Pack In, Pack out!
Leave No Trace, in my opinion, is one of the simplest concepts to understand, and it should be extremely important to anyone and everyone who is stepping out of the world to enjoy nature.
Leave no trace (also known as “Pack in, pack out”) simply means that when you get off the trail or leave one site to go to another, there should be no evidence that you were ever there other than some footprints and fresh ashes where you put out your fire.
One thing to consider is that leave no trace doesn’t only mean take your trash with you when you leave, it means to be considerate of what’s around you. Take care when hanging hammocks or slacklines to make sure that you don’t damage the trees, choosing a clear spot for tents and not disrupting undergrowth, and respecting wildlife are major factors.
Something that many people don’t think about is packing out extra food or food scraps. When you make a dinner and have leftovers, pack the extra with you. The food we eat is not intended for animals and can make them sick. If it’s a natural food such as fruit or vegetables (apple cores, fruit skins, etc.) you can bury it 6-8 inches deep, it will biodegrade pretty rapidly, but don’t leave anything other than this!
When cleaning up dishes make sure that you’re away from any water source to prevent food or soap from floating away. I prefer to use a Sea To Summit Kitchen Sink to conserve water. Use biodegradable soap (like this one) to clean dishes (and anything else, really) while on the trail. Quick drying and reusable camp towels are available to dry off dishes. I’ve used bandannas to dry dished before because they’re lightweight, but be warned they are definitely not quick drying.
Human Waste & Hygiene Products
Let’s be honest, although no one likes to talk about it, everyone has business to tend to when we’re on the trail.
There are two options when duty calls (and believe me it will).
- Pack it out with you – There is a wide variety of products that you can get like bags and tubes that will keep everything sanitary, or you can double bag it, that all comes down to preference.
- Dig a hole (my preferred method) – Find a spot well off the path and dig a hole 6-8 inches deep. Take care of business and fill the hole back up with dirt. As long as you dig the hole at this depth you can either pack out the toilet paper or bury it. If you use baby wipes or something with scents or chemicals, make sure to pack it out.
Females – If you have to take any female hygiene products with you (tampons, pads, etc.) be sure to take a sealable Ziploc bag with you to pack it out. Don’t bury tampons or pads. Consider a DivaCup. These are eco-friendly, reusable, and can be used for up to 12 hours. Read more about the DivaCup here!
Brushing Your Teeth
It’s important to stick to hygiene when camping just as you would when you’re home. Toothpaste has a sweet smell and can attract animals. You don’t need animals snooping around your campsite, and you also don’t want to make them sick. Either spit it out in a bag or use your trowel to dig a hole to spit your toothpaste in.
Tips For Reducing Trail Trash
- Repackage food into Ziploc bags to save space in your pack. When you’re done with the baggie you can use it as a trash bag that will compress down so that it’s easy to pack. Make sure to get the locking freezer bags because these are more durable and harder to puncture so you won’t have trash spilled in your pack.
- When choosing food, consider how much waste each item will produce. By taking “one-pot meals” you will only have one package to pack out when you’re done with that meal. Things like granola bars can be unwrapped and put all into one baggie.
- Carry a FishPond PioPod Microtrash (clip-on micro trash container) with you to pick up other people’s trash that you see as you hike the trail, remember its all of our responsibilities to keep our trails clean and trash free.
- There are times when you’ll have packages for things like batteries or new gear. If possible, before heading out on the trail, make sure to go ahead and unpack these things to avoid extra trash on the trail.
Don’t burn your trash!
I know it’s tempting sometimes to burn trash rather than packing it with you, don’t do it! This can cause you to breathe in harmful chemicals, and leave behind the same. The only thing ever acceptable to burn is raw paper. If you have paper to burn, make sure that it’s not coated with any kind of foil or plastic, and when you do make sure to burn all of it leaving no pieces behind.
Respecting nature doesn’t only mean make sure to cause no harm to wildlife and plants, It also can keep you safe in certain situations.
Be sure to read any signs posted and look up online all of the rules and regulations of the water you plan to fish. Many places have special requirements that differ from the typical regulations. This includes what type of hook and bait you use, and delayed harvest streams.
Other Wildlife –
Again, be sure to read any signs posted about special regulations. Some trails you can simply use a bear bag suspended in a tree, other trails may require an airtight bear canister. This is for your safety more than anything, you don’t want to wake up to a bear or other dangerous animals staring you in the face.
Not that I have to say this again, but I’m going to, follow rules and regulations! Hunt fairly, and within the regulations. Stay off land that’s prohibited, don’t illegally bait animals, stay within your limit, and be humane.
Undergrowth and Trees –
Be sure to use tree protectors for your hammock straps to prevent them from digging into the tree, same with slack lines. Don’t cut down trees for firewood (this wood will be green anyways and you’ll have a lot of trouble getting it to burn). Be mindful of tent setup, don’t put your tent on top to small plants, this will kill the plants.
•• Make sure to check out the Leave No Trace 7 Principles!
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