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In the Idaho Pacific Northwest we have a nifty bush called the Thimbleberry (Rosaceae, Rubus canadensis L.). It pretty much ranges from Coast to Coast in North America. Grows together with Huckleberry. Thimbleberry leaves are shaped like oversized Maple leaves and though the tops are a little prickly, the broad undersides are quite soft and perfect as field-expedient toilet paper. I almost never use anything else on walkabout. Couple of leaves on a splurge.
Chris Smith
Here in the southwest, mullen leaves work just fine.
John Wither
The easiest and best way to wipe your bum out there (in my humble opinion) is to grab the base of a small leafy sapling and drag your hand up along it. This leaves you with a huge wad of leaves in your hand which you can use to do the job. There are very few leaves in the wilderness which are large enough or strong enough to do the job alone! The problem is that when you use the one leaf method, the finger always ends up besides or through the leaf. Then you try to shake off the "merde" and accidentally hit your finger on a protruding stump. Ouch! and the finger automatically comes to your mouth for relief.
On the serious side, the huge wad of leaves does work very well, and even in the winter, there are always some types of trees (such as beech - Fagus grandifolia) on which dried leaves persist. Don't forget, it doesn't matter how small the leaves are, as long as you've got lots of them. Failing that, cattail heads will work if they are still solid enough not to fall apart. Bundles of grass work but leave little bits stuck as "willnots" (Will not want to be removed from there). Same problem with moss, it works but you end up with willnots. Birchbark is no good, it's too stiff, fingers go through it, and millions of willnots, especially if the white layer is used.
In Africa, the standard way of the Hausa people I visited is to use a long thin millet stalk, stick it between the legs, hold one end in each hand, and turn slowly while pulling back. This technique works with cattail stalks and other plant stalks. If you have a knife, you can whittle a smooth long stick also. Round smooth rocks from river beds, especially oblong ones, are pretty good. I've done all of this many many times and it works well. I've also used snow, but not loose snow. Make an oblong snowball first. Usually, I use leaves, grass or stick methods for first wipe, and snow for the final wipe.
Andre Bourbeau