When backpacking we often seek solace in things that remind us of home – the hot food or coffee in the morning, or the enclosed shelter provided by the tent. On the Appalachian Trail, for many hikers that took the form of the privy. May hikers would ONLY use the privy for their business. The privies were often novel (the double seater with the cribbage board in between) or scenic (open air shitting in the Smokey Mountains) and the human desire for the familiar, especially in our most private and vulnerable moments, draws us to this familiar architecture. Socially and culturally it’s what we’re dealing with.
I enjoy pooping in the woods. The Western toilet – the throne dedicated to defecation – seems like an uncomfortable and unnatural invention, not to mention a waste of water. Freedom from architecture and the artifice of social ritual is one of the reasons I enjoy backpacking. Also, rooms with toilets never feel clean to me – I always leave coated with a thin film of human filth.
That said, I was skeptical about the poo trowel.
As a human, I like using tools, but only when they are super functional – and it helps if they are aesthetically pleasing as well as useful. The hiker boxes in the south were littered with plastic poo trowels, which seemed to be the first piece of gear that every hiker discarded, along with the hatchet. They are ugly and heavy (the lightest seeming to weigh in at about 3 oz) and, I thought unnecessary. During our AT thru hike I was content to use a MSR Groundhog tent stake or a stick for my cat hole digging needs.
Then Harpo found the Deuce of Spades. Engineered by TheTentLab out of Colorado, the Deuce is a functional aluminium sculpture that weighs in at .6 oz. It’s beautiful to behold and fun to use, which as a tool using human is about the best I can ask for. And as a once a day poop making human it makes is super easy to dig thru roots and properly dispose of the dooks – which is the only way to do it out West, on the PCT there are virtually no privies.
I’m really into it – it’s more like a poo scalpel than a trowel. So great job on industrial design, Tent Labs – this one changes the game.