When planning your next camping trip, consider purchasing a portable urinal or camping toilet. It’s a great way to ensure your comfort and privacy and to enjoy the great outdoors with the knowledge that a clean bathroom is always nearby.
Portable toilets offer a variety of benefits:
Having a portable toilet right on your campsite is convenient. It eliminates the need to walk to a designated campground bathroom to use the toilet, if one is even available. Those walks can sometimes be long – not to mention cold and even downright dangerous!
As long as portable toilets are properly maintained, they are clean and hygienic. Campground toilets, on the other hand, not so much so. Many are overused and infrequently cleaned. Campground bathrooms also tend to be very basic. In fact, a great deal consist of simple pit toilets, or essentially a toilet seat over a hole. While they do the job, they typically smell bad and, at least on hot days, attract flies and other insects - yuck!
Portable toilets are eco-friendly, something many campers care a lot about. Although some campsites offer bathrooms with running water and flush toilets, these toilets are not particularly good for the environment. The amount of water used per flush varies from toilet to toilet, but even low-flow models use about 1.6 gallons (and some use up to 7 gallons per flush!). No-flush or low-flush portable toilets can help you conserve large quantities of water when you’re out enjoying nature.
Having your own portable toilet means you don’t have to share ( view our list of specific female urinals here ). During busy seasons, campgrounds get crowded and lines can form at bathroom facilities. Having your own toilet also means never having to dig a hole. In remote campgrounds, there typically aren’t toilets–pit toilets or otherwise–and campers are expected to bury their solid waste in holes 6 to 8 inches deep. Even under the best conditions, that takes more work than most people imagine. And, and in cold environments where the soil is hard or at night when there is no light to work by, it is a challenging and unpleasant undertaking.
Perhaps the most important benefit of portable toilets is that they help reduce the spread of disease among wildlife–and campers. When camping, properly collecting and disposing of human waste is critical. Human solid waste is not a natural part of the wilderness environment and, when improperly disposed of, it can pollute fresh water sources, sickening the animals and people who drink from them. Use of a portable ( or view our list of handheld urinals ) toilet helps ensure this doesn’t happen and goes a long way to keeping everyone safe.
There are several general types of portable toilets available. The two that are most useful for camping are:
Bucket-style Portable Toilets - As their name implies, bucket-style portable toilets collect waste in a bucket or bucket-like container. The buckets can generally be used with or without a plastic liner.
- Self-contained Tank Commodes - These portable toilets feature a holding tank for liquid and solid waste. The holding tank is separated from the toilet bowl by a secure valve that prevents spillage and reduces odor. Frequently, fresh water from a second tank flushes urine and feces from the toilet bowl into the waste holding tank, keeping things tidy and minimizing unpleasant smells.
Our list of the best portable toilets in market:
If you are interested in purchasing something for liquid waste (urine) only, the Loona is an excellent option. The Loona is a portable commode with a spill-proof lid, an easy-to-grip handle, and a broad, stable base. Its patented design makes it quiet and discreet to use, even in a small shared tent. Additionally, it is easy to clean. The Loona is far more compact than most camping toilets, and it can be easily used inside a tent. There is no reason to worry about smells, as Loona’s snap closed lid traps odors until the urinal can be emptied. In spite of its relatively small size, the Loona still holds up to 30 ounces, making it large enough for most people to use for an entire night.
Similar to a real toilet, the Camco standard 5.3 gallon, or smaller 2.6 gallon, portable travel toilet has a lid, seat, and bowl. It utilizes water to flush waste from the toilet bowl into a holding tank, using a bellow-type pump to release the water. A sealing slide valve between the bowl and the holding tank helps lock in odors and protect against leakage.
The Camco is constructed of sturdy polyethylene plastic, however, its compact design makes it lightweight (11.5 lbs when empty) and portable. The Camco also features integrated handles which make transport even easier. Costing less than $100, the Camco portable toilet is a very reasonable option price-wise.
Note that the smaller sized waste tank (2.3 gallon) fills quickly and needs to be emptied more frequently.
Reliance Luggable Portable Toilet
The Reliance Luggable Portable Toilet is a straightforward toileting system that consists of an inexpensive plastic bucket with a snap-on seat and lid. The bucket, which holds up to 5 gallons, can be used alone or lined with bags. Weighing only 3 lbs when empty, the Reliance Luggable Portable Toilet is easy to carry and transport. And, at less than $50, it is also a very economical option.
Green Elephant Portable Toilet
The Green Elephant Portable Toilet is a fold-up style toilet seat. Camping toilet bags placed over the seat can be used to collect both liquid and solid waste. Anchored by your body weight, the bags stay securely in place during use and, afterwards, can simply be removed, secured, and disposed of. Alternatively, a small 2 gallon bucket can be placed under the toilet seat opening and used as a collection tank.
Constructed of a light-weight stainless steel frame, the Green Elephant Portable Toilet is easy to carry and store. Quickly assembled, it is particularly useful if you break camp and change locations frequently. Keep in mind, however, that because the Green Elephant offers no odor protection, it must be dumped and cleaned frequently.
Nova Medical Folding Commode
Although the Nova Medical Folding Commode is commonly used for patients who are recuperating from surgery or older adults with mobility issues, it is also a good option for car camping ( see our list of portable car toilets here ). Designed to be sturdy and safe, the Nova Medical has a strong steel frame that attaches to a bucket, seat, and lid made of durable plastic. Although heavier than many other non-flushing portable toilets, the Nova Medical folds and unfolds easily, and the frame can be conveniently stored flat in a car or camper. Keep in mind that because the toilet lid does not lock onto the waste basin, spills and odors can be an issue and it’s best to empty and clean the Nova Medical after each use.
Palm Springs Outdoor Portable Toilet
The Palm Springs Outdoor Portable Toilet shares many features with the Camco and, in many ways, resembles a real toilet. It has a comfortably sized seat, attached seat cover, and two tanks, a 3.5 gallon water tank used for flushing and a 5 gallon waste-water reservoir. A double-sealed drain valve between the toilet bowl and the holding tank protects against leakage and smells.
The Palm Springs Portable Toilet is made of sturdy plastic, and the tanks are constructed with a one-piece, leak proof design. When the Palm Springs Outdoor is empty, it weighs only about 10 pounds and is easy to move and transport. It can get quite heavy however when its 5-gallon waste holding tank is full (each gallon of waste weighs 8 pounds or more). The Palm Springs Outdoor is priced similar to the Camco, costing just under $100.
SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet
With a design similar to the Camco and Palm Springs Outdoor, the SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet consists of a freshwater tank and a waste tank (5.3 gallon capacity) with a toilet seat and attached lid. A double-sealed valve between the two tanks locks in odors and prevents leakage of waste. The flush mechanism utilizes a manual piston pump. One important feature that differentiates the SereneLife from similar products is a color-coded indicator that monitors the fullness of the waste tank. This can help prevent overuse and unpleasant overspill. Priced over $100, the SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet is a relatively expense option, but its sturdy design, large capacity, and unique fill indicator may make the extra expense worth it.
Regardless of which portable toilet you buy, it is important to maintain and care for it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If not cleaned regularly and properly, portable toilets can serve as a breeding ground for bacteria and mold and harbor odors that are difficult to eliminate.
Care must be taken when emptying portable toilets, and waste should always be disposed of in a safe and responsible manner. Some campgrounds have designated locations for solid and liquid waste disposal. Waste should never be dumped into streams, rivers, or lakes.
And, finally, always monitor your portable toilet’s capacity, especially if it has a closing mechanism that prevents you from directly seeing the tank contents. An overflow situation at the campsite will likely make you wish you had never left home!
No matter what your needs are, there are a wide variety of portable toilets available on the market today, and you should be able to find one that will not only enhance your camping trips, it will give you peace of mind when you’re sleeping under the stars.
This article was written by Dr. Shani Saks