LNT Peeing Outside
If you haven't hit the trails for an extended period of time, you might be wondering: What should you do in the middle of a hike when nature calls? Where are you allowed to relieve yourself? What do you do with your toilet paper? Is it necessary to dig a cathole? And what exactly is a cathole? Don’t worry; we’re certified nature pee experts and we have all the details on how to Leave No Trace while you Answer Nature’s Call.
In any outdoor adventure, whether you're biking, climbing, or hiking, the goal is always to minimize your impact on the fragile ecosystems you explore. A good mantra to remember is "leave it better than you found it." To achieve that, we begin with the first of Leave No Trace's seven principles: Be Prepared. Being prepared means researching your excursion beforehand and understanding how to be a responsible steward of the land. What rules and regulations are in place to protect the area you're visiting? Do you need to carry out your waste, including urine?
For the most part, ur-ine luck when it comes to peeing in most outdoor settings. Human urine is largely sterile and lacks the pathogens or bacteria found in solid waste. However, it can still introduce contaminants into water sources, attract animals, and have social impacts.
To minimize these impacts, here are some general tips to follow:
- It's best to urinate approximately 200 feet (or about 70 large steps) away from trails, campsites, climbing walls, or any other high-traffic areas.
- Try to urinate on durable surfaces like rocks rather than vegetation, as some salt-craving animals may try to dig up urine and damage the vegetation.
- If you're near high alpine lakes, streams, or natural water sources, select a spot to urinate that is at least 200 feet away.
- If you're near a water source with a flow rate of over 500 cubic feet per second, you can urinate directly into the water. The high flow rate will sufficiently dilute any contaminants.
- Have a plan for toilet paper and avoid burying it. Either bring a waste bag to dispose of toilet paper properly or opt for a reusable pee cloth like a Kula Cloth. Seeing TP can really ruin the outdoor experience for someone else's' outdoor recreation, and worst of all—have negative consequences for wildlife.
By following these tips, you'll contribute to a more enjoyable outdoor experience for all while minimizing human impact on nature. Answer Nature's Call with confidence!