While out in the vast expanses of the backcountry, nature’s call may inevitably beckon. Regardless if you’re on a day hike or an extended expedition, knowing how to dispose of human waste properly is both a necessity and an ethical obligation.

It not only caters to basic human needs but also safeguards the environment, ensuring that our outdoor adventures do not leave a damaging footprint.

The Importance of Cat Holes

The concept of the cat hole for waste disposal comes highly recommended by outdoor ethics organizations like Leave No Trace, Inc. This simple, yet efficient, method of burying human waste is key to preserving the wilderness’ beauty and health.

It prevents the contamination of nearby water bodies, maintains hygiene, and respects the outdoor experience of other trail-goers by keeping waste discreetly out of sight.

The Essential Pack: What You Need

Before embarking on your adventure, prepare a small kit that’ll make your bathroom breaks in the backcountry more manageable. Your outdoor restroom pack should include:

  • Hand trowel: A garden trowel or lightweight backpacking trowel is ideal for digging cat holes.
  • Toilet paper: Opt for unscented brands, preferably those made from recycled materials. Keep it dry in a plastic bag.
  • Hand sanitizer: This is a must to maintain hygiene in the backcountry.

How to Create a Cat Hole: A Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Select a spot that is at least 200 feet from water sources and trails: This measure is to ensure that water bodies are not contaminated, and other hikers are not disturbed by the sight of human waste or its disposal process.
  2. Dig a hole approximately six to eight inches deep: the optimum depth for waste to decompose in the soil. A conveniently placed log or rock next to the hole can provide comfortable seating while taking care of business.
  3. Once done, stir any toilet paper left in the hole with the waste using a stick, promoting quicker decomposition.
  4. Finally, refill the cat hole with the excavated soil and compress it using your foot. This helps to secure the waste within the hole and prevent exposure.

Exploring Natural Alternatives to Toilet Paper

Using natural alternatives to toilet paper reduces the amount of paper waste left in the backcountry and eliminates the need to pack it out. Consider these eco-friendly options:

  • Smooth rocks from a riverbed
  • Leaves
  • Snow compacted into a ball
  • Barkless sticks

Each can serve the purpose effectively and decompose naturally when left in the cat hole.

Infeasible for Cat Holes? There’s a Solution

In certain sensitive terrains, digging a cat hole may be impractical or prohibited by land management agencies. In such cases, a commercially made plastic bag serves as a safe and sanitary alternative. You can use these bags to securely store waste and carry it out of the backcountry, ensuring no trace is left behind.

In conclusion, mastering the art of the cat hole is essential for any wilderness explorer. By understanding and practicing these waste disposal methods, you not only cater to your personal needs in the backcountry but also contribute to the preservation of these precious outdoor spaces for generations to come.