How far is 70 big steps? To make sure you've walked far enough, sing the following song 4 times to the tune of Row, Row, Row Your Boat:
Walk, walk, walk away
from the Utah stream.
Dig and fill a 6-inch cat hole.
Keep our water clean!
1. PREPARE BEFORE YOUR TRIP
When you can't access a bathroom, walk 70 big steps from water, trails, and campsites.
3. DIG A HOLE
Use your trowel to dig a cat hole 6 to 8 inches deep. This is about the length of most trowels. As a last resort, dig a hole with the back of your hiking boot or a rock. Watch this video for more information on how to dig a cat hole.
Note: The trowel should never touch your poop, it should only touch the dirt.
4. BURY OR PACK OUT YOUR TOILET PAPER
Use a small amount of toilet paper and place it in the cat hole when finished or pack it out using a FOPO bag.
Always pack out feminine products, diapers, wet wipes, and other personal hygiene products.
5. COVER IT UP
Fill in the hole with dirt and disguise the area with surrounding materials such as leaves and sticks.
Research shows that burying human waste decreases water pollution, survival of pathogens, and other negative impacts from other visitors encountering poop or toilet paper. Scientists agree that where soil is available, such as in forested environments, burying human waste in cat holes is the best practice. Burying waste in a 6- to 8-inch deep hole decreases the potential of waste being uncovered by animals and humans, yet is not so deep as to affect groundwater. Burying waste 70 big steps or 200 feet from water, including dry ravines and wetland areas, reduces the chance that waste enters our ground or surface water system. Waste should be buried away from campsites to avoid the potential for discovery by other humans. Scientists also recommend spreading out cat holes to avoid concentrating waste in a small area.
Large concentrations of waste take more time to decompose, increasing the likelihood that pathogens will come into contact with ground water. For more information, see this research article: Wildland Recreation and Human Waste: A Review of Problems, Practices, and Concerns.
Watch this video by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics for step-by-step instructions on how to dig a hole.
Watch this video by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to see how far 70 big steps or 200 feet is.
Watch this video by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to learn what essentials you need to build a backcountry poop kit.
Urine has little direct effect on vegetation or soil. In some instances, urine may draw wildlife attracted to the salts. They can damage plants and dig up soil. Urinating on rocks, pine needles, and gravel is less likely to attract wildlife. Diluting urine with water from a water bottle can help minimize negative effects. Another minimal-impact technique for peeing in the outdoors is to use a pee rag. Watch this video by Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to learn how to use a pee rag.