A blue garden trowel

Leave no trace

Why you should always take these garden trowels with you when hiking

What do you do if you suddenly need to go to the toilet while hiking, but there are none nearby? Our tips for «toilet breaks».

Rüdi Steiner

Let's start with the lesser problem: peeing.

  1. Only ever pee where rain can wash it away again - so ideally not under a dense tree or an overhanging rock.

  2. Don't pee on rocks. The urine and its smell will linger for longer here than on earthy soil.

  3. Nor should you aim directly at plants because many roots can't tolerate acidic liquids.

  4. Keep away from streams and other watercourses. Also, aside from not peeing into them, stay at least 60 metres away so that the next rains don't wash your urine into the stream.

  5. Even women should try to do without loo paper. In woods and along the sides of paths, loo paper is a bigger problem for the environment than a little urine.

And now for «number twos»:

  1. Look for a secure place well away from the path. This will give you some privacy and, more importantly, prevent someone else treading on it later.

  2. But here too, make sure that you are not near a stream or lake.

  3. Always take a garden trowel with you when hiking. This will enable you to dig a small hole in the ground if you need to go to the toilet. This should ideally be 10 cm to 30 cm deep. Once you have finished, cover up your makeshift toilet with earth and place a rock on it to prevent wild animals digging it up again. That's because human excrement contains lots of germs, bacteria and viruses that could make animals sick.

  4. In contrast to peeing, it's much harder to avoid using loo paper when defecating. However, under no circumstances should you leave paper lying around. Used loo paper can be buried in most places around the world because it's compostable. Unbleached loo paper decomposes the quickest. It's important that you bury the loo paper in the aforementioned hole so that erosion or wild animals don't unearth it again.