Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

Viewing 25 posts - 1 through 25 (of 64 total)
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    Ryan Jordan


    Locale: Central Rockies

    Companion forum thread to:

    Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

    Mark W Heninger


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Man, I love mike’s illustrations.

    And yes, I’m astounded that people get worked up over leaves.

    kevin davidson


    Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson

    Clelland is very right-hand centric. :-P

    My birthright has predicated me to dedicate my right hand to defile. I’ve had some interesting culinary and hygenic experiences in the Islamic world, as a result.

    Great illustrations in the style of the underground comix of yore— Crumb, Sheridan, etc.

    One more leaf to remember, at least on the PNW rim, is Thimbleberry. TP has nothing over this. Scouts call it Toilet Paper plant.

    Dale Wambaugh
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Thimbleberry threw me– salmonberry is the name familiar to me (there are more, see the link below)

    I’ve waded through miles of this stuff on overgrown trails– I’ll be a lot happier to see it now :) It’s the best dew collector on the face of the planet.

    Great article– should be part of a permanent FAQ at BPL.

    kevin davidson


    Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson

    Thimbleberry, Salmonberry—-lotsa names—-Western Thimbleberry, Salmonberry, Mountain Sorrel, White Flowering Raspberry, Western Thimble Raspberry. You name it.

    Relatively low elevations, only, though

    Mark W Heninger


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Yes, that stuff is good.

    Too bad my scouts are too indoctrinated to do anything other than scowl at plant wiping material.

    Personally, I look for moss growing on trees. That stuff is heavenly and I’m not aware of any reasons LNT for not using it.

    Joshua Mitchell


    Locale: Kansas

    Just wow…

    Ken Helwig
    BPL Member


    Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA

    My luck I pick something like Poison Oak and develop a rather large rash. Nawww sorry, I will stick to the toilet paper method.

    Brett Tucker


    Locale: Puertecito ruins

    Sphagnum, hobblebush and striped maple are among the toilet-trees favored in eastern US forests, but not along the Appalachian Trail please, unless the consensus suggests 360 degree views from the privy.

    nathan matthews


    Locale: Bay Area

    in my neck of the woods, thimbleberry is the common name for Rubus parviflorus, and salmonberry is the name for Rubus spectabilis. Easiest way to tell them apart is that salmonberry bushes have compound leaves, and that thimbleberries taste better. i think both work equally well for hygiene.

    i’m not such an expert on moss, but i think that from an ecological standpoint moss is a worse idea, and that you really shouldn’t use the lichen we incorrectly called “spanish moss” as kids. reason being that lichens (and mosses?) trap water and provide local nutrients for trees, but are pretty slow growing–unlike most leaves that grow anew each year.


    paul johnson


    Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest

    On a slightly related note – another use for sphagnum moss:

    once needed to use sphagnum moss to pack a wound to avoid infection during the three day hike out in 90+ deg summer temp.

    relatively high levels of iodine can be found in most sphagnum moss. on this one instance it worked fine and no infection resulted from a backcountry wound that would, IMHO and experience, would definitely have become infected otherwise.

    i’m not going to go into details of its use, either in my case or generally since i’ll undoubtedly be taken to task by others with far more medical credentials and experience, but who may never have been in a similar backcountry emergency situation themselves and will only spout medical dogma at me. i’m not advocating that anyone else try this. read up on it if interested. learned about it initially from reading books as a kid (New England Native American peoples used it as a medicinal plant) and then was reminded of it during medical training in the military (our tax dollars hard at work). YMMV.

    anyone still so inclined may fire when ready. “Shields Up”!!!

    Brett Tucker


    Locale: Puertecito ruins

    >>(New England Native American peoples used it as a medicinal plant)

    Not to mention as diaper material.

    The wound dressing use for sphagnum is well documented, as well.

    Tim (Slowhike) Garner
    BPL Member


    Locale: South East U.S.

    this past year i started using the shop towels that i belive rayn talked about in another artical.
    but first i start w/ leaves.
    i like to use a couple differant kinds of leaves, layered together.
    start w/ a rohdodendren leaf or two for strength, then add 2 or 3 softer leaves (maple?) for better wiping action. the softer, thinner leaves by them selfs will probably let your finger poke through when you apply the needed pressure. but the rohdo leaves give structure.
    after taking care of the bulk of the waste w/ leaves, i switch to the small square (1/4 of a full sheet)of shop towel. it`s just a really sturdy kind of paper towel that really alows you to use the pressure to do a good job.
    i use about 3 (mabey 4) squares to finish up. i may wet the next to last one, then finish w/ a dry one.
    the leaves get left in the cat hole, & the shop towels get double baged. they aren`t that heavy w/ waste any way after starting w/ the leaves.
    another trick that is handy, is to duct tape a loop of cord around the bottom of a quart baggie, comming up to form a loop on top of the baggie. when you get ready to do your bisness, just fill the baggie about 1/3 full w/ water & hang it on a branch next to your cat hole. also have the little bottle of soap sitting there (cap off).
    to have running water, just pinch one of the lower corners of the baggie & lift. very little cross contamination going on there.
    so along w/ your waste, the bulk of the clean-up stays behind (in the hole) & the durable, yet comfortable shop towel squares that alowed you do do a great job of finishing up haven`t gained much weight either. …tim

    John Carter


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    “Thimbleberry, Salmonberry—-lotsa names—-Western Thimbleberry, Salmonberry, Mountain Sorrel, White Flowering Raspberry, Western Thimble Raspberry. You name it.

    Relatively low elevations, only, though.”

    You’ve just given me an epiphany. Why not grow Thimbleberry in your backyard? For trips of only a few days, particularly at high altitudes, you just go out and ‘pick’ your TP before your trip. You get to bury your TP and don’t have to spend an hour finding sutiable material.

    Of course, with my complete lack of gardening skills, for all I know Thimbleberry uis an atrocious weed that will destroy my entire garden and spread to my neighbors. Better check with my Mother-in-law; I’ve had more than one humorous conversation with her–an Oregon native–where what I see as a beautiful flower (aka Scotch Broom, thistles), she laments and whips out the weed killers. But that’s just my native so-cal eyes talking, where any sign of floral color whatsoever is considered a blessing! I’ve never had to uproot them before. She tells me that when they bought their 5-acre property, the entirety of it was covered in chest-high thistles and blackberries (bountiful berries and dazzling purple flowers, right?) =). Took them 5 years to get them to finally stop sprouting everywhere.

    John Reed


    Locale: Sierras

    Sorry, but too much hassel and mess.

    Dig a 6″ hole, take a dump, use some toilet paper, burn it, and bury the remaining ashes in the hole. It is simple, fast & clean.

    Then place a small rock on top of the filled hole, and place some debris around area to hide. Wash hands. Make the whole procedure a “Zen thing.”

    I bet you can’t find where I did it!

    William Wright


    “I bet you can’t find where I did it!”

    Cool! A wilderness version of Where’s Waldo? For those more technically inclined, this could be called biogeocaching.

    BPL Member


    I just use water — and have never felt the need to look for anything else — plants, rocks, whatever.

    When done, I pull up my pants and sanitize both hands with a few drops of Purell — available in 1/2-ounce bottles and up. Body heat ensures that pants become dry in no time at all.

    Dwight Shackelford


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    After my recent experience with a dump in the woods, and limited toilet paper, I began brainstorming about a backpackers bidet. Something that will blast a stream of water to dislodge and clean.

    After thinking of all sorts of designs, I finally settled on the easy route and considered some of the pump up plastic water cannons that kids play with. Not sure if there’s small light ones.

    Just put a gun rack on the top of my backpack, and I’m off.

    Dwight Shackelford


    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Maybe something like this. Not sure if it has a nozzle to increase stream pressure.

    Bill Fornshell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southern Texas

    How about a small pump spray bottle. I have some Deet that came in a 2 ounce pump bottle. You could also use a small Bulb syringe.

    Nick Shepherd


    One thing that may differ from the 'wipe all you troubles away' paradigm is to use a dab of vaseline applied pre-emptively. Helps exegis of yesterdays dinner without leaving a trace. A quick brush with some grass (not always necessary if you've had enough fibre) and you're ready to hit the trail.

    Cuts down on chafing too.

    Don't forget to wash the hands though, even if you haven't wiped, you've still applied the vaseline.

    Love the drawings Mike.

    Ryan Hutchins


    Locale: Somewhere out there

    We saw a great "Demo" of the backcountry Bidet on the recent NOLS/BPL/GoLite seminar and training. I know Ryan J. is heading into the field right now, but I think he got a recording of it.

    It basically uses a water bottle and one's hand and then thorough washing and disinfecting. Becoming more and more popular from what I hear. I still need to try it out myself.

    Joe Clement
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest

    Where I live, almost every thing growing has stickers or thorns. I'm not that tough.

    Christopher Williams


    Locale: The Bluegrass

    Whatever you, NEVER, EVER use Spanish Moss in Florida (or most of the Southeast for that matter), as it's the #1 favorite home for chiggers. And chiggers in my bum would not be cool at all.

    Snow would be okay, but those in the Southeast don't get enough of it to use the snow method all that often. I realize that Mike is stationed in the Rockies, but it would be nice to have seen some plants that can be used by us Easterners. Any ideas that won't leave one with a wicked rash?

    River rocks are a cool idea. There are plenty of those everywhere. But pick them up along the trail? That seems to be against the entire idea of UL backpacking. After just a small handful of rocks, you will have added a couple of pounds, if not more, to you pants.

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