Friday, 20 April 2012

Going To The Toilet In The Woods

We all do it at home and when we're out on the trail we find ourselves needing to do it, when we would rather not. But going to the toilet in the woods is something, at some point you are going to need to do.

It's not really a subject you hear talked about on bushcraft forums, but I feel it's something we should be aware of. And hopefully if you haven't yet needed to learn about what is involved or required, this post will be of use to you.

"I know have an image of somebody, in a woodland, cross legged, hastily reading this post on their iphone..."

Anyway, lets get down to business (Sorry !... I'm sure there will be more comments like that to follow)

Toilet Kit - What To Carry

It's not a piece of kit you are going to need very often, but when you do, you'll be glad you prepared yourself in adavance.

Put yourself together a simple toilet kit, with all the items required for general toilet maintenance :

  1. Pack of tissues (or toilet paper in a plastic ziplock bag)
  2. Lighter
  3. Small folding trowel or spade
  4. Hand cleanser
  5. Small torch (I know, sound silly... But could be very beneficial)
  6. Bag to carry everything in (The kit contents, not the... well, you know !)
Pack of Tissues

I don't think I need to expalin what these are for, just make sure what ever you decided to use in your kit it kept in a waterproof bag for obvious reasons.


This is used to burn the tissues once the required maintenance has been carried out. Just keeps everything more hygenic.

Small Folding Trowel

This is used to dig yourself a suitable hole in the chosen ground to receive the necessary.

Hand Cleanser

Used to clean your hands afterwards, again to ensure everything is kept hygenic. You can buy small bottles of this stuff with handy dispenser pumps. Wipes can also be used.

Small Torch

Chances are you will need to go the toilet in the night and you will need to find your way to the chosen site without having to hack your way threw brambles or get lost. Most people have their own torch, but if you have one in your kit, you know its always there.

Bag To Carry Everything In

Just keeps everything together in a handy kit, which can be stored in a rucksack pocket

If you are spending a night or two in the woods, I would advise chosing a suitable spot for your toilet setup prior to anything else you do. This way, you know everything is there ready should you be caught short. You don't want to be digging a hole with your pants round your ankles.

Chose a secluded spot, well away from camp and away from any running water, ponds or lakes.

Ensure the ground you chose is easy to dig into. You don't want to be spending hours excavating rocks and stone.

If there are several people in your camp or you like a bit of comfort, you may want to build yourself a small framework out of branches and paracord. Giving you something to lean or sit on (This post isnt very dignified I know, but needs must). You could also use a... Dare I say it, log to sit on.

If you are just out for the day and the time arises, just find yourself a suitable spot (As above), dig yourself a hole no deeper than 6" and away you go.

The reason you shouldn't dig any deeper than 6" is that all the bacteria, that will assist in the breakdown of your waste, is present in those first 6" of the ground.

Once the operation is complete, carry out the required maintenance, drop the tissue into the hole and burn it using your lighter. Then cover everything up with the soil you have just excavated.

I hope this post has been of some help to some of you and maybe answered some questions you were to embarressed to ask about.

I would normally say, please let me know how you get on, but in this instance... Maybe Not !

The Importance Of Testing New Kit, Ideas And Theories

I think we could all hold our hands up at some point during our bushcrafting learning curve to rushing out with a new piece of kit, an idea or theory. Only to find that we weren't 100% sure how to use it, it wasn't suitable for the job or the idea was just never going to work.

Which is why it is so important to test new kit, before you take it out into the field. There is nothing worse than travelling several miles or hiking onto the moors or into deep woodland, only to find that you don't really know how you should set up your tarp or hammock.

You may be sheltering from driving rain and decide to warm yourself up with a brew, but have left the instructions for your new gas stove at home and don't know how to work it.

These are all things you may encounter, if you haven't tested your kit first. You may think, "I don't need to try this new stove out, I've had one before"... But it may be faulty, even if it's brand new. It has been known for new kit to be faulty and need returning, so test your kit.

And the same goes for new ideas or theories. I think it's great when people post new ideas or videos on Youtube. The amount of new techniques I have picked up for common bushcraft skills is huge and people are always coming up with innovative ideas and theories.

But you can rest assured that these people didn't just think "Oh, Ive got an idea on how to use a bow drill in a slightly different way". They will have tried it out in their back garden first, numerous times. And once they had mastered it, then they would shoot the video, tell the world and use the new skill when next out in the field, knowing it would work.

I, for example had come up with an idea to create a budget water filtration system. It came to me in a flash of inspiration whilst cleaning out my fish tank and I thought Iwas onto a winner.

I collected all the components I needed and excitedly starting putting them together to create my new water filter.

Once complete, I could of thought "Brilliant, my water filtration problems are solved", popped it into my rucksack, ready for my next outing into the hills.

However, I did of course test it first, by going over the road to my local woodland and finding some dirty water to trial it out. I was quietly confident that it would clean the water to some degree, but wasn't sure to what extent.

You can see the results in my video below :

Since submitting this video to my Youtube Channel, I have received several comments on how I could improve the filter. I'll be honest, I was a little surprised at the level of interest in this video and I now feel I must go back to the drawing board and improve on my design.

For something as important as water filtration, I doubt anyone would trust a homemade device and not test it before going out into the field, but the concept should always be adhered to for any new kit, ideas or theories.

Make a point of familiarising yourself with any new kit you purchase. Enjoy trying it out in the comfort of your garden. Not only will you be getting familiar with how best to setup or use the new kit, it will also increase the efficiency on how quick you can setup your stove or tarp etc. in harsh conditions.

When its chucking it down with rain and blowing a gail, the last thing you want to be doing is reading through soggy instruction manuals.

So, Enjoy your new kit, make sure you familiarise yourself with it and trial any new ideas or theories, before using them out in the field.