Making Number 2 a little easier when off the beaten track

I was intrigued to find this video review at The Vulgar Curmudgeon‘s place.

He’s also done an earlier review, on the original, smaller toilet paper “tablets”.  Those may be found here, if you’re interested, while the larger ones may be found here.  There are similar products from other manufacturers, too;  see some of them here.

I’d never heard of these things, but I have several friends and acquaintances who regularly hike in back-country areas, or go on hunting trips where they travel as light as possible.  I asked them whether they’d ever used such products.  Three said they had, and recommended them from personal experience.  They said they weren’t as comfortable as toilet paper, but got the job done, and the saving in weight and space in their backpacks were so impressive as to make the choice a no-brainer.

A fourth friend, however, added a cautionary note.  He’s from Minnesota, and hunts there in winter;  and he’s traveled to Alaska to hunt there, too.  He reminded me that one has to dampen these things to get them to expand, and pointed out that in sub-zero temperatures, applying a damp piece of cellulose fiber to one’s nether regions would be both exceedingly uncomfortable, and a potential health hazard if the damp material should freeze to . . . shall we say, delicate portions of one’s anatomy.  He reckoned the defrosting process could also be hazardous to one’s health, given that the only heat available would be from a fire or camp stove.  “What happens if the darned thing freezes to your tush, then catches fire when you try to warm it up to get it off?” he wondered.  Once he’d pointed that out, I wondered the same thing!

If you’ve used these or similar products, please let us know how you found them in Comments.  I might have to add some of these to my emergency kit.  At least, living in Texas, the freezing hazard is likely to be minimized!



  1. We added towel mints to our travel gear fairly recently. And yes, they do look like mints in their individual wrappers.

    We didn't use them for nether region cleanup as we change toilet paper rolls before the roll is completely empty and then save the remnant for hiking or for stowing in the cars for emergency use.

    When we were in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons this summer we gave the towel mints a good field test and found they were easy to pack, lightweight, and durable enough for the purpose of bug repellent clean up, for cleanup after eating, and we found that it takes less water to expand them then you would think.

    For a while we hung the used towels on the back of our packs to dry and reuse, and then we thought that making a whitetail deer tail wasn't such a good idea in bear country.

    They are tough. I got a transfer of pine tar onto my pack due to not paying enough attention to which tree I leaned the pack against. The pine tar then transferred to my shorts, and when we traded packs because of the greater weight of the water, the pine tar transferred to my wife's shorts as well. We found this when we got back to the room.
    Note. Non acetone nail polish remover did a good job at removing the pine tar. We soaked the towel mint in nail polish remover, scrubbed the spots, rinsed with soap and repeated until gone. The towel mints stood up to some pretty severe scrubbing abuse.
    An Amazon search for Compressed Towels will find a lot of choices.

  2. I have & use these.
    They are more a compressed hand towel, great for cleaning up after a fast food meal.
    You can open them without water, but a few drops of water makes it easier, dunking is not needed.
    But dunked towel = refreshing face wipe, that is re-usable, at 7~10 cents each.

    Some Asian restaurants give you the after-dinner-towel. I have seen fancy place settings to hold/display these tablets with a small water jug.
    Pure Napkin Teak wood tray (20$)

    Larger than a copper penny (3.06 g)
    Smallest size I have = 1.75 g
    Larger size = 2.20 g

    Above TP roll = 4 oz = 113.4 g = 64 small or 51 larger tablets…

    I carry 12 smallest or 9 larger in a small (dime size) plastic bag (from Michaels).
    2 x 3.75 inches or 5 x 9.5 cm

    rick in North Georgia

  3. I was intrigued when I saw the still of the Youtube video … I thought it was some kind of spoof product that you swallowed and allowed nature to take its course.

    Yep. I AM weird. Why do you ask?

    Phil B

  4. A warning about these tablets: Most brands of compressed towelettes are NOT biodegradable, at all. The reason they are so good at tough cleanup jobs is they are made of polyester, not paper.

    Normal TP usually takes a few months to degrade in active soils, a few years in dry soils. These wipes could require years even in a compost pile, decades in normal mineral soil. Same thing with most baby wipes, even the "flushable" ones really belong in a garbage can after use.

    All of which means that you should be packing these out with you after use, which eliminates almost all of the supposed benefits of carrying them into the woods.

    I do keep these in my car for cleanup on the road, since they handle greasy repairs better than a paper towel, but I don't carry them into the backcountry. If they made them rapidly biodegradable, I might consider them, but they probably wouldn't be so tough if made of paper.

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