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: July 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.
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.
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!
When we last checked, only the 20l Outwell loo was available. Bigger (obviously) and around £70.
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!
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.
The simple toilet bucket option – add a biodegradable bag for number twos!
Remember that if you use a normal plastic bag in these bucket toilets, you’ll be adding to the world’s mountains of plastic waste. Make sure your bags are 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 bin. And that’s gross.
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.
Bags for folding camping toilets
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).
Around £12 for 15 BIG bags suitable for any toilet or bucket.
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
The reusable Shewee, comes with an option of an extension pipe (it really does!).
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).
Natural air freshener that really works. With 41 essential oils. Expensive but one little spray will do the trick. Good if you’re toileting inside your tent or campervan!
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.
A lovely design from Olpro, but make sure you peg and guy it well in windy conditions (hee hee). The flexible structure of this £30 Olpro utility tent make it easy to put up, but (like all pop-ups) is a bit prone to bending in a breeze.
We love the Qeedo quick-erect tents, so this utility/shower tent is a winner. Up in 30 seconds thanks to the snap-in-place poles. Drain holes in the foldaway floor, pockets, hooks and plenty of room. Head height 2m. Around £85, though.