Potties on the River

comparison Potty setupFor well known and appropriate reasons, river runners on heavily used rivers are required to carry out human waste in sturdy washable, reusable containers. On shorter trips, plastic containers may be appropriate, but for long, demanding trips such as the Grand Canyon, metal containers are required.

The traditional 20 mm ammo can has been used for decades.  Recently it has become harder (more expensive) to acquire and as we have aged, a can-full of poop has become quite the load to sling around.  We have investigated other possibilities and have river-tested one on the Green River in Utah.

The "60 mm Mortar" cans are found in some surplus stores for substantially less $ per can.  They have the same cross-section as the smaller 50 caliber cans (the lunchbox size ones), but are much taller.  We set up a stand for them (that packs inside of one) and like them very much.  Smaller and lighter, we'd rather carry two of these than one of the big ones.  Which gives you a 'fresh pot' twice as often!  The surplus ones that we found were in excellent condition with excellent gaskets.  

We found them easy to set up and convenient enough that we could use them at lunchtime.  Given their modest size, it was easy to pack one or two into each raft.  

Comparative statistics are based on the NRS insert and their estimate of user days.


new can traditional can
NRS plastic insert "60 mm mortar" "20 mm"
width 7 5.5 7.5
length 16.5 11 17.25
depth -1" 11 17.5 13
volume (in^3) 1271 1059 1682
user days 50 41.7 66.2
days / 8 people 6.3 5.2 8.3
days / 12 people 4.2 3.5 5.5
in^3/poop 25
 gasket: packing