Best Portable Toilets for Campervans

One often overlooked necessity of van life is a portable toilet for campervan living. While it may not be the most glamorous topic to discuss, having a portable toilet, also called a porta potty, on board can make a world of difference during your adventures.

No more searching for public restrooms, using a pit toilet, or worrying about finding a suitable place to relieve yourself in the great outdoors. By using portable camping toilets, you can enjoy the freedom of exploring without sacrificing your comfort and hygiene.

Table of Contents

toilet shown inside RV

Why You Should Use a Portable Campervan Toilet

Having a portable toilet in your campervan eliminates the need to rely on public restrooms, which can often be scarce or unsanitary, especially in remote areas. Instead, you have the convenience of a toilet right at your fingertips, allowing you to answer nature’s call whenever and wherever you need to.

“But why can’t I dig a cat hole in the woods if I’m off-grid?”

Well, you can. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Due to the high increase of people heading out into the backcountry, human waste is causing problems. From elevated levels of E. coli associated with human feces in rivers to harmful bacteria leaching into the ground for years after human waste has been buried, what used to be a simple solution has become the detriment of many of our favorite places.

Outdoor Magazine wrote an informative article on poop etiquette. And it makes sense. Yes, we’ve been pooping in the woods for thousands of years, but the reality is most human waste isn’t “natural” anymore. From medication to processed foods and even edibles, human waste typically isn’t beneficial for the environment. If we’re not supposed to throw apple cores and banana peels out in the woods, why would we poop there?

Of course, there will always be a time and a place when you’ll have to dig a proper cat hole to do your business. But if you have the option to use WAG bags or a portable camping toilet, that is always the better choice for the environment.

human waste bag for portable camper toilet
Photo by Kate Hoch

Benefits of Portable Toilets for Van Life

Using a portable toilet on your road trips offers numerous benefits that can enhance your overall experience. Let’s explore some of these advantages:

1. Convenience: One of the primary benefits of portable toilets is their convenience. No more searching for public restrooms, vault toilets, or waiting in long lines. No rushing to dig a cat hole in time for… you know… Whether on a long drive or camping in the wilderness, you can conveniently take care of your needs without any hassle.

2. Hygiene: Proper hygiene is crucial, and portable toilets provide a clean and sanitary space for you to use, ensuring that you can maintain your hygiene standards even in remote locations.

3. Freedom: Having a portable toilet in your campervan allows you to explore without limitations. You can venture off the beaten path, knowing that you always have a reliable and permanent toilet solution with you. This opens up a world of possibilities for your road trip adventures.

4. Comfort: Road trips can be tiring, especially if you spend long hours on the road. Having a portable toilet onboard adds an element of comfort to your journey. You can take breaks whenever necessary without worrying about finding a suitable restroom.

5. Environmentally friendly: Many portable toilets are designed to be eco-friendly. They use water-saving technologies and biodegradable chemicals to minimize their environmental impact. Using a portable toilet reduces your reliance on public restrooms, which often consume more water and contribute to pollution. It’s a small step towards sustainable travel and responsible tourism.

built in campervan portable toilet
Photo by Katie Diederichs

Types of Portable Toilets for Campervans

Now that we understand the importance and benefits of portable toilets for road trips, let’s explore the different types available in the market. Portable toilets come in various designs and styles, each catering to different needs and preferences.

But what’s the best portable toilet for you? Here are some of the best portable camping toilets on the market – take a look and see what you think!

Bucket Toilet

This is the most basic and affordable van toilet available. They consist of a simple bucket with a seat and a lid. You can line the bucket with a plastic bag or use biodegradable waste bags for easy disposal.

Some people double-layer with garbage bags, add some wood chips, sawdust, or kitty litter and use the bucket toilet for a few days, and then dispose of the entire bag in a proper waste receptacle. You can also use single-use WAG bags and keep them in a sealed, air-tight container until you can dispose of them properly.

A foldable toilet works much the same way but without the added organic materials. Here’s one we’ve seen out in the wild a lot. A folding toilet is great if you have limited storage or just want an emergency toilet on hand.

Portable Cassette Toilets

A portable cassette toilet, or chemical toilet, is a popular choice for campervans and RVs. They consist of a toilet with a removable waste tank that can be easily emptied at designated dump stations. Cassette toilets have a flushing mechanism and a small water tank for added convenience and hygiene. They are relatively larger than bucket-style toilets and offer a more comfortable experience.

Some people choose to use these toilets as emergency toilets only.

Most portable cassette toilets can hold about 5 gallons of waste before needing to be emptied. The time between emptying it will depend on how many people use it and if you use the toilet for numbers one and two.

The most popular model on the market is the Thetford Porta Potti which comes in various sizes. The Thetford Porta Potti can be emptied at an RV dump station (our recommendation) or into a normal toilet (flush as you dump!). You can use apps like iOverlander and Campendium to find free dump stations across the US.

You add water to the upper holding tank for flushing and a little water with some toilet chemicals in the lower holding tank to help break down waste and manage smell. We recommend making sure you choose biodegradable chemicals, which are typically available anywhere toilet chemicals are sold (RV shops, WalMarts, Camping stores, Amazon, etc.).

The Camco Portable Toilet is another popular brand.

portable bucket toilet with lid
dry flush composting RV toilet

5 Best Composting Toilets for Vans

Composting toilets have gained popularity among eco-conscious van lifers as their campervan toilets. They use a natural process to start breaking down solid waste into compost, eliminating the need for water and chemicals.

They are odorless, easy to use, and environmentally friendly. They are a great option for those who prioritize sustainability and want to minimize their ecological footprint. By separating liquid and solid waste, you eliminate any smell and make cleaning a breeze.

Composting toilets have a urine diverter with a separate liquids bin that you empty when full. A larger solids bin separates which you add organic material, such as sawdust, wood chips, or coco coir, with an agitator you turn after each use. The solids bin is easily emptied and cleaned as needed – typically about once a month, depending on how many people use it. It’s suggested that you dispose of your toilet paper separately so it doesn’t fill up your solids bin too quickly.

These are the most popular composting toilets on the market currently:

  1. Nature’s Head: Probably the most popular and well-known toilet for van life on the market is the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. We’ve seen these as a campervan toilet, in RVs, tiny homes, and off-grid houses. One of the cons of this toilet is that you have to open the entire toilet to empty the liquids bin.
  2. Air Head: The Air Head composting toilet has a higher capacity than the Nature’s Head, making it a good choice for those who have more people using it or just want a little longer between empties. You can empty the liquids bin without having to open the entire toilet, which is a huge perk. We’ve heard feedback that the liquids diverter isn’t as attuned to female anatomy.
  3. Compo Closet’s Cuddy: The Cuddy is newer on the market and has become very popular in the past year. It’s more compact than other toilets and can fit right into the space where your portable cassette toilet was, making it easy to upgrade. Another appeal to the Cuddy is that although it can be set as a fixed toilet and have a vent installed, it’s unnecessary, making it a true portable camping toilet. It also has a light indicator that turns on when the liquids bin needs to be emptied – no more guessing or accidental overflows! (trust us, this isn’t fun) There has been feedback that excessive moisture can build up when not vented, but Compo Closet has some great resources on their website to help with this.
  4. Trelino: This luggable loo is the perfect camping toilet if you have a small van, are car camping, or just go out on weekends on occasion. It has all the benefits of a full-sized composting toilet but in a small portable toilet footprint. Pair it with a pop-up toilet tent, and you can have your toilet away from camp yet still easily accessible.
  5. Throne Composting Toilet Urine Diverter (DIY option): If you’re looking for an easy DIY option, check out the Throne Composting Toilet. You purchase the liquids diverter and a toilet seat and receive detailed DIY instructions for making your own composting toilet. Next to bucket toilets, this is the most cost-effective way to make a composting toilet.
portable cassette toilet for campervan

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Portable Toilet

1. Size and weight: The size and weight of the portable toilet are essential considerations, especially if you have limited space in your campervan. Look for a toilet that fits well within your available space and is lightweight enough for easy cleaning.

2. Capacity: The capacity of the waste tank is another important factor to consider. Think about the number of people using the toilet and the duration of your road trips. A larger waste tank will require less frequent emptying, which can be beneficial, especially when camping in remote areas.

3. Ease of use: Look for a portable toilet that is easy to set up, use, and clean. Depending on how you plan to travel, this may mean different things.

4. Cleaning requirements: Consider the cleaning requirements of the portable toilet. Some models may require more frequent cleaning or specialized cleaning products. Look for a toilet that will work best for your lifestyle.

person empties out toilet black tank from campervan RV

How to Properly Dispose of Waste From Portable Toilets

Proper waste disposal is crucial when using a portable toilet. It ensures hygiene, minimizes environmental impact, and complies with local regulations. Here are some guidelines for properly disposing of waste from portable toilets:

1. Use designated dump stations: Many campgrounds, rest areas, and RV parks have designated dump stations for emptying portable toilet waste tanks. These stations are equipped with appropriate facilities for waste disposal. Research and plan your route to include stops at these dump stations. Apps like iOverlander and Campendium are great resources to help you find proper disposal locations.

2. Empty the waste tank at the appropriate time: Avoid waiting until the waste tank is completely full before emptying it. This can lead to overflow and unpleasant odors. Empty the tank regularly to maintain hygiene and cleanliness.

3. Use appropriate waste disposal methods: Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for emptying and disposing of waste. Some portable toilets may require the use of biodegradable chemicals or special waste bags. Use these methods to minimize environmental impact.

4. Clean and sanitize the waste tank: After emptying it, clean and sanitize it thoroughly. Use mild detergents or specialized cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. Rinse the tank with clean water to ensure it is free from residue.

camper van overnight outdoor set up

Which Portable Campervan Toilet Will You Choose?

Now that you’ve learned all about the different portable toilets for campervans, which one will you choose? The eco-friendly composting toilet or an easy-to-use portable cassette toilet option? Maybe you’re fine with using WAG bags.

Whatever you choose, we’re sure it will help you to not worry about when nature calls, and just enjoy nature itself.



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