I've been an avid lover of the outdoors for all of my life, camping in quite varied terrain, but so far in all these locations I've been able to use the usual LNT cat-hole methods to take care of human waste. This year however I'm planning to make several trips where I'll need to use a "wag bag" to pack out my waste.

I have some basic knowledge from reading, but never actually have used wag bags, so I'd love to hear some first-hand wisdom from those who have used them. I'm at the "I don't know what I don't know" stage.

What are some useful things to know about how to best use wag bags or similar waste pack-out solutions?

A few potential issues I can think of:

  • Not making a mess (getting all of "it" in the bag...maybe not actually a problem?)
  • Keeping the bag from getting ripped/punctured once used
  • Controlling odors
  • Any way to minimize the weight?
  • Any problems with animals bothering the used bags?
  • Other helpful tips...
  • Where are you going that you need to do this? The whole idea of going to a place so popular that this is necessary I find appalling. (I'm of the "I saw someone else on my trip: it's too crowded" school of thought. and being in Canada, I can indulge this. Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 14:18
  • 2
    @SherwoodBotsford In Yosemite National Park rock climbers are required to use a poop-tube. Same goes for hikes through desert areas or other terrain in parks where human waste simply won't break down.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 16:17
  • Related: When is it not OK to leave feces behind.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Mar 22, 2018 at 16:23
  • @SherwoodBotsford - I will always pack it out in the alpine. It just takes so long to degrade that even a small number of people will cause buildup over time.
    – user3522
    Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 16:01
  • We may have differing ideas of what constitutes crowding. If the human crap load is a tiny fraction of the other crap load, then burying it out of range of water supply is reasonable. I can see the necessity in Yosemite, and on canyon rafting trips. I don't see the need in most actual wilderness areas where human presence is small. Much of Willmore is so sparsely used that at peak season (near Labour Day) on a one week trip we saw 11 people. All within 3 hours of the trail head. That was crowded. Most trips I've never seen anyone. Commented Mar 25, 2018 at 14:42

1 Answer 1


For making the bags, here is what I have done in the past when I worked for an outdoor organization.

You need a sheet of wax paper, a brown paper lunch bag, a zip lock and baking soda. When putting the bags together you,

  • Put a scoop of backing soda inside the lunch bag
  • Fold up the wax paper and place that and the lunch bag inside the ziplock until ready to use.

In order to use,

  • Unfold the wax paper and deposit the brown stuff onto of it aiming for the middle. The wax side needs to be up.
  • Sprinkle the baking soda onto of the brown stuff to help control the odor.
  • Roll up the wax paper and place it into the lunch bag.
  • Place the lunch bag into the ziplock and seal tightly.

On one course where we had lots of people and were close to the road, we would store the wag bags in 5 gallon pails to haul them out. In more remote settings, you just double bag the wag bags.

To address some of your other questions,

  • As long as its mostly solid its not a real problem to get it all in the bag. Giardia on the other hand...

  • Nothing special about keeping the bags from ripping.

  • This really isn't something that wild animals are going to be interested in getting into.

Any toilet paper can go into the bags as well.

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