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9 Things To Wipe With When Nature Calls ... In Nature

Author: Brooke Hess

November 05, 2019

You’re out for a short trail run, three miles down the trail, when your body realizes it doesn’t need the extra weight it’s carrying around in your colon, and the fast pace you’re keeping up causes your digestive tract to work faster than normal.

Or maybe you’re seven pitches into a 10-pitch climb when you realize you shouldn’t have had that third cup of coffee.

Or perhaps you’re kayaking with friends on a remote river in Washington. You get out of your boat to scout a big rapid and nerves take over and suddenly your body’s fight-or-flight signal kicks in.

Or, let’s say, you’re on a hike on an international trip when the thunder of last night’s questionable meal begins to rumble.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced it. When you’re out in the backcountry, no toilet in sight, no TP or bidet to wash with. But you HAVE to go. NOW.

Ideally when you relieve yourself in the woods, you will wipe with toilet paper and pack both the TP and your poo out in a Wag Bag to dispose of it properly. But just in case you find yourself out with no Wag Bags in sight, I have compiled a list of good (and bad) things to wipe your ass with when you, inevitably, shit in the woods. They’re rated on a scale of one star to five +'s—five being the best, one being the worst. The scale is based on three factors: comfort, cleanliness and leave no trace (LNT).

My hope is that this list might help you enjoy your wilder dumps a bit more. Just make sure to bury your poo—and whatever device you choose to wipe with—at least six inches under the ground so you remain the only animal to enjoy it.

 

Rocks
When it comes to wiping your derriere, rocks are very poo-dependent. If you have a solid, healthy poo, and find a smooth, scoopy-shaped river rock, it can be a lovely experience. But more often than not, when you’re caught in this type of situation, your poo isn’t going to be perfect. And neither is the rock.
You probably won’t have the cleanest experience wiping with rocks, but at least you won’t be killing any plant life by doing so.

Comfort: +

Cleanliness: +

LNT: + + + +

 

Moss
Moss is the best. Hands down. Soft, absorbent, and easy to use. If you find a good patch, you’ll most likely be able to go about your business without dirtying your hands up at all - which is an added bonus. The negative side? You will be destroying the moss that you use, which isn’t ideal when it comes to LNT standards.

Comfort: + + + + +

Cleanliness: + + + + +

LNT: + +
 

Pine Cones
Believe it or not, I have friends who have actually done this. Their advice? Don’t do it.

Comfort: +

Cleanliness: +

LNT: + + + +

 

Leaves
Pro Tip: Before attempting this one, PLEASE do your research on what poison ivy and poison oak look like.

Comfort: + + + +

Cleanliness: + + +

LNT: + +

 

Snow
Snow is a wonderful ass-wiping tool. How well the snow does often relies on what temperature the snow is. Fluffy champagne powder? Probably not going to do the job. Crusty sun-affected snow? That’s more what we’re looking for! Just make sure your hands don’t get too numb in the process, so you can tell what you’re doing down there.

Comfort: + + + +

Cleanliness: + + + + +

LNT: + + + +

 

Your underwear or socks
As long as you pack it out - be my guest! However, this may be the most expensive option of the ten, so I would suggest using this as a last-resort type of situation.

Comfort: + + + + +

Cleanliness: + +

LNT: + + + + + (as long as you pack it out with you!)

 

Sticks
Smooth and rounded sticks are the ideal. Ass splinters could lead to an entirely different problem that we don’t need to get into here. Also, please don’t do this if you don’t have a steady hand. Just … don’t.

Comfort: +

Cleanliness: + +

LNT: + +

 

Tree bark
Wiping your ass with tree bark is somewhat similar to wiping your ass with cardboard. It does the job, but at the same time could be doing a better job. As with sticks, try to avoid getting an ass splinter.

Comfort: +

Cleanliness: + + +

LNT: + +

 

Your Hand
You might as well just not wipe at all.

Comfort: +

Cleanliness:

LNT: + + + + +

Brooke Hess

Growing up in Missoula, MT, Brooke was on skis before she could walk, in a climbing harness before she could read, and in a kayak before she could drive. A former U.S. Freestyle Kayak Team member, she spends the majority of each year living in her truck, traveling from river to river in search of the world’s biggest and best waves. A degree in geoscience, plus a lifetime spent pursuing outdoor sports, has led her to a career chasing writing opportunities focusing on conservation, feminism, and outdoor recreation.