Wilderness Privy Users’ Guide

From the Half Ass Expeditions Wilderness Guide Series
by Timur Novasch, your cybah-spaced mountain correspondent

If you have spent any time at all backpacking, you’ve encountered the backwoods privy. Sure some of these unique architectual marvels are a pleasure to use but more often than not, they can become a backwoods adventure you’ll wish you passed up. However, sometimes you’ve just “gotta go”. Even in the unstable state your mind and body may be at the time, you must proceed carefully before you expose your private parts to the hidden dangers of the outhouse. Here are a few helpful tips to make that “trip out back” the pleasurable experience it was meant to be.


Tip Number 1:  Whack the outside of the privy a couple of times. This is a simple yet effective way to let any animals and/or insects know you are coming, giving them ample time to flee the outhouse. There’s nothing like a swarm of yellow jackets flying out from between your naked legs to keep that sphincter closed up tight.

Tip Number 2:  Check the soundness of the structure before you get in it. Imagine having your shorts around your ankles and the outhouse collapses. Enough said…


Tip Number 3:  This may be the most important hint of all… NEVER LET YOUR REAR END MAKE CONTACT WITH THE “SEAT”!  Read McAnus’ account: “Stuck On You- A Mountain Movement Adventure” for one real good reason. There are a number of other reasons for this:

  1. To keep the “nasties” commonly found in toilet locations from making contact with your skin.
  2. To minimize the splashing that may result when using a “full” facility.
  3. To allow enough room for trapped insects/animals to escape.
  4. To avoid splinters…!
  5. To add a challenge with the increased lack of balance and the need to line up the shot.
  6. To increase the accoustic qualities of the structure.

The biggest obstacle to overcome in the search for relief in an outhouse is the overpowering stench. It can get rude. One suggestion would be to take up winter hiking. The cool temps slow the decomposition rate resulting in a tolerable stink.

frosty seat

The privy is an important feature of many campsites and often cannot be avoided, especially in sensitive wilderness areas. A stool launched safely in the wilderness privy can be pleasant part of the backwoods experience as long as you use your head before you lower your pants. And don’t forget the toilet paper…!


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