I take a group of young women from our local congregations (14-17 years old) on a backpacking trip each summer. This past week my husband and I and another couple did a two-night trip to scout out a potential location for next year’s adventure. For many of these girls, this will be their first time tent camping, nevermind backpacking. I’m always trying to find ways to make the experience a little more comfortable for them. This is strictly wilderness, with no campsite improvements (besides the fire ring left by previous campers), so there are no bathroom facilities of any kind. Following the guidelines for this forest, we dig a latrine to bury our business, and we pack the TP out. I decided to use the Glowforge to make a toilet seat to go over the hole, making the experience a bit more like home (but with a much better view!)

Here is my prototype “biffy.” The seat consists of three layers of baltic birch, two 1/4 inch and one 1/8 inch. I carefully sanded the top and rounded the edges, and I weatherproofed it with polyurethane. I used pvc pipe for the legs (which I did NOT cut on the Glowforge :grin:) with baltic birch feet. A plastic bag with the bottom cut out serves as a splash guard. (Females are at a distinct disadvantage in the woods where number one is concerned.)

Weight is an important consideration in backpacking. I designed cutouts in the second and third layers to reduce weight while maintaining structural stability. The whole setup weighed 2 lbs. 9 oz.

The seat itself performed exactly as I hope. It was sturdy and comfortable. The rest of my prototype illustrated the important role of prototypes in identifying design flaws. While the legs and feet functioned perfectly on my kitchen floor before we left, they were much less stable on the uneven forest floor, with the added difficulty of an inward-sloping hole between them. My husband’s unfortunate (but hilarious) experience with the biffy has sent me back to the drawing board. (Don’t worry; he threw himself clear of the wreckage.)

The advantage of making the biffy out of wood is that I didn’t have to pack it out. (I did, of course, pack out the pvc pipe legs.)

Using the valuable data I’ve collected, I’m confident that Biffy v.2 will meet the needs of the young women on next year’s trip. Whether or not I’m able to persuade my husband to use it remains to be seen.


This probably wins the award for most practical cut ever :slightly_smiling_face:

Of course now I’m wondering about what exactly transpired with your husband’s misadventure :flushed::joy:


Where was the backcountry? I love a good camping story.


That was pretty cute, thx for sharing!
Mabey your hubby needs a separate ‘BiffyMax’ version. :slight_smile:


Great idea!

I imagine this is one of the times where three legs would serve better than 4 - much easier to get it stable on unstable ground that way…and angled away from center. Sadly the most common design for that style stool would not work at all for a Biffy :-/



Aww, you burned biffy. :frowning_face:


You just elevated camping by so many levels! Love Biffy!


Wow! Never thought we would go here with the GF


Let’s just say that if there had been video it would have gone viral. After some blurring. And possibly some bleeping.

We camped at Cuberant Lake in the Uinta Mountains (Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest). The lake sits at 10,426 feet. The hike in gains nearly 1,000 ft. in elevation over 3.4 miles. It’s not a long hike, but at that elevation, it was pretty taxing. The area is just gorgeous, and the fishing was good. I caught a tiger trout!

We had a spectacular hail storm, which we enjoyed watching from under a tarp shelter.

Your idea has merit!

I considered three legs, but I couldn’t figure out how to implement it. Your image depicts the problem quite clearly. :slight_smile: I could always simply lash the seat to a couple of logs. That would certainly be more stable. But my mind won’t stop trying to come up with a more elegant solution.

Much to my husband’s delight.

I think it will help, especially for the uninitiated. The other couple on our hike didn’t really see the need, but they are highly seasoned backpackers.

Believe me, it was the furthest thing from my mind when I purchased my Glowforge! This was a great test for the passthrough, and it performed perfectly.


Ah yeah love the Uintas. I have a buddy in SLC, I ski with him in the winter, mostly in big cottonwood (Solitude mostly) but really all over. Done a lot of time at Park City, it’s all really nice out there.


What a great idea! Sorry it didn’t work out for your husband. :worried:


This made me giggle. I think your idea for Biffy is a genious idea! I wonder if you could make some “telescoping” legs using couplers on the pvc so you could make a more even surface? I’m sure the teens will really enjoy having Biffy available, especially if they’ve never been out in the wilderness before.


Why not just 3 legs - 2 in the back & 1 in the front or vice versa if you don’t want to straddle a single front leg?


We can all make a pretty accurate guess that one or more of the PVC pipe legs sank into said inward-sloping hole, compromising the structural integrity of the Biffi, forcing the poor guinea pig husband to abort the mission, and take one for the team. :rofl:

I wholeheartedly agree as I pick myself up from the foor.


her husband may not agree.


Actually if two legs make a rectangle on its side and the back two pieces break down to carry, the result is stronger and will not sink in. There are half-gallon bags that can be carried out or will decompose after 60 days if buried.
For men there is also special equipment if needed (and women too but harder to use).


So… why “Biffy”?


It’s a commonly used term in these parts.
biffy definition


Huh apparently it’s an upper midwest US /Canada thing.

Hard to believe I’ve never heard of it until now, interesting.


It’s so they can have a jiffy biffy visit, doncha know.