MagazineOctober 2009Do You Bury Your Poop When Backpacking in the Woods?

Do You Bury Your Poop When Backpacking in the Woods?

Switchback29% No
I must confess: I do not bury my poop most of the time. When nature calls in the middle of a bike ride, I quickly pull to the side of the trail, sneak off into the woods, do my business, and then cover it with leaves. I figure it breaks down faster being exposed than buried. If I’m on a camping trip where I have more time, I’ll take the time to dig a cathole. But if I have to poop during a ride, I think the leaf cover works well enough, as long as it’s a good distance from the trail.
—Dave Anderson, via e-mail

71% Yes
Every year we have a few thousand folks attempting thru-hikes of the Appalachian Trail. Along with the weekenders, we’re talking a bunch of travelers on the trails. Can you imagine what we all would have to endure if we made no attempt minimize the fact that we had passed through? We do enough damage to the woods as it is; we don’t need to crap all over it.
—Bradley Mead, Charlottesville, Va.

Excavate before you evacuate! The organisms that will break down the fecal matter are located about six inches under the top layer of dirt. It’s that simple. Plus, some animals (like dogs off-leash) love to roll in human poop if it’s not buried.
—Carol, via e-mail

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