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toileting when hiking or camping


  • toileting is one of the main issues overnight campers and hikers have to address appropriately
  • some prefer just to skip going to the toilet for one to two nights although this is likely to make you uncomfortable and not enjoy the trip as much
    • “Flushable wipes” should ONLY be used in normal sewerage systems or a maximum of 2 can be used in large commercial septic systems
    • if you wish to use wipes for added cleanliness (a great idea when there are no showers), then put them in your rubbish bag to take home or place in a rubbish bin
    • Do NOT put the following down septic tanks:
      • chemicals, cigarette butts, paper towels, sanitary tampons, condoms, disposable diapers, anything plastic or similar non-biodegradables
  • Do NOT BURY toilet waste near streams - you must be at least 50m from a stream

Flush toilets

sewerage systems

  • these are as would be found in urban houses and you should treat them as you normally would
  • they are only likely to be found in commercial caravan parks near towns

commercial septic systems

  • these may be found on large rural camp sites such as Tidal River camp ground Wilsons Prom
  • in general only toilet paper should be used but a maximum of 2 “flushable wipes” at a toilet episode may be OK 1)

small septic systems

  • these are the most common flush toilets found on non-commercial camp grounds
  • DO NOT flush anything down these apart from toilet paper
  • flushable wipes are highly likely to clog these and put them out of action until unclogged by professionals

Drop toilets

  • these are the most common toilets at more remote camp grounds
  • DO NOT put anything down these apart from toilet paper
  • ensure you always leave the lid down when finished
  • these can get over-full on busy long weekends - plan your camp site accordingly depending on likely wind directions!

BYO Toilets

chemical portable loos

  • these are relatively affordable starting at around $130 but are rather big, bulky, cumbersome and require relatively expensive chemicals and maintenance and some can leak
  • mainly for those in caravans or campervans
  • tend to have a 15L or more flush water tank and a 12L or more waste tank
  • for one person with average use, can be used for 3-5 days before the waste tank requires emptying into a sewerage toilet (not a septic toilet) or dump point
  • eg. Thetford Porta Pottis
  • do NOT dispose of the waste from these down septic tanks or down drop toilets!!!


  • these are essentially a strong plastic paint can in which you place a rubbish bag (preferably one which will decompose so you can bury it if you have to) and has a toilet seat to place on top to make it more comfortable and to contain the smells
  • these can double up as stools, water containers and as rubbish or storage bins so can be quite handy
  • these are a far better option than a drop toilet if you start vomiting on your trip - although emesis bags would be an even better option for this!

"Poo pots"

  • these are the preferred method of managing waste (rather than burial) when doing overnight hikes where there are no toilets
  • use biodegradable bags to collect stool, squish the air out and put them into waterproof sealed containers to take back to the nearest toilets - even drop toilets

Bush burial

  • as a last resort, you can dig a hole in which to toilet then bury it
  • MUST be at least 50m from streams
  • overnight hikers generally will carry a small plastic hiking trowel
    • be aware that in many areas the ground is rock hard and this may be difficult even with a shovel let alone with a small plastic hiking trowel!
australia/toileting.txt · Last modified: 2024/02/02 15:47 by gary1

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