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!
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 JUPSK). 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.
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
We really rate Dometic fridges, so one to trust! We found ours to be nice and compact but still have a good capacity.
Here are some photos of ours:
The smallest Thetfords are neat little loos with a choice of 10, 12 or 15l capacities. 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 345 is small too). Make sure you pick up a storage bag like the one listed below.
We have a 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!
ALMOST A REAL TOILET?
A mighty loo for those who…do.
This manual Porta Potti weighs 5.5kg and has a 21l holding tank plus 15l rinsing tank.
One of the more costly options, but you get the pleasure of using a piston pump to flush.
The BB toilet a bulky beast, but has the advantage of being at a reasonable price. It has a waste holding tank of 20l and flush tank of 10l. Enough for around 60 flushes. 44 x 40 x 30cm and weighs 5.2kg.
Don’t forget the quick-dissolving loo paper
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!
We also love what the guys at Give A Crap are doing, their loo roll not only offers 100% recycled or bamboo loo roll they also give half of their profits to build toilets for communities around the world that really need them! Not much more than supermarket brand cheapy roll and they come in these lovely fancy wrapping, whats not to love!
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 Branq Camping Bio 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.
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.
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!
A Summit (or Kampa, they’re identical) folding bucket holds 10l. Folds flat and has the advantage over the Outwell version for its flat 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. Holds upto 7.5l
Maybe not for small campervans, but this 40cm-high loo means you don’t have to stoop. It won’t hold larger people, but its a fairly cheap option. You’ll need bags for it (see details below). An alternative if it’s out of stock is the Reliance 19-litre tall loo.
Folding Camping Toilets
The BoginaBag 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 above and below
BEST FOLDING CAMPING TOILET
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. The Carplife Bivvy also does the same job (don't forget ro get it's lid here).
Weighing in at just over 3lb this compact folding portable camping toilet might just be right for you. This folding toilet has a lid feel and with a handy holder on the side for your toilet roll! Folds down compact into a bag, you do need to use bags inside to collect which ideally we would suggest biodegradable bags if possible. Can withstand a whopping 400lb some people have found them very surprisingly sturdy for it's size. We do have to mention though some have also found it a little on the small side so this is worth considering when looking at this folding portable camping toilet.
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. There are plenty of lookalikes out there too.
We love this fully adjustable option so can be low for the kids or if you have to go in the back of the car or goes upto 13 inch in height for regular use. Strong enough to use as a stool too if needed. A quick easy folding option with a handy carry handle.
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.
Around £15 for 1.5 litres. One dose lasts up to four days. Aqua Kem Green is septic tank friendly.
Elsan Organic is two litres. Can be used in both flush and waste tanks.
Around for the two two-litre bottles. Formaldehyde-free.
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.
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. Cheap.
Travel John make bags with a special plastic top to fit to the body. Very similar to the Peebol above, 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 paper travel sickness bag that can also be used for wee.
Latest is a paper rather than plastic toilet bag.
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 a bucket or one of the paper Travel Johns if you need some help with your aim.
The reusable Shewee, comes with an option of an extension pipe (it really does!).
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.
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
A folding toilet digger like this Sea to Summit trowel so you can leave no trace. This one folds into a neat package.
We use the JUPSK trowel above because it has lots of other uses too – from sawing branches to pulling out nails. It has a bag too.
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!
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 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.
Lots more camping showers in our shower feature.
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. Another important factor that EVERYONE seems to forget at least once on a toilet trip is to make sure you take a light with you, don’t get caught short in the dark not knowing where to go or where to aim! We’ve wrote a Best Camping Flashlight article, just in case.
BEST TOILET 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.
A lovely design from Olpro, but make sure you peg and guy it well in windy conditions (hee hee). The flexible structure of this Olpro utility tent make it easy to put up, but (like all pop-ups) is a bit prone to bending in a breeze.
DECATHLON INSTANT TOILET TENT
This Quechua pop-up toilet tent is one of the best choices, but it doesn’t have a roof, so better for warm climates.
Bag included and 2m tall.
One of our favourites – the Wolfwise toilet and shower tent. Removable base mat and pops up easily. The top opens so you can hang a shower from a tree and stand inside the tent.
A ROOMY SHOWER TENT
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 fairly cheap and roomier than most. Folds away nicely, has fibreglass poles and UV/privacy material. Decent delivery time too
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you poop in a camping toilet?
The answer is yes and no, depending on the toilet you choose some do have odour reducers and some may not so it is something to consider when buying a portable toilet, some fluids offer a breakdown solution to your poop so again check when you buy this, loos with no fluid we would suggest you do not use for poop unless it is a bag up and throw out situation.
How do you empty a portable camping toilet?
Most sites will have a toilet disposal area, there is usually a tap there too to rinse it all out when you are there. This is the best way to empty and not usually down your own toilet at home this is not advisable.
How often should you empty my camping toilet?
Keep an eye on your gauge if you have one as this will tell you when you need to empty it, but at least once a week or it may cause a smell!
Can you put bleach in my portable camping toilet?
If you are cleaning after use you may choose to use a combination of bleach and water to take away some staining however we would advise you do not use bleach.