EP47 | Learning to Enjoy Pooping in the Outdoors and Managing Human Waste

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Episode Description

We all poop (and pee!), so what are best practices for taking care of our “business” in the outdoors? We’ve invited Matt Caldwell, the Executive Director of TreadLightly.org to help us find answers to this question.

Along with explaining best practices, Matt also shares the issues related to human waste that have developed recently as a result of an unprecedented volume of recreational activity on American public lands.

From her experience at many overland expos over the past decade, Rachelle Croft knows that for many people new to overlanding (and to outdoor recreation in general), pooping, peeing and taking care of hygiene concerns in the outdoors can cause a considerable amount of anxiety. That’s why she’s on the show for this episode to share tips to assist people in feeling more comfortable with taking care of all of their needs in the outdoors.

This is a sticky conversation that needs to be talked about, and the X Overland team is here for it in this episode! Join us for a conversation not to be missed!

Detailed Episode Summary

Part 1 (1:30-7:59) Introduction and a Look at the Issue of Human Waste Management in the Outdoors: Matt Caldwell, Executive Director of Tread Lightly, explains the problem of human waste management on public lands and how it affects all user groups, including overlanders. Matt also explains why closures occur in popular areas.

Part 2 (8:00-17:20) Why Digging a Cathole Isn’t Enough: Introducing the “Wag Bag”! Matt explains the Tread Lightly concept of “Protect the Adventure” and why the use of a “Wag Bag” is being encouraged in public lands management. We discuss why building latrines and outhouses isn’t feasible in many areas and the benefits of users packing out their own poop.

Part 3 (17:21-23:15) How Does Public Land Management Differ in Scandinavia from the U.S.? Having just returned from filming Season 5, The Nordic Series, Rachelle shares what she learned about public lands management in Scandinavia and how their “Right-to-Roam” laws affect human waste management. Matt explains the massive difference in land management areas between Europe and the U.S.

Part 4 (23:16-35:14) Nobody’s Coming. It’s Up to Us to Clean Up After Ourselves: As overlanders and people involved in vehicle-based adventures, we’re live by the idea that we may need to be responsible for our own rescue. The same philosophy applies to managing our waste and cleaning up after ourselves. So what are best practices for managing our own poop (human waste)? Matt Caldwell, Executive Director at Tread Lightly, shares his thoughts to help us find answers to this question. We discuss options for overlanding toilets and human waste management like the cost-effective “Lugable Loo,” Ryan’s preferred “Three-Legged Folding Stool,” or the high-tech “Wrappon Dry Flush Toilet,” and the “Wag Bag.”

Part 5 (35:15-41:21) How Do You Dig a Cathole to Poop in the Outdoors? Given the high volume of use in some areas, packing out your own poop is considered best practice in these places. However, if you are in an area with little to no use and you choose to dig a cathole, what is best practice? Ryan explains this process in detail including what the best natural materials are to use for wiping yourself instead of toilet paper. (Go Ryan!)

Part 6 (41:22-45:25) Getting Inspired to Learn How to Poop in the Outdoors! (#pooview) We discuss why learning to poop in the outdoors can be a fun part of overlanding and share inspirational stories of our favorite outdoor pooping experiences! We also discuss why it’s important to work to stay regular while recreating in the outdoors. (Why “holding it” is not a healthy option.)

Part 7 (45:26-48:33) What Are Best Practices for Urinating in the Outdoors? We’ve discussed management issues related to pooping in the outdoors, but what about urinating? We discuss this issue related to human waste and Matt shares best practices.

Part 8 (48:34-55:20) Tips for Helping Women Learn to Comfortably Pee and Manage Their Hygiene in the Outdoors: According to Rachelle, the most commonly asked questions she gets at Expos from other women concern how to pee safely and comfortably in the outdoors. Rachelle shares helpful tips to assist women in feeling more comfortable doing their business in the outdoors including her use of the “Tinklebell” device. Jimmy shares his family’s experiences with dry flush toilets like the Laveo and the Wrappon.

Part 9 (55:23- 56:51) Tips for Teaching Kids to Do Their Business in the Outdoors: We discuss approaches to getting your kids comfortable with managing their waste (pooping & peeing) in the outdoors, and Matt shares his thoughts about helping both kids and partners with the process.

Part 10 (56:52-End) As Overlanders, What Can We Do to Help Public Land Managers with Human Waste and Other Issues? Matt explains how many land management agencies are underresourced and why it’s important for all public lands users to “do their part” and to take on the responsibility of public lands ownership. Matt shares how to get involved in helping to take care of your public lands how anyone who’s interested can become a member of the Tread Lightly! organization.

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