We plan to go on a three day hike (two nights). The amount of food is no problem of course, but we want to avoid defecation while on the trail. Which kind of food comes into question?

Edit: It's really not a "health issue" or something to "hold it back" for about 50 hours. That's even quite normal (for me at least).

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    This is the first time I've given a +1 for a crappy title. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 11:07
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    If the goal is no poo for 3 days then that is not a healthy goal. The amount is a problem as more volume then more volume. Unless you are going to bring a cooler then food choices are limited.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 11:54
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    Keep in mind that up to half of the volume of your solid waste is dead bacteria from the gut. IOW, though you can reduce the volume by choice of foods, you're mostly only reducing a half part. Also, drastic diet changes can change consistency, perhaps resulting in less solid/more liquid residue. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 12:00
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    An Imodium could put the train leaving the station on hold for that time, and depending on your body even more. I know of people being constipated for a whole week after having taken one tablet (and they had reasons to take it). But I really think its more uncomfortable to hike "with extra weight" rather than taking that pause in the morning. Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 12:33
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    I really, really advise against just sealing your bum-hole with the use of Imodium tablets. This can lead to some serious hospital-worthy health issues.
    – fgysin
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


The term you're looking for is "low-residue diet" or "low-residue meal" (for some reason, the medical community tends to avoid the term "poop" in their technical terminology). Simply googling on those terms will get you a lot of good advice; WebMD and Wikipedia are good starting points.

A low residue diet is a diet designed to reduce the frequency and volume of stools while prolonging intestinal transit time.

In general, you'll want to avoid dietary fibre. Minimize wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, and seeds. Tender meat, eggs, and dairy are good choices. Carbs should be of the heavily refined variety -- for example, white bread and white pasta. Pilots on long missions traditionally go for steak and eggs as their pre-flight meal.

Note that full digestion (from eating to defecation) can take well over 24 hours, so start your low-residue diet a day or two in advance.

Finally, I would very strongly advise to have a plan B! No matter how carefully you plan your diet, you can't 100% guarantee sealed bowels for your entire hike, and in that case it's much better to be prepared. If you're in a no-poop zone, carry a WAG bag, poop tube, or similar. A minimal poop pack-out kit doesn't weigh much, and everyone will feel happier knowing it's there even if nobody expects to use it.

  • I have never heard of 'no-poop zones', where in the world do you find those? #justToBePrepared Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 19:48
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    @DavidMulder In the USA, several national parks have a pack-it-out policy -- Canyonlands, for instance. Areas with such rules tend to be in arid climates where faeces decompose very slowly, or in ecologically sensitive regions like the Galápagos islands.
    – Pont
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 21:44
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    Or in wilderness areas that have lots of traffic. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 5:42

MREs. Not poop free, but if you start eating it a couple of days before the trek, you'll be amazed of how constipated you'll become. Sometimes I think this is by design, as a soldier doing his business on a bush with his pants down is an almost comical definition of a highly vulnerable target.

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    In the old British army ration packs, "Biscuits Brown" were infamous for this. As the Army Rumour Service wiki memorably puts it, "Apart from the (Debatable) nutritional value that the Biscuit Brown holds, its primary value is of the bunger-upper. As soon as any soldier worth his salt hit the field for exercise, he'd scoff down at least three packs, thus ensuring his arse would be blocked solid for days to come."
    – Pont
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 14:28
  • MRE is a good way to ruin your whole trip with how foul they are. Commented Apr 15, 2016 at 5:44

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