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The khazi, the bog, the John… whatever you call your toilet, there's no getting around the fact that we all need to go. There’s nothing worse than having to dig a hole or leave the comfort of a warm tent or van to cross a muddy field in the rain just so you can use a smelly, crowded toilet block.
And in these Covid times, there’s no guarantee that the loos will actually be open when you get there. Having your own personal portable toilet as part of your camping gear takes a lot of the hassle out of camping, especially if you need a wee in the middle of the night. Plus it helps with social distancing as you’re self contained, so you're not sharing your space with all and sundry.
There’s no reason nowadays for not taking a portable camping toilet with you on your travels. But with so many to choose from, how do you pick the loo for you? Fear not, we’ve done the hard work for you. Read the buying guide below for the bottom line on portable camping toilets.
Quick List Our Top Picks for the Best Camping Toilet
Best for: larger tents - Camco Portable Toilet
Best for: permanent camping sites - Lovable Loo Compost Toilet
Best for: small camper vans or a toilet tent - Dometic 970 Series Portable Toilet
Best for: weekend breaks - Thetford Porta Potti
Best for: campsites where facilities are limited - Carplife Bivvy Loo
Best for: caravans or motorhomes - Nature's Head Composting Toilet
Best for: larger groups - Leisurewize LW536 Portable Flushing Toilet
Best for: those on a budget - Kampa Khazi Portable Toilet
Best for: glamping - Thetford 565E Luxury Portable Camping Toilet
Best for: wild campers - BogInabag Foldable Camping Toilet
Best for: established campers - Blue Diamond Nature Calls Composting Toilet
Buying Guide: Finding the Best Portable Toilet
The best portable toilet for you will ultimately be an individual decision. No one size fits all! For starters, you’ll need to consider what size portable camping toilet you’ll need. Where you’ll be using it will be the deciding factor. If you’re only planning on using it for day trips you can get away with a much smaller loo than if you’re going away on multi-day holidays.
Ask yourself a few questions. Where’s it going to go? Will you want to tuck it into a tent alcove, pop it into a pop up toilet tent, use it in a small campervan or do you need a suitable camping toilet for a semi-permanent camp?
How are you planning on transporting your portable toilet and how much space are you likely to have in your car? Do you need it for a motorhome, caravan or a tent? Will the toilet be mainly for the kids or will adults use it as well? You’ll need to check it’ll take the weight of everyone who will be sitting on the loo (no, not all at the same time!) and whether the toilet seat will be comfy enough. Who knew there was so much to think about?
Think capacity too. If you’re a large family or group, emptying a portable camping toilet every few hours will get old pretty fast, believe us. Choose a camping toilet with a larger tank that’ll take several days’ worth. How you’re going to dispose of it may influence your choice too. Are there facilities at your camp site?
If you’re not going to have access to proper chemical disposing facilities then you might want to consider one of the bucket type loos with a bag containing moisture-absorbing chemicals that can just be tied up and thrown in a normal bin.
Interested in reducing your environmental footprint? There are several portable composting toilets on the market which don’t use water or chemicals and turn your waste into something useful.
Different types of camping toilet
There’s a whole variety of portable camping toilets out there, from stools with a bag underneath to proper composting toilets that are designed to be a permanent feature. The most popular types of camping toilet are:
Bucket-style camping toilets
These are basically as they sound; a container with a toilet seat, with your, ahem, business dropping into a bag containing liquid-absorbing crystals. They’re emptied by tipping the contents into the toilet waste disposing area or tying the bags so they can be thrown into a normal bin. The bags are generally biodegradable.
Their advantages are that they’re usually cheaper, lighter and less bulky to carry and store than other camping toilets. It’s easy to dispose of the waste if you don’t have access to proper facilities. However they’re not as sturdy so there’s more chance of them being kicked over and larger adults may struggle to use them. If you do have to empty them into the chemical disposal area, beware of splashbacks… gross.
They’re best suited for short trips, festivals or for emergency use during the night. Some people have found that adding a little biodegradable cat litter helps absorb those toilet type smells. Lovely.
Flushing camping toilets
These generally have two compartments; a top compartment containing water to provide the flush, and a bottom compartment for the waste. Special toilet chemicals are added to help break down the waste, which is then emptied into a suitable disposal area.
They are a lot sturdier that the bucket loos and can handle solids much better. Generally they seal in smells a lot more effectively and can be used for much longer without being emptied.
Most flushing camping toilets will support up to 20 stone or more so most people should be able to use them comfortably. They’re as close as you might find to your loo at home.
Their disadvantages are that they’re more expensive to buy, they’re bulkier and heavier to transport and you’ll need more room. They're also less environmentally friendly than other types of portable toilets. If yours has a large waste capacity that tank can be particularly heavy to carry to the disposing area when full so you might need a trolley.
Emptying this type of portable toilet can be an experience in itself and you need to be careful to avoid splashback… nobody wants a faecal facial! Some camping toilets have little corners and loose seals that trap nasties in so they can be tougher to clean.
They are more hygienic than a bucket toilet though, so if you’re a camping regular or are going away for longer than a weekend, then investing in a flushing camping toilet might be worth your while.
These convert the waste into usable compost thanks to special organic material or sawdust. Some models will separate urine from faeces, so solid waste can compost easily with no nasty odours. Their advantages are that they are environmentally friendly, as they don’t need chemicals or water. More people are turning to composting loos over traditional flushing loos as we become more environmentally aware. However most are designed to be built into place so are not that transportable.
Portable composting toilets are coming onto the market though. The Blue Diamond Nature Calls and the Natures Head toilets can both easily be transported in a car or camper van for camping use.
How easy is it to empty?
You’ll need to do a bit of research into how easily you’ll be able to empty your chosen toilet. Most sites have a chemical toilet disposing point but not all, so check before you go. There’s nothing worse than a full loo with nowhere to empty it! Our guide to some of the best UK camping sites should point you in the right direction.
If you’re wild camping you’ll need to factor this in as well; you may be better off with one of the bucket toilets with a bag that can just be thrown into a normal bin.
What chemicals do I need?
A flushing portable toilet will generally need two types of chemicals. The first is a cleaner, usually a pink liquid, to go into the flushing water tank. It cleans the bowl as it’s flushed and stops stains from building up.
The second liquid, usually blue, goes into the waste holding tank, where it breaks down solids and stops smells developing. An alternative green liquid is available which is more environmentally friendly as it contains natural products; some campsites will only accept waste containing eco-friendly chemicals so check yours before you go.
Best Camping Toilet: FAQ Section
Can I use normal toilet paper in a portable toilet?
It’s not recommended as normal loo roll can be quite thick and can clog things up. Most manufacturers would prefer you to use a ‘quick dissolve’ toilet paper.
The larger companies like Campa and Thetford manufacture this but you can buy suitable toilet paper cheaper if you hunt around.
How do I empty my flushing portable toilet?
A simple bucket or folding portable camping toilet uses biodegradable bags which can be disposed of in a normal rubbish bin. However a flushing portable toilet takes a little more work to empty. When you notice the bottom reservoir getting full you’ll know it’s time.
Separate the top and bottom tanks. Carry the bottom tank to the waste disposal area; use a trolley if it’s heavy. Don’t be shy, everyone has to do it!
Look for a large round cap at the rear of the tank and unscrew it. Release the air vent if there is one and let rip. Try not to breathe in at this point and be careful of splashbacks. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Most disposing areas have a hose available to wash the tank out afterwards. Give it a good shake to get rid of any stubborn clingons and add a little fresh water before resealing the cap.
Once back at your van or tent, top up both tanks with the required toilet fluid and reattach them to the toilet. Job’s a good ‘un!
How do I clean my portable camping toilet?
Storing a loo with waste left sitting inside it is a definite no-no… if you’re not going to be using it again for a while then empty it (unless it’s a permanent composting loo of course). Even the best portable camping toilets still need a good clean from time to time. Things tend to clog up and stick to corners, seams and awkward bends and eventually using it can be a stomach-churning experience.
For bucket camping toilets just hose down the toilet bucket, give things a wipe and leave to dry. Flushing and composting toilets will need a little more work. Use a hose to give the water and waste tanks a good ole clean, concentrating on the areas where build ups occur.
You may want to do this bit before you eat! Small stains can be wiped away using an antiseptic spray; don't forget the toilet seat and lid if there is one. Once done, leave the portable toilet to dry thoroughly. Adding a little deodorant in water to the waste tank will help keep whiffs at bay.