I love road trips and while I don’t spend my entire life in a van, over the years I have spent a fair bit of time on the road living out of vans, campers and RVs on various extended trips across the country in everything from an old 80s VW Vanagon to a recently converted Sprinter. In these kinds of vans, every bit of space is precious so having a dedicated bathroom takes up too much room.
While having a portable toilet makes road life a lot more practical the best options need to be compact enough to slide under the bed platform, a cabinet or somewhere in the back where it will be less conspicuous. A lot depends on your actual layout but the toilets listed below are all good candidates for a van or Class B that doesn’t have enough space for a permanent bathroom space.
Over the past few years, it seems my Instagram feed is being bombarded by romantic images of very attractive people living in vans. Some of these campervans look super cool and are decked out to be really comfortable. Unfortunately, the kind of images you typically see showing #vanlife are, in my opinion – overly romanticized. Many times, they don’t show the harsh realities of life on the road, most notably the lack of running water and the need for a portable toilet! These pics are nowhere to be seen.
If you are planning an extended road trip or maybe even considering cashing out and living in a van long term, you’ll need to think about your everyday necessities. Food, shelter and yes….a toilet. As this article and others like it mention, experienced van lifers agree that there are some basic things that people tend to gloss over… mostly the things that people overlook or avoid talking about- challenges, hidden costs and yes – personal hygiene inside the van.
I recently watched a youtube video where a “digital nomad” couple was about ready to call it quits after 5 weeks in a converted van. The biggest frustration they said was not having a bathroom or shower.
I was really surprised they were trying to live out of a van permanently but relying on truck stops, stores and gyms for their bathroom needs! I stop at a gym or campground every now and then to get totally cleaned up and enjoy a longer shower but can’t imagine trying live on the road without at least having a portable toilet for everyday needs, especially since most of these are only $100 or less.
While you may be able to occasionally use coffee shop restrooms and gas station toilets, you really need to have a permanent solution in the van when you are not near public facilities. That’s why here we are taking a look at the best portable toilet for van life. Below we take a look at ten different portable camping toilets, give detailed reviews and narrow the list down to our top picks that work best for van life.
After reviewing the portable toilets on the market, our top pick for best flush toilet for a van or camper is the Thetford Porta Potti Curve Portable Toilet but please continue reading below to see all of our reviews of other portable camping toilets.
Best Portable Camping Toilets
After understanding the different types of portable camping toilets and how they are used, it’s time to see what models stand out among the rest. The products mentioned below are just some of the highly recommended names with high ratings. See why they made it to the top 10 as you discover their features.
We specifically considered portable toilets for van living that would work well as a long term solution for van life. We included one simple bucket style toilet (from Black Pine Sports) but the other options are more complete solutions with tanks, these involve a little more maintenance and upkeep but they provide a more permanent solution to dealing with your waste while living on the road out of your vehicle
Camco 41531 Portable Toilet – 2.6 gallon
When it comes to the best portable camping toilet, you will always see the name Camco included on most lists because this product is recognized by many for its usability, durability, and value for money. One of the main features of the Camco 41531 toilet is the 2.6-gallon holding capacity. The tank is detachable so you can empty it with ease.
For easy transport, the total weight of the whole toilet is only 11 lbs. There are integrated handles. And although it looks compact, the toilet can handle up to 300 lbs. of weight. When you remove or transfer the toilet to a new location, you don’t have to worry about leaks because the tanks are attached tightly via the side latches.
Aside from this, waste odors will not be a problem because of the sealing slide valve. The flush tank is also refillable of up to 2.5 gallons of fresh water. Furthermore, it is complete with a sturdy seat, bowl, lid, and an easy-to-use bellows-type pump flush.
The height of the toilet is only 12.38”, which is comfortable enough for most people. However, if you are tall and wish to have a higher seat, you can purchase the premium version instead, which is several inches taller. With Camco’s TST biodegradable toilet chemical, you can make sure that your portable toilet will be clean and fresh all the time.
- Compact, durable, and lightweight
- Has a great design for preventing leaks, minimizing waste odor, and disposing of waste
- Includes Camco’s TST biodegradable toilet chemical
- Doesn’t take up too much space, suitable for van
- Comes complete with a 1-year warranty
- Standard size can be too short for tall people
- Small seat
PartySaving 5.3 Gallon Portable Toilet Potty
This particular model of the PartySaving portable camping toilet is known for its affordability and usability. It is designed for comfort, easy setup, and maintenance, which are factors you need to look for in a great portable toilet. While it is marketed for boats, there really isn’t a specific reason that limits it to that use. It would be a good option for a van or camper since it is compact and portable.
Just like the others, this one has a separate water reservoir and waste tank. Both parts have integrated handles so you can take them anywhere. By opening the waste lever, the contents of the bowl fall directly into the waste tank. This way, you can easily get rid of the waste and lock in the odor.
To keep the bowl clean and stain-free, you must pump water using the flush pump. Then, you can release fresh water into the bowl by using the flush spout. When the time comes for you to empty the tank, just unscrew the cap found in the waste tank.
When you’re done, tightly screw it back to avoid leakage. The portable camping toilet is made of high-density polyethylene, which makes it durable and long-lasting. It can hold up to 300 lbs.; the seat is comfortable for most people because it has a wider diameter than other models, and is 14” high.
With its sage green color, you can expect that there will be no visible stains caused by frequent use on your toilet.
- Unique sage green color to prevent staining because of frequent use
- Includes integrated handles for easy transport
- Comfortable, wide seat
- Affordable price
- The height might be too low for tall people
- The cap is not easy to seal
- Warranty is unknown
Black Pine Sports Turbo Toilet
Third, on the list of the most recommended portable toilet is the Black Pine Sports Turbo Toilet. With its pop-up design and lightweight, you can take it anywhere. If you are looking for a portable toilet for a van or road trip, this is probably the simplest lightweight option. No water pump or tank is involved, the waste goes into a bag which is discarded in the trash.
Setting it up is easy; simply unzip the storage bag and attach the biodegradable bag. Once you find the perfect secluded spot, you’re good to go. Although it does not have a water pump or water reservoir, sanitation is not compromised.
The manufacturer provides 12 biodegradable bags and 12 packets of odor control powder. This powder is used for absorbing liquid waste and then transforming it into a solid gel; this way, it is easier to manage and dispose of.
Aside from this, the portable toilet is much stronger than it looks. With its sturdy bracket system, it can hold a maximum weight of 330 lbs. If you don’t like blue, you can choose from 2 other available colors: camo and yellow. Affordable, environment-friendly, and flexible, there is no doubt why many campers and explorers like this product. The odor powder is something you’d have to buy separately after the sample 12 packets run out, although I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t just skip this, tie up a bag and toss it after each use- to eliminate the need for a chemical.
- Inexpensive compared to tank toilets
- A simple option for van, camper or boat
- Easy to set up and dismantle
- Sturdy and lightweight for easy transport
- Includes 12 packets of odor control powder
- We have a full review of the Black Pine Turbo Toilet in a separate article
- The size of the seat is relatively small
- Need to buy bags or have trash bags available as there is no water tank
- Height is low for tall people
- Odor powder is not that effective and extra to keep refills.
Best Choice Products Camping Hiking Dual Spray
The Best Choice Products Travel Outdoor Portable Toilet is considered one of the best choices for a portable toilet because of its features and affordability. It is designed to make your travels on the road and camping convenient which is why it’s one of our top toilets for a van.
This toilet only weighs around 10 lbs., which makes it light enough to carry around wherever you go. It can hold up to 5 gallons of waste and has a total weight capacity of 440 lbs.
The water and waste tanks are separated, but they have 2 side latches so you can secure them together without leaks. Also preventing leakage is the double-sealed drain system that eliminates odors.
You can flush the waste directly to the waste tank by simply pressing one button near the seat. The bellows-style pump draws water from the water tank and releases dual spray jets to clean the bowl more effectively. Just make sure to fill the tank with up to 3 gallons of water and you can flush the toilet up to 50 times before having to empty it.
Compared to other brands, the seat that is made of polyethylene is more durable and comfortable to sit on. The height is tall enough for most users, too. Whether or not you are an outdoor enthusiast, you will surely like to use this portable toilet in your RV or at the campsite.
- Flushes and disposes of waste faster with dual spray jets
- Has a maximum weight capacity of 440 lbs.
- Easy to assemble and dismantle
- Affordable price
- Emptying the waste tank could be difficult
- Rear cap causes leaks
Thetford 92360 Porta Potti 550E Curve Portable Toilet
The Thetford 92360 Porta Potti 550E Curve Portable Toilet is not your ordinary portable toilet. Yes, it still comprises 2 detachable tanks, the water tank, and the waste tank, but it is battery operated. The flush controls make it easier to keep the toilet clean; simply make sure that the water tank is full of freshwater.
Aside from this, both tanks have hidden controls that indicate the level of their contents so you will easily know when it is time to refill the water tank or empty the waste tank.
Although the tanks are separated, they securely snap together; you can almost guarantee that there will be no leakage while the toilet is in use. The water tank has handles so that you can carry it with ease, while the waste tank has a pour-out spout for easy disposal of waste.
This product has set a new standard of what a modern portable toilet should be. It takes convenience to another level and it even features an integrated toilet paper holder. It has a sleek design with a larger and taller seat that also provides comfort for most users.
If you are worried about the battery running out, the manufacturer says that the toilet can be manually used; you can either use the side lever or have a separate water source for flushing the waste. Lastly, this package also comes with a small supply of Thetford’s deodorizing chemicals for keeping the toilet sanitized and odorless.
If you are planning to live in a van long-term this would be one of the top options. However, this is a flush toilet with detachable tanks and is battery operated so you are getting into a slightly more complicated product with some maintenance involved. The trade-off is that if you are living long term in a van you may not want to rely on a simple bucket style toilet like the Black Pine Sports bucket.
- Hidden controls serve as tank indicators for both water tank and waste tank
- A comfortable seat height of 20”, great for average and tall users
- Replicates a proper flush toilet- for people living long term in van or camper, this can be a nice.
- Sleek and homelike design
- Includes an integrated toilet paper holder
- Can be manually operated when the battery runs out
- Need to deal with batteries
- Batteries are not the best quality
Buyers Guide: Portable Camping Toilets
There are many types of portable camping toilets, but here we will only focus on the three types that are usually found on the market. Note that the descriptions may be different from each manufacturer because every model may have a different design or features.
Portable toilet bags
Camping toilet bags are the lightest and easiest to carry among all the types. You can fold and pack them in your bag during a camping trip or while hiking in the mountains. However, this could be less convenient because you cannot flush the waste into a waste tank. Aside from this, it is environment-friendly because the bags provided by the manufacturers are usually biodegradable. There are even bags that have a seal and are puncture-resistant, while others provide a gelling powder that solidifies liquid waste; this way, you can easily manage and dump your waste.
A portable bucket-style toilet is like your grandmother’s old chamber pot. This does not have a flush but is more comfortable to use than a portable toilet bag. If you are staying in one place like at a campsite, this portable toilet will be enough.
But you still need to use a biodegradable bag to seal the waste and use the toilet again. One advantage of the bucket-style toilet over a camping toilet bag is the seat cover and firmer base you sit on. Another thing is that it reduces the possibility of leakage if the bag is punctured.
Chemical portable toilet
When it comes to homelike convenience, a chemical portable toilet is a better choice. It has a water tank and a waste tank with a flush mechanism for easy disposal of waste. The chemical or deodorant sanitizes the whole toilet and minimizes the odor. The chemical portable toilet looks almost like a standard toilet in a home or public restroom but is smaller and lighter.
If you are going on a long trip or planning to permanently live in a van or camper you may want to look at this sp
Usually, the waste tank can hold between 2.6 or 5 gallons before you have to empty it. It’s a more complete solution but more involved to use and harder to maintain compared to the first two types of portable camping toilets.
Factors to consider
In order to find the best portable camping toilet for your trip, you first have to think about the following:
Location or type of trip
Are you staying at a camping site for a few nights or going on a long trip? Are you car camping or do you have to hike in? Unless you are going to be within close proximity of the car or van, you’d have to limit yourself to the lightest options, like the bucket-style portable toilet. However, if you are living out of a van or car-camping you may want to go for a more complete solution and get a portable camping toilet with a flush option and detachable tanks, these replicate the comfort of a home flush toilet but have the added complication of dealing with wastewater and in some cases chemical deodorizer.
If you are particular with the level of comfort, then you don’t want a toilet that is too small for you. There are many options on the market to choose from; there are portable toilets that are 16” high, which is good enough for people of average height. But if you are taller, you can choose a portable toilet that is 20”, which also has a larger bowl size.
You should also consider how long you are going to be away from home so as to estimate how many biodegradable toilet bags you need to bring. Aside from this, you might also want to know where the dumping stations are in your area so that you can empty the chemical toilet. A weekend trip to a campground really doesn’t require the same kind of toilet as a long-term nomadic lifestyle. If I’m headed to camp for 2-3 nights I might take the bucket style toilet whereas a portable toilet for a van trip all summer, I’d invest in a flush toilet like the one from Thetford.
How to use a chemical camping toilet
- Add a small amount of deodorant or disinfectant to the waste tank before using the toilet. Flush it once or twice to make sure that the chemical sanitizes the tanks. Re-latch the water and the waste tank tightly together. Your toilet is now ready to use.
- Sit while using the toilet so as not to create messy splashes. Unlike RV toilet paper that is specially made to disintegrate faster for internal wastewater systems, any kind of toilet paper or tissue will be fine with a portable chemical toilet since you will have to dump the waste afterward. That means clogging is not a problem. However, a biodegradable tissue is still the best because the tank will not be filled as fast.
- When it’s time to empty the waste tank, separate it from the water tank. Make sure to seal the part that connects it to the water tank to avoid leakage. Carefully pour out the contents into the septic tank and add water to make sure that everything will be dislodged. Thoroughly wash the tank and the toilet, and add deodorant, before using it again.
All products included on the list have their own unique features that make them great choices. If you want something that is really light and you can store it inside your camping gear, the Black Sports Turbo Toilet would be the best for you.
On the other hand, if comfort and convenience are what you want you may want a proper flush toilet with a separate waste tank. If you are living on the road long-term, we recommend the Thetford 92360 Porta Potti 550E Curve Portable Toilet. However, if you prefer the standard, yet durable portable camping toilet, you have three more choices to choose from.
Just remember that these portable toilets are designed for temporary use outdoors and not as an alternative toilet for your home. If you are planning on setting up a camping toilet, you may want to also look at privacy tents as it’s a convenient way to set up a more closed-off area to use the toilet in private.
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