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Packing Out Unsavory Detritus
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Timothy Reynolds
(magrenell) - M

Locale: New England
Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 06:55:58 MST Print View

Dear Community,

This coming Spring, me and my hiking posse will be trekking for 5 days in sensitive territory in the South West. The Park regulations require that we pack-out our toilet paper.

How do you do this in a hygienic manner? Chucking the stuff in an Aloksak doesn't seem quite like the best solution. What are the "best practices" in this regard?

Thanks, in advance, for your suggestions.


Ken T.
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: All up in there
Re: Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 07:16:21 MST Print View

Before Mike C! chimes in, you could go without using paper.

You could pack the TP in a tube of pvc or the like and pack your paper in a produce bag first. Stick in in the tube, capped at both ends.

Obviously no fires either.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 07:37:54 MST Print View

I always pack mine out no matter where I go and simply fold it and put it in my old sandwich bags (fold over type) left over from food storage.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 07:39:12 MST Print View

Packing out TP isn't hard. Just bring along snack size ziptop bags. Each bathroom visit gets a bag. STash said bag into a gallon ziptop bag. This has worked for many many years for me with no issues. The small bags seal off most of the odor so when you open your large tash bag you are not gagging......

Btw, this is also how I pack out used disposable diapers (they go into sandwich bags). Works well.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 08:51:54 MST Print View

Uh Oh. Poop talk.

I started to go without TP when I hiked the JMT many many years ago and found out they ask you to pack it out, not bury it.

The thought of carrying 10 days of used TP in my pack was far more disgusting than the thought of learning to wipe/wash with natural materials. Sorry, but I can't bear the idea of a week's worth of poo paper just sitting there, festering in a hot bag in my pack in the sun of the High Sierra summer...It just ain't right.

I've never used it since. Liberation, going on probably 5 or 6 years now :) Thanks, in large part, to Mike C!'s article ( and the realization that most self-respecting hunter gatherers would find it a very bizarre habit to carry poo covered paper around...

Here's a question to liven up the day:
If it's OK to bury TP, why wouldn't it be OK to bury other trash/wrappers if they were called "biodegradable"?

Calling Mike C! Calling Mike C! I need some backup! (Ducking into my bunker and putting on my flak jacket now...)

Erik Basil

Locale: Atzlan
Couple of ways on 12/14/2011 09:19:16 MST Print View

--You can build a P00P Tube out of large-diameter PVC, which isn't used TO go, but to contain and haul out the paper and whatnot. You can line it with a bag, or not, and you can put some kitty litter in there to absorb smells.

--You can double-bag gallon-sized ziplocks, and scotch tape some paper towels one layer thick inside the inner-bag for two reasons: opacity for the squeamish and mild absorption. A little kitty litter is good there, too.

At the latrine, you clean what needs cleaning if you're not one of the UL'ers that rub up against cholla or snatch unwitting squirrels for the task, and then fold over and stash in the bag. If you use wet-wipes, they'll help with the odor, but you'll need to occasionally burp out the moist air (dry is better in the tube or bag).

Animals will still attack this bag, even though you and your crew think it's gross, so you have to stash it in your animal-proof set up. If it's a P00P tube, you're probably okay, but the Ergo, the double-bag method and maybe a third bag stashed in the gap, just in case.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
If using pipe,use light pipe on 12/14/2011 09:41:08 MST Print View

Two posters have mentioned PVC tubes for transporting TP. I'd go with sandwich baggies for the lighter weight and ease of packing, but if you're going to bring a plastic pipe:

Draniage pipe (comes in 3" and 4" diameter, perfed or solid) is much less PVC per volume than schedule 40 PVC water pipe. And there are end caps available to match - lighter than Schedule 40 end caps.

Among water pipe, class 100 (pressure rated to 100 psi) is much lighter than Schedule 40. 0.585 pounds per foot for 3" Class 100 versus 1.435 pounds per foot for Schedule 40. The difference is even more marked for smaller diameters.

Even ABS (the black stuff) is lighter in each size than Schedule 40 PVC. Use an end cap on one end, but glue a test cap (an almost flat disk of thinner, white plastic) on the other end - it's lighter and less bulky.

But I've found some lighter tubing - it was about 2" diameter, 32" long - from the inside of a roll of plotter paper.

Todd T
(texasbb) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 09:45:24 MST Print View

Empty bag from Starbucks coffee beans.

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Packing Out Unsavory Detritus on 12/14/2011 09:53:49 MST Print View

Let me help mike

Will Webster
TP substitutes on 12/14/2011 10:39:02 MST Print View

"... rub up against cholla or snatch unwitting squirrels ..."
Thanks for the laugh.

Seriously, my wife and I just carry a snack-sized ziplock; not a big deal. We don't agree with burying the paper - it's too likely to get unburied. I'm still working on the Mike C! method. I did try using snow once last winter. It was effective, but a bit chilly. I think my wife will always prefer to carry TP in and out, and as long as she's willing to carry for the two of us...

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: TP substitutes on 12/14/2011 11:06:56 MST Print View

And guys...women use TP for BOTH bathroom visits. In fact, for a number of women drip drying is a very fast way to get a bad UTI (from urine crystals). UTI's suck and blow to get anytime, but when backpacking they are very bad. Carrying pee TP isn't that gross, seriously.

Again, I'd rather carry used TP than used diapers....

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
No TP? on 12/14/2011 11:15:16 MST Print View

Are all non-TP folk vegetarians?
Without being too graphic, i drink Guinness, eat spicy red meat curries, and can't imagine life without TP.
The saying on this side of the pond is, " underpants marked like the flag of Japan." :)

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: TP substitutes on 12/14/2011 11:19:58 MST Print View

"Carrying pee TP isn't that gross, seriously."

Sarah, what are you really trying to say?


Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: No TP? on 12/14/2011 11:29:23 MST Print View

" underpants marked like the flag of Japan."


Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re no TP on 12/14/2011 11:34:54 MST Print View

Bob. :)

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Re no TP on 12/14/2011 12:12:32 MST Print View

I went TP-free on my 2nd half of the PCT. It worked fine. I'm not a vegetarian.

Being a woman, I went without TP for number 1 before I went completely free of it. I bring a small squirt-top bottle and hose myself off. I can either drip-dry from there or use a bandana to dry myself off.

For number 2, I just grab some plant materials on my way to the dump site. Grass folded over a few times works well, fir boughs with small needles, sage is nice. A little wash off with my squirt bottle leaves me feeling fresh. It's cleaner than just the TP by itself. You wash yourself in the shower each day, so this is really quite the same thing.

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Packing Out TP on 12/14/2011 12:18:01 MST Print View

Even in the uncrowded woods of PA I pack out my TP. I end up with a triple bag system:

- A sandwich-sized ziploc to for each day of the trip
- A quart ziplock that holds the accumulated sandwich-sized ziplocs
- A quart ziplock that holds the following:
- My quart ziploc of used TP
- My unused and still empty sandwich ziplocs
- My TP (I use squares of blue shop towels - I get 4 from a sheet)
- A couple of Wet-Ones (just in case)
- My hand sanitizer

I've never had any critters (that I know of) try to get to my TP, but I refuse to hang it with my food. Even triple-bagged it just doesn't seem right to store it with my food...

Sumi Wada
(DetroitTigerFan) - F

Locale: Ann Arbor
My method on 12/14/2011 12:37:41 MST Print View

Hiking in the southwest often means packing out TP, limited water and no leaves, sticks or natural alternatives to TP. I've gotten used to it. This is what works for me with, really, no angst whatsoever.

I think the commercial doggy p00p bags are about the best in terms of weight and strength and odor control. The best (imo) are the ones made by Firstrax, sold as "N2N" or "Noz2Noz". I always take a few and they come in handy for various things. I put the used TP in one of these, roll it up right and put it inside a gallon ziplock bag with my TP roll and package of wet wipes. I find it more pleasant to start a new inner used-TP bag every few days. And, honestly, you won't smell anything.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: TP substitutes on 12/14/2011 13:49:11 MST Print View

Bob, lol...all I am saying is I love my TP. Name brand and double ply please. I take the cardboard tube out and carry a whole roll no matter what the trip. You never know when you might need it - and more so when you can barter off strips of it ;-) TP is what keeps me civilized. You all can use snow, leaves and bandanas. I'll take my Northern thankyouverymuch.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
Packing out on 12/14/2011 14:40:24 MST Print View

"How do you do this in a hygienic manner? Chucking the stuff in an Aloksak doesn't seem quite like the best solution. What are the "best practices" in this regard?"

That's actually exactly what we did on the JMT, more or less.
We actually had a simple ziplock bag as a liner within the aloksak, and we sprinkled baking soda in both bags for odor control.

I had one side pocket on my pack dedicated to dirty crap. Inside that sidepocket were 1) TP bag 2)my tent poles 3)p00p trowel, 4)Piss bottle. Worked fine.

That said, I will admit to a dirty little secret..and I'm actually curious to hear peoples' thoughts on the matter.

Now onto the flame war....I will admit, I burned my TP every 5 days or so. BUT I tried to do it in the most sustainable, eco-friendly way I thought possible. No, I didn't burn it in the cat hole. Rather, every 5 days or so I would camp below tree line, at an established campground with an established fire ring. I would build a small fire in the fire ring, and burn my TP there. I'll be the first to admit, TP is not easy to burn. It's usually all folded or crumpled up after its been used, so its hard to expose the entire surface area to the flame. But because it was in a firering at camp, I had the opportunity to really ensure that it was burned through (after employing the help of a few poking sticks). I mean, you couldn't tell if it was ash from sticks or ash from TP by the end of the night. Major no no? or am I alright? I think I did this twice on the trip. I did off load some TP when I got to visitor center bathrooms and any resupply points that had toilets though.

Edited by Konrad1013 on 12/14/2011 14:42:46 MST.