It’s not the most glamorous part of a camping trip, however, it is one of the most important. If you’re heading off on a camping trip or a long journey and want the convenience of having your own toilet, then a portable camping toilet could be one of the best investments you make.
The type of camping toilet you need will depend on the type of trip you’re taking. If you’re heading out in a campervan you may have the space to choose a sturdy chemical toilet, however, if you’re off camping, staying in a tent and will be carrying your belongings through fields, then a lightweight portable camping toilet may suit you better.
The best advice we can offer is to go for a portable toilet you can seal to avoid spillages, that’s easy to clean and keep hygienic and is simple to empty. Be sure to read reviews before purchasing a portable toilet online and try it out before you take it on a big trip to make sure it is suitable for your needs.
Types of camping toilet
Portable Camping Toilets
Portable toilets or chemical toilets are the most similar to a normal toilet of all the camping options. They are very sturdy and can be heavy but offer a very normal toilet experience.
Portable toilets come in different sizes and heights and with different waste tank capacities. You can even get camping toilets that are the same size as a regular toilet with a seat, flush and collection tank underneath.
This sturdier type of portable toilet is perfect for motorhomes and caravans without inbuilt facilities as they can be bulky. If you are thinking of choosing a portable chemical toilet for camping make sure you have somewhere to store it as they aren’t always the simplest to fold away and store.
Portable camping toilets are pretty easy and hygienic to empty as they normally have a detachable waste tank that can be taken to a designated waste area without fear of spillage or anything slopping over.
Before taking a portable camping toilet on your trip, make sure you have a way of emptying it and somewhere to do so. Most campsites will have a designated waster area, however, it is really important to check there is somewhere to empty it before the first use. Not the nicest thought, but also check you can carry the toilet to the waste area before you start using it as they can be very heavy.
Top Tip: Try filling your portable toilet waste tank with water when you first get it to make sure you can carry it, walk with it and empty it safely so you know it is manageable.
Portable camping toilets need specific chemicals; such as biocides, fragrances and surfactants to keep them hygienic and to stop them from smelling. It is usually sensible to buy recommended cleaning products alongside your toilet, so you can easily keep it clean.
Read reviews before purchasing a camping toilet or chemicals to make sure that you aren’t getting one that is prone to leaks, cracking or accidental spills.
You can use toilet paper with a portable toilet, however, they can easily get clogged up so you may want to look at dissolving toilet paper, or use a bag to store used toilet paper.
A bucket toilet isn’t fancy but is practical and low maintenance as you just need to add water or appropriate chemicals and it’s ready to use. They’re lightweight and easy to transport as there isn’t a mechanism inside like more complex flushing portable toilets.
Bucket style camping toilets are generally cheap and best for shorter trips. They aren’t sealed off so aren’t great for keeping solid waste. They can be useful as a nighttime emergency option but aren’t the best for longer trips or frequent use.
Some bucket-style camping toilets suggest or require you to use liners or bags in them. When buying bags or liners try to make sure that they are biodegradable and add them to your camping checklist so you don’t forget to take them with you on your trip.
There’s no waste tank in a bucket style portable toilet so they are very simple to empty but harder to do so with no mess than more high tech toilets. Due to having no waste tank you need to pour the contents of the bucket into a toilet or designated waste point at a campsite and stand as far back as possible to ensure there is no splashback.
Some bucket toilets come with additional features like toilet roll holders and removable buckets that offer comfort and convenience and easier waste management.
Folding Camping Toilet
If you want a portable toilet that’s space-efficient, light, easy to carry around and pack away, then a foldable toilet could be the best option for you.
Folding toilets are best for shorter trips or as a nighttime option where you aren’t going to be reliant on it for a long period and don’t have lots of people sharing. Don’t put too much pressure on a foldable toilet or sit close to the edges as it could collapse and you may end up with a mess.
You can get collapsible bucket toilets as well as foldable toilets that can generally hold a little more weight, however, airing on the side of caution is always recommended with collapsable toilets.
You generally need to use toilet bags when using a folding bucket or toilet. You attach the toilet bag to the collapsable loo and go to the toilet in there. You can get products like absorbent powders that solidify liquid waste within the bag making it easier to dispose of.
As folding camping toilets are fairly basic, they can offer one of the cheapest solutions for temporary portable toilets. They can also be very lightweight and portable so, for those walking long distances or planning a wild camping trip folding toilets can offer a good solution.
A cassette toilet is usually installed inside motorhomes or caravans because the toilet itself is connected and built-in they normally cannot be removed from the vehicle.
This type of toilet is often usually plumbed into the motor home or caravan’s central water system so they can flush away the waste like a normal toilet. Waste is then collected in a cassette-style chemical tank which has to be manually removed and emptied.
Cassette toilets normally start from around £200 but if you are designing a motor home, camper van or renovating a caravan they can be worthwhile considering.
When it comes to going for an alfresco wee, women are at a distinct disadvantage, however, there are nowmany devices can make it easier to do so discreetly. It may not be the most appealing thing to think about, however, planning ahead can avoid any awkward situations when you are caught short.
Some of the best portable toilets for women are;
Shewee created a silicone mould that lets women stand and urinate rather than having to use an actual toilet. The collapsable device is pressed up against the body and you wee either onto the ground or into a peebol. A Peebol is a bag that you wee into that contains absorbent granules that change the fluid into a biodegradable gel.
You can get different types of Shewee, from brands such as; including Whiz, Pibella, GoGirl, pStyle, Lady P and Freshette, but if you’re planning on using it in the car you want to make sure that you have a Peebol with you to collect the wee and you may want to consider getting an extreme or car version of the Shewee.
Shewees are designed to be reused, but some brands, like PeeBuddy offer disposable options that can are made from recyclable plastic.
Other brands offer female urinals, some of which come with carry bags and are designed for campers or hikers. Female urinals are also great if you simply want to do a standing wee into a toilet that is unclean or you don’t fancy sitting on. Some of them you can even pop in the dishwasher to clean.
Men have it much easier than women when it comes to releving themselves outside. However, if you’re looking for something in case you are caught short without a loo and don’t fancy using a bush then there are a few options to consider for men.
Wee tubes are a good option, they are cheap and fold down small so are very portable. These are great for a nighttime wee if you don’t fancy running to the shared facilities, or can also be useful for long car journeys – especially if you have kids who often need the toilet or you have a weak bladder.
Peebols can also be a useful option for men and are good if you only want to carry one option for everyone.
Why do you need a camping toilet?
There are lots of reasons why you would want to buy a camping toilet. Some campsites may not offer facilities that you can use, or you may think your pitch is too far away from them for a quick midnight dash to the loo.
You may also not feel comfortable using shared facilities and simply want your own private camping toilet. If you’re going off into the wilderness and don’t fancy using the bushes you may also want a toilet for wild camping.
Camping Toilet FAQS
How do camping toilets work?
The way a camping toilet works is very dependant on the type of toilet you have. Portable toilets with a simple flushing mechanism tend to flush waste deposited into the bowl down into a bucket below the toilet that contains chemicals like; blue liquid biocides to break down solids and reduce gas build up.
Cassette toilets work in a similar way to portable flushing toilets however they are normally built into a caravan or motorhome and waste is flushed to a tank or bowl where it is broken down with chemicals. The storage tank will need to be emptied into a designated waste receptacle periodically.
Folding toilets & bucket toilets are much more simple, once the bag or bucket is full you’ll need to remove it and find somewhere to dispose of the waste. You will need to be careful of spillages and ensure that you only dispose of the waste in approved areas of the campsite.
Most campsites have areas to dispose of waste and many have toilet blocks and showers that you can use while you stay.
Can you use normal toilet paper in a camping toilet?
The type of toilet paper you should use in a camping toilet depends on what kind of toilet you have.
You can technically use whatever type of toilet roll you like in non-flushing toilets like buckets and foldable toilets that you use a bag in, especially if you’ll be emptying the contents into a designated waste disposal site. However, if you’re emptying it into a normal toilet, be aware that if there’s a lot of toilet paper you could block the toilet. The way to get around this is to either slowly empty the toilet and flush in between pours or use dissolvable toilet paper.
Dissolvable toilet paper is a good option if you get through a lot of toilet paper and want to avoid a blockage or if you’re using a flushing camping toilet. Chemical toilets generally advise using dissolvable toilet roll. When the paper hits the chemicals inside the loo it will break down and dissolve which can avoid blockages.
What chemicals do you need for a camping toilet?
If you have a chemical toilet, you will need a few different products to keep it fresh and hygienic.
Different chemicals come in different colours which makes them easy to remember.
Pink chemicals are used in flushing toilets. They keep the flush clean and also clean out dirty deposits. You add pink chemicals to the fresh water tank, they help to keep the toilet flushing efficiently and add a light fragrance.
Blue or Green chemicals are used in the waste tank and help to break down what is in the bowl of the toilet.
When using chemicals be sure to take safety precautions like wearing goggles and gloves and keep products away from children.
How often do you need to change toilet chemicals?
Most toilet chemicals start to lose their effectiveness after around three days. At about the three day mark you either want to empty your toilet, clean it and add fresh chemicals, or add more chemicals if you aren’t ready to empty.
Where do you empty a portable toilet?
Only ever empty a portable toilet into either a designated waste point or directly into a toilet. Be sure to check where your nearest waste disposal site or toilet is before using your portable toilet.
If you do not empty them regularly they can get heavy, so it’s wise to have a route and plan how and where you will empty.
If you have used bags in a collapsing toilet or simply gone to the loo directly into a bag you ideally want to make sure they are compostable and can be disposed of at home. The majority of bags will come with handles that you can securely tie up your waste and dispose of it in a standard bin.
Can you poop in a portable toilet?
You can generally wee and poop in a portable toilet as long as it is sturdy enough and you have somewhere to store or empty the waste. If you are using a standing bag it is advised to only urinate in it.
Where should you store a camping toilet?
The best place for your toilet depends on how much you will be using it and the type of trip you are taking as well as the type of facilities you already have.
Porch areas or zipped off sections are a good option if you have a larger tent as it is out of the main living space.
A popup privacy style tent is also a popular place to store a toilet, they generally have a roll-up door that you can keep up to air it out but also roll it up for privacy.
A toilet tent is generally waterproof and popup and can also double up as a shower tent.
Can you go to the toilet outside?
You should always try not to rely on going to the loo outdoors, however, sometimes it can’t be helped.
Urinating outside isn’t illegal as long as it isn’t antisocial and not near other people who may deem it indecent exposure. If you do need to wee outside, find a quiet spot away from a path or other campers or walkers. If you want a bit more privacy, wearing a poncho can give a good level of cover.
If you are caught short and need to poop outside you need to be even more careful. As a rule, you want to carry a trowel with you so that you can bury your waste at least 15cm down and leave no trace.
Again, make sure you are away from any paths or well-used spots and not near any water. Do not just cover the human waste with twigs or leaves, it breaks down much quicker when underground and saves another unfortunate person stumbling across it.
If you do go to the toilet outside do not leave any waste so take any toilet paper or wipes with you and dispose of them in a bin.
Katie from bestcampingproducts.co.uk is a huge fan of the great outdoors. When visiting a new area she’ll always scout out a walk or beauty spot to visit. She’s been going camping since she was young and loves nothing more than waking up under canvas and a lighting a campfire to cook breakfast on.