Does a Hiker Shit in the Woods?

Dropping the kids off at the pool. Making a deposit at the porcelain bank. Stocking the pond with brown trout.

Pooping, it’s something that we all do and if you go backpacking you’ll have to do it in the woods. A scary thought for some, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. On the contrary, pooping outdoors is actually quite relaxing. Sunlight softly penetrating the forest floor, a slight breeze tickling your exposed skin, and birds singing gaily overhead while you question if the chicken quesadilla M.R.E. was really a good choice after all.

There are, however, a few rules you need to adhere to. Please keep in mind the following when using the woods as your toilet:

  • Bury your waste at least 6 inches deep
  • Bury your toilet paper or pack it out
  • Deposit your waste at least 200 feet away from water sources
  • Don’t put your grubby hands in my trail mix if you didn’t bring hand sanitizer

It isn’t the disposal process that I want to discuss though, but rather the proper form for doing the deed.

It’s All Physics Really

Too often hikers take the wrong approach when popping a squat in the woods. For some reason, a lot of people tend to rest their backs against a tree and hold themselves up with their leg muscles. This, in my opinion, is the worst way to go about the process. You’re going to exert a lot of precious energy that you could use on the trail. You could even injure yourself and you don’t want to explain to your friends you pulled a hammy because of poor pooping form. They will laugh at you and will probably coin you with a trail name you’re not too fond of.

This is what you are doing. This is also considered a workout. Don't do this.  Photo courtesy Google Images

This is basically what you’re doing. This is also considered a workout. Don’t do this.
Photo courtesy Google Images

Instead, try to squat facing a tree and hold on to it with your hands for leverage. Take into consideration Newton’s Third Law of Motion; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you sit against a tree, it is going to push back with equal force. Conversely, when you hold onto the tree it will pull against you with equal force. Instead of putting all that opposite force on your legs alone, holding onto the tree allows your arms and legs split the energy output. Trust me, your quads will thank you when they are screaming from a day of hiking. To quote the wise Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, “Yeah, science bitch!”

And that’s not all! Another benefit to this technique is that it puts your body in the natural pooping stance, which will greatly reduce the amount of wiping needed. If that isn’t a good enough reason to try out this method, then I don’t know what is.

Proper form is everything. Without mastering it, Tiger Woods would’ve probably been a sales rep at State Farm instead of a pro golfer. The same applies here, so get out there and poop like a pro!

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