Pro Tip: Setting up the Groover
Portable toilets on river trips are affectionately known as the "groover" after the grooves older metal ammo cans left on your butt cheeks after sitting on them. Modern groovers are much more civilized with built in toilet seats.
Reminders when using the groover
The trip leader or head guide of every trip should talk about the following details before each trip.
- You can (and should) pee in the groover. The only reason not to pee in the groover is if you have limited groover space which can happen on longer trips like the Grand Canyon. Pee helps loosen things up and makes it easier to clean after the trip. I even add water to groovers to help with cleaning.
- Always wash your hands well after using the groover.
- Only poo, pee, and toilet paper go in the groover. Anything else will likely cause problems in the cleaning process and can jam Scat Machines.
- Go ahead and sit on the seat. If not you can miss and create a big mess. As my friend Vlad says "Do not hover, you are not helicopter."
Setting up the groover
When setting up and using the groover sanitation is of upmost importance. Here are some reminders of things you need to do each time.
- Set up a separate trash receptacle so that trash does not get put in the groover. A brown paper bag inside a ziplock works well for this.
- Use a bleach spray to clean the groover toilet seat.
- Set up some sort of "key" so that people know when someone is in the groover. Historically this has been a bag of toilet paper or a paddle but this is not sanitary. A paddle that can be kicked across the trail or left inline with the trail is a good sanitary solution.
- Mark the trail to the groover if it is not obvious. Small reflectors hung in trees work well.
- Location is key. Make sure to find a private place with a great view!
My favorite grovers are Selway Fabrication's River Bank Toilet and Partner Steel's John-ny Partner. I also suggest Groover Tamer or Pine Sol to help with the smell if you're using the same groover for multiple days.