Seven Principles

A Guide to Pooping Outside in the Snow

Brice - February 18, 2021

You’ve learned how to do your business outside in normal conditions, but what happens when the ground is covered in snow? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with this guide for pooping outside in the winter.

In normal conditions, we recommend burying human waste in a cathole, a six to eight inch deep hole that is 200 feet away from water, trails, and campsites. In winter conditions though, the ground may be frozen or covered in snow, making it difficult or impossible to dig a cathole. 

Because of this, it is a good idea to plan ahead and go before you go. Use the bathroom at home or at trailheads. Still, we can’t plan for everything and emergencies happen. If you have to go and no restrooms are available, the most Leave No Trace way to dispose of your poop in snowy conditions is to pack it out with you. 

While packing out your waste may sound intimidating, there is awesome poop technology that helps make it easier. W.A.G. bags (Waste Alleviation and Gelling) are a low cost option to help us pack out our poop. A special powder inside gels the waste, making it easier to pack out and safe to throw away in a trash can. Check the video below for a guide on how to use a WAG bag. 

If you don’t have a WAG bag with you, there are some other options, such as bagging up our poop like we would our dogs, but remember, without the powder, it is not safe to throw our waste away in a trash can. Dispose of it in a toilet when you get home. 

If none of these options are available to you, there is a last resort. Get 200 feet (70 adult steps) away from water sources (even frozen or buried ones), travel paths, and campsites, and disguise your waste in deep snow. Without the microbes present in soil to break it down, our waste will still be there come spring, making it extra important we keep it away from water sources and other visitors. 

Getting outdoors in the snow can provide a unique experience and opportunity for a whole host of  seasonal activities, but the different conditions can mean we Leave No Trace in different ways. Plan ahead and prepare for all your winter trips, enjoy your world, and Leave No Trace.

By the Subaru/Leave No Trace Teams. For over 20 years these teams have provided tangible solutions to serious issues facing our outside space and reach over 15 million people every year. Learn more about the important work of our mobile education teams.  Proud partners of this program include Subaru of America, REI, Eagles Nest Outfitters, Thule, Fjällräven and Klean Kanteen.

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