How To Choose The Best Portable Toilets for Camping

How To Choose The Best Portable Toilets for Camping

If you love to spend time in the outdoors and enjoy going camping or adventuring in your RV, you’re going to need to find the best portable toilets for camping. Especially if you camp on public lands or don’t fancy using the public facilities in the middle of the night in different camping areas. Having your own portable toilet will make your trips so much more enjoyable.

That’s why our team has set to work and tested a wide range of portable camping toilets. Now, the options for portable toilets are as varied as the people who use them. So, the one that is right for you will depend on your personal preference.

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Before we look at the best portable camping toilets that the team has tested, let’s discover the different types of portable toilets that are available. This will help you decide which ones will fit your purpose exactly.

If you already know what type of portable toilet you want, you can skip straight to the comparison table.

Types of Portable Camping Toilets

Who would have thought that there’s so much choice in portable toilets and that there are even numerous different types of camper toilets? 

Bucket Toilets

A bucket toilet is one of the very basic types of portable toilets for camping and is somewhat similar to a portable potty. Essentially, it’s just a bucket with a plastic toilet seat and a fitted lid that can be closed. This is also the cheapest option if you just want an emergency toilet to use in the middle of the night or on a short camping trip.

Ideally, you want to place some type of liner inside the bucket so that it’s easier to clean. It’s also a good idea to carry some sawdust or cat litter to throw into the bucket in order to absorb the liquid and reduce the odor. Lime also works well for this.

The main disadvantage to a bucket toilet is that it will need to be emptied fairly regularly of human waste. Otherwise, the smell will become just a little overwhelming. But, it’s still a great option and better than a pit toilet.

ProsCons
Cheap and effective
Easy to use
Easy to store and clean
Can become smelly very quickly
Has to be emptied frequently

Folding Seat Portable Camping Toilets

Folding seat portable camping toilets are also inexpensive and fairly basic. However, with these, you have to use a plastic bag to catch the waste. This is not a particularly environmentally friendly option but it’s cheap and easy and a great compact toilet when you have limited space.

ProsCons
Cheap and easy
Lightweight and easy to carry and store
You have to dispose of waste bags often to keep the odor at bay
There’s really no easy way to combat the smell

Cassette Portable Toilets For Camping

A cassette toilet comes in two parts and normally uses some chemicals to help break down the waste and keep the odor to a manageable level. 

It’s a small portable toilet that works somewhat like a normal toilet at home. You just flush it and the waste goes down into a tank and is treated with the added chemical that is either in liquid or gel form. When it’s time to empty, the waste tank separates from the top and you can dispose of the contents at a pump-out station or dump station.

ProsCons
Low odorWaste is kept in the holding tank
Has a latch for easy sealing
You have to use chemicals to help break down the waste
Chemicals can be costly
You need to find a dump station to empty it

Flushable Portable Camping Toilets

These portable camping toilets are similar to cassette toilets except that they’re generally larger and not quite as portable. You’ll also find that there are wet flushing toilets and dry flush toilets.

With the wet flush toilets, you need to fill the water tank with fresh water and this is used to flush the waste down into the holding tank. You empty these toilets the same way as cassette toilets except there’s normally an enclosed disposal spout to make it easier.

On the other hand, dry flush toilets work very differently. There’s a bag inside the bowl and a flushing mechanism that is operated by a battery. When you “flush” the toilet, the mechanism twists and completely seals the bag and deposits it into the holding tank. At the same time, a new clean bag is deposited into the bowl ready for your next visit.

When it comes time to empty a dry flush toilet, all you have to dispose of is completely sealed bags of waste. These are ideal RV toilets but can also be installed in a campervan.

ProsCons
Lightweight and portable
Comfortable to use
Easy to empty and clean
Wet flush toilets have to be constantly filled with clean water
Dry flush toilets are quite expensive to buy
Dry flush toilets also use a lot of bags
The dry flush system is complicated and can break

Composting Toilets

Composting toilets are the ultimate when it comes to environmental friendliness. However, they do come with a hefty price tag and aren’t quite as portable as the other types of portable camping toilets.

A composting toilet has two holding tanks. One tank holds the liquid waste and the other tank holds the solid waste. This means that the solid waste remains dry and will compost. Especially if you add something to help break down the waste.

The benefit of these types of toilets is that there’s no smell because the liquid and solid wastes never combine. Additionally, composting toilets don’t have to be emptied nearly as often as other types of toilets. 

ProsCons
Odor free
Environmentally friendly
Very comfortable to use
Don’t have to be emptied very often
Expensive to purchase
You do have to empty the liquid tank often
Not as portable as other types of toilets

Now that you understand all the different types of portable toilets, let’s look at the top units that our team has tested and recommends. I’ve arranged these by price with the most inexpensive and basic units first and the top-of-the-range models towards the end.

Our Top 10 Best Portable Toilets For Camping

#1 – Camco Bucket Toilet

Camco bucket portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 13.4” x 16.1” x 13.8”
  • Weight – 4 pounds
  • Capacity – 5 gallons

This is a basic bucket toilet that is perfect for taking on camping trips. It comes with a seat and a lid that snaps securely onto the rim of the bucket. The bucket is made from durable UV-resistant polypropylene so it won’t fade and crack like other types of plastics.

There’s a handy carry handle so it’s easy to transport and lightweight to carry. The toilet also comes with 3 bag liners that help to make emptying the bucket relatively easy. Plus, you can purchase additional waste bags when you run out.

Some people suggest using cat litter in this type of backup toilet in order to help absorb some of the odor.

ProsCons
Inexpensive
Easy to clean
Durable & lightweight
Needs to be emptied often
Have to purchase waste bags which can become expensive

#2 – Reliance Products Hassock Portable Camp Toilet

Hassock portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 13” x 10” x 11”
  • Weight – 2 pounds
  • Capacity – 4 gallons

The Reliance Luggable Loo is another bucket toilet that is slightly smaller and also very basic. However, for a weekend away, it might be all that you need. It comes with a comfortable and contoured seat and a closable lid.

What makes this unit different is that it comes with a removable inner bucket so that you don’t have to use plastic bags if you don’t want to. Just take the inner bucket out (it has a carry handle), empty it and wash it out.

This would also be ideal for those middle-of-the-night toileting needs if you don’t feel like leaving your van or RV in the dark to use the campground bathrooms.

ProsCons
Small & portable
Easy to empty & clean
Sealable lid
Requires frequent emptying
Hard to eliminate odor

#3 – Stansport Portable Toilet For Camping

Stansport portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 14” x 14” x 14”
  • Weight – 2 pounds

This is a slightly more upmarket bucket toilet with a full-size seat, just like a regular toilet, and a fold-down lid. It has built-in handles to make it easy to carry and a toilet paper holder. On top of that, this compact toilet weighs just 2 pounds.

Also included is one disposable sanitary bag that you place inside the bucket. This makes cleaning up relatively easy. However, you’ll have to purchase additional sanitary disposable waste bags separately. 

ProsCons
Small & portable
Full-size toilet seat & lid
In-built carry handles
Has a toilet paper holder
Only includes one waste bag so you have to buy more separately

#4 – Cleanwaste Portable Camping Toilet

Cleanwaste portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 19” x 4” x 15”
  • Weight – 7 pounds

This basic portable travel toilet is a little different in that it doesn’t have a portable camping bucket. It’s basically just a folding toilet seat and lid with feet. It comes with a GO anywhere toilet kit and a carry handle.

The advantage of this type of portable toilet is that it will take up very little space when it’s folded up because it’s basically just a seat. This makes it ideal for campers who just have a tent or van and need to conserve space.

So, what is a GO anywhere toilet kit, I hear you ask. Well, it’s actually quite ingenious. The kit contains special waste collection bags that are pre-loaded with Poo Powder. This is a unique product that solidifies liquid waste and helps to control odor. Plus, there’s also the addition of a decay catalyst that helps to break down solid waste.

Even more impressive is that you also get a disposal bag with a zip-loc top. Now I don’t know about you, but for me, emptying a waste bucket is not on my list of most enjoyable tasks. However, this clever kit makes the job just that little bit easier and not as daunting.

Our team also likes the fact that this can be disposed of in the trash and even comes with a hand sanitizer and some toilet paper. The only disadvantage to this portable toilet system is that you’ll need to continually buy additional GO anywhere toilet kits. These are available in a 12-pack and a 50-pack.

Here’s a video that shows what’s in the kit:

And, here’s another video that shows you the foldable toilet and how to set it up:

Pretty ingenious, right? The most basic of composting toilets but very effective.

ProsCons
Small & portable
Sanitary waste disposal
Less odor
Easy to dispose of waste
You have to continually purchase waste disposal kits whenever you run out.

#5 – SereneLife Portable Toilet For Camping

Serenelife portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 16.5” x 14.6” x 16.9”
  • Weight – 11.2 pounds
  • Capacity – 5.3 gallons

Our team thinks that this is an excellent value-for-money cassette toilet that is both compact and portable. It has a large 5.3-gallon waste tank that is extremely easy to empty because it has a rotating emptying spout.

This means all you have to do is detach the waste tank from the top unit, carry it to the dump station, pull out the spout and empty it. This limits splashing and any resultant mess.

There’s also a water tank that you fill with fresh water so that you can flush when you’re done using the convenient flush nozzle on the side of the toilet seat. Best of all, there’s an indicator in the waste tank that lets you know when it’s time to empty it.

Don’t tell the team, but the feature I like the best is that the waste tank has a sealing waste valve that helps to contain any nasty odors. Better still, throw a Bio-Pak deodorizer into the waste tank before use to help break down the waste and further eliminate odors.

ProsCons
Convenience of a good size toilet
Fairly easy to empty
Flushable
No mess spout for emptying
Leak-free odor control
Can be difficult to get all the waste out of the tank
Pump requires lubrication
Ensure the lid is closed when flushing and when you release the pressure to avoid splash-back

#6 – Camco Standard Portable Toilet For Camping

Camco standard portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 16.25” x 14” x 12.38”
  • Weight – 13.1 pounds
  • Capacity – 5.3 gallons

The Camco portable toilet is a good value and popular cassette toilet with a large detachable waste tank. It has a locking lid to stop spills while you’re traveling. This makes it ideal for use in an RV or even a van.

There’s also a sliding valve on the holding tanks that helps to lock in odors. It’s recommended that you use toilet treatment drop-ins like these ones also made by Camco. These essentially help to break down waste and eliminate odors.

This portable toilet is also flushable and has a water tank that you need to fill manually. This makes it easy to ensure that the bowl is kept clean and fresh in between uses. 

To empty the waste tank, all you have to do is open the cap at the back of the tank and empty it out. 

ProsCons
Easy to empty
Locking lid to prevent spills
Sliding valve to lock in odors
Comes with a limited number of drop-ins
Does not have a gauge on the waste tank
Make sure you release the pressure with the lid down to avoid splash back

#7 – Camco Premium Portable Toilet

Camco premium portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 16” x 16” x 12”
  • Weight – 11 pounds
  • Capacity – 5.3 gallons

If you really like the Camco portable cassette toilet, you’re better off spending a few dollars more and getting this premium model. It has a larger size seat than the standard model, making it more comfortable and easier to use. In fact, this is one of the better toilet seats that we’ve found.

The lid is latchable which means no messy spills while you’re on the move. Plus, the flush mechanism uses a piston to make it easier to flush. In comparison to the standard model, there are three water jets that can really give the bowl a good clean. 

The waste tank also has a sliding gate valve so that you can dispense the waste into it and keep the odors contained. Unlike the standard model, the waste tank on this premium model has a swivel spout that makes emptying the tank even easier.

For the small difference in price, the team definitely thinks that this premium version gives you a much better deal.

ProsCons
Nice rounded design
Larger seat and bowl
Easy disposal spout
Made from ABS resin
Piston pump with 3 outlets
It might be difficult to empty the holding tank completely
Be sure to only release the pressure with the lid down to avoid splash back

#8 – Thetford Camping Porta Potty 365 Portable Toilet

Thetford porta potty

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 17.13” x 16.6” x 15.36”
  • Weight – 8.82 pounds
  • Capacity – 5.5 gallons

The Thetford porta potti is a highly recommended and popular portable cassette style toilet that many people enjoy using. It’s based on the original Porta Potty toilets (Porta Potti) that have been around for years. It’s one of the better comfort seat toilets that you’re going to find.

This porta potti toilet has a piston flushing system and a sealing valve to keep odors in the waste tank. To help keep the toilet even fresher, Thetford also makes a deodorizer and treatment – Thetford 10801 Aqua-Kem Original. This product even helps to break down toilet paper.

On the porta potty, the top separates easily from the waste tank and this has a rotating pouring spout to make it easy to empty. There are also level indicators on both the fresh water tank and the waste tank so that you know when you need to add more fresh water or when the tank needs emptying.

Apart from this large 5.5-gallon porta potty model, you’ll also find the porta potty in both 3.2-gallon and 2.6-gallon models. This gives you a better choice when selecting the right portable toilet, especially if you only need one with a small waste tank.

ProsCons
Clean, ergonomic design
Easy to empty
Odor free
Low maintenance
Holding tank can get heavy when allowed to fill up
Water may leak from the cap on the freshwater tank

#9 – Laveo Dry Flush Portable Toilet

Laveo portable toilet

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 20” x 16” x 18”
  • Weight 27 pounds

Although this portable toilet requires a significant investment, it’s waterless and is extremely easy to clean. That’s a big plus in my books. Plus, it’s completely odor free. 

Another benefit of this unit is that it’s a full-size regular toilet but is still portable. This means that it’s one of the better comfort seat toilets that you’re going to find.

You can even purchase a carrying harness for it to make it easier to carry around. Plus, there’s a mounting kit that you can buy separately. 

So, how does it work? Firstly, the unit works using a battery. Inside the actual toilet, there’s a round bucket that sits on a sort of turntable. This is lined with a plastic garbage bag.

In addition, you’ll receive 2 waste cartridges and these are placed over the rim under the seat with the bag going down in the bucket below. After you flush, the bag inside the toilet bowl twists (4 times) and the waste is completely sealed inside. 

Here’s a short video that shows you exactly how it works.

According to the manufacturer, each cartridge will hold around 15 solid flushes and this can be increased to 28 flushes if you use the Pee Powder which is included. The unit will indicate when the cartridge needs to be changed.

To empty the toilet, all you have to do is lift the rim of the cartridge, take out the plastic bag with the sealed waste bags in it, seal the bag and throw it in the trash. Nothing could be simpler or more mess free.

ProsCons
Dry flushing system
Full-size toilet
Odor-less
Mess-free
Easy to clean
Long battery life
No leakage
The battery powered flush button is super-sensitive and if accidentally pushed will waste an inner bag
You have to continually buy new cartridges and these can be pricey
Not ideal as a luggable loo

#10 – Nature’s Head Composting Portable Toilet

Nature's head portable toilet - the ultimate of the best portable toilets

Basic Features:

  • Dimensions – 20.98” x 19.02” x 20.98”
  • Weight – 28 pounds

This would have to be the ultimate in portable flushable toilets as it is completely odorless, requires virtually no maintenance and only needs to be emptied every 4 to 6 weeks if two people are using it full time. And, emptying it only takes 5 minutes. In appearance, it’s probably the closest you’re going to get to a traditional toilet.

However, all this convenience does come with a higher price tag. Plus, the toilet is fairly heavy so it is not totally portable like the other toilets. This would be more suited as a permanent toilet in an RV, a tiny home or some other building where there are no services available.

This toilet has two separate sections so that it separates the liquid from the solid waste. The liquid waste goes into a bucket that you can empty and the solid waste goes into the composting chamber down below. 

This chamber has an agitator that you can rotate with a lever on the outside of the unit. So, it’s similar to a normal compost tumbler that you use for your veggie scraps and grass clippings. But, you have to add coco coir to aid in the composting process.

Here’s a video that explains exactly how the composting toilet works.

ProsCons
Composting toilet
Liquid & solid waste is separated
Odorless
Maintenance-free
Easy to empty
Easy to clean
No need to continually buy waste disposal bags
Not truly portable
Reasonably heavy unit
Composting does not work well in really cold weather
Requires power to run the exhaust fan
You have to add coco coir to the composting chamber

Quick Comparison Table

Here’s a comparison table that shows all the important features side-by-side to make your buying decision easier.

portable toilet comparison table

How to Choose the Best Camping Toilet For Your Needs

When it comes time to make a decision on the best camping toilets that would suit your needs, you want to take a close look at the most important features of each one as this will make your choice easier.

Price

One of the first things you want to consider is how much you’re willing to spend on a portable toilet. While there are plenty of inexpensive options, some of the more advanced options can set you back anywhere from $100 to over $1000.

Maintenance Cost

As well as the initial purchase price of the portable toilet, you also want to consider the maintenance costs. Will you constantly have to buy replacement bags or chemicals to keep your toilet functioning as it should?

Comfort Level

Another feature that you want to think about is how comfortable the toilet is to use. An acceptable comfort level will vary from person to person.

How Often You Need To Empty The Toilet

You also want to consider how often you have to empty the toilet. If you don’t relish the idea of emptying the toilet after every use, then stay away from the bucket toilets as these do require frequent emptying if you want to keep the odor at bay.

In this instance, you’re far better off with a cassette or flushable toilet that requires less frequent emptying. Then, of course, there are the composting and dry flush toilets that can be left for even longer.

The Size Of The Toilet

You also want to ensure that the size of the portable toilet that you choose is just right for your needs. This will involve working out your available storage space and where the toilet will be placed when in use. You also want to check how large you need the seat to be so that it’s comfortable enough.

For more detailed information on how to keep your portable nice and clean, you might want to check out this article:

How To Keep Your Portable Camping Toilet Clean And Sanitary

Frequently Asked Questions

How often do I need to empty the waste tank on a portable toilet?

This will depend entirely on the size of the tank, the number of people using the toilet and for how long the toilet is being used. As a general guide, it’s best to empty the waste tank when it’s around two-thirds full.

How do I maintain and clean a portable toilet?

Portable toilets should be cleaned regularly to ensure that they are hygienic and safe to use. This involves emptying the waste tank, refilling the water tank and sanitizing the bowl and other surfaces. 

What are the environmental implications of using a portable toilet?

Portable toilets are designed to minimize environmental impact by using biodegradable chemicals and minimizing water usage. Proper disposal of waste is also critical to avoid contamination and pollution.

Can a portable toilet be used indoors?

Yes, it’s fine to use a portable toilet indoors. You just need to ensure that there’s adequate ventilation and that the toilet will easily fit into the space. Make sure that you follow the maintenance instructions that come with the toilet to ensure safe usage.

Final Thoughts

As there are so many different options for portable camping toilets, it’s not possible to pick the absolute best one because this will depend on your particular needs. While some people will be happy with just a bucket or folding toilet, others will sway more toward one that has better functionality and requires less emptying.

Personally, I would choose a portable toilet solution that is the absolute easiest to clean and has the least possible mess factor. At the lower end of the scale, I would probably opt for the Cleanwaste Portable folding seat toilet or the Laveo Dry Flush Portable Toilet at the higher price point.