Portable toilets, also known sometimes simply as port-a-potties, are surprisingly liberating pieces of equipment in that they allow you to travel further and stay out longer without being limited by the need for toilet breaks.
This is great news for those who love camping or exploring and who don’t want to be forced to use nature’s toilet. But, while it’s true that these are extremely useful items, you might also find yourself a little confused as to how to pick them.
What makes a good portable toilet? How can you ensure that the experience will be comfortable and sanitary? What if you have special requirements, such as young children who also need to use the toilet? Read on and we’ll find out, as well as discovering four of the very best toilets to choose from.
Camping Toilet Buyer's Guide
The first thing to recognize is that there are different types of portable toilet for different scenarios. First of all, you have the self-contained unit, which will use two separate tanks. Those tanks include a water reservoir and a storage tank for feces. The toilet will look similar to the type of toilet you might be used to using in other settings, but will be shorter and with a smaller seat – hence portable!
While the tanks are separate, they can usually be securely sealed together for easy travel and often they will have a flushing mechanism too.
The other kind of self-contained unit will use chemicals for sanitation, and this is also good for odor control. The problem is that they require a water supply and they are significantly bulkier. You’ll also have the recurring cost of needing to top up the cleaning chemicals.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have the bag units. These are lighter and easier to pack and can fit inside camping bags due to the lack of tanks. You just need to attach the disposable bag to a ring, then tie the bag to contain the waste. It’s your job to dispose of the waste – normally by finding a bin somewhere.
Legged bag units or pop out units are a similar solution which take the same concept but provide pop out legs that you can use to sit on.
Some Things to Consider
Once you’ve decided on the type of portable toilet you want to go for, there are still a few other points you should consider when making your purchase.
The first is the size and weight of the product. The whole point of a portable toilet is that it should be, quite simply, portable. That means it should be small and light enough to fit into a car boot ideally, or a camper van. Some will even fit in a rucksack. Ask yourself what type of storage you will have on the trip and how much you can afford to carry.
Of course the price is also going to be an important factor. That’s not only the cost of the toilet itself, but also any recurring costs associated with the supplies: for instance you should consider the cost of bags that you will use to store the waste, as well as any cleaning chemicals being used.
Finally, as yourself about cleaning the toilets themselves. Is this handled automatically, or is it something you’re going to have to do yourself? If so, how much time can you expect it to take and is this something you’re going to have time for?
Reviews of Our Top Picks
There are plenty of options out there, but here are four of the best choices in terms of both value and reliability.
SereneLife SLCATL320 with Cary Bag
The SereneLife SLCATL320 is a self-contained unit that looks just like your toilet at home, but a little more plastic! It also has the very useful ability to fold down into a more portable size and shape and then fit into an included carry bag.
You’ll feel comfortable wherever you end up using it, and thanks to the extra large toilet tank (5.3 gallon to be precise), you’ll find that you don’t have to empty it as often.
This unit uses two tanks and has been designed to be easy to empty. There’s a level indicator to let you know when it’s getting too full, and at that point you can use a handy pour spout to discretely empty the contents.
Here are some more highlights of this SereneLife model:
- Carry case helps make it extra portable
- No external water supply necessary
- Pour spout for easy emptying
- Comfortable to sit on
This model covers the holy trinity for what you're primarily looking for in a camping toilet; it's very easy to clean, it's portable, and it doesn't require an external water supply.
This toilet isn’t quite as portable as a bag unit, but it’s pretty much the next best thing and offers the closest thing to luxury when nature calls and you’re far from home. It’s a firm favorite among campers, boaters, and others for these reasons.
This is a go to option if you're in a hurry and don't feel like spending weeks going back and forth debating about small details between various models.
Camco Standard 41541
A similar design, the Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet once again boasts and impressive 5.3 gallon holding tank, alongside a 2.5 gallon flush tank. The included below flush means you can easily dispose of waste, while the removable tank also helps to make this process quicker and easier.
The sealing slide is also great at protecting against odors and in general, this toilet exhibits a lot of thoughtful design decisions.
Here are some more highlights of this Camco model:
- Pressurized flush tank
- Odor seal
- Comfortable seat
- Large, removable tank
This tiny toilet is once again one of the very best options when you’re on the road, thanks to its compact size (smaller than a small side cabinet), light weight, and powerful features.
This also comes in a smaller 2.6 gallon option, but unless you need something that's super minimalist and overly portable, the 5.23 gallon option is well worth it.
Overall, this is a very nice design and you will be happy with your purchase. There's not much to not like here.
Porta Potti 565E
You can't review portable camping toilets without covering something from the brand itself, Porta Potti. The cylindrical design of the 565E immediately sets it apart from the previous two top picks and makes it easier to store in some cases. Alongside this portability, you also benefit from its excellent versatility, design, and function.
The rounded appearance is relatively attractive to look at and provides a seat that’s just the right height without being too large. It’s easy to clean thanks to the two halves which come apart, and it also benefits from being completely odorless and well-sealed.
Another great feature is the optional hold down kit which secures the toilet in place. This is ideal if you’re using it while traveling, or on a sloped surface.
Here are some more highlights of this Potra Potti model:
- Unique more attractive cylindrical design
- Hold down kit keeps it in place
- Automatic flush
- Includes a small bottle of biodegradable odor control and waste digestion
It's definitely on the fancy side as far as portable toilets go.
While this model generally runs a little more expensive than others, it does have some really nice features. The battery powered auto flush is a nice touch. But, it's more of a luxury than a necessity.
The other major drawback is that it's a bit bigger and bulkier than some of the other options out there, so if you are looking for super convenient as far as moving it around, this might not be a good choice. If you want something high end that you can place in a camping area for awhile, this is awesome.
Palm Springs BM300
This portable toilet is not the best looking option on the list and has the color scheme of something you’d find in a hospital in the 60s. But then no one really buys a toilet for the looks!
And the BM300 ticks every other box, being small and compact, with a 5 gallon waste tank. It’s sturdy, has a proper flush built in, and arrives fully assembled so you don’t need to get an engineering degree!
That said, this is very much a basic product that does a simple job well without the added bells and whistles. There is no carry case here, no easily removable tank or pour spout, and the pump requires a good deal of force in order to use.
With that said though, this is also a very affordable portable toilet and still does an excellent job.
Here are some more highlights of this Palm Springs model:
- Very comfortable to sit on
- Arrives fully assembled
- Effective flush
- Sturdy build
If you’re looking for a standard portable toilet that won’t break the bank, then this is a great place to start.
Of the four mobile toilets reviewed here, this is the most bang-for-you-buck budget option. You aren't getting anything fancy, but when money is tight and need something, you can't go wrong with this.
Of course, if you have a little extra coin to sink into this investment, one of the other three choices are going to give you a but of a better product for not that much more. But, when every dollar counts, you this is a great selection.
So there you have it: four great toilets for camping to pick from! The ones we’ve listed here are all single unit toilets with dual tanks, and that’s no coincidence. After all, this design provides you with the ideal balance of portability (no need for external water supplies or refills) and comfort (no need to squat over a bag!). They can be used by the entire family, and they’re comfortable and easy to sit on.
Any of these four products will provide everything you need. When deciding which is right for you, consider the price and the features. Would a bag be useful for easily moving it around? Will you be using it on a boat, in which case could you benefit from a way of sealing it to the ground? Do you need to be discrete when emptying it?
One last tip is to do your research when it comes to emptying and disposing of your waste in an eco-friendly manner. Remember that when you go camping, it is your responsibility to leave no sign of your presence behind once you’ve left. That means you need to dispose of waste in a way that won’t harm the environment or be upsetting for future visitors.
Happy camping and let us know in the comments which product you chose and why.