We’ve published lots of posts about RV toilets, RV plumbing, dump tanks, and the like. We’ve done this because most motorhomes and RVs have some sort of bathroom setup. But not all campers have access to their own onboard bathroom. So, in today’s post, we’re focusing on the best portable camping toilet to show you how almost anyone, even car campers, and tent campers, can create their own private toilet facilities.
Necessity is the mother of invention! Let’s get to it!
- 1) What Is a Portable Camping Toilet?
- 2) Who Needs a Portable Camping Toilet?
- 3) What Are the Best Portable Camping Toilets for All Kinds of Travel and Camping?
- 4) So, What Is the Best Portable Camping Toilet?
What Is a Portable Camping Toilet?
A portable camping toilet is really any type of portable travel toilet that works well for you. Now, this means different things to different people, so in this article, we’ll show you a variety of types of portable toilets available for every budget. Only you can determine which type works best for you.
A portable camping toilet could be a flush toilet with a small holding tank, a folding toilet, a little composting toilet, or even a bucket toilet. But essentially what we’re talking about is any type of “camp porta potty” that works for camping or even just for long road trips.
Who Needs a Portable Camping Toilet?
That’s easy… anyone who travels and doesn’t have access to a permanent toilet in their traveling vehicle!
We’re not kidding! If you travel in an RV with a working flush toilet or a composting toilet like a Nature’s Head, then you (probably) don’t need a portable camping toilet. Everyone else who travels could benefit from some type of portable toilet.
The foremost concern for many travelers may be germ avoidance, and that’s certainly understandable. Lots of travelers have concerns about germs, and that was before we had any experience with COVID-19. Having your own toilet puts those concerns to rest.
But the other reason to have your own onboard toilet is convenience. If you take road trips in your car with children, for instance, some sort of onboard porta-potty is a life saver. Why? Because these little angels never have to “go” before the car ride (or before you leave the rest area!), but generally have to go frequently throughout the car ride.
And finally, issues such as overactive bladders (pregnant anyone?) and other health-related considerations offer more good reasons to have your own portable travel toilet.
What Are the Best Portable Camping Toilets for All Kinds of Travel and Camping?
Let’s take a look at the various types of portable camping toilets that are available, and get into the details of how each of these types of travel/camping toilets works.
Portable Flush Toilets/Cassette Toilets
Portable flush toilets are sometimes referred to as “cassette toilets”, but we should probably clear up a little bit of confusion here. First, flushing is done either with a piston or bellows which necessitates light manual hand-pumping. Some types have an electric flush. But, regardless, all are easy to use.
Another clarification we should note is that there are “cassette toilets” and then there are “portable cassette toilets”.
Some RVs have built-in cassette toilets. These are actually very popular in Europe. In fact, we had one in a rented RV in Italy. But, here in North America, Class B RVs and small towables are often likely to have them as well.
With a built-in cassette toilet, the toilet itself is permanently installed in the RV. However, the detachable waste tank (or “cassette”) is emptied by removing it from the rig (often by removing it through a door located on the side of the RV) and dumping it.
Portable cassette toilets are fully removable. So, you purchase the portable toilet system which comes with a “throne” that has a detachable holding tank beneath it. There’s a separate area of the toilet where you add fresh water for flushing purposes.
When you flush, the contents of the toilet bowl fall into the waste tank. When the tank needs to be emptied, you simply detach it from the bowl and bring it to the nearest dump station or toilet for emptying.
When you purchase a portable flush/cassette toilet, you’ll choose the size of the waste tank (or “cassette”) you want. Generally speaking, you’ll find them with 2.6 gallon tanks or 5.3 gallon tanks. Just remember that you’ll need to carry a full or at least partially full tank to a toilet or dump station, so consider your choice carefully.
Many families choose the smaller cassette porta-potty for traveling in a car or van with young children. Campers may choose a larger portable flush toilet for their RV, van, or campsite to give them the ability to stay longer in one location.
Here are a couple of examples of portable flush toilets/portable cassette toilets:
This one from SEAFLO is available with either a 2.6 gallon or 5.3 gallon waste tank.
- Completely self-contained portable toilet
- Easily transported and maintained
- Completely self-contained portable toilet
- Easily transported and maintained
Thetford also makes a very popular cassette-type portable toilet with a 2.6 gallon fresh water tank and a 2.6 gallon waste water tank:
- Award-Winning Portable Toilet for RVs, boats, trucks, vans, healthcare, camping and even off-the-grid lifestyle
- Modern Appearance in a durable, easy-to-use and clean design, with removable seat and cover
Thetford also makes a larger porta-potty with a 4 gallon fresh water tank and a 5.5 gallon waste water tank.
- VERSATILITY: Award-winning, top-of-the-line portable toilet, suited for RVs, boats, trucks, vans, healthcare, camping and even off-the-grid lifestyle
- DESIGN: Sleek, modern, and homelike look, Porta Potti Curve comes with a comfortable seat height, increased bowl size, and battery-powered flush
Another familiar name in camping items, Camco, makes a 2.6 gallon and a 5.3 gallon version of this popular type of porta-potty:
- 5.3 gallon holding tank is detachable; 2.5 gallon flush tank
- Sealing slide valve locks in odors and protects against leakage
There are several other brands on the market as well. The key for the purchaser is to figure out where you want the potty housed (in your car, van, RV, or in a tent) and take note of the measurements of your various options vs the space you’ve got available.
For camping, many users find a portable shower tent to be the perfect setting for a portable toilet of any type. Shower tents like these pop-up instantly, store flat, and provide a private space for a toilet and/or shower, creating an “instant outhouse”.
- UPF 50+ & Water Repellent: The silver coated tent surface reflects sunlight to block up to 98% of the harmful UV rays, protecting the user from the...
- Spacious Space & Portability: The tent is 47.2" L x 47.2" W x 74.8" H when open, providing a spacious interior shelter that comfortably fits 1 person....
Hassock Portable Toilet
A hassock portable toilet can serve as a little seat or footstool (thus the term “hassock”), and as a toilet. These are hard-sided, so be sure to measure the area where you plan to use the toilet to make sure you have room for it.
These are used by placing a plastic bag under the toilet seat and using the toilet with the bag as the capturer of the waste. This requires a bit of matter inside the bag to absorb liquids.
There are several types of hassock toilets on the market (including collapsible ones), but this one gets consistently good ratings for all shapes, sizes, and weights of users.
- Portable, lightweight and self-contained toilet; comes with one eco-fresh packet
- Contoured seat for comfort; Inner splash cover/toilet paper holder
Many portable toilets are used with bags and absorbent matter such as bio gel, kitty litter, or pine pellets. We’ve read consistently that the absorbent bio gel products work but aren’t really cost-effective for long-term use. But if the toilet is only for occasional use, it remains a convenient option.
- Eco Gel: Provides a mess-free way to deal with less-than-pleasant moments of camping or emergencies
- Deodorizer: Has a pleasant lemongrass scent to help in eliminating the odor without harsh chemicals
Some bio gel comes pre-packaged in a bag so all you have to do is put the bag on your toilet, use it, and dispose of it properly. They also come with a thicker bag for disposal purposes. But again, this is not your most cost-effective option.
- PRACTICAL: The Reliance DOUBLE DOODIE Toilet Waste Bags with BIO-GEL solidifies waste quickly. They’re 2 bags in one, the interior bag contains the...
- SIMPLE SET UP: Unzip the outer bag, unfold the inner bag & gently shake the BIO-GEL so it’s near the bottom of the bag. Place the bag over or under...
Kitty litter is a popular option, but pine pellets/wood pellets appear to be the favorite for both cost-effectiveness and absorbency with low or no odor.
A large bag of pine pellets can be purchased at Walmart or Tractor Supply at a low cost. (A popular brand is Feline Pine.) Not much is needed, so a large bag will last a long time. When used for liquids, in fact, you can use and re-use the same pellets – that’s how absorbent they are.
Note that these absorbent products also work with (and are needed for) the other types of portable camping toilets we’re about to mention.
Bucket toilets offer another popular option in the line of portable camping toilets. You can make your own bucket toilet using a 3 gallon or 5 gallon bucket and a snap-on seat and lid like this one:
- Sport Type: Camping & Hiking
- Toilet seat and cover for use with industrial pails (pail sold separately)
We’ve even seen articles where a person created a toilet “seat” by making a slit in a pool noodle, putting it around the top of a bucket, and duct-taping for added security. This wouldn’t be our top choice because a pool noodle isn’t all that easy to keep clean! But hey – whatever works for you!
A full-grown bucket toilet really isn’t all that expensive and they’re easy to clean and maintain. They all work the same way – with a bag and some absorbent material. When the bag is “used up”, you’ll simply dispose of it appropriately.
The “Luggable Loo” from Reliance has long been a very popular portable camping toilet and has even been carried by retailers like Cabellas (best price), Dick’s Sporting Goods, and L.L.Bean for many years.
- Portable five-gallon/20-liter bucket-style toilet in camouflage
- Traditional snap-on hinged seat and cover (cover is replaceable)
Camco also makes a bucket toilet. Of course, all are used in the same way, requiring a bag and some absorbent material (ideally).
- Five gallon bucket with toilet seat, lid attachment, and three bag liners
- Seat snaps securely onto rim of the bucket
For storing several bags of waste during a long camping or road trip, garbage disposal bags (trash compactor bags) come highly recommended.
- Frustration Free - Our Ultrasac compactor trash bags are as tough as it gets. 2.5 Mil thick gauge means your project will stay puncture, tear, and...
- Save Money - Ultrasac premium garbage disposal bags are tough on waste; not on your wallet. At just 30 cents per bag, we provide the same value the...
Collapsible Camping Toilets
And finally, collapsible or foldable camping toilets are also available. These require a little bit of setup, generally pulling the collapsible legs out and getting the bag prepared. But the upside is that they store more compactly than the options listed above.
There are a number of foldable or collapsible camping toilets on the market including the popular Cleanwaste Go Anywhere portable toilet.
The legs fold away neatly, creating a compact (18.75 in x 14 in x 4.75 in) rectangular item that’s easy to store and carry (only 7 pounds). The manufacturer suggests that these toilets will hold up to 500 pounds.
- WHY USE CLEANWASTE PORTABLE CAMPING TOILET - Our compact toilet weighs just 7 pounds and folds closed to standard briefcase size. It provides the...
- WHAT COMES INCLUDED IN EACH KIT - Each Kit Includes: (1) Waste bag. (1) Poo Powder gelling/deodorizing agent. (1) Secure puncture-resistant zip-close...
The toilet comes with a few “wag bags”, which contain a bag with bio gel and an additional bag for disposal, a small amount of
sand paper toilet paper, and a moist towelette for washing hands after use. Additional bags are available separately:
- 12 INDIVIDUAL REFILL PACKS FOR CLEANWASTE GO ANYWHERE TOILET - To be used in conjunction with our patented GO anywhere toilet. Environmentally...
- BREAKS DOWN WASTE WITH A NASA-DEVELOPED GELLING AGENT - The GO Anywhere Toilet Kit is the ONLY solution that traps, encapsulates, deodorizes and...
Convenient, yes. But at around $36 for 12 bages, unless you’re only using your portable toilet for emergencies, there are cheaper options (like the pine pellets and kitty litter noted above), or other brands of wag bags.
These are individual packets of “Poo Powder” (yes, you read that right), and at around $22 for 15, they’re less expensive than the wag bags above but still pricier than pellets.
- 2 IN 1 VALUE Portable Toilet Sets: You will get a pack of 15 conveniently packaged sticks degradable gel composting toilet powder of 20g each stick....
- 100% ECO-FRIENDLY DEGRADABLE GEL: Our degradable portable toilet gelling deodorizer are mainly made of super absorbent polymer which curdle liquid...
And here’s a container of “Poo Powder” – one scoop per use.
- Containers are recyclable plastic with secure screw on lid.
- Each scoop gels and solidifies 21 oz. of liquid and solid waste.
Cleanwaste also makes an entire “bathroom” kit which includes the Cleanwaste toilet, some wag bags, a privacy tent, and a backpack with which to carry everything. A great option if you just want to buy it all in one purchase and be ready to go!
- EASY. One peron can set up or tear down in about a minute.
- ROOMY. 64” zippered privacy door, 4’x4’ ‘ floorless’ base for sanitation purposes, 6’6” tall, folds to 28”x6”. Can be used for a...
So, What Is the Best Portable Camping Toilet?
The best portable camping toilet is the one that works best for you and your family. Needs vary, available space varies, and use varies.
While there’s really no one system that works best for everyone, it’s great to have so many options for having a private toilet anywhere.
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