How To: Pee in the Woods

We just returned from our first ever backpacking trip, and I’m sad to say that I did NOT get the opportunity to poop in the woods.

(Pooping in the woods, to me, symbolizes a measurable amount of time at a significant distance from civilization. Hence, the word “opportunity.” We did, however, achieve that time and distance. But it turns out my colon happens to have some sort of 6th sense and shuts down when there’s no bathroom in range.)

Despite that fact, I do feel I have the credentials to teach all you she-hikers out there how to pee in the woods. That I have done enough times to consider myself an expert.

First, you need to prepare your “pee kit.” My pee kit has become an indispensible item in my backpack when I’m hiking for more than a few hours. It’s a simple kit:

Pee Kit Contents:

  1. Ziplock bag
  2. Toilet paper
  3. Hand sanitizer

Here’s what you do.

  1. Walk 70 or 80 paces from the trail. This not only affords you privacy, but it also prevents a river of urine from forming where people walk. Make sure you’re at least 200 feet away from any water sources to avoid contaminating them through run off.
  2. Find a tree to lean against. Look for one that is on an incline, even a very slight one.
  3. Unpack your pee kit: Sanitizer next to you on the ground, toilet paper in one hand, Ziplock in the other.
  4. Drop your pants.
  5. Squat first, and then lean back against the tree. (It’s hard to lean first and slide down the bark.)
  6. Adopt as wide a stance as possible and keep your feet at more than a 90-degree angle to account for splash.
  7. Make sure your feet point in the uphill direction. This way, the pee runs away from you and not towards your shoes. If you remember anything, remember this.
  8. Put the used toilet paper into the Ziplock bag, seal it up, and put it in your pocket. Yes, you’ll need to pack it out. Leave no trace. Some outdoor sources recommend using leaves or pine needles. While this means you don’t have to walk around with a baggy of pee-soaked tp, it also sounds messy. That’s just too hardcore for me.
  9. Carefully push yourself away from the tree so you don’t step in your mess, give yourself a little squeeze of sanitizer, and be on your merry way!

Peeing in the woods is a hurdle that prevents many women from taking longer jaunts out into the woods, but it shouldn’t! It’s surprisingly easy, and you get some serious outdoor cred among your friends. (I’m not sure there’s a Girl Scout badge for that, but there should be.)