If you find yourself in a situation without toilet paper, there are still plenty of ways to clean your butt after pooping during a hike or a backpacking trip.
Here is the list of possible options if you run out of toilet paper on the trail, tried and tested by many before you:
- Oval rocks and pebbles.
- Rounded sticks.
- Pine cones.
- A handful of grass.
Obviously, you will use what you have at hand, this will depend on the surrounding.
The order in the list above is my order of preference, and below you can read more about this from my own experience.
In my view, this is the best of the options here. So make sure you have some larger leaves at hand. Do not expect that you will find them everywhere, so if you spot a maple on your way, take plenty of its leaves and keep them in the pack.
They will stay fresh and green for hours and you can use them when needed. I normally always use at least two of them together and make a multiple layer to be sure that they do not tear when used for wiping. You can use leaves from the ground if they are elastic enough and do not break easily.
If you have no trees, you can use leaves from some other low-growing plants. There are some of them with very wide leaves suitable for this purpose. This will depend on the area where you are, so it makes no sense making their list here.
Oval and smooth rocks and pebbles
It is interesting that you can find smooth pebbles even very high in the mountains. So this is something that will definitely work above the tree line and in the areas without vegetation. In the Alps, this is typically above 2500 meters or so.
But you can use this practically everywhere, so no need to think about leaves if you have such rocks at hand. Of course, you are not going to carry them in the pack for the moment you need them.
This method will work in the woods. Here again, this is something I have used and I know it works. The good side is that you can do this and you can manage without making hands dirty.
The downside is when the wood is wet and dirty, it may be unpleasant. But you can use this as a first way to remove stuff, and then use some of the other methods mentioned here for additional cleaning.
Using moss to wipe
Moss is usually wet and it will work like a sponge. But it can become messy if you are not careful. So this is why I try to avoid this way if possible. You can fold it so that your fingers do not pop out through it.
However, sometimes you can find pieces of wood with a moss growing on it. This should work well and you can manage without making hands dirty too much.
This will work similar to sticks. Just make sure you move it the right direction. Collect several of them and use one by one, and each of them apply in one move only.
Use water to wash your butt
This will always work if you have water around. But it can be cold and unpleasant, and your hand will definitely become dirty so you must wash them properly. It is best to collect water in a bottle and move away from a water stream.
Also, keep a piece of soap ready to wash hands when you finish the job, you do not want to mess through the backpack with your dirty hands. In any case, always use one hand only to wash your butt, so the other hand will be clean.
If the water is clean, take it in your mouth and pour over hand(s); in other words, try to keep the bottle clean from outside so do not touch it with a dirty hand.
Related to this, there are some cool tools for using your regular water bottle. You can see one on Amazon under the name CuloClean. You attach it to the bottle and squeeze to create an outdoor bidet.
Actually, water may be your emergency option if you make a mess with any of the ways described here. So it is best to keep a bottle of water at hand even if you use some of the other ways described here.
This holds in particular with the next method described below that I find a bit messy and try to avoid if possible.
Collect grass and wipe
This is the messiest way, and I would not advise using it unless it is really necessary. Try to make the grass compact. You can twist it and bend it and use that way.
You will need several piles of it to wipe you completely. Make sure you do not repeat the move with the same pile.
From what I know, this way is used regularly by people living in desert areas. There is no doubt that this method works. Not my favorite though.
Note that with sand you can also “wash” your hands if there is no water around.
In conclusion, all the ways to clean your butt after pooping during a hike described above can be used on the trail. This may apply to hiking, backpacking, and mountaineering. You can use them separately or you can combine some of them.
I have seen some people suggesting using a compacted snow. This can work but it is obviously cold and unpleasant.
Think about using water with a bottle as of your backcountry bidet and apply it. Making that part of the body clean can save you from trouble on long tours. Chafing on that part of the body is one issue which happens frequently to me.
Actually there is some literature around dealing with the topic discussed here, this Amazon book is one example.
If you still do not want to use any if these, and you know you will rely on toilet paper, please have a look at this video about things you may need:
Check also my another text about possible constipation at higher altitudes. Thank you for reading.