Camping and boat trips are exciting because they get you closer to nature. However, when nature calls, it can be hard to find a public toilet that is clean and complete with everything you need. For this reason, portable camping toilets were invented. If you are used to remote wilderness camping or backpacking this really doesn’t come into play but for families, especially when camping with kids or even toddlers who are being potty trained, it’s especially important to have a proper toilet to sit on.
If you are “car-camping” in places like state parks or recreation areas (where you don’t have to carry in your gear) it can be especially useful to have a portable camping toilet. Click here to see our top picks for the best portable camping toilets in 2019.
There are other camping accessories, like pop up privacy shelters, that when used in combination with a camping toilet can make a much more private space for personal hygiene that it makes the camping experience much more enjoyable – especially for kids and adults that are not used to “roughing it”
A portable camping toilet has been designed to provide convenience to travelers who often go camping and do other outdoor activities. They are usually lightweight so you can easily pack and assemble them anywhere you go. If you are with kids, the portable camping toilet comes in handy.
There are different types of portable camping toilets with different designs and features. You can choose from simple seat ring (like the cleanwaste go anywhere portable toilet), enclosed chemical toilets, and urine diversion dehydration toilets.
These are usually inexpensive to buy, except if you choose a battery-operated toilet with advanced features. But in general, you do not really have to invest too much money in this.
To help you find the right portable camping toilet that will suit your needs, below are some of the factors you need to consider.
Different types of portable camping toilet and their uses
One of the most common types of portable camping toilet is the self-contained unit which consists of two separate tanks. The first tank is a water reservoir, while the second tank is where the waste is held. This resembles a normal toilet in restrooms but is shorter and has a smaller seat. Though the tanks are separated, they can be securely sealed together. Many even have a flushing mechanism.
Another type of self-contained unit uses chemicals for sanitary purposes. This unit also minimizes the odor by locking in the odor or by applying a special chemical to the bowl. However, their drawbacks include being bulky, requiring a water supply, as well as more maintenance.
Another problem is that because they require some kind of powered chemical to deodorize the waste there is a recurring cost to having these, you also have to plan ahead and make sure you have an adequate amount of the chemical before leaving for your trip. Although the packets can be bought online or in local camping or outdoor gear shops (places like Gander Mountain, Scheels, Walmart or Cabelas), you may not be able to easily find a compatible chemical for your toilet once you are out on the road.
Then, there are bag units which are lighter and easier to pack. They can fit inside a camping bag because there are no tanks included. All you need to do is to attach the disposable bag to the ring then tie the bag so waste is contained. You then dispose of the baggie as you would with a poop pet bag that you use for dogs. Some of these units can use a standard plastic bag although it’s usually better to use a heavier duty plastic bag (specifically designed for human waste disposal) which are less likely to break, rip, tear or leak. You’d hate to have waste products leaking inside your RV or campsite. Some bands also sell plastic waste bags that also contain a small amount of deodorizing gel inside each bag. Some of these gels have desiccating materials – to dry out the waste (the urine) and limit the chances of leakage.
There are also legged-bag units or pop-out units that can stand on their own. Setting up is the same but now you can literally sit on them. On the other hand, this unit can be too low and you may almost feel like you are sitting on the ground.
Here is a good video showing different options for portable camping toilets.
For campers and hikers who already experienced the inconvenience of exploring the mountains or forests, a simple portable camping toilet will do. But for those who still want to have a comfortable toilet, a self-contained unit would be more appropriate. Much will depend on where the toilet will be used (inside an RV or boat vs. using one in an open campsite or inside a privacy tent or pop-up changing room.
The dimensions of the product should be considered because the sizes of this kind of toilet are not standard. Some are only 12-14” high, while bulkier models can be as tall as 20”. Since the self-contained unit could be heavy, it would be difficult to elevate it.
On the other hand, a bucket-style or bag unit is more flexible; you can put a flat board or blocks under it to elevate the toilet.
The process of waste disposal
Everyone knows that you cannot just leave your waste anywhere you like, so you should know the proper way of disposing of it without harming the surroundings, as well as the bodies of water. The bags are easier to dispose of since you can empty them in public toilets at gasoline stations.
And if your bags are biodegradable, then getting rid of waste is easier. As for the self-contained units, you can empty them at RV dump stations. Of course, you need to be careful of where you dispose of the bags. The most logical and proper place would into another waste bin or garbage bag. Although these bags are biodegradable and it may be tempting to put them in your compost pile, you should exercise extreme caution if you are later planning on using the composting directly on a vegetable garden as composted human waste can contain dangerous bacteria.
Composted human waste has to be completely broken down and cured for a long period before it can be used. In almost all cases it’s better to leave the composted and decomposed waste pile rather than spreading it in the yard or garden.
If you want to feel at home and you need a temporary restroom, the self-contained unit is the best choice. But if you are always on the go, the bag or bucket-style units will be easier to take along.
With the different types of portable camping toilets to choose from, you don’t have any more excuses why you hate camping or going on an adventure.
Choose the best type with which you are most comfortable. Buy the lightest and the most convenient one according to your travel needs. Enjoy your holidays and vacation with fewer worries.
If you are looking for a more permanent solution for a cabin or off-grid house, check out our choices for top composting toilets along with the best cover material to use with composting toilets.