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For short trips where there are few portages, all garbage should be bagged in plastic and packed out of the wilderness. When this is impractical, as on lengthy outings, the best method of disposal is to burn it in a good, hot fire. Please pick aluminum foil out of the flames before it melts all over everything!

In populated areas fish entrails should be buried well away from the campsite and at least 100 feet from water. In remote areas they may be left for seagulls on a large boulder, well away from human habitation. The exception to these rules is when you’re camping in remote country where grizzly bears are about. The slightest odor may bring these big bears to you! The best plan here is to throw entrails well out into the river or lake.

Human waste should also be buried, preferably under a 4-inch cover of soil to maximize decomposition. Burn toilet paper and sanitary napkins and carry a water bottle to be sure flames are dead out.

And please, don’t throw food—or anything else—into forest service box latrines or chemical toilets. Bears commonly upset latrines to get at the food they want.

Dishes should be washed on land, well away from the water’s edge. Greasy dishwater is best poured into a small hole in the ground and covered with soil.


From the book Canoeing & Camping Beyond the Basics, 3rd, by Cliff Jacobson. Copyright © 2007 by Cliff Jacobson. Used by permission of FalconGuides, a division of Globe Pequot Press. Visit

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