When traveling in sensitive areas or desert climates, it’s important to understand best practices when it comes to human waste. In our latest video, Neil explains when you should pack out your poop, some proven techniques, and how to carry it safely. Plus, find a list of some of the best “WAG” bags available…
Understanding the proper disposal of human waste is a crucial piece of backcountry knowledge. For example, it can be buried in some places, but it must be packed out in others. The reasons some zones have (or should have) this regulation are pretty cut and dry. Many places are being overused, such as popular campsites and national parks, and can’t support the amount of human waste being introduced. There are other areas where human waste has the potential of spreading disease to wildlife or contaminating water, like in a river canyon. Lastly, some places simply don’t have the soil or bacteria necessary to promote decomposition. One example is Moab, Utah, a popular moto, jeep, and mountain bike destination. Moab ticks two of those boxes as it’s an area that gets a lot of visitors in the high season and has a desert climate that doesn’t allow proper decomposition. Moab’s tourism authority clearly states on their website, “When developed facilities are not available, all solid waste should be packed out in approved waste bags.”
In our latest video, Neil walks us through what this all means, explaining when you should pack out your poop, sharing some techniques, and offering tips how to carry it out of the backcountry safely and responsibly. Watch it below, then scroll down for more information on WAG bags.
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As Neil mentions in the video, the most popular and recommended method for carrying out your poop is via a WAG bag. WAG stands for Waste Alleviation and Gelling, which was originally a brand name. The best WAG bag options provide a bag in which to do your business—some of which are biodegradable—an outer zip-close bag, a little bit of toilet paper, and a packet of waste treatment powder that neutralizes odors, solidifies waste, and starts breaking it down. Note that the amount of toilet paper that’s provided in most of these systems is woefully inadequate, so you should carry extra. Here are a few of the more popular options and where to buy them.
The Biffy Bag
The Biffy Bag is probably the most popular WAG bag on the market and won The American Alpine Institutes Guides Choice Award for Best Disposable Toilet. The Biffy Bag features triple layer design, with effervescent Biffy Powder, a green biodegradable Biffy Bag, heavy-duty aluminized Mylar zip-top transport bag, toilet paper, and an oversized wet wipe. You can buy in packs of 3, 10, 25, or 100.
~65 grams / ~$3.31/ea at AMZN
CleanWaste Go Anywhere WAG Bag
The made-in-USA CleanWaste Go Anywhere kit contains one waste bag, “Poo Powder” gelling/deodorizing agent, a puncture-resistant, zip-close storage bag, toilet paper, and a hand wipe. Each kit measures 8.5 x 5.25 x 1″ and weighs 68 grams (2.4oz)
~68 grams / $3 at REI / 12-pack: $34
Restop 2 WAG Bag
The Restop 2 WAG bag used to be the budget-friendly option, but has since gone up in price. Still it remains a well-regarded, popular option. The Restop 2 utilizes a patented “bag within a bag” heavy gauge design which they say can safely contain up to 32 ounces of solid human waste. The Restop 2 WAG bag measures 6.1 x 2.56 x 1.54″ and weighs 90 grams according to the company. You can also buy them in a 12-pack, which cuts the price to about $4.50/ea.
~90 grams / $7.95 at AMZN
DIY WAG Bags
You can also make your own WAG bags and save a little money. There are plenty of biodegradable toilet bags like these. And you can buy poo powder in bulk or as individual packets. As Neil mentioned, a sealed plastic peanut butter jar makes a good carryout solution, too.
With all of these solutions, always pack out bags, wipes, packet packaging, toilet paper, and menstrual hygiene products. Don’t bury waste bags or wipes—even if they’re labeled biodegradable or compostable.
If you have a solution that’s worked for you, or you have a particular WAG bag that you’d recommend, please drop us a line in the conversation below.
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