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TP or not TP: that is the question

I was tempted to title this blog “On the Origin of Feces.” But first, I wasn’t sure many people would get it – readers of backpacking blogs being perhaps more attuned to Darwin Rakestraw than Charles Darwin. And second, I’m not really writing here about how poop originates but how best to put it to rest.

This is an uncomfortable topic for most of us, including me as I decide how to deal with poop while hiking in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina this spring.

Everybody poops

Pooping is probably the most private thing we do in our entire lives, but it’s a fact of life on the trail as everywhere else. I remember reading a children’s book to my young sons: “Everybody Poops.” And that’s absolutely true: we all do it. So let’s take just a minute to talk about pooping on the trail … and more specifically, how best to deal with it.

How will you handle poop on your next long-distance hike? Will you take reams of TP with you? Will you rely primarily on wet wipes? Or will you rely on your hand, some soap, and maybe a conveniently placed rock or pine cone to bring a successful conclusion to the deed?

The full Skurka

I wish I had the confidence of outdoor athlete and backcountry expert Andrew Skurka: the prophet of paper-free pooping (and a repeat guest on the Backpacker Radio Podcast). Perhaps if I’m faced with exigent circumstances such as my TP getting soaked through, I will see the light and become a Skurka acolyte. I’ll use my water bottle – unmodified, stock Smartwater – as a bidet just like he does, then finishing up with some carefully sourced pebbles and a final sweep with my hand to eliminate all traces of the deed. After I’m done I’ll carefully wash and disinfect both hands. But for now, the Skurka Method is one bridge too far for me. I am still at least somewhat dependent on toilet paper.

Continue reading the full argument by Rolf Asphaug here.

LAST UPDATED

January 13, 2023

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ROLF ASPHAUG

MEDIA MENTIONS

While DEET products may be more familiar by name and their chemical smell, sprays with 20 percent picaridin, like Sawyer Products, offer comparable protection without the harsh odor and oily feeling on your skin.

Kevin Brouillard
Travel & Leisure

MEDIA MENTIONS

The Sawyer Squeeze was (by far) the most common Pacific Crest Trail water filter this year – for the fifth year in a row. It’s a $39, 3 oz / 85 g hollow fiber filter that rids your drinking water of protozoa and bacteria (and floaties). It can be used with Sawyer bags (included with the filter) or with compatible water bottles (Smartwater is the bottle of choice for many hikers).

Halfway Anywhere
Media Mentions from Halfway Anywhere

MEDIA MENTIONS

SAWYER MINI WATER FILTER, $22 This has been my water filter of choice for years now. The bags can be iffy — I have had a few break – so carry a couple. However, the filter itself is reliable, light and inexpensive. -Logan

Bikepacking Team