What Do You Do With Dog Poop While Backpacking?


With summertime approaching more people are hitting the trails with their furry friends. You can bet that the minute your cars out of site nature will call.

Everybody loves backpacking with their dogs, but nobody likes carrying around poop! What do you do when your dog poops on a backpacking trip? Should you bury it in a cathole, or carry it around for the remainder of the trip?

What Should I Do With Dog Poop on a Backpacking Trip?

What do you do when your dog poops in the woods? Do you leave it behind, or take care of it just like you would at home?

When you’re backpacking you should always clean up dog poop. Dog waste has lots of bacteria that can be hazardous to humans and animals alike. When you’re miles away from civilization you can either bury it or pack it out.

You are in the woods… and poop is just a part of nature! Other animals leave their droppings laying around so why shouldn’t you?

How to Clean Up Dog Poop on a Backpacking Trip

On short day hikes you should always pack out your dogs poop. For the price of dog poop bags there’s really no reason not to carry them in your pack. Leaving behind poop is just lazy and inconsiderate to everybody else.

You don’t even need to smell the dog poop on short day hikes. Just buy a portable odor free poop holder to put the bags into. DIY PVC pipe poop tubes are another option.

  1. Bury It: My dog poops at least 3 times per day(wish I was that regular). Over the course of a long backpacking trip that would be a lot of poop to pack out. Instead of filling up a poop tube and carrying it all out you’re better off digging a few catholes. Just dig a six deep hole using a cheap backpacking trowel, knock the poop in the hole, and cover it up.
  2. Pack it Out: On shorter weekend trips you can usually just pack the poop out. This is where the poop tube in the video below comes in handy. Just bag up your poop like you normally do and drop it in the poop tube to throw out once you get back to the trail head. A sealed PVC pipe is pretty light and will be 100% odor proof.

Don’t Bury Biodegradable Poop Bags

Just because a poop bag says it’s biodegradable doesn’t mean you should bury it. Unfortunately, getting your poop bags tested as biodegradable is expensive, so companies lie.

Foreign companies are notorious for going around government standards and claiming ignorance when their products don’t hold up to testing. Unfortunately most poop bags that claim to be earth friendly never actually break down when you send them to the landfill.

To make matters worse, it’s scientifically proven that biodegradable bags never break down once they go to a landfill. They need compression, oxygen, and moisture to fully decompose. We basically have a literal shit ton of mummified poop on our hands.

For more info check out this article by ROVER.com. It’s highly informative and really explains why you need to take poop cleanup seriously.

Why Should I Clean Up My Dog Poop?

Why do you clean up your dog poop when he takes a squat in your neighbors yard? Probably because you don’t want to get yelled at the next time your neighbor steps in it. Cleaning up dog poop is just part of being a good dog owner and neighbor.

When you’re miles away from civilization it can be tempting to leave a few random piles behind. Anybody that claims they’ve never left behind poop is either lying or a better much better person than me. Nobodies gonna step in the poop so why bother cleaning it up?

1) Dog Poop Takes a Long Time to Break Down

Although it might seem like it, dog waste is not a normal part of nature. That innocent pile you left behind will take over a year to break down.

There’s a lot of people bringing their dogs out to busy parks. Imagine how much poo would be left behind if every dog owner decided not to clean up after their dog. Your talking about at least 2-3 piles per dog each day. That’s a lot of poop!

2) Dog Poop Carries Bacteria, Virus and Disease

Every year dogs produce 21.2 billion pounds of poop. All that poop drains into the water supply. This might not seem like a big deal out in the backcountry, but all those tiny tributaries flow back to major water sources.

A study by the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics did a study on dog poop a few years ago. Here’s the study if you feel like reading a 37 page paper on dog poop statistics.

They looked into how much poop was left behind by approximately 400,000 people at Boulder Colorado’s Open Space and Mountain Parks during a one month period.

Out of all the visitors with dogs about 30% didn’t bother to clean up the poop. Those visitors left behind over 60,000 lbs of dog poop alongside the trail.

Not only is all that poop just plain nasty, it’s filled with both bacteria and parasites. Dog poop is a common carrier of coronavirus, giardia, salmonella, cryptosporidium, whipworms, hookworms, roundworms, parvo, and campylobacter.

I may not be a scientist, but I definitely don’t want to swim and drink lake water polluted with all that nasty stuff. That’s why you should always filter out and purify water when you’re backpacking.

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