Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

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Home Forums Campfire Editor’s Roundtable Toilet Paper Free Expeditions

Viewing 25 posts - 26 through 50 (of 64 total)
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    Michael Wands


    Locale: Piney Woods

    C'mon. TP doesn't weigh very much and has multiple uses on the trail. I use paper towels cut in 4 pieces. Doesn't get all soggy when wet.

    Used to carry a trowel. Then I found that an Armadillo can dig a much better hole than I ever could. So now I carry an Armadillo.

    W I S N E R !


    I've been going without TP for a few years now- desert, alpine…whatever, I've yet to come across a situation where I couldn't get the job done- grass, leaves, rocks, snow, sticks- it does help some to wipe with something, but worst case scenario you simply just wash (always one clean hand, one dirty hand) and sanitize.

    Quite liberating to do it enough to never have to think about how you'll crap in the woods.

    I refuse to carry around a bag of my own used poo-paper; I think it's totally strange given how easy it is to go without.

    Mike Clelland


    Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)

    Right on Craig!

    You summed up that long-winded article in three sentences!

    W I S N E R !


    The "Toilet Paper Free Expeditions" article you did was one of the best here; it should definitely be included in BPL classics.

    I truly believe going TP free should be a prerequisite to true mountain(wo)man status. I don't understand why this isn't the first thing anyone traveling outdoors learns to do.

    Thanks for your great work…

    Greg Mihalik


    Locale: Colorado


    Sharon Bingham
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest

    I noticed no women (or at least no-one with a name that seemed to belong to a female) have commented on going TP free in the wilderness…

    Obviously the mechanics of poo-wiping apply equally to us…

    I was curious, though, if there are any women who think it's do-able – since absorbency of the wiping material seems more critical if you're trying to wipe pee…

    Maybe just a water rinse since it would dry quickly?

    Anyone have other ideas?

    Angela Zukowski


    Locale: New England

    Is it just me or are there multiple anti-TP threads floating around the forum right now? Anyway, an in-depth response:

    1. Absorbency issues: Unless you're lucky enough to be using a soft, downy plant like wooly lambs ear… you'll find that leaves work, but obviously are not incredibly absorbent. Dead leaves and moss are both somewhat crumbly, which can be not the cleanest feeling. But they get the job done in a pinch.

    2. you can drip dry… which I'm always too impatient to do.

    3. you can do what some female hikers do and carry a "pee-rag" – a hank of bandanna pinned to the outside of your pack used solely for wiping – I haven't tried it but some swear by it. Apparently you drip dry/ then dab, and what little pee is on the rag dries out fairly quickly. Then you wash it at your leisure. Well-hydrated pee has very little odor….

    Tad Englund
    BPL Member


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    I'm a little apprehensive to address this topic, mainly because Iā€™m not equipped with the proper plumbing being discussed, but I have/am raised/raising 4 daughters and I have had to deal with this issue at home or in the backcountry.
    When the girls have tried drip drying, after a day or two those in my family have developed a yeast or the like infection, making for an unpleasant time had by all those involved/informed.
    My question is, does rinsing with water solve this problem or is TP the best option? With 5 females in the house this sort of topic surfaces regularly.

    Mike Clelland


    Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)


    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member


    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Hi Tad

    Rinsing with water DOES help females, quite emphatically.


    Mary D
    BPL Member


    Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge

    OK, this will be rather frank, coming from a woman who's been backpacking or otherwise getting into the outdoors for 66 years.

    Some of us have hemorrhoids (varicose veins of the rectum). They are a common complication for us women who have given birth to several children. I dare anyone to try rocks, leaves or grass on those! They make that area a lot harder to clean and also make it more important to get that area thoroughly clean to prevent further irritation.

    In addition, due to a knee injury 20 years ago, I can't squat down completely, which means there's more waste left on me to clean up.

    I've had no problems with infections after urinating, but I do use a moist towelette at least once a day to clean the entire perineal region (wiping front to back). I noticed long ago that female horses after peeing stayed in the position, straining and then relaxing several times to get rid of drops of urine. It seems to work for me.

    The Turkish method (a narrow hose connected to a water tap for washing off the nether regions) worked fine for me while using toilets in Turkey. When I try to imitate it out in the wilds with a squirt bottle, the water runs down my legs into my pants and shoes. Forget it!

    I carry TP (actually, sections of paper towels) and moist towelettes. The used ones go into my garbage and are packed out. Perhaps not the greatest solution, but the only one that works for me.

    Sharon Bingham
    BPL Member


    Locale: Southwest

    So since I posted my initial question, I've had the opportunity to use, what I think, is THE most liberating invention to hit woman-kind since the… the… well – ever?

    Devices which allow you to urinate standing up. Freshette is the kind I used, but there are many versions out there.

    I actually found that the funnel catches most excess moisture as you pull it away from your body once you're done, and that cleanup in the evening was pretty much all that was necessary for me.

    Never thought to try the bandana idea, but I may if I am in a situation where my clothing isn't as breathable. It's mostly a psychological protest – since urine (or so I've read) is actually sterile when it leaves the body…

    But for any woman who hasn't tried a female urinary assistance device: really, you DON'T know what you're missing.

    Some of the newer designs are even made of a single molded piece, in a material that is antimicrobial, anti-fungal, AND hydrophobic (sheds fluid).

    I never leave home without one nearby – also great for road trips!

    Sarah Kirkconnell
    BPL Member


    Locale: Homesteading On An Island In The PNW

    Not sure why I didn't comment back then – having read the article.

    In regards to getting bad infections: yes, you can, and yes, they are god awful to get in the back country.

    If as a female you get yeast or bladder infections, toilet paper is your friend.

    A roll of TP weighs an ounce or so after you take the core out. I never go TP less. The risk of a UTI just is not worth it. Men rarely get UTI's (and if they do, it is a BAD thing) so I think often that many men just don't realize how debilitating one can be. Urine crystals are nasty in some women.

    As for the pee rag? Yuck-o.

    Hikin’ Jim
    BPL Member


    Locale: Orange County, CA, USA

    Isn't it, um, un-environmental to rip up grass or tear the leaves off a bush? If these practices were widely adopted, wouldn't that cause environmental damage, particularly above tree line or in arid areas?


    Jeff Antig


    Locale: Pacific Northwest

    Going to the dark side, quite literally.

    Nathaniel McCartney
    BPL Member


    Locale: Central PA

    I'm surprised that no one mentioned using moss as a TP substitute. When it is abundant enough to be collected sustainably (as it usually is here in the Eastern US), I don't think there's anything better. There are so many kinds of moss to choose from, and many of them are not only extremely effective and easy to use, but also quite gentle on the bum. Dry moss, wet moss, thick moss, thin moss, it's all good!

    In swampy areas where finding potable water is more tricky, I've also used moist moss (sphagnum is best) for cleaning my face. I doubt that moss harvested from above the water level is prone to harboring dangerous microorganisms.

    Mike Clelland


    Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)

    Reply to Jim,

    In the article, I advocate being mindful of how you grab moss and living plant material. Get a lot of it from multiple sources. Easy.

    To me, leaving toilet paper in the mountains is littering, plain and simple. If it's buried, it's still litter.

    I've taught no TP for over 16 years at NOLS, and it has NEVER been a problem, for anyone, for 30-days at a stretch. It is VERY simple. Any squeamishness and aversion (to me) stems from never actually trying something that (to me) is so normal that I don't give it a second thought. (easy!)

    Mike C!

    John S.
    BPL Member


    Toilet Paper

    Use toilet paper sparingly and use only plain, white, non-perfumed brands. Toilet paper must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole or placed in plastic bags and packed out. Natural toilet paper has been used by many campers for years. When done correctly, this method is as sanitary as regular toilet paper, but without the impact problems. Popular types of natural toilet paper include stones, vegetation and snow. Obviously, some experimentation is necessary to make this practice work for you, but it is worth a try! Burning toilet paper in a cathole is not generally recommended.

    Toilet Paper in Arid Lands: Placing toilet paper in plastic bags and packing it out as trash is the best way to Leave No Trace in a desert environment. Toilet paper should not be burned. This practice can result in wild fires.

    Mike Clelland


    Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)

    That is an accurate quote from the LNT offices.

    I was doing research on an upcoming book, so I called the LNT office and talked to them about the fact that they say: "Toilet paper must be disposed of properly! It should either be thoroughly buried in a cathole"

    I confronted them on this issue, and they said they were basically required to say as much, because people are going to burry it anyway, no matter what their organization recommends. Sorta lame reasoning.

    They also say to dig a 6 to 8 inch deep cat hole, even though that is almost impossible in most topsoil. They say "6 to 8 inches" simply because they KNOW that people won't dig that deep, so they advocate something that is impossible and expect people to do something less. Again, this strikes me as sorta lame.

    Jeremy Platt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Sydney

    Hi Mike,
    I really enjoyed your article. I recently came back from a 5 day bushwhack where water was at a premium and it seems like the extra water required to clean yourself would at least outweigh the extra weight of toilet paper (1L = 1000 g compared to ~ 20g for TP). How little water can you use in this process?

    As the snow has started falling I am keen to try using your snow scoop method soon though!!

    a b


    My buddy Sage would SO approve.. as do I!

    Diplomatic Mike


    Locale: Under a bush in Scotland

    As a meat eater, who enjoys a few pints of Guinness, my need for TP might be more than a veggie! ;)

    Maia Averett


    I recently discovered the wonders of using half a bandana to wipe after peeing. Backpacking dudes don't have to worry about this, but for women, it's a huge annoyance to choose between drip-dry, TP, not hydrating enough, or smelling like pee. The pee bandana has been a total revelation for me!

    I wrote more about how I use it on my blog: Essential Gear: The Pee Bandana

    BPL Member


    Locale: Virginia USA

    Just asking those who use this method. When using the sluice bottle for cleaning, is this your drinking water bottle or a designated bottle for this purpose? I would be afraid to have my water bottle as part of the pooing process.

    Greg Mihalik


    Locale: Colorado

    Kurt – Just to be sure, if you are referring to this image – Sluice1 I don't "sluice", I clean with the left, pour water on it to rinse, and repeat, until it comes up "spotless". I use about 8 ounces of water. I find the biggest risk is when I'm pouring water into my left hand. I "anchor" my right forearm on my right knee, hold my left hand below the bottle, and rotate the right to do the pour. Otherwise the bottle tends to migrate to my left hand, risking contamination. Before I get down to business I uncap my hard-sided liter bottle and set it within reach, forward and to my right.. I also uncap my soap and my sanitizer and set them to my right (1 ounce dropper bottles). When the deed is done my right hand does the pouring, then soap dispensing, then sanitizer. The left washes itself (and always ends up cleaner than my right), before it touches anything else. Note the differences from Mike's sketch – a free-floating right arm, and soap on the left instead of the right.

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