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Reviews > Books > General > How To Sh t In The Woods > Owner Review by Jennifer Estrella

How To Shit In The Woods 2nd Edition Revised

A Ten Speed Press Book

Author: Kathleen Meyer

Owner Review by Jennifer Estrella

July 11, 2008


Personal Information

Name:  Jennifer Estrella
Age:  33
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight: 140 lb (64 kg)
Email address: jennksnowy at yahoo dot com
City, State, and Country: 
Orange County, California, United States

Backpacking Background

After getting into the outdoors scene camping while 4-wheeling and day-hiking, I switched to backpacking in the early 2000's. I have backpacked extensively in Utah, Wyoming and Idaho along with California, Pennsylvania and Nevada. I have slowly been cutting my base weight to be able to go longer in both duration and distance. I have done so mainly by using better gear and dumping heavy luxuries. (I also married a sherpa to help.) I backpack year round in all weather, and usually take a free standing tent and a gas stove on all my trips. I love trying out new gear.

Product Information

Book Title : How To Shit In the Woods: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art 2nd Edition Revised
Format: Paperback
Author: Kathleen Meyer
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Year: August 1994
First Publication Year: 1989
Pages: 107
ISBN-10: 0898156270
ISBN-13: 978-0898156270
Web Site:
MSRP: $9.95 USD; $10.95 Canada Price

Listed Dimensions: 5 x 8 x 3/8 in (13 cm x 20 cm x 1 cm)
Actual Dimensions: 5 x 8.25 x 3/8 in (13 cm x 21 cm x 1 cm)
Weight Listed: None listed on website
Actual Weight : 5.65 oz (160 g)

Book cover

Kathleen Meyer is a former river guide who published the first edition of How to Shit in the Woods in 1989. The author has published a second edition in 1994 with updated information on how to deal with waste, individual trekkers, water disinfecting systems, clothing for women, water viruses/micro-organisms, and more hilarious stories.


  • Chapter 1: Anatomy of a Crap
  • Chapter 2: Digging the Hole
  • Chapter 3: When You Can't Dig a Hole
  • Chapter 4: Plight of the Solo Poop Packer
  • Chapter 5: Trekker's Trots
  • Chapter 6 For Women Only: How Not To Pee in Your Boots
  • Chapter 7: What? No T.P? or Doing Without

About The Book

I never did think I would contemplate my personal human waste while reading a book or even read a book in regards to such a topic. Typically this is not a dinner table topic for discussion and often times it is awkward to talk about such a subject. A friend a few years ago suggested that I read this book for a light and funny read. This was in the beginning of my backpacking days. I think they just wanted me to get out more.

While backpacking I tend not to think about what I am going to do with my waste. When nature calls I just deal with it in a manner that does not impact the environment as much as I can.

After reading this book I came up with some new ideas and techniques that I implemented on my subsequent trips to the backcountry. It is a very enjoyable, light, and funny read. It only takes a few hours to read the book cover to cover.

In the first chapter "Anatomy of a Crap" the inventions of Thomas Crapper are discussed. He was an English plumber who had quite a few sanitation inventions. He created the water waster preventer, the silencer, and the pear-shaped toilet seat. In this chapter the author shares stories of people going to relieve themselves in the wilderness. Clothing management, positioning, and technique are discussed. The stories are comical in nature and makes you really think about the next time you have to relieve yourself.

The second chapter "Digging the Hole" discusses how to dig the cat hole, waste hole or whatever one wants to call it. Some thought should go into where one should dig the hole. There is also important information on water filtration in the backcountry, Giardia, and Crytosporidium.

In chapter three "When You Can't Dig a Hole" has some funny tales and ideas of what to do when digging the hole is impossible. Rock climbers, mountaineers, river guides, and some hikers can not dig a hole because of the surroundings they are traveling in, or the climate. As one can not dig a hole on a rock face, they must pack out the waste. There are some ideas in this chapter of how to pack out the waste, how to deal with it after the trip, and other alternatives such as wilderness toilets.

Chapter four is "Flight of the Solo Poop Packer". In this chapter the author discusses how the solo outdoor person (hiker, rock climber. etc.) can deal with their waste. The author discusses the poop tube, smearing techniques, travel above timberline, pooping in the snow, and solar composting toilets. She also discusses carrying ones own biodegrader (beetles, earthworms, or bacteria) that neutralize the odor and turn excrement into earth. Yuck!

"Trekkers Trots" is chapter five. This chapter discusses how to deal with the "runs". It talks mostly about prevention with safe sanitary practices in the backcountry. Water filtration is discussed again in this chapter with an emphasis on the products that are available. How to set up a washing system before food prep and eating is also discussed in this chapter as prevention of backcountry illness.

Chapter six is " For Women Only: How Not to Pee in Your Boots". This chapter gives ideas (such as clothing to be worn) and techniques on how to perfect peeing in the woods . The author also touches on how to deal with menstruation and devices that are available to make this a more pleasant backcountry experience.

The last chapter in the book is " What? No T.P.? Or Doing Without". This chapter gives some ideas of what can be used or techniques if one does not have toilet paper in the wilderness. Watch out for the poisonous leaves!


Things That Rock

  • Very funny
  • Light reading
  • Good for a new backpacker


Things That Are So So

  • Some of the water filtration information seems redundant
  • Prices of the suggested retail items are outdated or the items no longer exist for purchase



This book is an enjoyable, comical read for new/veteran backpackers or those that just like to get outdoor and need to get rid of their waste. I think the author did an excellent job making this topic light and humorous.


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Reviews > Books > General > How To Sh t In The Woods > Owner Review by Jennifer Estrella

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