Skip to main content

How to Go to the Bathroom While Camping

Learn how to go to the bathroom while camping from Heather Menicucci, author of Let's Get Primitive, in this Howcast video.


The scariest part of camping for a lot of people, especially beginners, is going to the bathroom. The idea of going to the bathroom without a toilet is so unusual, and I get it. It's definitely scary. There are some tried and true methods to going to the bathroom in the woods, and once you learn them, I think you feel a lot more comfortable with it. It's a fact of life, it's a necessity, and if you want to go primitive camping, you're going to have to get used to it.

First, for number one or number two, you should do both of those things 100 to 200 feet from where you're camping, from any water sources, from trails, and also you should do those things downhill from the campsite. You don't want anything making its way back. I think when it comes to number one, most of us have that covered. We've all probably had to go when we're not near a bathroom.

When it comes to pooping, I think that's the real challenge, and so here's how it works. You have to dig a hole. The hole is called a cat hole. We can imagine why, but let's not even think about that. We just know that we've got to dig a hole, and the hole has to be, like I said, 100 to 200 feet from where you're camping, from trails, and from water. It should be about eight inches down if you're in the woods. If you're at beach camping, it should actually be more shallow. Let's stick to the woods for now.

It should be about eight inches deep and it should be about six inches wide. There are some cool tips for digging a cat hole. One thing some people like to do is to dig the hole right on the other side of a log that's on the ground. If you think about it, if you do that, you then have a toilet bowl. If you just kind of perch yourself a little past the edge of the log, the stuff falls in the hole and you've got a seat. That's one method.

Another method, which is a personal preference of mine, is to use a small tree. You dig the hole just a couple of feet from the tree, and you can actually use the tree to hold onto while you poop into the hole. This way, you're not touching any surfaces, because surfaces could have bugs on them. Just a little while ago, there was a slug crawling on this log, and if I had to poop while I was sitting on this log and a slug is next to me watching, I think that might be a challenge.

Those are some great ways to make yourself a little toilet in the woods. Once you're done, you can absolutely bring toilet paper, just make sure you pack it out. You can't throw the toilet paper into the hole. You bring the toilet paper back to the campsite with you, put it inside a bag, and put it in the trash. You cover up the hole with everything that you just dug out. One good thing is to mark it so that later on when you're walking around or your friend is walking around, nobody accidentally steps over on it or wanders into it. Mark your area. Make sure you kind of know oh yeah, that's my toilet.

Those are the methods for using a cat hole. Once you've done it once, you've got it down. It's all natural.

Popular Categories