Written by Dan Lawton
When you’re camping in the wilderness without a camping toilet, you’re unlikely to stumble on to a bathroom. For a group of people planning to stay together at a campsite, the latrine is the best option to do your business in a way that’s ecologically responsible. Here are some tips on digging a latrine near your campsite.

1. Finding a good location

There are several things that you should consider when picking a location to make a latrine. The first is its proximity to your campsite. In order to have some privacy, the latrine should be between 100 and 200 yards away in a secluded area. It should not be any farther than that, because it could be easy to get lost during the dark. It’s also a good idea to select a location downwind of your campsite, so no unpleasant odors creep back to your camp. Most importantly, the latrine should not be within 200 yards of a water source, so it doesn’t contaminate the water.

2. Making the latrine

Once you’ve selected the best possible location, the next step is to dig the latrine. Clear any brush or fallen leaves from the area you’ve designated for your latrine. Dig a hole about three feet long and six inches deep. A camping shovel works very well for digging, but if one is not available, natural materials like rocks and sticks will substitute. Be sure to not dig the hole deeper than six inches, because the top soil has microbes that help break down the waste. If you’re making a cathole, which is a latrine for just one person, the hole should only be about six inches deep and four inches wide.

3. Using the latrine

Though it may feel awkward to use the bathroom outdoors, there are a number of ways to make it more comfortable. For example, some campers recommend placing stones under your feet when squatting or leaning against a tree. For maximum comfort, it’s always best to bring your own toilet paper, but if there is none available, natural items like leaves, smooth sticks, clean stones and snow can substitute. Unlike toilet paper, which has to be thrown away later, these alternatives can be left at the latrine.

4. Cleaning up the site

After each use at the latrine, you should cover the waste with soil to deter insects and animals. Before leaving your campsite, the entire latrine should be completely covered with soil and topped with leaves and branches to disguise the location. Remember to take any trash with you from the area, such as toilet paper and tissues.

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