December 15, 2016

How to pick out the best portable camping toilet for RV camping

Everything you need to make a decision on your portable camping toilet.

When you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go. This is as true while camping as it is any other time. In fact, with the lack of options that the great outdoors provides, it could be said it is even more important.

That is why when you go camping, you need to have the best portable camping toilet that you can, one that suits your needs.

I will be taking a look at your options and what you need to know when it comes to picking out your portable camping toilet. I will look at:

  • The different kinds of portable camping toilets
  • Accessories for your toilet that your must have while camping
  • How to set up and care for your portable toilet
  • Making your portable camping toilet

Kinds of Portable Camping Toilets

There are many factors you must look at when considering your portable camping toilet. Factors that are influenced by your personal preferences and the situation that you are camping in. I will break down what I view to be the most important things to consider.

Waste Storage System - How is the waste being stored in your toilet? This is a very important question to ask yourself. Not one to enjoy dealing with messy situations while going to the bathroom, I want to make sure that my waste is kept under wraps.

There are a couple of different storage methods that I found, including;

  • Water/Waste Tank - With a water based flush to make you feel right at home, this is a proven method of dealing with waste. It can get a little heavy as it fills up, but having a convenient spout for emptying will make cleanup a breeze. This can be messy if you don’t have an effective way to flush out the liquid waste.
  • Waste Bag - Your waste goes into a biodegradable bag for disposal at the end your trip. A chemical is then added to your was to solidify it, allowing for you to simply throw the bag in a trash bin when done. It can also be buried in the ground if need be. The most affordable of the portable toilets listed up front, but you will have to purchase bags for the life of the toilet.
  • Self Contained - Compost based unit that is large and completely self-contained. These are the most environmentally friendly, and expensive, toilets that you can use for camping. Feel good while you go to the bathroom, knowing your waste is taken care of.
  • Pit - Certain portable seats are designed to allow you to dig a pit below them for waste storage. This has the easiest clean up, just fill the pit when done. Also keep in mind that needs to be deep enough not to be a problem for the next campers. This is the worst when it comes to odor control, but is quite practical if switching sites frequently while backpacking.

Break Down Method - Your camping trip will decide the sort of toilet fits your needs. Are you camping at a site for a week, or planning on backpacking into the woods for an overnight stay?

I found these types of storage and transport methods for portable camping toilets;

  • Stand/Foldable - This is the primary method of the base for the disposable bag variety. They range in size and sturdiness, with some suited perfectly for backpacking and others are more elaborate for car camping. Even the highly portable foldable toilets contain a built-in blind that helps to shield you from fellow campers.
  • Water Tank - Bulky and in need of a cleaning station after the trip, these are better for helping reduce odor. This is due to the fully sealed, water tank storage system. You can find these in lighter varieties, but it cannot match the foldable/disposable bag based variety.
  • Bucket Shaped - Lighter than water tank, but not quite as portable as the foldable, these self-contained, waterless units offer portability, to an extent. The odor control is variable due to the open nature of the storage of your waste.
  • Full On Toilet - Some of the portable toilets are not very portable at all. This larger variety often offers you the greatest quality of bathroom experience while in the woods, but they are designed solely for car camping or site based camping.
  • Campsite - This is an obvious one, but research your campsite ahead of time to make sure you have a campground bathroom. If you are in a more remote camping area, these will not be available, so plan ahead.

Disposal Method - Being stuck out in the woods with a waste mess to clean up is not where you want to be. Make sure you are prepared for the type of toilet that you are bringing with you camping, and that your site has adequate facilities.

  • Biodegradable Bag - These can be buried at your campsite if needed, just be sure they are at least 6 inches under the ground. This is ideal for backpacking due to the portability options the seats offer and the easy disposal of waste.
  • Water Storage - You will need a specific area to clean these toilets, so make sure your campsite has one or you’ll be driving home with your waste. Easy to clean as they utilize chemicals in the tank. Make sure you have water to refill the flush tank during longer trips.
  • Chemical - If you have a self-contained chemical toilet, then you need to find a disposal area connected to the sewer system. This is due to the waste associated chemicals that are used. Plan ahead for using this toilet to make sure you are emptying it and cleaning it in an environmentally friendly way.
  • Dry storage/composting - You would be moving your waste with you, so make sure you have proper storage for the drive. Environmentally friendly, but not very practical unless you are car camping.

Accessories

Measuring the portability of a unit also has to include the different items that you need to bring along on your trip. How much comfort and privacy you like will factor into the items that you bring. Plan ahead to have what you need but here are a few things that I look at bringing on every trip.

  • Toilet Paper - Obviously! If you forget this, then your trip is already off to an interesting start. There are specific kinds of toilet paper that are designed to break down more quickly so you can use them camping.
  • Blind or Shelter - The range of cover is up to you with these shelters. There are full outhouse style tent shelters or simple rectangular blinds that offer slight protection. If you value privacy, make sure you look into finding the right set up to make you feel relaxed and comfortable while camping.
  • Bags - Most bag based portable camping toilets only come with one bag. Make sure that you purchase additional bags to supplement. You do not want to be trapped with one full bag and no other to replace it.
  • Air Freshener - It makes sense to have something to keep the area by the toilet fresh. Many sprays and candles allow you to mask the scent of your toilet area, but just make sure that you are making environmentally friendly choices. There are also drop in deodorizers and digesters that you can purchase.
  • Seat - If you have the capability to have a seat then you should go for it. Hard plastic or soft vinyl, whatever you prefer to help you feel at home.
  • Sanitizer - Soap and water are not always an option, so make sure to pack up some hand sanitizer for your trip. Compact and inclusive, this quick method will allow you to get your hands clean in the most remote of places.
  • Biodegradable Wipes - If you want to get your hands a little cleaner but are not by a water source, wipes are a good way to keep clean in remote places. These can also be used when cleaning up the camping and toilet area.
  • Gloves - Handy for tear down and clean up, a good pair of rubber, vinyl or nitrile gloves will allow you to clean up the mess without the worries of cross contamination.

Set Up and Clean Up Tips for your Portable Camping Toilet

Setting up your toilet

  • Select an area where the ground is level. That last thing you want is to fall over while going to to the bathroom, so make sure you select wisely. If there is no patch of flat land, then do you best to create one as to ensure a stable bathroom spot.
  • Create a safe distance when setting up, so if there is an odor you will be out of smelling range. You don’t want to move the toilet a bunch once you start using it, so make sure you select the proper area.
  • Make sure your battery is ready to go. Some flushing toilets have a battery operated flushing system, so make sure you have spare or fresh batteries with you for the trip. I recommend a reliable set of rechargeable batteries. They may cost more, but they always make up for cost with longevity.
  • Once you’ve selected the spot, make sure it conforms with your setup. You don’t need a pesky, low hanging tree branch to ruin the plans for your bathroom blind.
  • Set up your portable toilet and make sure you have all your necessary items nearby including;
  • Toilet Paper
  • Sanitizing lotion or gel
  • Cover for the toilet
  • Sawdust, if you make your toilet
  • Add a gelling agent to make sure that your waste is in a solid or gel state when not using a water tank portable toilet. It is much easier to deal with when disposal time comes.

Clean Up

  • Dispose of your toilet waste in the proper location. Chemical toilets need special disposal as the waste can contain chemicals such as formaldehyde, which is dangerous to dump in nature.
  • When buying a biodegradable waste bag, make sure to get it at least 6 inches underground to ensure proper breakdown.
  • Bring plastic bags for any wipes or trash that will be created during clean up.

Making your camping toilet

If you are the do-it-yourself kind of camper, then maybe you have decided that you want to make your toilet. This is a more affordable option, though if you don’t do it right, you can find yourself in a smelly situation.

I will look at what you need and how to make your camping toilet.

What you need:

  • 5-gallon bucket
  • Snap-on toilet seat that fits bucket
  • Sturdy plastic garbage bag that fits inside bucket
  • Sawdust stored in sealable garbage bag

Setting up your camping toilet

1. Select a proper position for the toilet. 100 yards downwind is recommended as this will have the same odor control as some of the more expensive, sealed varieties of the toilet. Unfortunately, the seal will not be as odor proof.

2. Put your sturdy garbage bag within the bucket and snap on the toilet seat to secure the bag in place.

3. Place a layer of sawdust, about 1/2 inch thick, at the bottom of the toilet. This is going to help with moisture control and odor absorption. You will be doing this after every use. Close the sawdust bag to prevent clumping or excess moisture from getting in the bag.​

4. When the bag is full, seal and replace. Make sure you bring enough bags if you are going to be camping for an extended duration of time.

The most basic way to go to the bathroom in the woods is to dig a pit and use that for waste. You will have no odor control and limited space, but it can work. Just make sure that you dig the pit at least 6 inches in the ground to ensure maximum decomposition.

After seeing the buying guide that I’ve put together, though, I think that you’ll realize a portable camping toilet is a way to go.

Camping Toilet Buying Guide

and Top 4 best portable camping toilet

Camco 41541 Portable Toilet

The Camco 41541 is a water tank based camping toilet that comes in a couple of different varieties including; a 2.6-gallon version and a premium version.

I will be looking at the 5.3-gallon standard version today.

Here are some stats for this toilet;

  • 11.5 lb when empty
  • 330 lb weight limit
  • Bellow type flush system
  • Fresh water flush

Pros

  • Does a good job of sealing in odors
  • Sturdy and stable on level ground
  • Large holding tank for waste

Cons

  • Waste can collect in holding tank when cleaning
  • Flush mechanism can stick

When using the Camco, make sure that you have some water in the bowl first to make for easy and clean flushing. This will eliminate any messes that could happen in a dry bowl. Close the lid before flushing to eliminate any unpleasant splash back.

Condensation can collect on the toilet seat, so make sure you have wipes for cleaning it before use. Do not flush the wipes down unless then are biodegradable.

The use of wipes will result in your holding tank filling more quickly. Toss them in the garbage instead.

Party saving 5.3 Gallon Portable Toilet

The Party saving 5.3-gallon portable toilet comes in a taupe color to prevent staining and is available in a 2.6-gallon variety as well.

It is a water based tank toilet and more affordable than the Camco.

Here are the stats on this portable toilet:

  • 330 lb weight limit
  • Freshwater flush
  • Pump flush system
  • Polyurethane construction

Pros

  • Self contained to eliminate odors
  • Sturdy and stable
  • Good color for the woods

Cons

  • Shallow bowl can lead to splashing and comfort issues
  • Seal is not as secure as other models, leading to the possibility of leakage

Overall, the Party saving portable toilet is an affordable camping toilet that allows you to contain the odor of your waste while camping. It is sturdy and has a large holding tank, meaning you will not have to empty it often.

This is a plus as dealing with the holding tank of any portable toilet can be a messy affair. The shallow bowl can be an issue, especially for men, but having the luxury of a flush toilet in nature is a plus.

Best Choice Products Dual Spray Portable Toilet, 5 gallon

The Best Choice 5-gallon camping toilet boasts duel jet flushing power to keep it clean while out in the woods.

It has a higher weight capacity than the other toilets on this list, though the holding tank is slightly smaller.

Here are the stats:

  • 400 lb weight limit
  • 10 lbs while empty
  • “Duel Jet” flush system
  • 50 flushes per 3-gallon water tank fill

Pros

  • Lightweight for transport
  • Sturdy and stable
  • Duel jet flush feature keeps bowl clean

Cons

  • The holding tank can leak
  • Seat is somewhat flimsy

The Best Choice portable toilet is ideal for trips where your stay might be a little longer. Though the holding tank is slightly smaller than the others, the flush feature is water efficient and keeps your bowl clean.

The main issue with this toilet is that the seal on the holding tank can leak, leaving you to deal with a mess.

Cleanwaste Portable Toilet

A bag based portable toilet, the Cleanwaste is lightweight and does not deal with a water based flushing system.

This makes it ideal for transport or if you plan on doing some backpacking.

Here are the stats:

  • Weighs 8lbs
  • 500 lb weight limit
  • Waste bag based disposal system
  • Comes with one waste bag

Pros

  • Lightweight and sturdy
  • Bagged wasted is not as messy as tank based
  • Good odor control

Cons

  • Low to the ground
  • Legs can be difficult to unfold and fold

To be honest, this is the toilet that I would recommend. It is easy to transport and lightweight. It also does not take up a lot of space when loading. The disposable bag idea is great for waste as it lets you get out of dealing with the dumping that you must with a water tank based toilet.


Accessories for your Toilet

Now that we have taken a look at some of your toilet options on the market, it is only natural that we should take a look at some of the items that you will need while using these toilets.

No toilet is an island, so make sure that you have all the necessary items to keep you toilet clean and odor free.

Camco 41501 TST Blue Enzyme 4 oz Toilet Chemical Single Bottles

When you are camping and using a portable toilet, the odor is something to consider.

You consider it when picking out where to set up your toilet, but sometimes it is still an issue.

Chemical additives can eliminate the odor and aid in the breakdown process of waste.

Here are the stats:

  • Bacteria/enzyme mixture for waste digestion, no harsh chemicals
  • Biodegradable with a long shelf life
  • 4 oz. should treat 40 gallons

Pros

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Effective odor control on small amounts
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Does not hold down odor as well on large amounts

Camco Blue Enzyme works well to control odor and digest small amounts of waste. Though it is advertised for larger amounts, it seems to lose effectiveness as your waste amount increases.

You also need to take into account the amount of time you will be storing the waste. If you are only storing it for a short time, Blue Enzyme works well to keep the odor down and will help it break down after you dispose of it.

Septic Tank Safe Toilet Tissue

When you are camping and using a portable toilet, tissue that breaks down easily is a must. If you have a tissue that breaks down fast and easy, it will save you space in you portable toilet’s holding tank and allow for easier cleaning.

Here are the stats:

  • Dissolves within minutes
  • 100% biodegradable
  • two-ply

Pros

  • Breaks down quickly
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Soft

Cons

  • Leaves behind paper residue when using

The septic tank safe toilet tissue is the only way to go when camping. It is going to be thinner than standard toilet tissue, as it has to be to break down properly.

I would rather have it break down in the proper manner than deal with a clog associated with thick toilet tissue.

This is especially true when dealing with portable toilets that are not going to have the same ability to flush as a permanent toilet.

Walex BIO-11530 Bio-Pak Natural Holding Tank Deodorizer and Waste Digester

Ideally, when camping, you want something that packs well and is not messy to deal with while outdoors. With your portable toilet, this is even more important.

Walex Bio-Pak Natural holding tank deodorizer and waste digester give you just those options.

Here are the stats:

  • Eliminates need for septic safe toilet paper
  • Pre-packaged portion control
  • Digests and deodorizes waste

Pros

  • Pre portioned pack is easy to deal with
  • Digests waste very well
  • Works quickly

Cons

  • Does not always deodorize
  • Smell is produces can be unpleasant

The Walex Bio-Pak does well on the digestion front. It works quickly and effectively to eliminate odor and start breaking down waste. That being said, it also can produce an unpleasant odor or not work effectively to eliminate odor.

Everyone is sensitive to odor in a different manner, and the tolerance for odor varies by person. What it will do is make sure you waste breaks down, while eliminating the harsh chemical smell of formaldehyde based digesters.


Conclusion

When selecting portable toilet products that you’re going to use when camping, there are certain things that must be considered.

Space efficiency, effectiveness, and environmental impact are things that I look at when packing. The above guide to portable camping toilets should give you a good perspective on your options related to portable toilets.

A few key ideas to keep in mind;

  • Research where you are going to camping to make sure you will have the proper disposal area for your waste. This is especially true if you are using a chemical based, non-biodegradable product.
  • Set up your portable toilet in the right area. Give yourself enough space to have privacy and avoid odors. It is recommended to set up 100 yards away and downwind.
  • Bring all the things you would need for camping. These items are specialty items that you will not be able to pick up at the local convenience store. Remember to bring;
  • Septic safe toilet paper
  • Deodorizer and digestor
  • Extra bags, if needed for a bag based waste system
  • Sawdust for a pail or make your toilet situation
  • If you have a water-based tank toilet, make sure you are going to have access to water to refill it. The last thing you want is a fantastic toilet with no water to flush.
  • As always, clean up! Go biodegradable if you can. If you can’t, then bring bags or the necessary items to clean up and bring out any waste, you create. If you love nature, you’ll keep it clean

I hope this guide helped you in your decision when selecting the items you need for a bathroom on the go. Happy camping!

Alison Lawrence

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