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.