Wiping in the Woods (6 Great Options)

Our way too in-depth study of pooping in the woods continues!

In nature, there are innumerable options in regards to natural wiping material. In many places toilet paper is an option, and in those places the act of pooping requires very little thought: find latrine/outhouse, do your business, and use a little TP after. HOWEVER, for many of the places we find ourselves traveling to, toilet paper simply isn't practical, accessible, or worth the difficult (and sometimes gross) process of packing out. 

People are generally very opinionated about their wiping materials of choice, butt here is a rundown of some of your natural wiping options and the pro's and con's associated with each! Perhaps there is no perfect alternative to toilet paper, butt there are certainly some options that are better than others! While these are all tried and tested materials, feel free to comment with additions, suggestions, and general trail pooping stories. Remember, the purpose of any wiping material is for the wiper to leave with poop free hands and a poop free butt. 


Option #1: Rocks

Pros:

  • Smooth rocks make for a very comfortable wipe
  • Rocks are easy to collect before and stash in your pockets
  • Smooth rocks provide a very firm and predictable wiping surface
  • Wet rocks give the illusion of both wiping and cleaning
  • Once used, rocks easily transform into paintbrush "poopbrushes"

Cons:

  • Smooth rocks can be hard to find if not near water
  • Jagged rocks can do some serious damage to the wiping region
  • Rocks are not absorbent
  • Lots of rocks are needed to obtain a truly clean wiping experience
  • Smaller rocks increase the change of accidental poophands

 


Option #2: Sticks

Pros:

  • Large wiping surface area
  • Easy to keep your hands distanced from the fecal matter
  • Always lots of available sticks lying around

Cons:

  • Difficult to burry sticks afterwards (LNT principals state that #2's need to be buried at least 6inches down so animals don't dig them up)
  • Sticks can have numerous knots, tough patches, and irregularities.
  • Pealing off bark to ensure a smoother wipe can be time consuming
  • There is always a risk of a splinter (ouch!)

Option #3: Leaves

Pros:

  • Easy to collect while pooping. Typically abundant in most areas
  • The malleable nature of leaves make for a comfortable wipe
  • Green color makes it easy to determine when you are done wiping
  • Easy to burry afterwards 
  • Large leaves make for lots of surface area

Cons:

  • Not absorbant
  • Leaves on occasion will rip, leaving the wiper with a case of poophands
  • Small leaves also have a high incident rate of poophands
  • Not available above the tree line, in many deserts, or in dense pine forests
  • Wiping with unidentified leaves could result in rashes, outbreaks, or incredible discomfort 

Option #4: Moss

Pros:

  • Incredibly comfortable wiping experience
  • Very absorbent
  • Moisture of moss leaves wiper feeling clean and refreshed

Cons:

  • Not always readily accessible
  • Often times mossy debris is left behind in the wiping region
  • Since the opposite side of the moss is dirt, sometimes dirt too can be left behind 
  • Uncomfortable small items often hide in moss (small sticks, bugs, nature...)
  • Questionable LNT (no way to reattach moss once picked up)
  • Can be difficult to determine if more wiping is needed

Option #5: Aqua Wipe (when you stand in a body of water and wash yourself out)

Pros:

  • Very effectively removes poop and cleans the wiping region
  • Certainly a refreshing take on wiping
  • Great option if you have really made a mess or if their are items of clothing involved

Cons:

  • You get wet and potentially cold
  • NOT at all in line with LNT principals
  • Could contaminate water supply (giardia) 
  • Draws a great deal of attention to you and your wiping habits
  • Not always an option if not around water

Option #6: Your Friend's Pack Towel

Pros:

  • Incredibly confortable wipe
  • Very absorbent
  • Easily accessible
  • Easily disposable
  • Creative, resourceful, and adaptable

Cons:

  • Could potentially be a friendship ender
  • 1 use and done
  • Could give your friend a wicked case of pink eye
  • Permanently establish yourself as a jerk

 


Written by Lloyd Vogel: Owner and Co-Founder of Big Outdoors. Enjoyer of hiking, kayaking, ultimate frisbee, and eating disproportionately large meals. A native of Milwaukee Wisconsin, Lloyd currently lives and operates Big Outdoors in St. Paul Minnesota.