How Ladies Go to the Bathroom When Hiking

How do I go to the bathroom when hiking?

Ok, so this is a silly but practical question from a newbie hiker. I have a long charity trek coming up with a group. Any practical words of wisdom regarding bathroom breaks while doing long day treks along a mountain range??

Great question. For ladies, going to the bathroom (#1 or #2) is one of the biggest fears that keeps women from hiking and backpacking.

How Ladies Go #1 When Hiking:

The key is to go when you have to go! Don’t let yourself get uncomfortable. When you have to go, find a secluded spot for privacy (behind some trees or dense bushes) and go. If you are most comfortable using toilet paper to keep yourself dry, feel free to use it! But, you must pack it out with you. Stuff it in a ziploc bag. You cannot bury toilet paper under any circumstances, because animals will dig it up, resulting in an environmental mess. Use hand sanitizer immediately.

Find a secluded spot with good privacy...
Find a secluded spot with good privacy…

How Ladies Go #2 When Hiking:

Follow the steps for urinating on a hike, but make sure your private spot is ultra private! First, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep with a trowel (REI has lightweight plastic trowels that are easy to take hiking and backpacking. Then, relax, squat, and use your toilet paper. Put your used toilet paper in a Ziploc bag (Quart sized freezer bags or Gallon sized freezer bags because they are thicker), then hide it in a paper bag or something that is opaque (you won’t want to see that later in the day in your backpack). Use hand sanitizer immediately.

Remember, the view will be far nicer than the view from your toilet at home…no one I know has beautiful trees, fresh air, and sunlight in their home bathrooms ;).

For fun, there is a fantastic book, How to Shit in the Woods, about going #2.
How to Shit in the Woods
Happy trails!

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  1. Hiking Lady says:

    Great question Maggie. There is a new company called Lady Hike that makes panties that have an easy to remove crotch, and this would work very well with your dress system. However, as far as I know they don’t make leggings yet with a similar crotch opening. Perhaps you could contact them and see if they could add it to their product lineup!

  2. Maggie Lupton says:

    The problem for me is the pack !!! when needing to do # 1or 2, my pack covers the top of my lower garment. I pee a lot in the mornings and can’t stop to unzip or pull down every time. I wear a skirt and high denier black stockings ( needed because of bugs) and black panties, peeing is a breeze, don’t even have squat. If I could find leggings that opened at the crotch, life on the trail in my skirt would be complete. Anyone know where to get them ? I make my own opening, but not optimal.

  3. Selly says:

    I have two female urination devices (one is P-style,the other one is a Go Girl).I tried both of them and I ended up completely wetting my pants!
    Even after practicing plenty of times it didn’t worked out and it was incredibly messy.

  4. Nutty Hiker says:

    I was reading the comments about the “devices” women can now use. I may give them a try, however, ever since I was itty bitty I learned how to use the potty in the woods thanks to my family who loved to spend every weekend camping it seems like. To me, it is second nature.

    However, I still have that fear I am going to squat on a rattlesnake or a snake will slither up when I am not watching and bite me on my rear =) Maybe I can master the new “devices” for women. If all else fails, I am sure my husband will at least get a good chuckle =)

  5. Linda says:

    I’ve tried both the Shewee & Lady J. Both apparatuses instruct that you unzip your pants and slide the gadget in and under you, directing the “spout” outwards. I’m here to tell you that 7 out of 10 times I’ve wound up with urine down my leg inside my pants. Wet legs, wet pants, panties & even a sock or two. Yuck! Mind you I’d practiced w/them many times beforehand. By and large, it’s a (you’ll pardon the pun) a “hit” or “miss” result.

    I much prefer just dropping trou & squatting. At least then I have better control over…er….’directing’ things where I want them. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Lauren – yep, I am familiar with the “attachments” for women so we don’t have to drop our pants… Personally I am okay just finding a secluded spot (often it is nice to be away from the rest of your hiking buddies anyways when it is time to go to the bathroom). I have a lot of friends who love “attachments”, especially when backpacking. However, I have heard a lot of horror stories from women who can’t quite master the technique. Thanks for your input and women should do whatever is most comfortable for them and just not let the bathroom issue prevent them from hiking ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy trails!

  7. Hiking Lady says:

    Hi Donna – just the toilet paper goes in the bag. Your poop goes into the hole you dig! Hope that helps. Good luck ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Lauren says:

    I got a couple of different kinds when I was trying them out for that very same reason. Some are definitely easier than others. I prefer the p-style cause it’s super easy to use (only had to “practice” once) and it’s also easy to clean. Everyone has their personal preference though. I went on a group backpacking trip recently and it was funny that someone brought it up and at least half of the females used them but everyone preferred a different one. I keep one with my camping gear but I also have one to take with me for concerts (yucky port-a-potties) or gas stations or anywhere else that I don’t feel comfortable or sanitary squatting. It’s really a must-have!

  9. In Australia we have a fabulous ‘gadget’ made especially for women called a ‘Shewee‘ which is a urination device they have been manufacturing since 1999. It means that you can more or less urinate standing up so is perfect for those times you need to be discrete, terrain on which it is difficult to squat, and helps eliminate spillage and run off onto shoes etc. Fabulous for taking hiking, camping or anywhere really. I use mine in public toilets especially when travelling as it eliminates the need to sit on the toilet seat.

  10. Cathy Rehr says:

    I would like more info on those products so as not to have to “drop em”. I’ve seen them, but read some comments needing to really practice to get the “aim” right!

  11. Donna says:

    HI Hiking Lady,

    I’m too embarrassed but I have to ask you this. When it comes to doing # 2 are we supposed to try to get that in the bag or just the toilet paper ๐Ÿ™

  12. Lauren says:

    Oh Hiking Lady, I am both surprised and disappointed in your answer. There are so many other ways for ladies to go to the bathroom in the woods other than hiking an extra mile to find some privacy. Amazon sells many of the products… Lady-J Go-Girl, P-style (my favorite), and even walmart, sports authority and other sporting goods stores sell some now. No need to find a secluded spot, no need to even drop your pants, just unzip and go like the guys do! Never again will you dread having to go while outdoors!

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