The best toilet paper for backpacking is a paper towel. Regular toilet paper just doesn’t stand up to the humidity.
I like using Brawny paper towels: they’re scored down the middle of each sheet, so it’s easy to tear off a half sheet. When I pack my toiletry kit for a trip, I tear off 5 half sheets for each day of my trip. Then I tear these in half again, producing 10 quarter sheets for each day. I pack these in ziploc bags, along with one Wet Ones antibacterial wipe for each day I’ll be out. They come individually wrapped. Make sure you get the unscented kind to avoid attracting bears.
I bring the Wet Ones along for two functions. They contain Aloe which can be soothing when necessary and a moist wipe can help ensure that your butt crack is clean. This should be obvious, but monkey butt (diaper rash) can become very painful if you are hiking long distances over multiple days. The best cure is prevention and if that fails, zinc oxide.
Paper towels are biodegradable. But I don’t always bury them in a cat hole when I’m hiking or drop them in a privy. It really depends where I am and what the terrain is like. Sometimes, I’ll pack out my used towels and waste in a wag bag, so called, after the bags people use to hike out pet feces when they hike with their dogs. I always carry out the used Wet Ones. You don’t want to drop them down a privy.
I got over the embarrassment of talking about backpacking hygiene years ago. If this is all new to you, I strongly suggest you buy How to Shit in the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art which explains in great detail how to properly minimize the environmental impact your waste has on the environment. It’s a backpacking classic, but also a fun read. It also makes a great gift if you’ve got someone in the family who is just getting into backpacking.
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I love the book How to Shit in the Woods. I recomend it often.
The fact that the chapter for women is titled "How Not to Pee in your Boots" is pretty damn funny.
You know it, paper towels are the best choice. You use less paper and they are multi purpose. I always have a bag full of them. Like you I get the ones that can be half sheets. I fold them neatly and store in a quart freezer bag.
The blue auto shop towels work for me. Cut down in size, folded, and stored flat in a sandwich sized ziplock they can be used for TP, cooking and personal cleanup. They don't disintegrate when wet and can be dried out and reused (wouldn't recommend this with TP).
I've had some trouble finding Wet Ones wipes. Where can I find them reliably?
We are probably the last ones who need this advice. I tell a non hiker about carrying out and they think ewwwwwww. I'm amazed that more of the ladies haven't discovered how nice it is to wear a pad to stay fresh. Your right a sore ass isn't fun and it doesn't take long to get one. I find some preventive padding really helps stay dry.
My favorite hiking pants have a pocket zip in the lower section. used sandwich bags and nampkins go here for the trip to the sandbox where they are easy to grab.
I sometime have problems finding wet ones too, so I buy them in bulk (24 pack) whenever I find them – which is usually at the supermarket or the drug store. You should also be able to find them online.
I added baby wipes to my pack last year, and they were fantastic for all kinds of clean up (feet, crack, body, running out of tp, etc). I came across a tip that will help reduce the weight (I like to have 2 per day, which for a longer hike can add up) and also reduce the amount of packaging. I buy a bulk package of baby wipes and then lay them out to dry for a couple of days before the trip. Fold them up and put them in with the tp in a ziplock. When I need to use them, I just sprinkle a bit of water on them, squeeze out the excess, and voila!
You can cut a roll of paper towels in half by using a smooth (serrated knives tear the paper fibers and make a mess of it), to give a toilet-paper-sized roll of paper towels…that can be used as toilet paper! The advantage to this is of course that they can be used for everything else and don't take up as much room, particularly when the roll is flattened.
i know it was a touchy subject for me and buddy, but he had nothing else to talk about. well i bought a some campers tp from wal-mart one time and he saw it. He was amaszed at the size and weight of it. well come to find out, he uses body wipes for under the arms, and down in the mid section before going to bed. but also said that newspaper would be good too. you can read as you go, then tear and use it.
but i will look into your guys ideas.
For day hike peeing I bring cut up pieces of flannel. I usually have some up my sleeves or clipped to my shoulder straps for my nose running and sweat, and then a few in the side pockets of my pack to use as toilet paper.
Totally agree. I have been using Paper towels for a few hiking seasons now.
I too often carry out my used PT, as more and more hikers are going out into the bag woods it just seems like a more responsible thing to do. I put them into a zip lock bag, which than goes into a second ZL bag, for if the first one should blow a hole. Rather important if you are 5 or 6 days out from your next town.
Wet Wipes I also carry. However, I dry them out before I leave. You can reduce the weight of Wet Wipes by about 80% by carrying them dry. All it takes is a few drops of water and they come back to full life.
Paper towels can also be used for drying out your cooking pot. I will typically pull out one paper town when I hit camp and than use it for cooking and cleaning, and than use it to wipe with before I go to bed. They dry out rather quick so if you give yourself about 10 or 20 minutes from the time you dry your pot before it goes back into its stuff sack and the time you go to the bathroom, it can be nearly or totally dry. Than again, sometimes it is nice having the paper towel a little wet when you use it to clean up after going to the bathroom.
Here is a video that I encourage all hikers to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwmwxkD86Ec — it is funny and teaches some solid principles.
paper towel is a great idea, thanks!
i hate to get political and i won’t push it very far, but i would suggest using a different brand than brawny, as they are owned by the Koch brothers and in my opinion, inherently evil.
You hate to get political, but you just did, so your point?
I exclusively use biodegradeable wet wipes. A complete clean-up is guaranteed. I always dig a cat hole if it’s “in the woods” and bury it. I’ll also use them in a privy as they are biodegradeable. I believe in being a good steward of what God has given us but no, I’m not carrying out poo towels double bagged or whatever that WON’T degrade in a landfill. :) And besides, it’s nasty. Not going in my pack!!
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Do the blue auto towels biodegrade? The ones I just got say they have a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled polymer, which sounds an awful lot like plastic to me.
Good idea to use it as a reusable camp towel, though. I’ll take that suggestion.
Look up compressed toilet paper, it will change your life.
Great idea. 5 day bikepacking coming up so will give this a try.
Paper Towels? How about sand paper? :) I’m hiked for many, many years and I’ve switched to ‘portable bidet’ that is light and a better option….a little practice at first is necessary, but very sanitary and easy on the skin. If that doesn’t float your boat, try using septic tank safe toilet paper and make sure to wet it down in the cat hole before covering up. It’ll be gone in the morning.