Woman peeing outside

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Everything you need to know to about pooing and peeing 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.

women peeing outside
Post-pee smug look of satisfaction, after finding a spot out of sight from the trail

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.

Man peeing outside
Peeing or admiring the view?

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!

Ladies peeing
Mid-flow and someone takes a picture of me, luckily this long grass shelters my modesty

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

Squatting pee

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.

Assisted squatting

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 halfway 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!

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Women hiking over turnstyle
Boundary walls and boulders act as a great barrier for squatting

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
Woman hiking in shorts over wall
Short shorts and a wall, ample peeing opportunities here

2. Cleaning

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…

Drip/air/shake dry

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!

Natural materials

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!
Woman hiking in snow
Snow can help you to freshen up post-pee but be warned, it can take your breath away

Toilet paper

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

Pee cloth

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.
Pooing outside essentials
All our necessary essentials for taking care of business, this little bag comes with us on every overnight trip

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.

How to pee and poo outside
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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!

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  1. “Poo with pride” – I like the expression! But I guess that most of us, even those of us who are quite used to outdoor life, rather think that “shit with shame” has been a more frequent feeling when squatting with trousers at the knees behind a hedgerow or a boundary wall. Not to mention the embarrassment when someone turns up just in that vulnerable moment. And as you state, perhaps even more embarrassing when walking in on one of your own friends exposing the bottom to the ground. I can recall some such incidents, in both roles, where I should have liked to turn invisible immediately. But well, “shit happens” or more precise “shit has to happen”. After a decade or so of outdoor activities I now think that I am beginning to realize and internalize that, yes, even out there peeing and pooping is completely natural, as you state initially. For all of us, female or male, young or old, no real difference. Thanks for an amusing, entertaining and not least informative text with redemptive pictures!

  2. Glad it’s helpful Simon 🙂 I think we should all feel a little more natural talking about it, after all, we all pee and poop! Even when hiking!

  3. Sabine, that line “shit with shame” has me howling in front of my computer. So glad you liked the post!
    I think for so many of us being used to peeing and pooping in our own little room, using euphemisms to describe doing the deed, it can be a very taboo subject and act. But, as you so eloquently put it “shit has to happen”, even on the hiking trail. Of course, it is still mighty embarrassing when a stranger spies your full moon mid-stream. But with a little confidence, these circumstances can be turned into a hilarious antidote to tell around the campfire. Plus when it all goes well, there’s something very freeing about going in nature I like to think.

  4. Thanks for a great posting with amusing comments. I guess that all hikers are well acquainted with the challenge, even men when it comes to “#2”. Calling the “classic squat” an “industry standard”, what a bright idea! (Then I burst into laughter.) And yes, I still stick to it myself after over 50 years as an outdoor enthusiast. Luckily my hips and knees are well functioning so that I can get down. When I first took up hiking and camping in the wilderness in the late 1960s, this was an issue that nobody spoke about. When in need, you put some paper in the pocket and tried to escape unseen, which certainly was totally in vain. Together with others, everyone knew what it was when observing somebody walking away without saying anything. Big things were going to happen. It was felt as rude to ask where he or she was going. If out there observing a “full moon” (what an expression!), it was never to be mentioned afterwards, especially not at the camp fire. In short, it was an untouchable issue. The unwritten rule obviously was that the encounter or observation should be suppressed and never brought up. But times have changed. Even among senior hikers it is now possible to joke with such things, and that is good. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. They adds to the increasing openness. The next time I pull down and squat I will remember with a huge smile your sayings “Poo with pride” and “Full moon”. I wish you all happy Easter holidays and many nice days hiking about.

  5. Haa, thanks for your insight Sven. Cool that you’ve been hiking for 50 years, I can only imagine the crazy and wonderful tails you have from your time spent outdoors.
    It has long been a topic people are cautious to approach but as you say, it’s something we all experience. The sooner we’re a little more open about it, the more relaxed we can all feel about answering nature’s call. Glad you liked the post and that you’ll have fond memories and a smile when that fateful time comes around next time you’re in the outdoors 🙂

  6. I really have enjoyed reading the post and the comments. Just back after a pilgrim walk for over one month, I am quite familiar with the challenge. Squatting in itself was a minor issue. The big thing for me was the embarrassment I felt when walking into the bushes and squatting with shorts at the knees. I should have have been fortuned with reading your post in advance. Then I should have reminded myself on all those amusing and to the spot sayings as “poo with pride” instead for “shit with shame” and “shit must happen” and the concept of a “full moon”. In our group the toilet issue was never touched, even though it was obvious that we all had to manage with those matters to along the trail. Nice that you and others are so explicit about it. Really nothing to be afraid or ashamed of, but well, social expectations are different.

  7. Hey Anette, where was the month-long pilgrim walk you did? Yes I too have really enjoyed reading the comments on this post, it brings me a lot of joy.

    Sorry to hear it was a bit of a challenge answering nature’s call whilst on your trip. As you say although it was never talked about in your group, it’s something everyone would’ve had to deal with. It can often be uncomfortable to be the one to bring it up but I have found a little mention of needing to spend a penny makes others feel more confident about broaching the topic. When on hikes with new friends I have found others to be quite relieved when I’ve been the one to bring it up as they’ve not known how to. With closer friends, it’s at the point where we’ll have a communal wee. Number two’s are still strictly private though.

    I hope the post and everyone’s relaxed attitude here can help to bring more honesty and an open approach to the topic 🙂

  8. Thanks for your comments! I went with some friends the trail between the Baltic sea and Trondheim in Norway. We were fully vaccinated and therefore we were allowed to cross the border.

  9. I think we all have at least one horror story related to this subject. Mine is – I went for a poo and came across a hole in the ground. Being in a rush, I figured I’d use it and save the trouble of digging.

    It was the entrance to a hornets’ nest.

    Not a fun experience for me, but I imagine it was even worse for the hornets.

  10. Unfortunately, yes, a couple stings – guess where. Couldn’t sit down comfortably for the rest of the day.

    On the plus side, it turns out that hornet stings are a marvelous laxative. Literally scared it all out of me.

    My friends were treated to the sight of me running back onto the trail, trying to wipe and pull my pants up while pursued by hornets. They started yelling, “No, don’t take the hornets TOWARD us! Run the other way!”

  11. Oh ouch, that does sound horrendous! Sounds like the hornets really let you have a piece of their mind after pooping on their home.

    Although it sounds pretty traumatic at the time, it seems you and your friends have made a good laugh of the experience.

    Good to know about the hornets being laxatives, should I ever need relieving in the wild. Also, I’ll be sure to check before I squat!

  12. It’s great when you’ve reached the level where you can laugh at your bad outdoor pooping stories. I am not there yet. But I try to get there.

    Far north in the northern hemisphere hornets are not a challenge for outdoor poopers, but mosquitoes are. We were some friends to spend a week camping in the Arctic last summer. We were prepared to protect ourselves from mosquitoes with mosquito nets in front of our faces and mosquito repellents when staying outside the tents. Every guidebook tells about that.

    To make the story short. Just peeing, only one or two mosquito bites on the bum and thighs. But when pooping, even though an exposure only a minute or two more, the result was disastrous. Itching bites all over (yes all over, even in the butt crack).

    But my boy friend (and also some other guys, I was told), learned it the hard way. Their “male attributes” were bitten when they were squatting to drop a deuce. Consequently those body parts increased to double size due to an edema (that luckily disappeared over night). But the rash itched terribly for several days.

    Well, lessons learned. Before “going to toilet” the rest of the week, all of us were very careful to spray the bum, groin and thighs with mosquito repellent before squatting behind a bush to take care of business. Something to be mentioned in the next guidebook for Arctic campers?

  13. Thanks for sharing Anna! I am prone to mozzy bites so I will be taking heed of your advice and making sure the spray down below when the pesky critters are about.

    A rash down there sounds horrendous! However I must ask, did the mosquito spray not irritate your lady garden? Bites don’t sound great but neither does getting deet on my sensitive lady parts.

    From the discomfort experienced it definitely sounds like one to mention in the next guidebook edition. Perhaps one to mention to the publishers to help any other poor souls.

    Glad you guys managed to avoid them after a nasty encounter and thanks for sharing your wisdom 🙂

  14. Thanks for response! As to irritation down there I did not take notice of that. But a slight irritation easily would be defeated by the itching. But I tried to spray only on the skin/hair and avoid any mucosal parts.

  15. That is good to know. Thanks Anna 🙂

    And yes, as you say, I imagine deet is better than countless bites – ouch!

  16. Thanks for practical and sound advice. We are soon to leave for a camping trip in the wilderness of Norway and Sweden. Sure I have peed outdoor before, but never pooped. I am a bit excited about just that, but reading your posting and the answers makes me a little more relaxed.

  17. Hope you enjoy your trip to Norway and Sweden Mona! That looks like a beautiful part of the world to explore. So glad the post has made you feel more at ease. It’s a crucial part of business we all need to take of to make the most of a trip. Enjoy camping in the wild.

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