Wild Camping Toilet Tips
Picture this scenario. You’ve just hiked to the top of a fell in the Lake District. The sun is about to set, and you’ve set up your tent with a spectacular view over the valley below. No one else is around, it’s just you and the wilderness. Then, suddenly, nature calls. You need to use the toilet but of course, there are none to be found. What do you do?
The same isolation and remoteness that makes wild camping so special can also be its downfall. But fear not, this guide is here to give you some wild camping toilet tips to make your outdoor adventures as comfortable as possible.
Go Before You Leave Home
This may sound blindingly obvious but it’s easy to overlook. Many wild camping trips are for one night, perhaps two. Unless you’re doing a multi-day hike, this means you might only be away from home for 24-36 hours. If you plan ahead, before heading outdoors, you can use the toilet in your own home.
It’s also worth considering that when you’re hiking, you will be working off a big calorie deficit. You’ll be rapidly burning calories and not eating the same substantial meals as you’re used to.
This makes it surprisingly easy to go for a couple of days without needing a number two! Of course, you will have to go for a pee much more regularly than that. In which case, finding a discreet bush or cluster of boulders away from the main walking path is probably your best bet.
Use Visitor Centres
All the major National Parks in the UK have visitor centres. They are usually at the entrance of the National Parks or at least in the near vicinity. Visitor centres often have toilets, a café, a gift shop, and some additional information on the National Park.
If you stop off at a visitor centre before heading on your wild camping adventure, you can use the facilities and learn a little more about the place you’re about to see. Two birds with one stone, as they say!
If you’re driving to a hike, there may well be toilets in the car park. This is another good opportunity to go before you head into the wilderness. Although, I wouldn’t recommend relying on this as many of the small car parks don’t have any facilities available.
Use Cafes and Pubs
The UK is replete with pubs. Throughout National Parks and AONBs, there are old stone-walled pubs and little National Trust cafés that are revered by many a hill walker. Throughout the day, you may well hike through a village or hamlet that has facilities available.
Make good use of them! If you know you’ll be camping on an isolated escarpment later that night, stop off at the local pub or café and use the toilets in advance. This forethought may well save you a lot of hassle later in the evening.
So far, all these wild camping toilet tips have been preventative strategies to avoid having to go outdoors. If you really have no options, there are a few things to bear in mind. First, try and look for a sheltered spot near your camp. Ideally somewhere that is covered and away from prying eyes.
Don’t choose a spot near any walking paths or water sources. You want to be at least 50 metres from these areas so as not to pollute the water or create any bad smells for other hikers. Then you should check that the ground is clear and you’re not about to squat on thorns or nettles.
A good toilet spot is near a tree as you can hold onto a branch and crouch making the whole process a lot more comfortable. Whichever way you look at it, you’re going to have to squat so you may as well hold onto something to keep your balance.
After you’ve found a good location, dig a hole in the ground. You can buy specific toilet kits from camping stores to help with this, but a small trowel will do. If you don’t have any tools, a rock or a sturdy stick can be used.
The deeper you dig, the better it is for other campers as any waste essentially turns to compost. Aim for at least the depth of your outstretched hand. Then, after you’re done, scoop back the earth and cover the hole with leaves. Mission complete.
No one wants to use moss or grass for toilet paper. Make sure you bring a set of wet wipes or toilet paper in your backpack ready for emergencies. However, not all these sanitary items are compostable.
When selecting toilet paper, you can find biodegradable brands that are acceptable to use in the wild. Again, if you search at your local camping store, they will have a good selection available.
After you’re done, you won’t have a nice sink to wash your hands in. You can bring some soap but that means washing your hands in a river or stream which pollutes the water. This is a big no for campers and goes against the hiker’s motor of “leave no trace”.
A bottle of alcohol hand gel is the best solution. It’s lightweight, easy to carry, and cleans your hands thoroughly and efficiently.
You may be reading this with horror thinking there’s no way you will squat in the wild. Well, there are other options, but they add more weight to your backpack and take up extra space.
You can buy a portable toilet seat which gives you a surface to sit on. This is more for people using camper vans but if you’re adamant, they could be used when wild camping. Some brands fold up and can be stored in your backpack though few would say it’s worth the extra weight!
The most important tip is to just take the whole experience in your stride and embrace the challenges. After all, that’s what wild camping is all about.