When you just have to….portable camping toilets

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!

First, though, why would you even need a portable toilet? Well, this weekend’s camping gave us three examples.

  1. A campsite pitch too far away from the toilet block to make a night-time trip all that convenient
  2. Waking up too desperate for a wee to put some clothes on and dash to the toilets
  3. Wild camping close to a road where it wouldn’t have been possible to use a bush discreetly
  4. 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 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 folding trowel). 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 use one of the bags we mention below, you’ll be adding to the world’s mountains of plastic waste (unless you go for a biodegradable bag…read on). Nevertheless, in an emergency, here’s what we recommend.

Portable toilets

Portable perhaps, but too bulky for most campers. These are for caravans, motorhomes and larger campervans without built-in toilets. Some even flush.

The Kampa Khazi is rebranded Fineway and Sunncamp. All have a removable bucket and a neat holder for your loo roll. Around £24.

Fineway portable toilet

The Fineway portable toilet is essentially a bucket with a seat around it. Easy to empty and very lightweight. It’ll need cleaning out, of course. Also called the Kampa Khazi and the Sunncamp Lulu. A cheap option at £18-ish.

Branq portable camping toilet

Branq’s portable camping toilet is a one-piece bucket with a seat attached. Comes in a 15l and 22l option. Again, simple and made just to empty into a regular toilet.

Thetford Porta Potti Qbe camping toilet

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.

Dometic camping toilet

Similar to the Thetford (though cheaper), the Dometic toilet has a large pipe for easy emptying and a bellows flush. We like their fridges!

The bucket option

Collapsible bucket with lid

Outwell’s collapsible bucket with lid could be a cheap and space-saving option. You’ll need to hover, though, and beware pressing down on the edge or you could end up with a collapsed mess.

bucket with lid for camping toilet

A plain plastic bucket with a lid could be all you need. Hovering required, but the cheapest option if you have space.

Folding toilets

bog in a bag camping toilet

The Bog in a Bag camping toilet has to be the neatest for storing. It’s a stool with a cover that removes to reveal a hole. Fit a bag over the top and you have a toilet. It’s not a large hole, so some positioning is required. Also see our advice on bags in the next section.

The Bivvy Loo can hold a 23-stone person without collapsing (but don’t blame us if there’s a nasty accident!). Folds up and down in a second and has sachets of powder to solidify your liquids. A biodegradable bag goes inside. A lid would be good, so we’d still prefer a bucket and lid if you’re happy to squat.

Popaloo camping toilet

Not really a folding toilet because you have to construct this one from a flatpack. The Popaloo is probably only for campers who’ll set it up in an awning or toilet tent. Takes biodegradable bags.

Bags for folding camping toilets

Disposa John toilet bagsThe folding toilets above all need bags. These, and the Disposa 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 biodegradable and preferably compostable.

There’s nothing to stop you using any biodegradable bag, of course but you’ll want to check it for robustness.

If you’re choosing a folding toilet that needs a bag, our recommendation would be to buy biodegradable bags plus the paper-based Peebol or Travel John bags described below. Tip the powder from the Peebol or Travel John into the bio bag and you’ve made yourself a degradable, liquid-catching loo.

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.

Peebol toiletThe Peebol is a smallish bag with a cardboard rim designed so that women can hold it against their bodies to create a standing toilet. Men, of course, have an advantage here. It works well as the powder inside immediately absorbs the liquid. There’s a knack to positioning it and to holding the cardboard so that you get a tight ‘seal’! Best done carefully over something that can catch spills, just in case.

Travel JohnTravel john urinals make bags with a special plastic top to fit to the body. Very similar to the Peebol, they contain something to soak up the liquid. There are Travel Janes, Johns, Family and Adventure options but they’re all pretty much the same. They also do a travel sickness bag.

We’re delighted to report that Travel John now make a paper version of their portable toilet bags – they use the same absorbent stuff inside and won’t leak. Now our preferred option for simplicity and plastic-free relief. They’re not quite available yet, but we’ll let you know as soon as you can buy them.

Green Elephant toilet bags hold 30 litres (oh my goodness!) and are made from plant-derived resin, vegetable oils and compostable polymers. The manufacturers suggest you bury them and let them decompose. However, breaking down a bag does take time and I’d suggest you don’t leave them out in the countryside unless you can bury them deep and a long way from where anyone (or animals) might find them. Take them home and put them in your own compost pile – and if that sounds too yukky to you, then leaving them out in the world should definitely be a no-no.

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. I’ve never trusted them (something to do with my much-lauded fast weeing which seems to create too much flow-rate for the plastic tube), but they work for many. Use in combination with one of the Peebols if you’re feeling you need some help with your aim.

The choices are the reusable Shewee, which also comes with an option of an extension pipe (it really does!) and even knickers with a handy hole; the one-wee cardboard Peebuddy, and the bendable Whiz Freedom.

There’s also a completely flexible Shewee now, that’s also larger. This is definitely an improvement for me! The Shewee Flexi comes in 10 colours and costs around £5.

How can you resist something described as a “urine director”. Never did like his films! Whichever you choose, get one with a storage bag or box.

And some extras you might need:

A folding toilet trowel so you can leave no trace. The Sea to Summit one here folds into a neat package. The Cathole version is good too.

Happy Going toilet roll

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.

We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Biodegradable and not dear, either.

Natural air freshener that really works. With 41 essential oils. Expensive but one little spray will do the trick.

Toilet tents

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. Don’t leave it till you’re desperate to perfect your pitching, though!

The Lumaland shelter is a biggie. Quick-erect poles and even a towel/clothes rail. The mesh floor is removable. Around £70, but big enough for other uses too.

Be discreet with a camouflage toilet tent. Around £17 and just pops into shape. You’ll want to peg and guy it if you’re windy!

The Hillington is a basic toilet tent for around £24.

If I were two inches tall, this is what I’d choose. Lucky Sylvanian Families – the only campers to get a flowery toilet tent.

The Quest Elite pop-up utility tent comes in two sizes. Removable groundsheet. Around £70.

Maybe a tad small for most of us, but look at the lovely (images of) basin and mirror in the Petit En Suite. Around £40.

Lovely design but one to avoid. The flexible poles of this £30 Olpro utility tent won’t stand up in a breeze.

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