I’ve been writing this blog for almost ten years, and somehow there’s never been a post about pooping in the woods! How is this possible? Pooping in the woods is a hiker’s favorite topic (that’s an indisputable fact). So it’s time for me to right this wrong, and share Guthook’s Secret To A Happy Butt in the Woods™. Have you heard?
Oh yeah. It’s the bidet. For those of you not in the know, the bidet provides a watery alternative to toilet paper, for a wash rather than a wipe. Sound weird? If so, you’re probably not from Italy or Japan. But if you’re willing to be bold, to try something new, read on!
First, though, you may be asking: why would I use a bidet on the trail when toilet paper has been treating me fine for my entire life? It’s a personal preference, of course, but there are some definite advantages to the watery approach.
- It’s a better Leave No Trace practice than burying your toilet paper (I don’t object to TP properly buried in a good cathole in the right environment, but this avoids that decision altogether).
- There’s less risk of getting butt-bacteria on your hand because there’s no hand-butt contact at all!
- It’s much gentler on your bum than even the softest toilet paper. If you have a need for really soft TP, you’ll know what I mean.
- I’ve found the bidet even helps cut down on butt chafe on long hikes. As they say, a clean butt is a happy butt!
The Backcountry Bidet is pretty simple– it’s a 4 fluid ounce squeeze bottle with a flip-top, which I found in the miscellaneous water bottles section at REI many years ago. You could use any kind of squeeze bottle that can produce a high-powered jet with a one-handed squeeze. For reference, I can get a good 20-foot jet out of my bottle (not that I test that every chance I get…).
I’ll assume you already know about digging catholes (if not, ask Sectionhiker). If you would normally bring your toilet paper, trowel, and hand sanitizer, just replace the TP with the bidet and a water bottle. Keep the bidet and water bottle within reach in front of you while you squat over the cathole. Once you’ve taken care of business, fill the bidet from the water bottle, then reach behind with the bidet and let loose. You’ll be aiming blind, but use the Force and you’ll be alright. Remember to keep the bidet (and your hand) back far enough that there’s no splashback. And since one spray will definitely not be enough, refill the bidet from the water bottle and repeat. I go for the full liter each time– because why not? If you’re going to poop, you might as well spend the time to make sure you do it right.
Now, there are a few downsides to the bidet in the woods, including:
- Hiking in the desert makes bidet-fuel scarce
- Bidet use in an outhouse is not a good idea
- Carrying extra water is heavy, so you’ll want to be within a moderate distance from a water source (remember, don’t poop within 100 yards of a water source!)
- It takes a little more time than the TP method, which means you’ll get some good squatting exercise.
- Your friends will probably laugh at you (until they realize you’re a frickin’ genius).
I won’t go into any more gory detail– you can figure out the finer points of the operation. You could also do some more research to find other methods of bideting it in the woods (I’ve heard of plenty). But for now, consider your horizons expanded. And if you ever become a full-fledged convert, you can even get these things in your own home! Whoah.
Note: A reader pointed out that there are some pretty nice travel bidets on Amazon that may work a bit better than random squeeze bottles like mine. A bit more expensive, but lightweight (2.6 ounces for this one) and effective!