll need to double bag the used bags and take them out with you. Baby wipes are ideal and should be ok on delicate parts of the body, but it’s probably best to try them out at home if you tend to react to stuff.

Paper – It’s suggested that you burn the paper after use, but it will not all burn for obvious reasons and you’ll have to bury that (which is a bit of a no-no really). Starting a fire of any type may not be a wise idea either, especially if the vegetation is tinder dry. If you use paper, we suggest double bagging it out.


Photo credit: Brandon Blinkenberg / Foter / CC BY

Vaseline – This apparently, applied to the buttock crease, prevents the need for wiping. Presumably you’d need to remove the vaseline anyway, so wipes would still be needed. We’ll admit not to have tried this one, and have absolutely no intention of greasing up that part of our anatomies either.


Hiding the Evidence

Some suggest you spread the result around with a stick – as it exposes more of it to the air and decomposes more rapidly. Personally, I think that once it’s out, you should have as little to do with it as possible for simple hygiene reasons. If you really want to write your name in poop, that’s your problem (and we really mean problem).

Hygiene is a serious issue here – and hand sanitiser is essential. Ideally clean your hands with wipes first, then use hand sanitiser. Burying the evidence is good enough, and taking anything else double bagged out with you.

The Mud and Routes Method

You will need –

  • handful of damp sphagnum some dry if you want as well
  • 2 x good quality zip locs
  • couple of wipes
  • hand sanitiser.


Photo credit: geoftheref / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Kick a cathole, make good use of it and use sphagnum for the bulk of the work with wipes for polish. You should remove ALL the wipes in a double zipped ziploc bag (a secure one, disposable). Bury only what’s natural. Use copious amounts of hand sanitiser – usually after you single bag, and again after you double bag (minimising cross contamination of the second bag). This may be paranoid, but if you get this wrong then you’ll become an expert at S*****g in the woods quicker than expected.

Exceptions! Taking it all out with you. And we mean – ALL.

The advice given is for the UK and we suggest looking into the local rules elsewhere as some areas globally ask you to literally take everything out with you. That includes any human eggs you may lay.

Likewise in the snow. Bury it in the snow and when it thaws, you’ll leave a nasty surprise behind. In both these situations, if you can’t dig a hole in the ground, it’s suggested that you use a wide-mouthed Nalgene bottle with a bag inside. You need to ensure good aim and that it really is wide-mouthed. This is strongly suggested in the Cairngorms where they have a shocking sign of spring once the snow melts.

happy to see the snow
They may be happy now – but just wait for the spring!

Top tips

  • Don’t let anyone who doesn’t take hand sanitiser on a wild camp prepare any of your food!
  • If you find a free t-shirt in a drainage ditch on Snowdon, leave it. Some disgusting @$%*  already had as much use as anyone will from that garment.
  • Don’t change your diet radically just before or on a long trip. It’s much easier when you know when and what’s going to happen. From personal experience, eating 600 calories worth of nuts when you normally eat none made for an interesting 5 day wilderness trip.
  • Eating dehydrated food can ‘slow’ the system down, which makes them even more useful on multi day trips. A bit like a downer to the dehydrated food’s upper.

For more information – visit the MCofS website – Where to “Go” in the Great Outdoors.

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Dave Roberts

siDave Roberts founded Walk Eryri in 2004, with the aim of providing routes that are off the beaten track. Walk Eryri is now part of Mud and Routes which continues to provide more off beat routes and walks in Snowdonia and beyond. Dave has been exploring the hills of Eryri for over thirty years, and is a qualified Mountain Leader. Dave also established Walk up Snowdon, Walk up Scafell Pike and Walk up Ben Nevis just to mention a few.

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