“Do you have a toilet in there?” The moment we downsized from Class A RV living to Class B van life, the bathroom situation in our camper became the number topic of conversation. This has lead to several videos and articles about camper toilets. In this post I will highlight some of the best portable camping toilets for sale, why a camping porta potty is great for vans, small campers, and even road trips in a car.
When nature calls, we all need to go somewhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re living out a DIY van conversion or a fully converted adventure rig, having a toilet is important. When we lived out of a ProMaster conversion van with a cassette toilet we shared all the details about that. Since then, we have switched to a portable toilet that we absolutely love and currently use in our pop-up truck camper.
Keep reading to see if a portable toilet is a good fit for your camper!
What is a Portable Toilet?
Portable toilets are self-contained toilets that can be moved around for your intended use. For the purpose of this article, the focus will be on camping portable toilets that can be used in vans, cars, RVs and overland rigs.
While there are some similarities, a portable camping toilet is different from a cassette toilet which is permanently mounted to your camper or vehicle.
Types of Portable Camping Toilets
Do a quick search for portable toilets and you will find quite a few options, including the four listed below.
- Dry flush toilets
- Folding toilets
- Bucket toilets
- Porta potty toilets
This post will not be covering composting toilets for RVs. However, Joe and I briefly experimented with a bucket composting toilet before we really hit the road in our first RV. That experience was enough to convince us to stick with the traditional gravity flush and black tank arrangement that came with our Newmar Bay Star. (If you’re intrigued, you can read all about that experience in Joe’s book, Take Risks.)
Why Use a Portable Toilet?
There are many benefits to using a portable toilet for camping in your van or small RV.
1. More options for disposing the waste.
When we lived out of our Class A motorhome, it had a traditional gravity flush toilet setup: a relatively traditional toilet with a foot flush pedal, attached to an onboard black tank. There was no need for us to move the toilet itself, which sounds handy – but it meant that we had to move the entire RV whenever our black tank was full and needed dumping. With a portable toilet, we can grab the small waste tank and walk it to the nearest bathroom or dump station to dispose of the waste.
2. Use it where you want to.
When we moved into our first Class B van, we switched to having an onboard cassette toilet. The toilet was permanently mounted in our van, but instead of filling up a black tank, our toilet emptied into a portable cassette tank. When we needed to dump, we just opened up an exterior door, removed the suitcase-like cassette, and wheeled it to the nearest bathroom or dump station. The thing is, when we switched vans we couldn’t take our toilet with us because it was permanently mounted to the camper.
3. Less expensive than many other options.
It’s very easy to flush your hard-earned money down the drain when it comes to RVing, and toilets are no exception. Depending on the kind of evacuation experience you’re looking for, camping toilets can be surprisingly expensive. The cassette toilet option in our pop-up truck camper was over $1,000 and composting toilets are similar in price. Most portable toilets for vans and small campers are a fraction of the cost.
4. It’s a great backup toilet.
While we use our porta potty full-time, there are many uses for a portable toilet even when you’re not traveling or camping in your vehicle. These toilets can be used as a backup when the power goes out and water is no longer being pumped to your house or if there is a natural disaster such as an earthquake or hurricane.
What are the Best Portable Camping Toilets for Vans, Cars, and RVs?
1. Thetford Porta Potti
We like our portable toilet so much that we filmed a full video review all about it:
Why We Love It
- It’s not just a “potti”: It’s portable! This means you can fully remove it from your camper. If we ever decide to change rigs, or need to camp in a different vehicle for a few days, we can take our toilet with us.
- Tank size: The 5.5-gallon tank on our Thetford gives us more capacity than other portable camping toilets we’ve seen. It’s even got more space than some cassettes. This means we can spend more time dispersed camping in the national forest without breaking camp to dump the tank.
- Bells and whistles: This might sound like overly high praise for a toilet, but some of the features on this thing are just fun. For instance, there’s a hidden toilet paper roll holder in the base. There’s even a battery-operated pump if you want to use fresh water for flushing. (We don’t use this, but it’s nice to have.)
- No water required: As I mentioned above, we typically don’t use water to flush. That’s because we want to conserve fresh water and fill our potty as slowly as possible so that we don’t have to dump it as often.
- Easy to dump: The Thetford Porta Potti has a swivel arm and cap that makes the dumping process easy and clean. We can carry the toilet anywhere, so we don’t need to move our camper to dump. And we don’t have to use an official sewer dump at an RV park or dump station, either. The waste tank can be emptied into a pit toilet or public restroom.
- Level indicators: There are liquid level indicators for both the fresh water and the toilet itself. The toilet will let us know when it needs to be dumped, so there’s no worrying about overflow.
- No odor: We don’t treat our toilet with chemicals because we don’t like the chemical smell, and we haven’t had any issues with odor. White vinegar works like a charm!
- Lost cost: As luck would have it, portable toilets like ours are the least expensive option out there. Part of that is the fact that there’s no installation required. Which reminds me –
- Easy to install: No need to worry about a complex installation process involving cutting holes in the exterior of your RV. Just mount the mounting plate to the floor it to lock it in place…or pack it securely in a trunk or cabinet.
Things We’d Change
As with anything in the world of RVs, there are tradeoffs. The only negative we’ve found about the porta potty so far is that it gets heavy. Our cassette toilet had wheels and a handle for easy transport (like a piece of luggage). Our Thetford portable toilet actually holds a lot, and when it’s full, it’s pretty heavy to carry. This is also one of the reasons we never pass up an opportunity to dump the waste tank. One option would be to get a folding hand cart to wheel the waste tank to where we dump it.
The portable camping toilet we use is by no means the only option out there, nor is it the best choice for everyone. Here are a few other options that might be the best portable toilet for your van or RV.
2. Camco and Dometic
Both Camco and Dometic offer portable toilets very similar to our Thetford. The “extras” will differ slightly based on the specific model you get, but all the basics are the same. You’ll primarily be shopping based on tank capacity and size measurements to fit your space. Don’t forget to check seat height.
3. Luggable Loo
The Luggable Loo isn’t for the faint of heart! It’s technically a bucket toilet, a type of portable toilet that looks less like a toilet and more like – well, a bucket. But with a seat on it, to make the whole experience more comfortable.
The Luggable Loo is compatible with Double Doodie bags from Reliance. These liner bags capture everything for easy disposal, so there’s no need to dump in the usual way. They also contain a bio-gel that helps to mask odor and absorb liquids for easy cleanup.
If you don’t want to use a bag like this, some campers use sawdust or other materials with a bucket toilet instead. Either way, you’ll want to keep odors down and pests out by keeping a lid on it when it’s not in use.
4. Cleanwaste Go Anywhere
If you’re a fan of collapsible items, the Cleanwaste Go Anywhere might be the toilet for you. The whole setup comes in a convenient carrying case making it a great portable camping toilet.
The folding toilet is different from a traditional toilet in more ways than one. It’s essentially a portable seat that can make your life easier if squatting isn’t your thing. Like the Luggable Loo, it requires no water and can be used just about anywhere.
One drawback (depending on your preference) is that there’s no holding tank, so you’ll need the Go Anywhere Toilet Kit waste disposal bags to make it work.
5. Laveo Dry Flush Toilet
As its name implies, the Laveo Dry Flush uses no water at all. Instead of putting waste in plastic bags with a bio-gel, Laveo’s dry flush toilet uses a lined container under the seat to store deposits. Starting price for the dry flush toile is also much more than the previously mentioned options.
The unit is battery-operated, and with each flush the Laveo will wrap your waste in material that looks like it belongs on a spaceship. You’ll need to purchase refill cartridges, which can get pricey depending on how often you flush.
Push a button when you’re done doing your business and then remove and toss the whole spent cartridge (with waste) in the trash. Replace the cartridge, and you’re done! No messing with liquids or odors. According to the Laveo’s website, each refill pack is good for approximately 17 flushes.
6. Wrappon Waterless Toilet
Joining the list of dry flush toilets that look like they belong in space, the Wrappon Waterless Toilet is almost unrecognizable as a commode. It’s a green cube that might be mistaken for a piece of modular furniture or a storage cube if it didn’t have a toilet seat on top.
The Wrappon can be folded for transport and storage. Like the Laveo, it’s battery operated. Once your business is complete, simply push a button, and the unit will seal off your waste into a bag for easy disposal. This toilet uses a powder to absorb liquid, control odor, and make your deposit easy to throw away with your regular trash.
It’s worth mentioning that when you’ve got a toilet that seals each deposit off into an individual bag (as this one does), there’s a lot of plastic involved. Eco-conscious campers might prefer a more traditional portable toilet for that reason, though some brands offer bags that are biodegradable.
We found the portable RV toilet solution that works for us. If you’re looking for the best portable toilet to use in your van or RV, we hope this was helpful to you.
If you decide to go with one of the portable camping toilets that use disposable waste bags, be sure to check with the waste management company in your area for proper humane waste disposal.
What kind of RV toilet do you have, and how do you feel about it? What do you like most, and what would you change?