The Desert Is Not Your Personal Sandbox

Youíve heard the old saying many times: Haul it in and haul it out. That generally applies to trash, but more places now require that visitors carry out their human waste as well. In some, you donít have any choice. In the Moab, UT area and on the Rubicon Trail, for example, the ground is so rocky that itís impossible to dig even a small hole.

4-wheelers for the most part are good about cleaning up after themselves, but some still need guidance regarding the sensitive topic of going to the bathroom.

This isnít the most pleasant topic to discuss in public, but it is necessary. Too many of our trails and camping areas have literally become open-air outhouses. Whatís really annoying is all the toilet paper lying around because the user didnít take the time to bury it or put it in a plastic bag for disposal.

Dealing with toilet time is challenging, no doubt about it. Some drivers have tried a portable toilet (often called a porta-potty). Those are fine if youíre on a flat, level surface or in an RV. In addition to their size, these units use liquids to treat the waste, making them impractical for 4-wheelers.

A better option is the PETTģ toilet system. PETT uses a dry chemical, and provides plastic bags to catch and store the waste.

Itís a pretty nifty system. A small bag, which contains the chemical, is used during each trip to the toilet. That bag is sealed and dropped into a larger bag which is hung inside the toilet. At the end of your trip you simply dispose of all the bags in a trash receptacle. You can choose from 12-, 50- and 100-pack waste kits. All kits include toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

The PETT system is available at most camping-supply stores. For more information, check out the manufacturerís Web site at www.thepett.com.

Other options include the ďpickle bucketĒ or a large can used with kitty litter.

Start by pouring enough kitty litter into the container so itís at least an inch deep. After going to the toilet, cover all waste with at least a half-inch of kitty litter. Leave at least an inch of room at the top so you can apply a final layer of kitty litter.

Regardless of the container you use, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. You donít want the contents spilling out while youíre bouncing around the trails. Also, consider purchasing some pet deodorizer to apply after each trip to the toilet. A regular-size bottle or box should be sufficient for your needs. Check your favorite pet store or general merchandise store for options.

Of course, youíll need something to sit on, so pick up a toilet seat designed for outdoors use at any camping-supply store. Theyíre relatively inexpensive and last a long time.

Whether you use the PETT system or some other method, make a point to properly take care of your human waste. Doing so will show others that we truly do care about protecting the environment.

I hope to see you on the trails!

Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Make it Safe.


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Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

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