Subscribe Contribute Advertise Facebook Twitter Instagram Forums Newsletter
Toilet Paper
Display Avatars Sort By:
Dustin Fritterling
(medylami) - F

Locale: Southeast
Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 15:12:54 MDT Print View

What should you do with used Toilet Paper on the Trail?

1) Pack it out.

2) Burn it (and the surrounding 4,000 acres).

3) Bury it in the ground and let natural attenuation take its course.

4) Don't bring TP, instead use a variety of sticks, rocks, leaves, and pinecones.

What are YOUR methods and why? Feel free to list anything that wasn't mentioned here.

Edited by medylami on 04/20/2009 15:13:55 MDT.

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 15:30:49 MDT Print View


Edited by ChrisMorgan on 04/20/2009 15:50:05 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 15:40:31 MDT Print View

Once Mike C discovers this post, you'll get his famous "No TP" lecture. He seems to feel quite strongly on this issue. Personally, I don't like to see or smell rocks and pinecones lying around with human waste on them. Nor do I like the idea of using green vegetation, especially in sensitive alpine areas.

I am female and, like most women who've had several children, have hemorrhoids. Therefore things like rocks, pine needles, etc. don't work for me and have the potential to cause injury and infection. I have to use nice soft TP plus wet wipes. If the ground is wet, the TP is buried the cathole with some water poured over it to help it disintegrate. The wet wipes are packed out. If the weather and ground are dry, both are packed out, because the TP won't disintegrate in dry conditions. Being a "Freezer Bag Cooking" fan, I use the used plastic freezer bags for this purpose. Multiple use--at both ends!

Edited by hikinggranny on 04/20/2009 15:45:37 MDT.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 15:49:28 MDT Print View

I burn it if I can. In winter or sensitive areas I just put it in a ziplock and pack it out.

cary bertoncini
(cbert) - F

Locale: N. California
have done all the above on 04/20/2009 15:51:10 MDT Print View

minus any acreage

i think:

burning doesn't seem to be very effective

burying is cool in lower use areas

packing inside ziplocks isn't all that inconvenient & makes sense in high use or sensitive areas - that's what we did this weekend at Rancheria

going native is also best in off-trail or less frequented areas, or during emergencies of supply and demand

Ali e
(barefootnavigator) - F

Locale: Outside
"Toilet Paper" and bears on 04/20/2009 17:05:17 MDT Print View

A quick question for those of you carrying your sh@t* around. Do you hang it in your bear bag or store it in your food canister overnight? Just curious as to the whole debate of animals digging it up. Ali

Dave T
(DaveT) - F
. on 04/20/2009 17:08:38 MDT Print View


Edited by DaveT on 05/17/2015 21:33:12 MDT.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 17:10:24 MDT Print View

I find that sage leaves are nice with a nice, spicy scent. And of course, I use my backcountry bidet and plenty of hand sanitizer.

Jonathan Boozer
(anywayoutside) - MLife

Locale: South East
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 17:49:21 MDT Print View

It's been 3.5 hrs since Dylan's post...Mike must be out.

Nia Schmald
(nschmald) - MLife
Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 19:41:59 MDT Print View

Mary, when using the no TP option, one is supposed to bury their sh*t covered rocks. Anyone who leaves their crap lying around is missing a vital component of leave no trace.

Every ranger I've talked to in the sierras for the last few years wanted and/or required one to pack out their tp. Before I switched to tp-less methods I would keep a ziplock bag for this purpose. I found this totally disgusting so I switched.

My favorite method is a grass brush (a long clump of grass folded in half) to wipe myself clean and then bury the stuff along with the rest of the waste.

And remember as Mike says, "A clean butt is a happy butt". Soap and water does wonders.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/20/2009 20:19:43 MDT Print View

Like Mary, I cannot go without TP - unless I want a raging UTI in under 24 hours. I won't use plants either - it isn't worth the risk, I get UTI's so easily I won't risk it.

Having said that, I do pack out my TP. I also pack out my used lady products as well. And when my kid was little, his diapers. It isn't hard really, you just have to bag stuff right. And as for the garbage? Just leave it bagged at night. We often use our 2nd Ursack for garbage duty.

I always take a full roll of TP. Oh glorious soft TP how I love you ;-P Heck, even my daypack has a full roll....

Dustin Fritterling
(medylami) - F

Locale: Southeast
opinions are like... on 04/21/2009 17:19:13 MDT Print View


I've had a lot of fun reading your replies. Seems like the majority of folks pack it out while others go native. I have never packed it out, and rather prefer to use leaves etc. or buy the biodegradeable (and really thin) toilet paper, which should be urinated upon to facilitate the process.

Coin Page
(Page0018) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern USA
1% Hydrocortisone Ointment on 04/22/2009 20:40:24 MDT Print View

A tiny dab of 1% Hydrocortisone Ointment on the last TP for final cleansing. Flammable, or not, depending on your preference. Helps prevent itching and sooths hemorrhoids. I carry 1/4 oz in a BPL MiniBalm jar. Good for sunburn, poison ivy, etc. A fourth of a cotton ball saturated in ointment in the bottom of the jar is an emergency fire starter.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Toilet Paper on 04/23/2009 16:08:18 MDT Print View

OK, I'll stand in for Mike C! here... No TP! It's been years since I last carried any TP into the woods--or had any desire to. Being TP-less is no less sanitary than using TP. It's easy 'n clean all 'round. Any vegetation will do, usually just a handful of fallen leaves from the ground around me. If there seems to be a shortage of those, perhaps a bracken fern. I've never had a problem with infections or irritation. Leaves go in the cathole along with the rest of my waste. And if critters do dig it up, no white stuff strung through camp. I use enough leaves that my hand isn't doing the wiping--no more exposure than I'd get using TP. In winter I love using snow, very clean, the wetness is nice. Whether I used leaves or TP, I'd clean up afterward with a shot of Purell.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 04/23/2009 17:06:42 MDT Print View

No TP for me either!

"Biodegradable" or not, I wouldn't bury paper wrappers and trash, so why TP?

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
TP true confessions on 04/23/2009 18:56:03 MDT Print View

Ok, so I only recently went to no TP. It was springtime. Lots of fresh greenery available. I need to know how to keep this up.

So, what about hiking in the Southern California desert? Where the juniper and Joshua trees live. What to use?

What about the High Sierra? Where the rocks are sharp and so are the pine needles?

How about Northern California forests? Everything looked so dry and scratchy and sharp.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
toilet paper? on 04/25/2009 18:47:31 MDT Print View

Hey - my reputation prosedes me!

Here's a link to an article:

Chris Morgan
(ChrisMorgan) - F

Locale: Southern Oregon
Poison Ivy TP on 04/25/2009 22:39:12 MDT Print View

Mike, while I have admired that chart for some time now, I do have to take issue with your assessment of poison ivy. Long term comfort may warrant a 0, but absorbency? Surely poison ivy is more absorbent than limestone rocks. And while a requisite mini-dropper of calamine would need to be added to one's gear list, I would think it might bring soothing benefit to one's mozzie bites. Granted, you do disclaim that your chart is non-scientific and only a guide, but to fully discredit Rhus toxicodendron as worthless in all cases, even those most pressing (you know what I mean), saddens me deeply.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
old man on 04/26/2009 01:19:57 MDT Print View

I also have a nitpick.

Old man's beard scores pretty highly, but you don't seem to have taken any account of how difficult it is to acquire one on the trail. Plus the difficulty of separating the beard from the old man (presumably with some UL scissors during the night) and the dangers which exist when the old man finds out what you have used his beard for.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Wooly Lamb's ear on 04/26/2009 03:34:02 MDT Print View

I have to say Ashley, I'm more concerned about the Lamb's Ear myself. Quite apart from the fact that it implies you're either stuck with walking through farmland or else taking entirely inappropriate pack animals with you, it seems both cruel and wasteful.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Rabbits foot on 04/26/2009 05:21:55 MDT Print View

Dude, you left out using your trusty Rabbits foot ; )

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 12:14:14 MST Print View

I'm reviving this TP thread, in a different direction.

If you don't use TP, move along, there's nothing to see, keep driving.

For the TP users ONLY, I was thinking about those fast food starbuck brown napkins, you know the ones that have printed on them "Made from 100% recycled paper"

I used them with reasonable success. The napkin is fairly large, so I can usually make 1 napkin last for 2 to 3 applications.

I'm guessing here, the starbucks napkin will decompose better or the same as white TP.

If an animal dug it up, the color of the brown napkin does not stand out as much as the bleached white TP.

Time warp history:
When TP was first factory mass produced during the industrial revolution, the paper color was newspaper greyish brown. The consumers were partially interested because it didn't convey the clean image. The marketing guys added bleach to the paper pulp for that bright white look. TP Consumers loved the bright white color even though the added bleach was an irritant. Now the paper bleaching is minimized and irritation is negligeable.

Now on the forum we are not so prima donna, and somewhat adventurous with testing. I suggest giving fast food / Starbucks napkins a try.

If someone does a biodegradable decomposition test, tell us about it, with no pictures.

Recycled Napkin Starbucks

Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 13:40:43 MST Print View

Roger, I really like your French tip manicured nails in the above picture. How do you keep them so nice while backpacking?

Maybe you can dig a hole in your back yard and put some regular TP in with some of SB napkins and wait three months and should us the results (unused of course).

Edited by bestbuilder on 02/03/2014 13:41:24 MST.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 13:46:48 MST Print View

Having done some plumbing jobs and been around plumbers a fair amount, my understanding is that toilet paper is designed to melt/disintegrate in water. The reason for that being so it does not clog sewer/septic systems.

So I would think that if you use it and then bury it in soil in a wet climate that it will disappear after a while. Or if you burn it and then bury it, the unburnt parts will disintegrate and disappear even sooner.

Napkins are generally NOT designed to melt/disintegrate in water; rather they are designed to hold up somewhat better in water because their purpose is to wipe and clean up wet things. So I'm thinking that using napkins or paper towels and not packing them out would leave more of a problem out in the wilds...


Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 13:47:56 MST Print View

Tad :)

I can't bury napkins in the backyard, the dog will dig it up.

Any volunteers ?

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 13:50:11 MST Print View


The answers are Here.

WAGs are interesting, but nothing beats science.

Edited by greg23 on 02/03/2014 13:52:33 MST.

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 14:36:32 MST Print View

I think cat-holes have been covered but I just wanted to throw another variable into the equation… pit toilets. Hiking in areas like the enchantments, N. Cascades, or on trails around Rainier, pit toilets are plentiful and should be used to the best extent possible to prevent the rest of the park from turning into a cesspool. (yeah yeah yeah… “I avoid those areas, too many people, NPs are the devil, blah blah blah”).

In these areas, I like to use biodegradable baby wipes for a couple reasons: 1) don't want to (and shouldn't) throw used rocks into the toilet or disperse them into the woods. Also don't want to pick leaves or other fauna for TP in a high traffic area 2) takes fewer baby wipes to polish off the undercarriage than it does to do the same job with TP. I find one sheet ripped in half to be sufficient for the job.

Yokes grocery store will carry biodegradable wipes from time to time and you can find them online also. I'll lay them out at home to dry them out and then pour a little water on them right before I use them.

Packing them out is never a bad idea but even towards the end of season, I didn't find any volcano pit toilets on the Wonderland and think throwing them (biodegradable ones) into the composting pit toilet is perfectly fine despite the fact I risk a visit from the BPL inquisition for saying so.

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/03/2014 14:37:52 MST.

Roger Dodger
(RogerDodger) - F

Locale: Wess Siide
Re: Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 14:43:18 MST Print View

Thanks for the link. Very interesting.

"Discussion and conclusions

Unbleached toilet paper does break down faster than bleached toilet paper and tissues."

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 14:55:48 MST Print View

"...and think throwing them (biodegradable ones) into the composting pit toilet is perfectly fine despite the fact I risk a visit from the BPL inquisition for saying so."

Urinating in a composting toilet is much much worse than throwing biodegradeable wipes into them...

Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 15:14:10 MST Print View

"Urinating in a composting toilet is much much worse than throwing biodegradeable wipes into them..."

Good to know. I've never seen one with a diverter in it in the NP and it is well beyond my ability to separate those two transactions 100% when it comes time to make my deposit.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 15:19:03 MST Print View

Composting toilet in Grand Valley, Olympic National Park, says not to urinate in toilet

This topic is now degenerating : ) - I can usually urinate next to it (on rock so goats don't detroy what I'm urinating on) then #2 in toilet

When not composting toilet, it's good to combine - the fertilizers are complementary

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 15:22:58 MST Print View

> Urinating in a composting toilet is much much worse than throwing biodegradeable wipes into them...

Do you have any scientific proof of that, or is it urban myth?


Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
scientific proof on 02/03/2014 15:35:31 MST Print View

+1 thank you Roger, I was thinking the very same thing. Biogradeable wipe vs urine- my bet is that urine is a better long term, earth healthy option.

Sorry for the thread drift-


Ian B.

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Toilet Paper on 02/03/2014 15:42:50 MST Print View

"Composting toilet in Grand Valley, Olympic National Park, says not to urinate in toilet"

Some of the toilets I encountered at Rainier were just simple pit toilets. My understanding from talking to a ranger is that the digested bounty is removed at the end of the year even though some composting does occur. Not sure where it's disposed of after that. Of the true composting toilets I saw (N. Puyallup for example), I don't recall seeing a request to not urinate in there.

I admit I'm not wise in the ways of the composting pooh and will consult Master Po for guidance.

Edit "my bet is that urine is a better long term, earth healthy option."

From my past Google Fu, I've seen people use a urine diverter with their urban composting toilets. I realize that diluted urine makes for a good fertilizer and is generally sterile (assuming the donor is healthy) but do the extra fluids hamper the composting process?

Edited by IDBLOOM on 02/03/2014 15:49:14 MST.

Larry De La Briandais
(Hitech) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Little Yosemite Valley on 02/03/2014 15:45:41 MST Print View

The composting toilet in LYV has no such warning. They do warn about throwing plastic, etc., but nothing about urine.

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Re: scientific proof on 02/03/2014 16:02:19 MST Print View

Urine contains more nitrogen than poo and works against the mold and bacteria that compost and breakdown the solids, including the biodegradeable wipes. The majority of nasty composting toilets you come across will smell of ammonia which is from the urine - as opposed to the anaerobic digestion of the composter which needs to be aerated.

Barring health issues, urine is nearly sterile and is perfectly fine on a rock or some DG. Long term, urine will kill the composting toilet long before IDB's handiwipes through reduced effectiveness.

There is a sh^t ton (pun intended) of crapper data out there about composting toilets and urine, just google it. Every one will discuss urine and separation from poo - and most kits available provide urine diversion - none discuss not tossing in biodegradeable wipes. f e c e s hitting the profanity filter :)

David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
cob on 02/03/2014 16:42:03 MST Print View

Use the red cob first, then the white cob. The white cob will tell you if you need another red cob.

(livingontheroad) - M
wipes on 02/03/2014 16:49:50 MST Print View

All the mouldering privys Ive used say dont pee in them too.

And the volunteers that clean them out, say dont put trash or wipes in them.

TP biodegrades much faster than wipes. Someone ends up picking that stuff out with their (gloved) hands when the privy is full or moved. Yep, they get full. People crapping and throwing in handfulls of woodchips many times a day builds up. Into compost yes, but compost with debris in it usually.

Edited by livingontheroad on 02/03/2014 16:51:11 MST.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: scientific proof on 02/03/2014 16:58:01 MST Print View

The National Park people put the sign up saying not to urinate in it, so I don't think it's urban myth.

It's just a sealed container, so if you put urine in, it will fill up faster.

In pit toilets, liquids drain out of it over time, totally different chemistry.

Maybe some composting toilets are different than other ones.

Brian Crain
(brcrain) - F

Locale: So Cal
Re: Re: scientific proof on 02/03/2014 17:34:30 MST Print View

Some are different - active and inactive. Active are at more front country settings and will usually have some powered (solar) aeration or ventilation. For the most part though, composting is composting - which is much different than a septic system.

Pits in remote and underutilized areas aren't affected as much by peeing in them - they do need moisture to work and if they are overly dry from lack of use or maintenance this is just absorbed and the PH balances back out before destroying the process. But a little goes a long way... which is what happens to most higher use areas - too much urine and instead of a composting toilet you end up with a nonfunctioning septic holding tank - with no active bacteria or agents working to break down the excrement. These have to be serviced too frequently and are not effective - which is a big factor as to why many are disappearing from the backcountry: failure to use them properly = more maintenance/pumping/waste removal = increased cost = get the rest.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Toilet Paper" on 02/03/2014 18:57:36 MST Print View

Interesting comments. I particularly have no experience with composting toilets and as a woman (maybe this isn't normal? I dunno) I tend to do a #1 and #2 simultaneously and don't know exactly if I'd be able to separate it out if I had to. I've never had to.

I'm a TP packer but I pack it out. I cannot *stand* to see piles of TP laying around. I don't mind if people bury or burn, but I pack mine out. I've started carrying the little bags in with me that I use for my dog on our walks- they're lightweight black bags so not see-through which I think is better. Plus they are a lighter material than ziplock bags so when ounces count these are better.

(livingontheroad) - M
combined on 02/03/2014 19:45:33 MST Print View

You do the #1 on a rock before you go to do the #2 in the privy, greatly reduces any mistakes. A clean mouldering privy has virtually no smell, ones people have peed in smell like youd expect a cesspool to smell.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: combined on 02/03/2014 20:43:52 MST Print View

> ones people have peed in smell like youd expect a cesspool to smell.
Um ???

We have a lot of 'biodynamic self-composting' loos in our National Parks. Can't say I have smelt them - unless someone has piddled all over the floor.


David Olsen
( - M

Locale: Channeled Scablands
grand canyon on 02/03/2014 20:53:42 MST Print View

The rocket boxes one takes floating the Grand Canyon would fill up and make a huge mess with urine, so everyone first pee's in the river (urine on the shore would build up and smell) then uses the rocket box for number 2. A bit of a challenge for all, but hey, you get used to it.

. Kirby
(Kirby805) - F
RE: Toilet Paper on 02/04/2014 08:49:19 MST Print View

Being extremely reactive to poison oak, I refuse to use plants to wipe my undercarriage. I can contract a poison oak rash just by touching plants in the vicinity of a poison oak bush, which is basically every plant in my local backcountry (SoCal). And I'm sorry, but I am not packing out my poo paper. It's getting burned or buried.

Edited by Kirby805 on 02/04/2014 11:32:38 MST.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/04/2014 09:15:56 MST Print View

THIS is the best toilet paper and Hendrik does a great review in this video ;)

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Re: RE: Toilet Paper : Best Link Ever! on 02/04/2014 10:02:30 MST Print View

Still laughing, tooo difficult to type

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/14/2014 13:33:05 MST Print View

>> And I'm sorry, but I am not packing out my poo paper. It's getting burned or buried.

Excludes you from hiking some great areas, like the Grand Canyon and Zion.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/14/2014 14:15:51 MST Print View

" And I'm sorry, but I am not packing out my poo paper. It's getting burned or buried."

Bad Kitty!

But really? The "poo paper" is just too gross for you, but you find it is fine to leave it in the wilderness you are supposed to care about?

I've been doing this for 20 years, all trips, regardless. Use one or more special ziplocks for the used TP. Press the air out of the bag when closing. It doesn't smell but if you like you have an option to put certain chemical items in the bag to reduce what little smell there is. It goes in the very bottom of the bag, and causes no issues, inconveniences or smells at all.

So my reaction is a bit more strident than Sumi's - not to pack it out it is just flat out ignorance, and possibly squeamishness that is highly unbecoming and unmanly for a backpacker. Maybe the Hello Kitty TP really would be right for you! ;-)

I'm with you on the poison oak, however. Fortunately I am not very very sensitive, but we had a visiting Swedish scientist working at Los Alamos one time that literally used poison oak to wipe on a backpacking trip in the Jemez mountains - and spent a while in the hospital. I think the psychological damage must have been longer lasting as he unfortunately became known around the lab, in spite of his brilliance, as "that guy who wiped his ass with poison oak".

Edited by millonas on 02/14/2014 14:41:59 MST.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/14/2014 17:00:36 MST Print View

"but you find it is fine to leave it in the wilderness you are supposed to care about?"

Could you explain to us why burning TP in the cat hole or in the depression beneath a good sized boulder constitutes a crime against the wilderness, assuming there is no fire danger? The same question applies to well buried TP in a well selected site highly unlikely to be visited by humans.

Edited: TP disposal has been the subject of considerable, at times heated, debate here down thru the years, with no clear consensus ever having been arrived at. I can assure you that there are a number of backpackers on BPL, no less manly nor more ignorant than you, who would take issue with your words. There are many valid approaches, depending on conditions, administrative edicts, and personal taste, so why not just WYOA and let others do the same without the condescending insults? At the very least, append an IMO to the end of your sentence to make it clear that you are expressing just that, an opinion, neither more nor less valid than anyone else's.

Edited by ouzel on 02/14/2014 18:01:39 MST.

Valerie E
(Wildtowner) - M

Locale: Grand Canyon State
What Chemicals? on 02/14/2014 17:28:57 MST Print View

Hmmmm, I've been packing out my toilet paper for years (and hating the smell), but I've never heard of putting chemicals in the baggie to reduce the odor...what do you use, and in what quantities? I'd be interested in that...

And if you think packing out the paper is nasty, try packing out your actual poo, which is required in delicate areas like Aravaipa Canyon, Whitney (now), etc. Thank god for those mylar bags they give you...

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: What Chemicals? on 02/15/2014 00:55:13 MST Print View

I can't think of the chemical name, but it exists. On Mount Whitney, when the Forest Service issues each individual a WAG bag, it has some dry chemical in it. Any liquid in the human waste activates this chemical, and it gells within the plastic bag. So, there isn't much mess to carry out.

However ( ! ), there is a catch. If you have one WAG bag, and then if you need to go a second time, it can be difficult to get a second use out of the kit.


William F

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/15/2014 01:28:38 MST Print View

What is an "unmanly" backpacker?

Like Tom I'd also like to know what harm comes from burning TP in a cat hole? I think there are far worse things we do to the environment that we could focus on for starters. Certain high use areas can get disgusting and so I agree with the parks asking you to pack it out in those situations, but there are many places that I and other people on this forum go to which are pretty remote. Or in some cases so close to other sources of pollution that the harm from burning TP or burying it deep and underneath a rock would not be logical in the grand scheme of things.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/15/2014 02:13:22 MST Print View

It was a joke - the little winkey smiley should have given it away to most people. The obvious silliness should have given it away as well. Anyway, I just ignore overreactions of this type as they are entirely out of my control, and there are always going to be a few.

I'm sure you guys do in fact burn it well, and/or bury it correctly. But I'm equally sure that the people responsible for all the TP I see above ground along high traffic routes use *exactly* the same reasoning. I don't say the reasoning is wrong at all - but unfortunately for a lot of people the execution, apparently, sucks.

As far as chemicals, I know there are some chemicals they use in porto-potties, but that wasn't what I was thinking of. Along the green river corridor (Utah, very dry, stuff will last forever, etc.) they have some very strict rules. If you rent a canoe and go down stillwater and labyrinth canyons (about 100 miles) they make you take a metal box, basically an UL porto-potty (box with a toilet seat on top, and also with a closeable lid). Think of it as a wag-bag designed to last up to a couple of weeks. They also provide a bag of powdery stuff - don't remember exactly what it is. If you throw sprinkle some of that on top every day or so it stops a lot of the smell. I'd have to do some research to figure out what it was - but I assume a similar strategy would work in your TP bag if smaller quantities, if you have an extra sensitivity with regards the smell. Since the smell comes from the biological breakdown of nutrients, I suppose anything that slowed this would help. I think the powdery stuff was biodegradable at some level because my understanding was you could dispose of the final stuff in a septic system.

Anyway, if it ever feels like it smells too much I seal the bag for the last time and start a new one. I usually double bag those. Except with putting stuff in there, there is no smell involved. You just have to plan for it.

Edited by millonas on 02/15/2014 02:29:45 MST.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/15/2014 02:21:13 MST Print View

"but you find it is fine to leave it in the wilderness you are supposed to care about?"

Yes, as long as I can reasonably expect no other humans to somehow stumble upon and witness my TP.

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: RE: Toilet Paper on 02/15/2014 17:10:22 MST Print View

"But really? The "poo paper" is just too gross for you, but you find it is fine to leave it in the wilderness you are supposed to care about?"

This is the part of your post that set me off, Mark, and pretty much cancelled out the smiley face at the end of the paragraph I responded to. I should have emphasized it at the time. My question to you is: Why do you assume that if TP is not packed out it will be carelessly scattered across the landscape? This is probably the most common argument people make for packing out used TP, and it just doesn't apply to many, many responsible backpackers, who carefully select their poo sites and very carefully dispose of their TP, either by burying, or burning and burying, it well, depending on conditions and personal preference. As for those benighted souls who do scatter their TP across the landscape, they should feel the full force of administrative law and the wrath of their fellow backpackers in cases where they are caught red, or should I say brown, handed. In this you have my full support. Just don't tar all backpackers with the same brush.

I'm not looking for a flame war and have pretty much said my piece, so this will be my last comment on the subject.

Edited by ouzel on 02/15/2014 17:13:27 MST.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Toilet Paper" on 02/15/2014 18:33:55 MST Print View

"Yes, as long as I can reasonably expect no other humans to somehow stumble upon and witness my TP."
Justin- that sounds suspiciously like you leave your paper sitting on the ground. Say it ain't so. Please.

There is no place that is so remote that no one else will go there. I go places that feel pretty remote and yet still find trash and TP from thoughtless people who were there before me. I have no problem with people that burn or bury, but I have a real problem with people who just leave that mess there for me to see/smell or for my dog to go roll in.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: "Toilet Paper" on 02/15/2014 20:42:45 MST Print View

I don't use TP.

I didn't mean that I would let it sit out in the open because I figured nobody would see it, I mean that if I bury it properly (or burn or whatever method works best) then I could reasonably expect no humans to stumble upon it, because it's buried/concealed.

If it was an extremely overused used campsite then there would be a chance of somebody stumbling upon it... especially if its a very dry or deserty area where things don't decompose. In some areas you could not reasonably that someone would not stumble upon it, like in a scree field or 10 feet of snow.

I can see how that statement would have been misinterpreted.

Edited by justin_baker on 02/15/2014 20:44:05 MST.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: "Toilet Paper" on 02/15/2014 21:01:30 MST Print View

"If it was an extremely overused used campsite then there would be a chance of somebody stumbling upon it..."

TP or not, when you finish your bury, especially in a busy area, mark it with two small sticks crossed to make an "X".

The next person through will quietly thank you.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: "Toilet Paper" on 02/16/2014 10:56:03 MST Print View

@Tom My issue with the post I was (I thought gently) mocking was the attitude that "it is so gross that forget about me packing it". I feel that this is frankly incorrect factually, but the part I especially objected to was the irony that "is is so gross, therefor I'm leaving it in the wilderness". Too gross for my pack, but just fine to leave.

I agree that in the end, IF buried or burned CORRECTLY, there is a GOOD argument, especially if the traffic in an area is low the net impact is LESS, not more. After all the stuff goes somewhere in the end.

But apparently a lot of people don't do it right, and I suspect people who find the whole issue gross and distasteful are going to have a tendency truncate this process. Do they bury it deep enough, or just fake it because it is "gross". Do they stand around an make sure it burned safely and completely, or do they just fake it. Or leave half burned TP in existing fire rings where it blow off in the wind an hour later. All present company excluded of course ;-). A lot of the time I feel like it would be better for everyone to pack it out, but then even if there was a rule the usual suspects would still do the same.

Anyway, next time I go on a trip in the sierra and I DON'T see TP I'll eat my words. Why do I assume TP will be scattered about? Because I SEE it all the time. This is not the same as assuming YOU will do the same.

@Greg The X idea is a good one I never heard before - provided people understand what it means and don't think it marks buried treasure. I may try that. I have always obsessively covered my sites to make it unlikely someone will chose that spot again soon - after all I thought it was *perfect* the first time for some reason. This has included rocks and good sized logs, and always leaves or pine needles. I also do the dirt inoculation and stick stir thing. :-)

Edited by millonas on 02/16/2014 11:15:23 MST.

Stephen Barber
(grampa) - MLife

Locale: SoCal
TP or DPW? on 02/16/2014 12:07:40 MST Print View

" I also do the dirt inoculation and stick stir thing. :-)"

Add a bit of water to the mix a la Qi Whiz, and the TP disintegrates completely.

Comment on overall topic:
Is the issue the relatively innocuous TP, which is visually gross but relatively small in mass, or the much larger deposit of digestive process waste (DPW)? Compared to the mass of bacteria and other nastiness left in the DPW, TP is a biologically minor issue. Yes, same bacteria and nasties, but a much smaller amount.

Further, I really doubt that most of the folk who participate in this forum are the DPW and TP offenders of backcountry waste disposal etiquette. We seem to be pretty well committed to LNT principles, with minor disagreements that are more local environment related than whether one should do one's possible to leave the wilderness as close as possible to what it was when we came.

Y'all know that a mushroom is just the visible fruiting body of a fungus, which is much larger and spread over a wider area than the mushroom itself, right? Like the mushroom, TP is just the visible "fruiting body" of a much larger human product (DPW), which needs to be dealt with. Whether one wipes with Charmin or a mullein leaf is a relatively small issue - the bigger issue is dealing with excessive amounts of DPW in popular areas....and viciously shaming anyone we see not properly dealing with their own DPW and TP.

DPW used to bypass the website's horror of words normally used to designate DPW.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
X marks the spot on 02/16/2014 16:16:19 MST Print View

"The X idea is a good one I never heard before - provided people understand what it means and don't think it marks buried treasure."
Haha. They'll only make that mistake once, I wager.