Staying clean on the trail is a challenge. Leave No Trace means packing out toilet paper and wipes. Yuk! With this simple setup, your all-purpose hiking sanitation kit, you will ditch the TP and baby wipes forever on your back country adventures.
This 120-gram (4 oz.) kit is actually a lot more than a fancy French bidet for the thru-hiker and can be assembled for under $20. Nothing quite like pressurized water for cleaning the nether regions and everything else.
A 500ml “laboratory safety squeeze bottle” provides the water pressure connected to a short-as-necessary latex rubber tubing (3/16” surgical grade). Finally, an elastic wristband must be fashioned to position and holds the tip of the hose near the tip of your fingers. Traditionally, this would be your left-hand.
Your right-hand provides the water pressure. A single squeeze will empty about a third of the bottle. At that point, you should be well on your way to a clean butt, but…
The squeeze bottle will need to be re-inflated in order to get out more water. This requires some dexterity and experimentation in the user interface. With my left hand temporarily immobilized, I have had great success using my right hand with the help of knees and underarms to loosen and retighten the squeeze bottle or alternately detaching and reattaching the hose from the bottle. Re-inflating the squeeze bottle is a thing, a necessary thing.
The second squeeze of water through the hose might involve a drop of Doctor Bronner’s soap on my fingertips (almond never peppermint!). By the end of the second squeeze, my bottom is squeaky clean.
Next, I wash my hands, starting with my left. With the hose detached from the squeeze bottle, I can wash my hands with a drop of soap and a fine, pressurized stream of water. A full 500 ml squeeze bottle is generally sufficient for the whole process.
I also carry a 104-gram Sea-to-Summit camp shovel. This is the heaviest and most expensive component of my sanitation kit. There are many alternative backcountry trowels. I might drop this from my kit and use sticks, stakes, poles, and hands for digging cat holes.
The squeeze bottle by itself without the rubber hosing is useful for cleaning every other part of your body—feet, underarms, genitals, hair—everything in half-liter increments with frequently refilling for bigger projects. I also use the squeeze bottle to rinse out my eating container and spoon. A thin stream of pressurized water works wonders for cleaning up breakfast and dinner bowls.
I generally don’t filter water that goes into my squeeze bottle. I also never drink from the squeeze bottle. I rinse down the hose and the shovel with the squeeze bottle, which I then store separately from the squeeze bottle in a wet bag. Never use the squeeze bottle for cleaning near a stream or lake, but when occasion arises, the squeeze bottle also functions as a squirt gun to hose down other hikers on hot days.
500 ml squeeze bottle 50 grams
Latex rubber hose (3/16”) 40 grams
Sea to Summit Shovel 104 grams
Doctor Bronner’s Almond Soap, 16 grams
Sea to Summit Waterproof Bag, 16 grams