This isn't a gear review. It's a wiping material review. Our way too indepth study of pooping in the woods begins!
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 pros and cons 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
- 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"
- 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 chance of accidental poop hands
Option #2: Sticks
- Large wiping surface area
- Easy to keep your hands distanced from the fecal matter
- Always lots of available sticks lying around
- 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
- 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 bury afterward
- Large leaves make for lots of surface area
- Not absorbent
- Leaves on occasion will rip, leaving the wiper with a case of poop hands
- Small leaves also have a high incident rate of poop hands
- Not available above treeline, in many deserts, or in dense pine forests
- Wiping with unidentified leaves could result in rashes, outbreaks, or incredible discomfort
Option #4: Moss
- Incredibly comfortable wiping experience
- Very absorbent
- Moisture of moss leaves wiper feeling clean and refreshed
- 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)
- 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
- 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
- Incredibly comfortable wipe
- Very absorbent
- Easily accessible
- Easily disposable
- Creative, resourceful, and adaptable
- 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
O k a y….nobody seems to see the possible, more likely probable, introduction of hazardous matter into/onto your body?! Wiping your ars with any of these suggested things could make you at the least very itchy or worse sick as a dog with no medical help nearby. The anus quickly absorbs organisms of all type. Hence the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS through raw anal sex. Blood vessels in the anus are close to the skin surface & are easily broken leaving a person “wide open” for germs & bacteria to enter. This article is dangerous & I hope no one takes these recommendations seriously.
Hahah amazing!!! Thanks for great tips and a laugh.
while hiking out in the mountains, I discovered that if you have to take a dump, fresh green soft grass works like a charm. It works even better than toilet paper. Just fold it, wipe and your done. The grass returns right back to the earth, and is biodegradable!
Grass? It’s actually close to toilet paper and is found everywhere. Just make sure the grass is thick for a good wipe.
All jokes aside, I’m a big fan of the old small handful of grass then bend it in half and use the bent end to do the wiping.
The bend gives it strength for those stubborn poos and multiple blades give plenty of surface area to do the wiping.
Lovely soft blades of green grass are ideal however here in Australia you are often left with dry scrawny stuff that still works well.
The bend trick also works for bunches of smaller leaves.
It’s the Tassie way… And it could be your way too!
@Tim: a good addition for a future revised version! Sounds like a rush!
@Andrew: Appreciated! Its a subject I’ve studied intensely. Also, FANTASTIC PUN!
@Doug: I hope you read through the “cons” section of the aqua wipe, as it pretty much says exactly what you posted. Also, notice that the option below it is “your friend’s pack towel” Yeah the list is meant to be informative, but its not a “how to.” Its a hopefully humorous pros and cons list, and I would hope anyone reading the aqua wipe section would be struck by the immense cons, and the significant lack of pros.
As I’ve told many people, you haven’t lived until you’ve wiped your butt with a snowball.
This is hilarious!
Your Pro and Cons are spot on and address all the aspects of this subject.
Pay no attention to Doug’s comments: NO sense of humor, obviously!
If you set out to contaminate the water supply for the next people coming thru,this is how you would do it. Feces is infectious material,
Please don’t ever do something this stupid.
And it would be nice if you did not publish such nonsense on your web page.
This is fantastic. I prefer smooth rocks when available, but generally use leaves. I’ve had bad experiences with snow when it’s especially fresh powder.
Remind me to keep an eye on my stuff if we ever go camping together, Lloyd.
You overlooked Bedouin style.