Ask any non-camper why they don’t fancy a tent or campervan and the answer will either be something to do with the weather or it’ll be worries about needing the loo.
So…here are the best camping toilet options – tried and tested!
Latest update: October 2020
Why do we need a camping loo?
One weekend’s camping gave us three good reasons for having our own camping toilet.
- A basic campsite without facilities.
- A campsite pitch too far away from the toilet block to make a night-time trip all that convenient
- Waking up too desperate for a wee to put some clothes on and dash to the toilets
- Wild camping close to a road where it wouldn’t have been possible to use a bush discreetly
- And you can add to the list a few other eventualities such as busy loos in peak season and nasty loos at festivals.
Of course, it’s always better to try to use the facilities provided because, unless you’re carrying a portable composting loo, all other options aren’t environmentally ideal.
Going to the toilet the natural way!
Going to the toilet in the wild requires some work.
You need to be 50 metres away from water and you need to dig a hole at least 15cm deep (get a cheap trowel with bag like our favourite multi-use Redcamp). You must cover your doings completely with earth and must put toilet roll or wipes into your rubbish bag.
You can read more about this subject in the Mountaineering Council of Scotland’s guide.
If you need something more like a real toilet, read on…
Portable perhaps, but too bulky for most campers. These are for caravans, motorhomes and larger campervans without built-in toilets. Some even flush.
UPDATE: Never have so many people wanted a camping toilet. I’m afraid you’ll find many of these chemical toilets go out of stock very quickly. They do reappear from time to time, but consider one of the simpler options in the next section.
The Thetford Porta Potti Qube has a pump flush and a waste collecting tank at the bottom that you can empty in a loo. A bulky one, but the same height as a regular toilet. Around £60 and weighs 4kg.
The smallest Thetfords are neat little loos with a choice of 10, 12 or 15l capacities from around £70. The smallest (the 335) measures H31.3 x W34.2 x D38.2cm. Chances are this is out of stock, as they’re VERY popular. Try the Enders toilet instead or go for another size (the 145 is small too).
We have a £20 Ducksback bag for our 335 loo (fits the other small versions too). Thetford do their own, but why have Porta Potti emblazoned on something designed to hide the contents!
Similar to the Thetford, the Dometic toilet has a large pipe for easy emptying and a bellows flush. A full-size seat, seals to keep odours in and a BIG 19-litre capacity.
There are also two other sizes, including a very compact 972 model for around £110.
We really rate Dometic fridges, so one to trust!
At home, we use recycled and plastic-free loo roll, but the important thing for camping toilets is dissolvability!
Thick, quilted papers will clog up your system. Go for a fast-dissolving one. The best we’ve found are the Elsan Blue rolls. They’re white, by the way!
The simple toilet bucket option
Put some water in these and they’re good to go! Just empty into a toilet or camping waste point.
There are bin liners you could use, but most of these aren’t biodegradable, so you’ll be adding to the world’s mountains of plastic waste. If you must use bags, make sure they’re properly BIOdegradable (like Green Elephant bags).
Some people suggest using cat litter instead of a liquid. The problem is that it can’t be composted or flushed, so will just have to be put in a rubbish bin. The alternative is an absorbent powder that soaks up fluids and instantly turns to gel. Again, though, it’s headed for a bin.
It’s better to half-fill the bucket with water and then you can dispose of the whole lot down a normal loo or motorhome waste point when you reach civilisation.
For the heavy sitters! This is the Ridgemonkey XL bucket with an included toilet seat adaptor and five biodegradable bags.
It’ll hold a person up to 160kg and measures 44 x 35 x 31cm. Around £50.
Just be careful when you order. Ridgemonkey do sell the toilet and the seat separately as well. You need both (which is where this link should take you). Try Ebay for your Cozee if they’re out of stock – good prices and decent returns too.
A plain plastic bucket with a lid could be all you need. Hovering required, but the cheapest option if you have space. This one comes in a discreet black as well and holds 14l. Around £7.
For absolute watertightness, go for a sealable lid. We’d say 10 to 15 litres is the ideal size as you don’t want to be carrying stuff around for a lot of days before emptying!
Green Elephant make the best biodegradable toilet bags, and you can use them with any other folding loo or bucket.
Green Elephant’s own folding toilet is often unavailable, so an almost identical (and cheaper) option is the Andes portable loo. This lightweight camping loo folds flat and costs around £18. Plenty of lookalikes out there too.
For porta-loos, you’ll need a toilet fluid
These fluids are designed to stop your toilet smelling and to make it easier to clean them out. Don’t be tempted to buy one of the strong chemical based brands.
Not only is it better not to be washing formaldehyde into the sewage system, many campsites with septic tanks don’t allow these sorts of chemicals.
These three recommendations work and are much kinder to the environment. Add a little to water in a bucket toilet too…you’ll find it easier to clean.
Bags for folding camping toilets
Better not to use a plastic bag at all, but if you must…
Many camping toilet bags (and the Travel John bags) have a sort of crystal-filled ‘nappy’ inside to soak up liquid. We think this is important because a plastic bag filled with sloshiness sounds like a disaster waiting to happen and isn’t pleasant for waste collectors.
Make sure the bags (or system) you buy are properly biodegradable and preferably home compostable.
The bags we prefer are the Green Elephant biodegradable ones. They’re made from plant-derived resin, vegetable oils, and compostable polymer and have the advantage of a stated length of time – 45 days to decompose (a year’s shelf life, though).
These Bog in a Bag refills are described as “degradable bags”…we haven’t been able to find out what Bog in a Bag mean by that exactly, but degradable is VERY different from biodegradable.
Manufacturers really need to start being honest about the length of time it takes for the plastic to break down.
Bags and portable urinals
There are some bags you can simply wee into without the need for a structure at all. Again, apart from one we’ve found, these aren’t biodegradable plastic so are only for emergencies.
Weeing for women
When a bush or tree allows for a discreet wee, we women need a little help. Many people swear by the Shewee-type devices, which allow women to wee like a man…almost.
The reusable Shewee, comes with an option of an extension pipe (it really does!).
Lots of women like the Pitch and Trek urinal because its tapered end will fit into any size of bottle for decanting if needs be! I found it a bit too flexible for a tight seal, however. I refer you back to my fast-weeing issue! Now forget you ever read that.
And some extras you might need
The glorious Happy Going. A waterproof toilet roll cover with disco lights! We take it along because it makes us smile as well as being useful (and only £5).
We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes.
Biodegradable doesn’t mean you should ever chuck them in the wild. They take a long time to disappear and are just litter meanwhile. Take them home!
Reusable is better, but these are good in an emergency.
Make your own pop-up private loo space with one of these toilet tents – or nip along to our article on tarps and see how easy it is to make a more versatile shelter.
Practise pitching – you don’t want to leave it till you’re desperate! Great with camping showers as well. If you do want to use it as a shower, choose one with a removable base.
We’re usually wary of Chinese-branded items that often have LONG despatch times and obviously fake reviews. Of course, most of the manufacturers we recognise are making their goods in China too. So, if we come across something that seems reasonable and will arrive before the camping season ends, we’ll have a look at it for you.
This shower and toilet tent is around £40 and roomier than most. Folds away nicely, has fibreglass poles and UV/privacy material. Decent delivery time too.
Top choice – a BIG Lumaland utility tent
We really love the Lumaland gazebo, which we use as a campervan awning and in the garden at home. So, good to see there’s another goody from this German brand.
The pole system is ready installed, so you just click the hinges into place. We like the removable floor and the neat storage inside.
It’s roomy at 155 x 155 x 22ocm, which gives you lots of options for use beyond toilets and showers. Around £80.