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Buying a Portable Camping Toilet – the good, the bad and the smelly

by Olivia

Camping and toilets, or lack there of. It’s a deal breaker for some unseasoned campers, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a range of camp toilets on the market and its’ given me the opportunity to fit as many of my favorite poop-related puns as I can into this article. Let’s see how many I can squeeze out…

Here’s what you need to know about the best portable camping toilets to make taking the Brown’s to the SuperBowl as pleasant as possible. best portable chemical toilet

Most people I know poop anywhere between three times a week to three times a day. Personally, once I’ve cooked up an amazing campfire breakfast and downed my morning coffee, it’s time to make a log cabin, so to speak.
When it comes to camping, I’m pretty comfortable with digging a hole and doing my business as nature intended and in the case of National Parks, I’ll bag it up and take it with me. I do have a couple of dear friends, however, who just can’t drop a butt burrito unless their cheeks are firmly planted on some version of a toilet. If you, or someone you know is in a similar predicament, and prefer to “make a deposit at the porcelain bank” rather than simply “letting some brown bears out in the woods”, so to speak, then this article should point you in the right direction.

Types of Camping Toilets:

Your choice of camping toilet will depend on the length of your stay, how much gear you can carry, your budget and whether the location you’re staying at permits you to release your kraken in to the wild or requires you to contain it.

Camping Toilet Seats

The most basic version of a camping toilet is simply a toilet seat built on a frame that you can position over a hole you have dug. It makes for a more comfortable pooping experience, particularly for those who struggle with squatting, and is relatively mess-free (assuming you aren’t suffering from any bouts of explosive diarrhoea), lightweight and very affordable. If your camp ground allows you to bury your treasures on site, this really is an excellent option as a portable toilet.

When choosing the best kind of camping toilet seat, I’d suggest you take in to consideration:

– Portability. Some of these units do collapse to a flat pack.
– Weight rating. Some are more sturdy than others. Let’s be honest, it could be pretty bad if this seat gives out from under you…
– Height. Taller persons or those with mobility limitations might require a slightly taller model.

Portable Potties / Chemical Toilets

If you are after a self contained unit rather than digging a hole, then you will be looking at a portable chemical toilet. These units consist of a top part that you fill with flushing water, similar to a cistern in a normal toilet, and a bottom waste tank that contains chemicals to break down your waste and store it until it requires emptying.

What is the best portable camping toilet?

When it comes to chemical toilets, there are a number of factors you should consider in deciding which model best suits your needs.

How much does a camping toilet cost?

There are many things I’m willing to buy the less expensive version of, but in the case of camping toilets, I’d really recommend steering clear of cheap models. This is because the most likely problem you’ll have with a cheaper unit is the seals. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want to risk leaks from the box containing a couple of days worth of blind eels. Make sure the camp toilet you buy is hermetically sealed, which means air-tight. Also, a reputable brand and a slightly higher priced model will often be able to easily supply spare parts if anything breaks down the track.
Spend that bit extra.

What size camp toilet should you buy?

If buying online, check the dimensions of the camping toilets you are comparing. Some are very low to the ground, which might be what you want as they are also more compact for storage. If, however, you struggle with a deep squat or are particularly tall, you might find a slightly higher model will be more comfortable for you to drop your potatoes in the casserole.

As well as the height, take a look at the weight rating and make sure it’s robust enough to handle everyone that’s going to be giving it a workout.

Consider the size of the waste tank. Emptying the waste tank is pretty unpleasant, despite the best efforts of the chemicals so you want to be doing as little as possible.

Other considerations when choosing a Chemical Camp Toilet:

Waste Indicator.

This might seem like a small feature – an indicator on the outside of the waste tank to tell you how full it is. I can tell you, from experience, that when you have to open it up to visually check if it needs emptying, you will wish you chose the model with the external indicator.


The most common types of flushing mechanisms are a bellows pump or a piston pump. The bellows pump (a concertina shaped plastic part that needs to be manually squeezed several times to force the flushing water into the bowl is a less expensive style, but does tend to break more often as the plastic can become brittle and crack over time). Piston pumps are a straight plastic shaft that is pumped up and down several times and do the same job, but do tend to be more durable in the long run.

Breather port for emptying.

A decent chemical camping toilet should have a breather port on the waste tank that you can open when emptying the tank. This allows air to enter as the waste is poured out to help it empty smoothly and minimise splashing. Trust me, you really don’t want splashing.

Make sure your portable toilet comes with the required chemicals and if it doesn’t, be sure to purchase them! You will need an additive for the flushing water to help keep things clean and help to lubricate the seals as well as the chemicals for the waste tank to help break down your bum slugs and reduce odour.

Carry bag:

I’d recommend a PVC carry bag for any camping toilet. When transporting the waste tank to a collection point, you really don’t want a leak.
If you do get a leak, you really want it to be in a bag, not your car.
If it does leak in a bag, you want that to be easy to clean.

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