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HomeNL-2018-03 Waste Containment

Waste Containment and Transport System
March 2018
by Harmon Everett

As has been mentioned, The National Parks System has noticed that bears poop in the woods. And so do people. While they can’t do anything about the bears, they have decided that poople out in the wilderness are messing up a good thing, and decided to regulate it. As if I wanted the government trying to keep me regular.

In many national parks – especially many of our favorites, such as Big Bend, the requirement is that all human waste of the poop persuasion, be collected, contained, and disposed of in civilization, rather than left out or deposited at the site to adorn the otherwise unspoiled wilderness.

All joking aside, I have been appalled more than once when stopping at a camp and finding piles of human poop and accompanying toilet paper strewn about in back of the campsite. Too many campers and paddlers pooping indiscriminately in the woods really do cause a major hazard. So collecting and carrying out our waste is really common sense, and a justified solution to the problem.

Unfortunately, carrying out such waste on a multi-day paddle trip, is a disagreeable, messy and smelly endeavor.

John Rich published an article in December 2009 Waterline Newsletter about his design for a Poop Tube made out of inexpensive plumbing items: click here

This serves as a mostly odor free containment system, that can be easily dumped out into a dumpster, and cleaned once you arrive at a location with a hose.

I am offering an alternative, and will describe my entire toilet system, suitable for carrying on multi-day trips, on a small kayak.

My system includes a small privy tent, for locations with no natural privacy, a milk crate with a modified toilet seat to use as a toilet using inexpensive camping waste bags available at any Walmart or Academy, and a 2.4 liter plastic pickle jar as a waste containment and transport canister.

    (Click to enlarge)    


Walmart sells a plastic toilet seat for use on 5-gallon buckets, but 5 gallon buckets don’t fit well on kayaks. However, I usually attach a milk crate to my kayak for above-deck storage. This led me to create a plywood top to fit on the top of the milk crate, with a raised rim the size of a 5 gallon bucket lid for the toilet seat to fit onto. I added corner brackets on the underside of the plywood top, that fit into the milk crate, and secure the top from sliding around.

Set the milk crate on a flat patch of ground, set the plywood top on the milk crate, insert the waste bag and set the toilet seat on top and you have a stable toilet.

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We are then going to have to store all our waste during the trip, and carry it out. This could be a stinky and messy endeavor. I have endured similar efforts before, with less than desirable results.

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I think I found a possible solution I will try on our next trip - a plastic 80 Fl. oz.(2.4 liter) pickle jar. I was at the Kroger store the other day, and noticed a 2.4 liter plastic “Del Dixi” Dill pickle jar. I don’t like dill pickles, so I dumped them out and kept the jar.

It only cost $5.00. It is obviously leak-proof, and odor proof. I included a separate kitchen garbage bag inside the jar, with a separate bag clasp, for added leak and smell containment.

The wide-mouth lid is almost as big as the jar, so removing the stored contents at the end of the journey should be simple (hah! I think).

But this should be fairly easy, leak and odor proof, easily packed in a boat and capable of being banged around without breaking during the trip. Which is exactly what I want in a waste containment and disposal solution.

(Click to enlarge)  
A couple of years ago, on a trip on the Colorado from La Grange to Columbus, I took a small privy tent. This was handy on the islands with no tree cover for privacy. The tent I took was a traditional type, with sleeves for the poles to fit through. It was very delicate, and the tent fabric tore in several places as I was putting the poles through the sleeves. But it was functional for its purpose. It was, also, an extra tent that had to be erected and taken down, which took extra time.

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Julie Hammond also took a privy tent, which was kind of a spring-loaded popup small tent. It was by the same manufacturer, but the carrying case for it was pretty delicate, and fell apart, so their privy kept trying to pop-up while stored in their boat. I suppose a homemade storage bag could solve that problem. Setting that tent up took very little time at all, and if they had a sturdier storage bag, taking it down and stowing it would also be much quicker than the traditional tent-type privy.

So there you have my intended waste disposal and containment system – a small tent-privy, a milk-crate and waste bag toilet, and a plastic pickle jar containment and transport system.

We will put it to the test this month on the Boquillas trip!

We shall see.

Terry complained that the pickle jar is awfully small for a multiday trip. I suppose I could take 2 of them, and use one for waterproof storage or flotation if it isn’t needed.

What with my invention of the milk crate potty chair, purchasing and using the tent privy, and this, I'm noting a decided potty fixation, but will blame it on my contention that I never really grew up past age 12.

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The author,  Harmon Everett