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If you poop in the woods when no one is around, does it still smell? The sequel!

I can't believe the date is finally here. It's been exactly one year since my self nominated and self selected 2013 award winning blog came out about the process we go through to poop in the woods during our kayak camping trips. We do all our trips in Kenai Fjords National Park which has a strict pack in/pack out protocol which yes, includes human feces. If you did not get a chance to read it, click the link above for a real treat.

Following proper LNT (Leave No Trace) principles, many of you may wonder if you should always pack out your poo when you partake in overnight adventures and the answer is no! Each park has different regulations when it comes to disposing human waste so it is important to be aware of what those are before embarking on your expedition. Can you imagine thru hikers on the Appalachian Trail carrying all their crap with them on the trail? Gross!

Let's chat about your other options. If allowable in your location, the most common method of pooping in the woods is to dig a hole, do your business, wipe, put wiping tool in the hole, repeat as many times as necessary, and refill the hole. When sharing this process with friends (which apparently I do too often), one common question has continued to resonate: What do you wipe with??

And so, on this date, one year from last year's masterpiece, I have polled several of our guides to see what their wiping instruments of choice are for this method of defecation and have shared their responses below. These answers are from experts with a considerate amount of experience pooping outside so read through carefully to determine what method you might consider using next time you feel the urge to poo in a hole.

In no particular ranking order, answers included...

  • Toilet Paper
    • Pros: Familiarity with it; easy to pack; not messy.
    • Cons: Not LNT friendly so even though you leave your poop behind, you will need to pack out your dirty TP.
  • Baby Wipes
    • Pros: Feels so good! Seriously, once you start, it will be hard to go back to anything else...even at home. Best at getting fully clean down there.
    • Cons: Same as TP; heavier to pack in and out.
  • Beach Stone
    • Pros: Smooth; easy access especially on kayak camping trips; leaves no residue on butt
    • So many good beach stones to choose from
    • Cons: Have to carry them to pooping site so could be in a pickle if you don't have enough; sometimes hard to tell when you have wiped enough
  • Snow
    • Pros: Easy to tell when fully clean; will melt in hole (LNT!); leaves no residue on butt
    • Cons: Numb butt; numb hands; won't always have as an option so you will need a good backup if this is your first choice
  • Lamb's Ear
    • Pros: Soft, furry thick leaves that gets the job done well
    • Lamb's Ear: Make sure you know
      what it is before using it!
    • Cons: It is a plant which is risky. Make sure you are 100% certain on what type of plant you use and its affects on human skin if you go this route. The last thing you want to do is wipe with some good ole fashioned poison ivy. There are many other plants that can give you an itchy rash so it is best to avoid all plants unless you know what you are doing.
  • Wet Pine Cone (Bloggers Choice!)
    • Pros: My personal favorite. Perfect shape to get up in there. Make sure to go against the grain of the pine cone. The different layers give you multiple wipes in one cone. Most efficient method to limit awkward standing position while wiping. 
    • Cons: Key word - wet! Can be painful if you forget that. 
  • Moss
    • Pros: Super soft; especially effective using large pieces of tundra moss.
    • Cons: Can leave residue on your butt. 
  • Grass
    • There are no pros to using grass. You will end up with disgusting hands. If you see friends using grass, make sure they are not on cooking duty that night. 
So there you have it! The experts have spoken so all that is left to do is for you to try each of these methods yourselves and pick the tool that works best for you. I would say to practice in your backyard, but that is typically frowned upon by neighbors so find a nice private spot in the woods and let us know what you pick! 

If we have left off an item that you have used in the past and prefer, let us know what it is. I can't think of many more important things in life to have than a list of objects to wipe with when pooping in the woods. For all of you out there who have been anxiously waiting for someone to finally put something like this out there, you are welcome :-)

~ Danny