Nature Calls


One of the most basic and fascinating functions of humans is going to the ‘bathroom’.  This activity becomes the topic of conversation in many field experiences that last more than a few days.  We once had a Senator visit our field site and just before getting on the helicopter to leave, she turned around and asked, “Where do you go to the bathroom??”.  She wasn’t interested in using it, she was just fascinated by how field scientists meet their basic needs in harsh environments.

Short Call – Peeing, taking a wiz, urinating, etc.

  • Just do it, I know it’s cold out, but you won’t be able to think straight if your body is preoccupied.  Most places you can just pee on the ground, but parts of Antarctica you have to carry your urine out of the field by peeing into a Nalgene bottle (mark with duct tape and a skull and cross bones so you will never mistake it for something to drink).  Women can use one of the types of funnels available, or they can practice their aim.

Long Call – Pooping, taking a dump, excrement, etc.

There are several methods of dealing with solid waste, but the overall message is DON’T LEAVE IT ON THE SURFACE

  • Cornstarch bags – carry out
  • Dig a hole and bury it
  • Straddle a crevasse that is no wider than your leg so you don’t fall in


Ladies’ products – Period, visit from Aunt Flo, menstruating, etc.

There aren’t any sinks to wash your hands, so bring Purell.  If you usually use tampons without applicators, consider using ones with applicators just to keep things clean.  Bring several small Ziploc bags, one for unused TP, pads and tampons, the other for waste.  Your camp will usually have a communal trash, so you can add your waste Ziploc bag to the bigger trash bag.  In an area with bears, the trash should be tied up in a tree or buried, etc.  Always carry Advil or other painkillers in your first aid kit.  Take as many ‘bathroom’ breaks as you need, do not be embarrassed, and if a problem arises, your mentor should be more than willing to help.

  • Purell
  • Advil
  • small roll of TP for your pocket
  • 10 sandwich-sized Ziploc bags
  • 1-2 Freezer-sized Ziploc bags (in case there is not a communal trash and you have to carry your waste
  • pads, tampons with applicators,
  • Never leave these items in nature, always carry out.

Happy Camping!


Scott tent with light snow cover on the ground