Pooping in the Woods / How to dig a proper cat hole


When I first started backpacking, I remember I'd dig a hole for my poop (aka: cat hole) that was just barely deep enough. I felt so EwwWwbbBBLAAaahh having to poo outside, I'd want to take care of business and get out of there as quickly as possible. So I'd put a rock over my not-deep-enough cat hole, dust my hands off, and walk away quickly. No one ever showed me what a good cat hole should look like, so I didn't really know. But if my guilty conscious is indicative of anything, I think I always knew I wasn't really doing my best to protect the environment. I'm sorry Sierras! I'm sorry Glacier! I'm sorry!!!

Let's all bury our poop properly so we can preserve the wilderness for the folks coming after us next weekend, next year, in the next 100 years...Agreed? 


I already covered what you should have in your poop kit and how to poop in the woods, but I wanted to demonstrate what a good looking cat hole should look like. Here's one I dug recently in a really rocky area.  It was super annoying because I kept hitting rocks, so it took me about 10 minutes to dig this one. (That's a lot of minutes if you need to poo baaaaaad. Plan ahead if you're the type that needs to GO when you need to GO.)

TIP: I dig my hole the night before because I usually wake up and have to poo immediately. 


  1. Seriously, look for a spot where someone won't spot you pooping. No one needs to see that. It should be at least 200 feet away from three important things: water sources, your tent, and the trail. (200 feet = ~70 steps)
  2. Dig a hole about 6-8" deep and at least 4" wide. You don't want it to overflow. Ew.
  3. Take your business call. 
  4. Put some dirt back in and stir it up with the poop. It'll help with the decomposition.
  5. Fill the rest of your cat hole with the dirt and try to put it back the way you found it. Make it a game: see if you can make it look like there isn't a pile of shit underneath. That is the gold standard!

*Don't forget that the best thing you can do for the environment is to pack out your soiled toilet paper. Don't just drop it in the hole. #LeaveNoTrace

*The trowel pictured above is the Big Dig, by QiWiz ($36). I used to use a rock or stick, but it's more efficient to dig using a trowel. Another one at the same weight but cheaper is the Deuce ($19.99). I haven't tried it, so I can't tell you if it works well. One other alternative is to use a tent stake to dig your hole. It's not as efficient, but it'll save you 0.6oz and one more thing to think organize. Up to you!


I've written about some pretty awesome toilet views, but more often than not we'll have to dig our own cat hole behind some trees. Cat hole views can vary widely, but I thought I'd share my most recent one. This photo was taken while I was in the squat position over my cat hole. The silver lining of having to squat and poo is that I get to enjoy this while I'm at it. Not too shabby huh? 


FYI, The First 40 Miles Podcast just posted a fantastic toilet episode worth listening to with good advice and a helpful review on the two trowels I mentioned earlier. 

I hope this is helpful to you! If it was, please share the love. 

Pooping in the Woods / What's your poop kit look like?

Okay, a couple days late, but here's Day 7: A QUICKIE ON POOPING IN THE WOODS.

I'll be frank here, I (really) dislike pooping while squatting over a small hole, when my nose is closer to my poop than it ever would be if i were sitting on a toilet. This process is both fascinating and gross, but mostly gross. I don't like it. Period. Did I mention I don't like it? 

With that said, I've accepted it as an essential part of my wilderness journey. So why not talk about how to do it effectively. The Pacific Crest Trail Association's WILD page does a great job of explaining it too, but here's my take:


  • Trowel (0.6oz, one of the lightest ones out there!)
  • Toilet paper
  • Soiled TP Bag (STP Bag)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Bag to hold all of the above
  • Total weight: 1.9oz


  1. Dig a cat hole about 6-8" deep.
    • TIP: If you are the type who has to go as soon as you wake up, then make sure you dig your cat hole the night before. When there's urgency, you're cat hole will likely be too shallow because you'll say, "Ahhh, this is good enough!" Well, it's probably not. So plan ahead!
  2. Get your STP Bag open and ready for the next TP deposit
  3. Squat down to take care of business. Make sure to aim into your your cat hole.
  4. Get some TP ready, think about application so you're utilizing all of it. No big wads and wasting here!
    • TIP: Use a smooth rock to do a big first wipe to conserve TP, then use just a couple squares to do the finishing wipes. Toss the rock in your cat hole. 
  5. Carefully fold the dirty TP in on itself to cover up your poopy TP and place inside your STP Bag. (Your quads should be burning right about now!)
  6. Quick, pull up your undies and pants. 
  7. Remove air and seal up your STP Bag.
  8. Give your poop a swirl with some dirt (to help with decomposition), fill your cat hole all the way and do your best to return the earth the way you found it. 


  • Do not bury your TP. Not cool. 
  • Make sure you dig at least 6-8" deep. If you know you usually have a big load, dig deeper and wider. 
  • Don't just poop on the ground and roll a rock on top of it. That's straight irresponsible.
  • Be at least 200' from water, campground, and trail. The further away, the better. 

TIP: Add some baking soda to your STP bag for odor protection. Want more odor control? Add a half drop of essential oil and rub it on the inside of the bag.

What's in your poop kit? Do you have any fun tips or tricks you've developed for pooping in the woods? Please share them in the comments!

*Disclaimer: I received the trowel mentioned in this post for free, to try out and review. I'll be providing a closer look at how well it digs in a follow-up post.