BY Nick Bulanda
Published April 24, 2019
It’s an uncomfortable subject, but it is one every multi-day hiker has to deal with at some point: pooping in the wild. It might seem simple on the surface, but you’d be surprised at some of the challenges that present themselves after some time spent in the great outdoors without the every day modern conveniences you might be used to. The organization known as Leave No Trace has put forth seven research-supported principles they believe will help protect our natural environment. As hiking and camping enthusiasts, that’s something that each and every one of us should be passionate about. Among these tenets? Dispose of waste properly. Waste… you know what that means.
Leaving behind your toilet paper without any thought is simply not an option in today’s era. It’s an environmental hazard, and it’s just plain gross. The best thing you can do is dig a hole and bury your feces on high ground far away from any water sources. As for toilet paper, that’s a whole other topic to cover… If you need information on how to pack toilet paper for backpacking, as well as how to dispose of it, you’ve come to the right place.
How to Pack Toilet Paper for Backpacking
Any time you prepare to head out on a backpacking trip, you should take an inventory well ahead of time. Make a list that includes everything you’ll be bringing along, starting with your ideal backpack, all the way down to your camp chair, food, clothing and water supply. One thing that is all too often forgotten by would-be hikers is toilet paper. Sure, you could always use a rock or a leaf, but well… That’s not exactly ideal. As far as how to pack toilet paper for backpacking, you need to account for getting your rolls there intact, and potentially for carrying out your used toilet paper as well, but we’ll get to that later.
Bring along a piece of string or something similar to tie around your toilet paper roll so it doesn’t unravel in your bag after you’ve broken the paper seal on the beginning. That way you’ll avoid any paper-filled compartment mishaps. Also remember to bring enough paper for your trip, but try to go extra light on the toilet paper during your stay in the wilderness. Essentially, pack light, but not too light. Finding the perfect backpack for your trip can help you optimize your packing, making it much easier to plan your backpacking adventure.
How to Dispose of Toilet Paper While Backpacking
It should go without saying that leaving your used toilet paper out in the open is a big no-no. In places with unusually dry or cold soil, it might not even be safe to bury it, as it might not bio-degrade. In most cases, as long as you follow the proper guidelines on how to dig a cat hole, you’ll be able to safely bury your toilet paper along with your waste. Make sure to go easy on the toilet paper throughout your journey, using as little as possible. Never under any circumstances should you burn your toilet paper.
In places such as the desert, where it’s not safe to bury your toilet paper, you will be required to pack it out in a plastic bag. The best way to do this is to bring along a package of large seal-able plastic bags. You’ll want to at least double bag these, and pack your used toilet paper away in a separate compartment of your backpack. Hopefully, you’ll be able to find a waste disposal bin to properly get rid of this as soon as you can, but double or triple bagging it should make the process bearable.
Varieties of Toilet Paper Available for Backpacking
There’s nothing wrong with bringing good old fashioned toilet paper with you on your backpacking trip as long as you dispose of it properly. However, there are several varieties of toilet paper you can buy that are meant to degrade much faster than standard toilet paper might. Look for toilet paper that’s specially made for camping or RVs. It will often say rapid-dissolving or bio-degradable on the packaging. This type of toilet paper is even more suitable to be buried along with your waste in a cat hole, letting you continue your trip guilt-free knowing you did your part to preserve the environment.
Closing Thoughts: When It Comes to Having Fun, Nothing’s Ever Free
In many ways, dealing with our human waste is one of the prices we pay when it comes to enjoying the experience of backpacking in the wilderness. It’s not a pleasant part of our trip, and it can often be described as an obstacle to be overcome, but as the saying goes, nothing is ever free. We owe everything to mother nature, and that obviously includes our ability to pack up and go hiking through her beauty. We owe it to our planet to clean up after ourselves, so the next time you head out on a backwoods camping trip or long hike, make sure you leave nothing behind. All toilet paper should be buried safely where it will bio-degrade, or be packed out with you until it can be properly disposed of.
We’ll only be able to continue to enjoy our love of backpacking as long as our environment is taken care of, and for too long humanity has been lacking in that regard. Hopefully we have been able to help you figure out just how to pack toilet paper for backpacking, as well as how to properly get rid of it. It’s a topic that many people would rather not get into, but it’s necessary all the same. Do you have any other thoughts on the subject matter? Share them with our readers by commenting down below.