3 Steps to Taking Care of Business in the Backcountry

3 Steps to Taking Care of Business in the Backcountry

3 Steps to Taking Care of Business in the Backcountry


The nitty gritty of being outdoors is always hard to deal with, but ultimately, all part of the experience. Sure, you’re not going to be entirely clean for the time you’re outdoors, but you’ll get used to it fairly quickly. Being without your regular comforts (in some cases, luxuries) like a hot shower or a toilet that actually flushes, is an interesting adjustment. Although some campgrounds will have these amenities, when you’re deep in the wilderness, you’re going to have to make do with the “doo-doo.” Catch our drift?

Here’s our guide to taking care of business in the backcountry.

taking care of business in the backcountry

Step One: Get Comfortable

If talking about taking care of business in the backcountry makes you uncomfortable, then imagine what actually doing it will be like for you. (Echem…get over it…echem.)

Going to the bathroom outdoors is a little bit uncomfortable at first. And, we’re not talking about just being physically uncomfortable. We’re talking about getting used to going when other people are in your vicinity. If you’re one of those people who needs absolute privacy when going to the bathroom, then you’re going to need to find ways to get over that. Otherwise, stick to shorter hikes.

Step Two: Having a Plan for Number #1 and #2

Go Girl, taking care of business in the backcountry

When it comes to going number #1 outdoors, it’s easy…if you’re a boy! If you’re biologically a woman, the task can be just as hard as going number #2. You’re going to have to get used to going pee without using toilet paper.

One way is to use a funnel instrument, like the Go Girl, which allows you to pee standing up, just like a dude. But, even afterwards, having that ‘drippy’ feeling isn’t fun to hike with, and can actually cause problems. So, find a leaf (that’s not poison ivy), a soft rock, or other resources in nature that you can use for wiping instead of toilet paper.

REI, GSI Outdoors Cathole Sanitation Trowel, taking care of business in the backcountry

Now, comes #2. It’s actually quite easy. Dig a hole that’s decently deep, using the GSI Outdoors Cathole Sanitation Trowel. Pop a squat (this is a great workout by the way), and let it go! Then, cover the hole. For keeping hygienic, you should have two Ziploc bags. One with your clean Wet Wipes (much more useful than TP), and an empty one with your dirty material. Do your best not to mix these up. In case you’re not aware, the reason you need that second bag is because of Leave No Trace policies. You need to leave the backcountry just how you found it. And, trust us; hiking wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful if there was soiled toilet paper everywhere.

As always, make sure you’re far away from a water source, other hikers, and potentially wild animals. You don’t want to have to fight off a bear while you’re doing your thing.

taking care of business in the backcountry

For Women:

#1 and #2 are not nearly as hard to deal with as #3. Menstruating while you’re on the trail is no walk in the park. But luckily, there are solutions like the Diva Cup, which really helps outdoors. And, others have already tried it for you, so read their story here. If you’re not comfortable with the Diva Cup, just make sure you clean up.

You can read more about being a woman outdoors here.

Purell, taking care of business in the backcountry, hand sanitizerStep Three: CLEAN YO’SELF

Hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer. Whether you’re a man, a woman, or a dog (who, by the way, also needs to be cleaned up after on the trail), you need to get very comfortable with yourself. Taking care of business in the backcountry is a dirty business, but a natural one. Just make sure you figure out your routine for it and clean your hands BEFORE and AFTER going to the bathroom. Without access to proper hygiene, you need to go the extra mile to stay clean, otherwise you’re going to be rather uncomfortable. Just strap a few of these to your bag, and you’re good to go!

Tip: Some foods can lead to a better #2 experience than others. Throwing some fiber into your meals, like chia seeds or flaxseed, can give you an easier time. Also, drinking lots of water and maintaining a steady eating routine helps as well.

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.