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!

 

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.

  1. A basic campsite without facilities.
  2. A campsite pitch too far away from the toilet block to make a night-time trip all that convenient
  3. Waking up too desperate for a wee to put some clothes on and dash to the toilets
  4. Wild camping close to a road where it wouldn’t have been possible to use a bush discreetly
  5. 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 toilets

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

Thetford Porta Pottis

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. 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!

Enders compact camping loo

 
Affordable and space-saving, the Enders toilet gets great reviews. It’s slightly larger than the smallest Thetford, however, so bear this in mind if you’re short on space. 45 x 39 x 38cm and 3.8kg. Flush water tank is 15l and wastewater tank is 17l. Fill indicator is useful. Around £60.

Outwell 10-litre toilet

As neat as you can get and similar in size to the Thetford 335. This black and grey Outwell camping loo has a 10l capacity and a bellows flush. Dimensions are just W35.5 x D41 x H29.5 cm. Around £60.

When we last checked, only the 20l Outwell loo was available. Bigger (obviously) and around £70.

Dometic Sanipottie toilet

Dometic camping toilet

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!

Thetford Excellence

A mighty loo for those who…do.

This manual Porta Potti weighs 5.5kg and has a 21l holding tank plus 15l rinsing tank.

Costs around £100, but you get the pleasure of using a piston pump to flush. 

Three to avoid! Kampa Portaflush,  Blue Diamond and textile horrors

The Blue Diamond loo looks very much like the highly-rated Enders camping toilet, but there are differences. Not to be trusted!

The Kampa loo is leaky. Yuk!

The unbranded ‘bin’ type is impossible to keep clean and splits.

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 is the Stimex Campsoft.

Branq portable camping toilet

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. Around £15…you can choose a blue or pink one too!

Kampa King Khazi

The Kampa Khazi is rebranded Lulu and Sunncamp. They’re identical with a removable bucket and a neat holder for your loo roll. Around £20.

Pyramid tall toilet

Definitely not for small campervans, but this 40cm-high loo means you don’t have to stoop. It won’t hold larger people, but it costs under £20. You’ll need bags for it (see details below).

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.

Around £15 for 1.5 litres. One dose lasts up to four days. Aqua Kem Green is septic tank friendly.

Elsan Organic is around £12 for two litres. Can be used in both flush and waste tanks.

Around £14 for the two two-litre bottles. Formaldehyde-free.

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.

Outwell folding bucket

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. 7.5l and around £15.

Summit folding bucket

A Kampa (or Summit, they’re identical) folding bucket costs around £10 and holds 10l. Folds flat and has the advantage over the Outwell version for its flat lid.

Simple bucket with lidbucket with lid for camping toilet

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.

Folding toilets

 Bog in a Bagbog 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 above and below. Around £25.

Bivvy Loo

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. Around £50.

Folding toilets

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.

PopalooPopaloo 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. Around £70.

It does have its own bags, but we prefer properly biodegradable bags.

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.

Bivvy Loo bags can be used in any toilet and are biodegradable, but again no details of how long it takes. NOT compostable. And no response from the manufacturer.

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.

Wee tubes…quite miraculous!

 The simplest we’ve found is the very cheap wee tube. It folds down for transport and seals well. And they cost around £5. Kathy shows off her bargain night-time loos. Empty in this photo, I promise!

Peebols
Peebol toilet

The Peebol is a smallish bag (one litre) 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. Cheap.

Travel Johns and Janes

 Travel john urinals

Travel John 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 paper travel sickness bag that can also be used for wee.

Latest is a paper rather than plastic toilet bag. £5 for a pack of four.

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.

Shewees

The reusable Shewee, comes with an option of an extension pipe (it really does!).

There’s also a completely flexible Shewee now, that’s 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.The Shewee Extreme

Shewee alternatives

Other options are the one-wee cardboard and biodegradable Peebuddy, and the bendable Whiz Freedom.

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. Around £20.

We use the Redcamp trowel above because it has lots of other uses too – from sawing branches to pulling out nails. It has a bag too. Around £10

Nilaqua waterless wash

Waterless washing made easy. Not for sensitive skins, though. Opt for the Aqua Wipes option instead.

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 (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!

We always take a couple of packs of these totally natural Aqua Wipes. Biodegradable and not dear, either. Reusable is better, but these are good in an emergency.

Have a look at our article on green camping for homemade wet wipes and lots more ideas for environmentally friendly camping.

A portable camping shower. We love the Colapz rechargeable shower and their 2-in-1 bucket

Lots more camping showers in our shower feature

 

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. 

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.

One of our favourites – the Wolfwise £45 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.

Be discreet with a camouflage toilet tent. Around £25 and just pops into shape. You’ll want to peg and guy it if you’re windy!

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.

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3 Comments

  1. Nina Reeves

    Thanks for a really comprehensive review of portable toilet options. Just a word of warning on those with a blade seal above the holding tank eg: Thetford Qube etc. We drove over an Alpine pass and stopped at the top to admire the view and heard a rocking noise….the toilet base was bulging due to the lower atmospheric pressure at the top of the Timmelsjoch Pass compared with the toilet tank at sea level pressure…eek! We now open the blade slightly, and I mean SLIGHTLY, before we drive up mountains. Just imagine if the tank had burst and the blue liquid etc had gone all over the van😖 ED: Very helpful tip, Nina. A nasty mess avoided!

  2. Hi, thank you for your info, this has been very helpful! I do have a question though. We have a simple bucket toilet. My idea was to seal up the bag each time we went and store it at the bottom of the bucket for up to 1-5 days before disposal. Is this practical? I’ve heard about gas build up, should we add something to the bags to prevent explosion? We would only storage solid waste in this way, we plan on using bottles for liquid waste. Any advice would be gratefully received. Hello Sam. I think the difference between storing the bag for one or for five days is quite considerable. Unless you used a very strong plastic bag (which would take up room and wouldn’t be very environmentally friendly), you’d find it started to smell after more than a day or so. Some people use lightweight wood-based cat litter to absorb liquid and to lessen the smell. Is it possible for women to do number twos without weeing as well? Is that just me!! You’d really be better – after a couple of days anyway – finding a disposal point on a campsite or motorhome waste drain.

  3. I always leave my Bivvy Loo in the car, it collapses to a small size so no storage issue when not in use.

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