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A Camping Hygiene Solution for Reducing Human Footprint.

Brand Concept



Industrial Design,

Design Research,



Sole Designer


13 weeks


Packing out human waste  and related projects on camping and hiking trips is an undesirable, difficult, and unhygienic task. At the same time, preserving wild environments and minimizing human trace is essential for maintaining natural ecosystems. The goal of this project was to encourage hikers and backpackers to adhere to footprint reduction through developing a solution to safely and easily pack out bathroom waste.


The TPAK - a sustainable solution for backpackers to simplify the process of using the bathroom while hiking on trails without toilet access. My design allows for storage of both clean and used toilet paper in a manner that ensures cleanliness while encouraging backpackers to minimize their trace by packing out trash.


This project earned an Honorable Mention Award at the 2020 International Housewares Association's Student Design Competition. 

My Process

Research & Discovery
Define & Synthesize
Ideate & Validate
Design & Refine
Research & Discovery

What are the environmental impacts and biggest barriers to packing out bathroom-related waste while hiking? 

Secondary Research

Understanding the impacts of campers and backpackers on the natural environment.

The camping population is significantly growing each year.

As more people camp, human footprint on natural land increases, leading to:

We can minimize this harmful impact by following Leave No Trace Guidelines, especially including packing out trash.

This includes toilet paper & feminine products, which are less of a social norm for packing out due to hygiene and comfort concerns.

Who actually wants to pick up a  pile of feces-smeared tissues and carry them for a week, tucked in among clothes and other precious belongings?



Conducting 1-on-1 Interviews

I interviewed 12 campers, hikers and backpackers across a wide range of experience levels to gain a better sense of the challenges associated with packing out waste.

I also spoke with several experts in the field and received ample feedback from the Outdoor Women's Alliance.

Overall, I found that cleanliness, compactness, and convenience were the most important factors for backpackers in designing a solution to pack out waste. 

Define & Synthesize

Identifying key design opportunities

1. Ease of Disposal

No one wants to deal with dirty toilet paper or other trash after it's used. There is a need for a portable disposal solution that minimizes interaction with the waste and ensures cleanliness.

2. Compact Carrier

There are currently no products on the market that are specifically designed for the storage of both clean and used toilet paper outdoors. A compact carrier would minimize space and quantity of items in the pack.

3.    Comfort & Security

Using the bathroom in the woods can feel embarrassing and uncomfortable due to lack of privacy and unfamiliarity. The ideal solution needs to minimize this discomfort and create a sense of privacy for users.

Ideate & Validate

Developing concepts based on opportunity themes

Concept Refinement

Concept development process from initial sketch concepts to rough prototyping for user testing.

Concept Ideation

Initial concept generation consisted of exploration of a range of solutions, from collapsible toilet paper holders to compact storage solutions that attach to a hiking backpack.

Design & Refine

Refining concept details, including functionality, use cases, and form development.

Final Design Development

Based on user feedback and initial research, the compact carrier with ease of disposal was selected as the leading concept for refinement.

How it Works... 


Key Takeaways...

The Outcome

The TPAK concept tackles the environmental challenge of managing bathroom waste while hiking, promoting a culture of cleanliness and sustainability among backpackers. By emphasizing convenience, comfort, and ease of use, this concept encourages adherence to responsible waste disposal practices. Its compact design not only conserves precious backpack space but also enhances the likelihood of adoption by space-conscious travelers. The innovative design of TPAK aims to promote sustainability and elevate trail comfort for outdoor enthusiasts.

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What I Might Do Differently...

A few things that I learned from this project or would keep in mind for the next time around...

  1. Consider ease of cleaning of device - will the user rinse out the product with water? Should a disposable bag/liner be used? What would the environmental implications of this mean?

  2. Could this product benefit from a proprietary model with custom sized toilet paper rolls and disposable bags for purchase?

  3. Deeper dive into material exploration, considering cost, environmental impact, manufacturing processes and durability.

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