For anyone that has had the pleasure of using a Wag Bag, you will understand how difficult and uncomfortable it can be to do your business in the outdoors. With many State and National parks looking to adopt the pack it out principle to human waste, the much feared Wag Bag may become an even more prevalent part of your backcountry kit.
There are two primary concerns with the disposal of human waste in the backcountry: human health problems as a consequence of either direct contact or contamination of drinking water, and aesthetic concerns from hikers who happen upon improperly disposed waste. There is nothing worse than rolling in to a beautiful backcountry campsite, only to find piles left behind from the previous visitor.
As the National Park Service hosts over 2 million backcountry campers in its pristine wilderness environments each year, human waste is a growing problem. Episodes of bacterial contamination are prompting many parks to either limit visitors, adopt the pack it out policy, or in some cases both.
Popular climbing areas such as Denali, Rainer, Aconcagua, and Mt. Whitney already have the pack it out rule in place for human waste, giving you a set of disposal bags with your permit. There are areas where you can bury your waste, such as Yosemite, but research from Sierra Club and Montana State University have shown that it is unrealistic to hope for a rapid die-off of intestinal bacteria in these cat holes.
So how can we take responsibility for our waste in the great outdoors. There are a few companies out there, such as Wag Bag and Restop, that offer a disposal bag solution. UK company Bog in a Bag has taken it one step further by designing a portable toilet to make the entire process much easier and more comfortable.
Bog in a Bag is a small and lightweight portable stool that doubles as a toilet seat. When you need to do your business, simply remove the supportive cover to reveal a hole in the middle of the stool. Place the accompanying disposal bag over the seat of the stool and down into the hole and you are ready for action.
Similar to the Wag Bag, the degradable bags contain a granular powder that absorbs water and swells into a gel, thus trapping the liquid. When finished, simply remove and tie the bag shut, ready to either pack out or dispose of properly.
When folded, the Bog in a Bag is only 65cm in length with a diameter of 13cm and weighing in at 1.2kg. The Bog in a Bag retails for £19.95, with a set of 5 bags at £2.95. Both can be ordered from the company website.
What are your thoughts on the proper way to dispose of human waste in the backcountry?