There are many outdoor topics that don’t fall under the category of “fun” or “sexy,” but which are so important that they need to be talked about. One huge example: bathroom needs at rustic campsites or a long thru hike. Going number one is simple enough, but what about when the inevitable strikes and you need to go number two?
Biodegradable camp toilet paper and backpacking trowels for digging cat holes aren’t things you want to be without when that urge strikes you out in the woods or by your campsite. If you’re going to be outdoors in places where even latrines aren’t readily available, then you need to be prepared.
While you can argue that hiking the AT or PCT is one thing while camping at a truly rustic campground where you get to pick out a campsite, but you’re expected to build your own latrine hole is another, the concept is always the same. You should dig a small latrine cat hole and make sure to always build this at least 200 feet away from any water source and any campsite. This isn’t just courtesy, it’s for long term safety and decency, as well!
Taking Care of Important Outdoor Needs
A good cat hole is important for a rustic campsite. This is not only important because you need a latrine to keep waste away from water sources and your campsite, but in some cases even things like dirty dish water or liquids you need to dispose of can be kept away from campsites and water sources to be properly disposed of in a way that will have a minimum impact on the surrounding environment.
Don’t “just go in the woods.” Any thru hiker has run into problems with hand placements because someone decided to go to the bathroom, use toilet paper just off the trail, and put some rocks over it. Definitely not cool. Also, if you’re going to enjoy the great outdoors (and everyone really should) then you also need to do your part to respect the Earth and leave as little trace behind as possible. Normal toilet paper doesn’t decompose quickly the way many people assume it does.
Likewise, while RV toilet paper is a little bit better and certainly works for built (standing) latrines or for RV vehicles, it’s still not the same as using toilet paper that is specifically designed for ultralight backpackers, rustic campers, and those who are going to have base camps or otherwise have the need to to set up their own latrine area.
Don’t give up on rustic camping or long range ultralight hiking on long really out of the way trails. Just make sure you have the appropriate biodegradable toilet paper for camping and related supplies to keep your favorite spots pristine!
Our Top 5 Camp Toilet Tissue Picks:
For the purposes of this article we’re going to focus specifically on the best camp toilet paper options out there. While other types will work for helping to minimize long term waste from a home toilet or for dissolving quickly in an RV waste tank, this list of our top five choices are all about the rustic campsite.
Coleman Camp Toilet Paper
This biodegradable toilet paper for camping makes the top of the list as one of the absolute best options currently out there. This is the best selling product of its type currently on Amazon, as long as the focus is specifically on toilet paper for camping as opposed to biodegradable TP for the home. It should come as no surprise that a company like Coleman would show up at the top of the list considering they are a major name in all thing outdoors.
Coleman Camper’s Toilet Paper is a compact roll of TP that is lightweight, compact to minimize the space it takes up, and is easily dispensed to offer an impressive 65+ squares of excellent 2-ply outdoor TP that gets the job done while also quickly biodegrading to keep the great outdoors pristine whether you’re using a camping toilet or forced to dig your own from scratch.
This well made and constructed toilet paper for campers and travelers is biodegradable enough that it not only works for latrine use and decomposes when buried, it is also safe to use in septic systems such as RVs. Each full package has three rolls, though it is worth noting that currently this particular brand can only be bought and shipped within the United States.
Very popular and highly rated choice.
Cotton Buds Toilet Tissue To Go
Produced by the Cotton Buds Company, this toilet paper is definitely for rustic camping and long distance back country ultralight backpacking (looking at you future PCT hikers, among others) as it is a surprisingly solid 2-ply design that is fully biodegradable so it won’t become litter out in Mother Nature, but is thick enough you should probably avoid using it in an RV.
Each roll has 75 sheets for use. They come without the inner cardboard core that comes with most TP for home use, and the package works as a pull out dispenser which allows you to take care of yourself via careful hygiene with minimal risk of pulling out too many sheets or messing it up.
This convenient package design shouldn’t be overlooked, as without that middle roll it can be a little irritating to get used to the TP and keep it in good working order. This toilet tissue to go is a fine choice, and generally speaking each order of this product doesn’t come with only one roll but actually comes with three.
That’s a solid deal for camper toilet paper. Weighing only 2.4 ounces, they won’t add to the pack weight and offer another viable option for outdoor enthusiasts.
APC Outdoor Coreless Toilet Paper Roll
The American Paper Converting (APC) company are the masterminds behind this particular toilet paper for traveling. A solid biodegradable two ply tissue design, this TP roll cuts down on the amount of space any toilet paper will take up in a backpack, bag, or travel pack without giving up anything in value.
These fit in a variety of small spaces that include backpacks, glove boxes, tackle boxes, and more. In other words, it is ideal for people who love to be one the move, and don’t want to be caught unprepared when nature is suddenly calling.
The company ships only in the United States currently, and they brag that this is the toilet paper that is actually designed to travel with you. Each roll has 225 sheets of usable camp toilet paper, and if you buy by the pack then you get a full six rolls to use.
The bags are resealable and water resistant to help keep all your disposable toilet tissue both safe and dry, preventing waste.
Coleman Biowipes (Outdoor Hygiene Product)
While not pure camping TP, in fact the biowipes are generally used by adults for a bit of clean up as opposed to toilet paper, these are an important product we wanted to cover and can also be mixed in with actually toilet tissue for a bit of cleaning and relief during those long times outdoors when soreness or chaffing even happens from the rest.
Sometimes you need a little moisture and you need something extra to feel completely clean. This is where Coleman’s biowipes come in perfectly to serve their purpose and can be paired effectively with Coleman camping toilet paper or any other type of temporary outdoor TP.
These 30 all-purpose compost-friendly wipes help deliver a thorough cleaning and a bit of a fresh feeling afterwards. They are designed to help you handle whatever cleaning or hygenic wipe down needs you have while taking up a minimum amount of space, minimum weight on the pack, and yet these wipes can be composted and will biodegrade naturally to prevent long term litter.
The resealable package means they won’t dry out easily and can offer an important counter-balance (or supplement) to your normal toilet paper for camping.
Coghlan’s Outdoor Toilet Tissue
Coghlan is a name that is well recognized by many an outdoor enthusiast and it makes sense that they would once again provide an important outdoor item that might not be considered a “sexy item,” but they understand the less glamorous important items that campers, hikers, hunters, and other outdoor fans need.
The biodegradable outdoor toilet paper produced by Coghlan provides an impressive 140 sheets per roll and they are sold in packs of two rolls. These come without the bulky cardboard core that works so well for home TP, but mostly gets in the way during travel or camping. This cuts down on the space and on the precious ounces for long range trekkers and keeps the pack weight low.
This material is single ply, making it much easier to naturally break down in the environment and in a latrine hole. Safe to use with RV and septic tanks, as well, although its main application is for rustic latrine setups. This quality TP is more than good enough to make our top five list and you won’t be disappointed with how it comes through when you need it most.
Camping Toilet Paper FAQ
Where should I dig a cat hole?
Whether it is called a latrine hole, a cat hole, our a camping toilet, choosing the right location for creating a latrine at a rustic campsite is a critical part of any camping experience. A proper cat hole should be a minimum of 200 feet away from all campsites, trails, and water sources. There’s a great LifeHacker Article on this topic.
How deep should a cat hole be?
Generally speaking a cat hole should be at least 4-6 inches wide and 6-8 inches deep. If you are going to be spending an extended period of time in an area you have the option of building a larger latrine for multiple uses or making multiple cat holes for each instance.
How do I close up a latrine hole?
Once finished any biodegradable TP can be left in the hole, the dirt should be returned over it, and spread rocks, gravel, and leaves around to return the ground to as natural a state as possible.
What is biodegradable toilet paper?
Toilet paper that is specifically designed to break down quickly after use, especially when in a natural outdoor environment. The idea is to make it as environmentally friendly as possible so the natural materials return to the earth.
Is normal toilet paper biodegradable?
Maybe eventually, but not fast enough or friendly enough to be used while out camping, hiking, or enjoying other outdoor activities. If it doesn’t say biodegradable, it shouldn’t be left out or buried in a cat hole.
While this isn’t a topic that many outdoor communities like to talk about when they have to deal with roughing it, well unless you’re with a bunch of thru hikers in which case this definitely is an important topic, but if you’re going to be out in a primitive campsite, hiking trail, or otherwise find yourself on a trip where “digging a latrine hole” is on the to do list…then it is probably a good idea to make sure you have one of the highly recommended camping toilet paper options on hand.
Follow the proper procedures for digging a cat hole away from camp, trail, and all water sources, and have some decent quickly biodegradable toilet paper, and you’ll be able to take care of business and rest easy knowing that you’re having an absolute minimum impact on the environment around you.