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Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

I ran a search on 'bidet' across this message board and was surprised to find no results except for the reply I posted to someone else's message. 

With the increasing numbers of people hitting popular trails, it's more important than ever to adhere to strict Leave No Trace principles, especially when it comes to pooping on the trail and toilet paper. There's nothing more disgusting than hiking through breathtaking and pristine landscapes such as the Sierra Nevada on the iconic John Muir Trail and encountering toilet paper creeping out of someone's poorly dug cat hole or toilet paper hidden underneath a rock (the ultimate act of pure laziness). 

Two years ago, I tried something new, and I'll never go back to my old ways. I started using a bidet instead of toilet paper, and it's been the best thing I've ever done. The bidet has become one of my most essential pieces of gear that I'll never go without. Here are the advantages, which outweigh the disadvantages of using a bidet:

Advantages

  • You don't need to use toilet paper, which means you don't need to pack out that gross used stuff (yes, you should be packing it out!). I carry some as a backup in case I must camp in a location where there isn't any water. 
  • Your bum gets a nice clean wash up, and you don't' have to worry about a stinky rear.
  • In addition to the advantage mentioned above, using a bidet also eliminates butt chafe. Yes, it happens. Salty sweat + friction = butt chafe
  • If you're a girl and have to deal with 'that time of the month,' a bidet makes an awesome companion to having to clean up that nasty business.
  •  You have a makeshift shower ready to use! 

Disadvantages

  • You need to be at a location where there is water. I carry toilet paper as a backup for any instances where it's dry.
  • You will have to carry an extra item, but my bidet is just over 2 ounces. It's not a big deal, and its usefulness is worth the weight. However, if you don't have to pack out used toilet paper, then you're actually saving some weight!

*Whether you choose to use a bidet or not, please make sure you ALWAYS bury your business at least 6-8 inches (deeper is better).

Does anyone else currently use a bidet? How many of you are considering using a bidet, but are afraid to try it? Anyone have questions but are afraid to ask in a public forum? You can send me a private direct message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/go.ownit/). 

 

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@RedPackWalking Actually I mentioned the Brondell in a post reply on favorite items.  We used a couple of different brands and the Brondell worked the best for us. I think personal bidets are a fairly new idea to backpackers. I came across them watching various thru hike prep videos on you tube surprisingly all from male hikers.  Definately a good thing for avoiding chafing and reducing TP usage. Personally I found it works best with wipes since TP tends to fall apart when it gets too wet...sort of the point of a bidet. You have to pack it out anyway so just use something that works.

For female hikers I think the Kula Cloth is worth a look.  One of our party used one and I think it worked well for her but I haven't had a reason to ask her directly.

 

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@RedPackWalking Here are some links for those interested...

Brondell gospa/easyspa

I think the difference is just the bottle color.  The gospa nozzle will screw onto a smart water bottle and similar as an alternative but I found it to be less effective

Kula Cloth

Surprisingly REI do not stock anything along these lines

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@OldGuyot Yeah, I use the Brondell too! I opted for a separate bidet bottle rather than the spout that you can attach to your SmartWater bottle because I don't want to contaminate my drinking bottle with feces. Yuck!

I don't use TP or wipes, I just wash well and use my trusty old bandana to dry (a separate bandana that I use just for hygiene purposes). 

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@OldGuyot and @RedPackWalking 

Ok, so let's talk about the entire process. Most bidets still require wiping. 

So your **bleep** is wet and you're going to have to use something. Do you throw it way like TP? Most likely. Do you have a wipe rag like a smaller bandana you're going to use? If you do thats going to possibly gross and definitely unsanitary so you're going to have a another bag to put it in. Not to mention it you don't wash your hands in-between putting your wipe away, you just contaminated the bag you put it in. Are you really being sanitary, and how many times are you really washing your hands....in the cold dark night?

Is it good to wash your butt every few days? Absolutely. Do you really want to carry around a bidet kit to do your business? Not so sure. If it was a great idea someone most likely would have started using it on a regular basis decades ago. It's not like product design just started. More like someone else has something they want to market to you.

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@MarkPDXdecades ago you would have just buried the toilet paper and plastic dodads had much less variety.

You will find people recommending personal bidet's for backpacking now.  I only came across them last year in some YouTube gear list video probably from 2018 so I think it is a fairly recent thing and is becoming more popular. I think "Darwin" has one in a very recent first aid and hygiene video he did...haven't watched it.

A "bidet kit" can be a minimal as a nozzle for a smart water bottle which you used with your dirty water bottle.  Personally not a fan of that but for minimalist types it can work.  I prefer the Brondell model(s) I linked above.  It is compact and light enough I have no trouble carrying it along.  For me it is "worth the weight".  We shared one on a family backpacking trip and everyone, male and female, found it improved their experience significantly. I would take one solo.

What you need depends on you and may be situational.  For some, all that is required is the jet of water and a drip dry.  Not hand touching so more sanitary.  

For others some additional work is required.  TP and particularly camping TP just disintegrates when wet and is pretty useless with a bidet.  I find wet wipes work and you end up with a clean butt and packing out much less poo since you start with less and you can rinse wet wipes to further reduce the matter.  Once clean you can use a bandana or small camp towel etc. to dry off.   I didn't find the need but it was summer.  Since you are "clean"  it shouldn't be "gross"  but that may depend how long you are out. 

For hand cleaning personally I have always used hand sanitizer but you can also wash you hands with Dr Bronners unscented soap over the cat hole using water from the bidet.

Obviously weather makes things more difficult but toilet paper is useless in the rain.

Of course some people get away with rocks and leaves and pine cones.  I'm suspicious of leaves but I've tried rocks and pine cones.  For me they are not that effective but again that is personal and situational.   A bidet is just another option.

 

 

 

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@MarkPDX Bidets are quite popular in other parts of the world, and they are used regularly. I've seen elaborate contraptions integrated into the toilets in Japan, with features that are quite ingenious and convenient. They've become commonplace, found in almost every public bathroom.

Using a bidet doesn't necessarily require 'wiping.' Some people prefer to drip-dry, but using a designated bandana (which weighs almost next to nothing) serves the purpose of 'dab' dry. Yes, some housekeeping needs to be done, such as washing your hands thoroughly afterward (which you should be doing anyway) and laundering the drying apparatus (I use Dr. Bronner's, which I have as a backpacking staple anyway). Hang the bandana off the back of your pack, and it touches nothing else. 

Although most people don't do a number 2 in the 'cold dark night', (who would even want to because visibility is poor, and critters) a good slathering of hand sanitizer (another item that backpackers are usually carrying) will do the job until the morning. 

I don't mind carrying my 2.25 oz bidet. I like to leave the wilderness as I found it, sans toilet paper. And, in my opinion, my bidet weighs much less than packing out poop-laden used toilet paper for the duration of an extended trip. It's a personal preference. 

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Re: Let's talk Leave No Trace - Who uses a bidet when backpacking?

@RedPackWalking thanks so much for starting, and continuing, this really interesting (and different) conversation here in our community! It's been fun for us on the moderator team to listen in to the discussion!

At REI, we believe a life outdoors is a life well-lived.
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