One of the most challenging aspects of highway travel and camping can be finding a restroom when needed.
So whether I’m headed for a campground with great restroom facilities or even planning to stay some nights in motels, I make sure to have campervan toilet options covered by carrying a portable toilet
Why an on-board campervan toilet is crucial
Cleanliness: Gas stations, restaurants and rest stop toilets can be hit or miss with regard to how clean they are and some tend to be very dirty. I’m not over the top with regard to cleanliness, but I am mindful of staying clean on the road and don’t feel the need to risk getting sick. And if there’s family, kids, friends involved, I’m extra careful and definitely don’t take chances. It’s worth it to have a campervan toilet to avoid less than clean public options.
Quick: Convent, any time, any place. Just pull over, climb in back, problem solved. No searching, no extra driving, no stress. The time it can take to find a public facility can throw off your itinerary or even get you lost. Hoping for a rest stop, gas station or truck stop to come along is a gamble that doesn’t always pay off.
Are they friendly? With van life on the rise everywhere, gas stations and restaurants are less and less likely to let random travelers use facilities for free. “Restrooms are for customers only” signs are more common than ever on the road, and the cost of always having to make a purchase before using the restroom can start to add up (how many random packs of gum or bottles of water does one van need?). Pretty sure some places bank on travelers needing a toilet and being forced to make a purchase. I like to think that this one advantage, not having to make unecessary purchases, has paid for my campervan toilet.
It’s 3 am. Do you know where your toilet is? Some of you don’t need this one explained. I’m talking to the very special club known as “men over 40”. But it’s not only those of us with aging prostates needing a late night tinkle. Kids, moms and pretty much everyone needs some middle-of-the-night-relief from time to time and that’s no time to be wandering off across the campground to the public restroom, or out into the woods.
Types of portable camping toilets
You can always tell how crucial a campervan accessory is by how many brands, options and types of products are on the market, and campervan toilet options are one such accessory.
When it comes time to choose one, perhaps there even too many toilet options for campervans. And that’s what this article is all about: simplifying the process of choosing a toilet that’s just right for you. So fear not and read on, the Van Sage has got you covered with all the crucial details.
Flushing campervan toilet options are fully contained with fresh and waste water tanks. These include cassette style portable toilets. We’re surprised how well these work and, if you’ve got the space in your van, this is one of our top picks.
Most like home: Designed to provide familiar comfort and a satisfying flush.
Cleanest: The waste is contained in a tank, so there’s little or no odor.
The waste tank fills up and needs to be dumped.
Mid range in size and price.
Bag toilet: Just like it sounds; a disposable bag is attached under the seat that gets tied off and thrown out after use. Some vanners will add some kitty litter to the bag so they can get a few uses out of a bag.
Simple: No fancy moving parts or needing to get water. Just use it and throw out the bag.
Inexpensive options available.
Often collapsible, easy to fold up and store away. Easy to set up outside the van at the camp site.
Composting Toilets are the Cadillac’s of portable toilet options. They break down and compost human waste through bacterial activity that results in a very clean, no-odor, fully self contained system.
They cost more than the other options but, again, Cadillac.
Most complicated: There’s a learning curve that includes adding a microbe mix and other sciency stuff, but it’s pretty straightforward and worth the effort.
Composting campervan toilet options sit taller than the other types so if you’ve got a low roof van, you might want to avoid these or plan on using them outside the van in a tent.
Toilet tents are a great addition to your portable toilet for outside-the-van privacy. Check out our article on van tent attachments, which can also provide the necessary privacy to use your camping toilet.
We won’t get into do-it-yourself toilets in this article, but stay tuned for a complete resource on that topic in the near future.
You can’t rely on rest stops, gas stations, restaurants and truck stops for your restroom needs.
Public restrooms tend to be dirty. It’s nice to have your own clean option, any time you need it.
A flushing cassette toilet is a great choice for comfort and middle of the road price.
For the ultimate in simplicity and lowest cost, consider a bag toilet with a folding frame.
Composting campervan toilets are considered the high end.
Here are the top campervan toilet options we’ve found
Camco 41541 Portable Toilet – 5.3 gallon
★ VanSage Top Pick
- 5.3 gallon holding tank is detachable; 2.5 gallon flush tank
- Sealing slide valve locks in odors and protects against leakage
- Side latches secure the tank to the toilet
- Bellow-type flush and sturdy construction
- Measures 15.5″ H x 14″ W x 16″ . Please note: Total Seat Width is 13 inches. Seat dimensions (inside) are: 8.5″W x 9″D
Dometic – 974 Portable Toilet 2.6 Gallon
- 2.6-gallon (9.8 L) or 5.0-gallon (18.9L) models
- High-strength ABS construction withstands demanding marine environment
- Smooth finish cleans easily for lasting beauty
- Full-size seat provides user comfort; latching lid stays secure while underway
- Prismatic level indicator shows remaining capacity in holding tank
- Splash-free emptying with automatic tank vents and extra long swing-out discharge
- Tank level indicator and pressure relief valve increase safety
- MSD models can be installed for direct overboard, dockside pump-out, or remote tank discharge
- Tan and gray colors
- Model 974 2.6-gal. (9.8L) capacity portable toilet, mounting brackets
Reliance Products Hassock Portable Lightweight Self-Contained Toilet
- Portable, lightweight and self-contained toilet; comes with one Eco-Fresh packet
- Contoured seat for comfort; inner splash cover/toilet paper holder
- Removable inner bucket for waste disposal; compatible with Reliance’s standard Double Doodie bag
- Dimensions: 14.7 by 14.7 by 14 inches (L x W x H); Weight: 5 pounds
- Designed for camping and boating; five-year warranty against manufacturer’s defects
Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
★ VanSage Top Pick
- Proudly made in the USA
- All stainless hardware
- Full size elongated seat for comfort
- Disassembles in seconds for emptying
- Vent hose and fan included
Thetford Porta Potti Curve Portable Campervan Toilet
- Award winning, top-of-the-line portable toilet
- 4 gallons fresh water capacity, 5.5 gallons waste water capacity
- Modern, and homelike look
- Comfortable seat height, increased bowl size
- Battery-powered flush
- Easy to use and clean
- Ergonomic handle
- Integrated toilet paper holder
- Tank level indicator
- Odorless, leak proof, sealed valve to reduce odors
- Empty waste water tank without back splashes