Everything you need to know to about peeing and pooing outside – because when nature calls, you have to answer
If you’re here, chances are you’re a little anxious or have run into some difficulties when it comes to peeing and pooping outside.
It can be an unfamiliar setting for those used to whizzing with the protection of 4 walls and a lock on the door. But, with a little knowledge and know-how, you can find some confidence spending a penny in the outdoors.
First things first: peeing and pooing is completely natural
And, if you spend lots of time outside (which you totally should) eventually you’ll have to do it in a bush, or somewhere similar.
I consider myself a seasoned outdoor toileteer, but admit it does take some getting used to. There are a number of ways you can take care of business (for ladies more than men) and you’ve also got to leave as little trace as possible.
I’m here to share some simple tips and knowledge that’ll help you embrace the wild, poo with pride and pee with passion. Then you’ve just to get practising…
Finding the perfect place to go
Nine times out of ten, the ‘perfect’ place doesn’t exist but some places are more favourable than others.
For men, this involves somewhere off the trail, facing away from any onlookers. Boundary walls and trees are a good bet to shelter you and prevent the wind from leading to any accidents.
For women there are a few more options:
- Natural dips with long grass act as a natural barrier
- Behind boundary walls (just be sure to check what’s on the other side)
- Behind hedgerows
- Amongst brambles and bushes – just watch out for anything spikey or irritable like nettles
- Behind big trees or hills
- Behind boulders (just watch your footing as you balance)
- Where there’s a natural hole in the ground or pine needles as these are great absorbers
- Peeing downhill helps to avoid any splashing, as does checking which way the wind is blowing first
And, you’ve also got to consider the environment, which leads us to…
Leave no trace principles
Whether it’s a one or a two, leave no trace principles always apply. You should do the deed at least 200ft away from a water source and a good distance away from the trail or camp.
Take any rubbish (toilet paper or sanitary products) and be aware whether you’re in a pristine area that requires you to take your poop with you.
Getting caught with your trousers down…
There may be times you just gotta take the plunge and commit.
If you’re worried about people seeing you, speaking from experience, they’re normally more embarrassed than you. Avoid eye contact and if they hold their gaze, just hurry up and walk the other way!
1. Peeing styles
Men, this doesn’t really apply to you. If you’re just peeing outside hiking, it doesn’t need breaking down, just find a good spot. You can skip this part unless you want to read how best to support your female companion.
These are a few of the best outdoor peeing positions for women
Pull your pants down to at least the knees, feet about hip-width apart and squat down with your hips below your knees, then do your thing. It’s effective and it’s the method most of us learnt as kids (or at least those of us brought up camping).
- Advantages – good way to not get pee on yourself and you can get low enough to hide amongst rocks, long grass and trees whilst you pee.
- Disadvantages – It’s not easy to balance and get low with a big rucksack on, plus it requires some flexibility to get low and stay low. Not ideal when your calves are tight after a day’s hiking.
- Top tip – to minimise splashback, pee downhill or into a hole, feet wide, hips back and figure out which way the wind is blowing first.
Much like the classic squat but using what nature has available, like a tree branch or boundary wall, to steady yourself, requiring less balance and flexibility.
- Advantages – Requires less balance and flexibility than the classic squat.
- Disadvantages – You need to have something sturdy enough to hold onto.
- Top tip – cling onto something secure like a tree trunk. Also, try peeing with your toes facing downhill, as this puts less pressure on your calves.
The almost squat
Again much like the classic squat but you only bend half-way down pushing your bum back as far as you can.
- Advantages – Doesn’t require getting as low as the full squat so is a little comfier.
- Disadvantages – It’s the messier option, especially on a windy day.
- Top tips – Wall sits can be great practice!
Urination device/pee funnel
Basically, you place a pee funnel over your front bum to pee through.
- Advantages – It’s warmer without getting your bum out and more discrete. If you’re camping, they can also allow you to pee into a bottle for nights that are too cold to leave the tent.
- Disadvantages – They take a little getting used to, an extra bit of gear to carry and some are able to hold more than others.
- Tips – Take it for a few spins at home, the shower is a good place to start.
The shielded squat
This one you can do assisted or unassisted.
Assisted has your hiking buddy sheltering you with a bit of material, like a throw or sarong, whilst you perform the classic squat.
Unassisted has YOU holding some material around your lower half. Lean forwards, stick your bum out then drop your trousers. As you do, wrap the material around your lower half with enough leeway to squat with privacy.
- Advantages – A great choice for busier trails or if you’re a little shy.
- Disadvantages – You might not have any protective material, you run the risk of peeing on it and you can’t see to aim.
- Top tip – For the material, use something you don’t mind getting… messy.
Zip Hers trousers
Now I only just cottoned onto these trousers from Zip Hers and I’m impressed. They’re basically trousers, leggings and shorts for outdoor lovers with a fly from front to back. Allowing you to just unzip and go.
- Advantages – You don’t need to squat excessively low and no extra gear to carry. They’re discrete too, so you’re less likely to get your moon spotted.
- Disadvantages – It’s a new bit of gear to buy and for anyone outside the US, you have to pay shipping on top.
- Top tip – Be sure to zip up properly afterwards.
Trail runner style
You need either baggy or stretchy shorts for this one. Simply pull them to one side, spread your legs and go. A popular choice amongst trail runners who don’t mind getting a little dirty when they’re in a rush.
- Advantages – It’s quick, no faff and easy.
- Disadvantages – Even the skilled can get messy. Not recommended for multi-day trips where washing isn’t an option.
- Top tip – Make sure your shorts are stretchy enough BEFORE you get desperate
Now you’ve relieved yourself, next comes the question of cleaning. This is another ballpark to navigate with a number of options to choose from…
Have a little wiggle and disco jive, then go on your merry way. An old-school classic.
- Advantages – It’s zero-faff and waste, you don’t need any extra gear and it’s quick.
- Disadvantages – This isn’t the cleanest option and you may end up with some leakage in your underwear – not great for multi-day trips.
- Top tip – the more vigorous shaking the better. Get your groove on!
Taking the natural approach one-step further and using what nature provides be it leaves, grass, rocks, or a pinecone (just kidding – ouch).
- Advantages – Zero-waste, and you don’t need to rummage through your bag for anything when you gotta go.
- Disadvantages – It could irritate your nether region especially using coarse materials, plus there might not always be something suitable available.
- Top tip – Be cautious of what you use!
The H20/snow method
Either squirt water from your bladder into your hand or use a water bottle to have a little rinse down south. In a snowy landscape? Snow does the same job but leaves you feeling a little chillier.
- Advantages – Leaves you feeling a little cleaner.
- Disadvantages – It’s a little complicated and requires some skill. Use too much and you could look like you’ve had a little accident.
- Top tip – If using snow, prepare to have your breath taken away!
You use this at home so you know what to do.
- Advantages – It’s cleaner than the above options and it’s pretty light to carry.
- Disadvantages – Can be bulky and needs to be kept dry. You also have to take your rubbish with you by hand or in something like a plastic bag.
If you’re looking to make your trips a little greener, our list of zero-waste tips has tons of ideas to help create less waste on the trail
A reusable pee cloth to wipe post business time – a fabulous intention! They’re great because you can strap it to your bag, then the antimicrobial material works with the sun to keep it clean.
- Advantages – You can wipe and feel clean without generating any waste.
- Disadvantages – It’s another bit of gear to buy and you need to carry soap to wash your cloth every 2 weeks.
- Top tip – you can make your own pee rag with something like a bandana, though it won’t be antimicrobial.
3. How to poop outside
The classic or assisted squat is pretty much the industry standard for men and women. Have another method? Please fill us in!
Here are some outdoor pooping tips:
- With a trowel, dig a cathole about 6 – 8 inches deep.
- Make sure your hole is at least 200 feet away from a water source.
- Do your thing then cover it with debris when finished.
- Pack out any toilet paper you used, don’t bury it. I recommend biodegradable dog poo bags.
We have a little poop bag with all the essentials: toilet paper, baby wipes, dog poo bags and hand sanitiser. All you need to pinch a loaf, keep clean and leave no trace.
The Ultimate Guide to Peeing and Pooing Outside
I’m hoping you now feel a little more confident about peeing and pooing outside hiking, camping or on any other adventure. My best advice to you is to just go out and do it. Confidence comes with time and once you’ve found the way that works for you, relieving yourself in awesome natural environments becomes quite liberating!