How to poop in the woods

How to answer the call of nature in nature in 4 steps

Posted on: August 21, 2023
By: Heather Rae Petersen
How to poop in the woods

Poop is synonymous with jokes, but when nature calls out in the wild, pooping is no laughing matter. How to poop in the woods? When done incorrectly it can spread diseases to other humans and animals, contaminate water sources and it just plain stinks. When you accidentally step in someone else’s doo doo, you wish that they gave a crap about their crap. Here’s 4 steps on how to properly dispose of your poop in the woods.


Does a bear poop in the woods?

You betcha! That doesn’t mean you can go anywhere. Giardia and cryptosporidium are common diseases found in human waste that can spread easily if left out in the open. That’s why when you go about your business, you need to be more cat-like.

  • Find your sweet spot

Go 200 feet (60m or 70 paces) from water, trail or campsite. If it looks like the ideal place to go, chances are someone has already been there so look before you step. If you’re going to camp in the same place for a few days, make sure you choose more than one location to do your business. Choose a spot where water doesn’t run off, it’s above the high watermark and away from sandy washes. Ideally, your spot receives maximum sunlight as sun will help it decompose.

  • Can you dig it?

Dig your cathole with a trowel (small hand-held shovel). Your hole should be about 7 inches deep and 5 inches wide (18cm deep x 13cm wide). In the desert, your cathole should only be 5 inches deep (13cm) since the heat and sun will speed up the decomposition process.

  • Assume the position

The Squat

The original. Keep your feet flat and your butt near your heels. Put your pants at your knees and look out for your pants around your ankles, make sure your clothing isn’t in the line of fire or near your cat hole. Hold on to your knees for support if you need it.

The Hang

Find a boulder or log that supports your weight and hang your butt off the edge, using your arms to hold you in place.

The Tree Hugger

Like the squat but with more support. Stand about 5 inches (13cm) from the tree trunk and hold on to the tree while you squat.


  • Clean up

Don’t ever burn your toilet paper! Take it from someone who had to put out a small fire while shuffling around with my pants around my ankles. Forest fires spread quickly as a German on vacation in Spain found out and a cyclist in Idaho after burning their used toilet paper.

Toilet paper should be unscented, white or undyed and dropped in the cathole. Another option is to pack it out with you by putting it in an airtight plastic bag. Wet wipes and tampons need to be packed out, never buried. You can put them in an airtight bag and dispose of it once you’re back in town.


Fill in your cathole with dirt. Make sure your trowel doesn’t touch your poop or toilet paper. Leave the area as you found it.


Happy Trails!