Around the World: The Toilet Edition

Everybody poops. Or so they say. For those that find themselves pooping in exotic and remote locations there are a variety of toilets that can be found or created depending on where you are. This guide provides a brief introduction to, hopefully, as lasting friendship between you and your expedition toilet.

The Western Standard Toilet
I’m hesitant to clump all western standard toilets together for there are many types of western toilets, each with their own unique story and relationship with their human users. There’s the airplane toilet, a cramped and sickeningly sweet smelling commode that flushes human waste with a voracious appetite. There is the port-o-potty, with its coffin like interior, and hard plastic walls that seem to provide little protection between you and the dozens of people waiting in line at the outdoor concert.  And let us not forget your own personal toilet, sitting patiently, waiting for you in confines of your home, its seat the site of many hilarious “Reader’s Digest” moments as well as many pain-staking hardships. While these toilets often provide travelers with a sense of comfort they are considered, by most, to be wasteful (haha, get it?) and not very sanitary.

The Squat Toilet
For those of you traveling in the near, middle, or far east your quads are in for a treat. The squat, or Turkish toilet, provides a unique bathroom experience complete with hand-eye, or rather butt-eye coordination. The squat toilet, although requiring some dexterity, is regarded as more sanitary, more ecologically friendly, and a better workout than its western brother.

The Compost Toilet
If you’ve made it to any national park any time soon then you might be familiar with the compost toilet. Significantly less smelly than the typical port-o-potty, the compost toilet provides an ideal waste situation. When combined with sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss this toilet becomes a composting machine, decomposing waste much faster than through the sewer system.

The Gruber
Popular on rafting trips and climbing expeditions the gruber provides a toilet away from toilet so to speak. Essentially a bucket with a seat, the gruber can travel easily with minimal mess.  Equipped with a rubber gasket that insures clean transport, one of the best features of the gruber, and perhaps also the worst, is the efficient, hand-flushing system.

The Cat Hole
The cat hole, while not technically a toilet, provides the most independent defecation experience. This method is frequently found in the backcountry and is best when used with an active imagination. “Leave no trace” ethics encourage users to trowel a 6-inch hole 200 feet from clean water sources and then rebury their poop, in a cat-like fashion. Imagination comes into play when taking into account setting, sitting position, and wiping material. Remember, salal is mother nature’s toilet paper.

By Caroline Kellough