To reduce environmental impact, it’s best to use privies for your bathroom needs. But if you’re walking along the AT and nature calls, here are some things to consider.

Keep these items handy


  • Keep your ziplock bag with toilet paper and Purell handy in a pocket on the outside of the pack or close to the top of the pack. Your cathole shovel should also be kept within easy reach if you are carrying one. Some people use a stick to dig a hole.
  • Give yourself some time. If you have an inkling that you have to go, stop sooner than later. You need a little time to prep before doing your business.
  • Before selecting a spot, think about what type of position you will try. Here are some examples. Decide which will be most comfortable for you.

Positions to Consider

  1. The Squat – It’s classic, efficient, and it requires good knees. Some hikers learn to do it with their backpacks on.
  2. The Hold – Find a small but sturdy tree to hold onto. This position requires more arm strength.
  3. The Log On – This position is very easy. You just have to find the perfect log to sit on. Make sure it is not too rotten or it could be disastrous. Also, check for snakes.
  • As you walk off to select the perfect spot, look back so that you can see where the trail is. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can loose a visual on the trail. You can place your pack near the trail and within site of your selected spot. That way, you can see it from your secret locale.
  • Dig a cathole at least 6-inches deep to deposit your waste. Warning: Avoid filling holes that are already there. You could make a critter very unhappy.
  • Assume the position and proceed.
  • Use a nearby stick to help push the toilet paper far down into the hole. It’s important to push the toilet paper down into the hole because you don’t want an animal to dig it up later. It’s disruptive to nature and it’s extremely unsightly.
  • Cover well and leave the area just as you found it.

Again, it’s best to use the privies provided, however, there are times where you will be miles from a privy or, like at some shelters in the Smokys, there is no privy.