CAMPING | Your Complete Guide To Choosing A Portable Camping Toilet

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With holiday parks and campsites poised to reopen following lockdown, it’s likely sites will reopen with strict rules in place. Some are actively considering only admitting caravans, campervans and tent campers who have their own washing and toilet facilities, allowing shared toilet and shower blocks to remain closed.

With this in mind, now could be the ideal time to invest in a camp loo, especially if you’re planning on taking the family away for a summer camping trip this year.

So what do you need to consider when buying a camp toilet? Our guide will walk you through all of the main considerations.

Guide to buying a camp toilet
I upgraded my camp toilet last year and it was an excellent decision!
Go Outdoors

Should you get a camping toilet?

If you get up to go to the loo in the night or have little ones that do, getting dressed, leaving the tent, finding a torch and traipsing across a field can be a real pain.

As someone who goes to the loo multiple times throughout the night and is a bad sleeper anyway, getting up, leaving the tent, putting on shoes and going to a toilet block is annoying and leads to me getting even worse sleep than usual, so for someone like me, a camp toilet is crucial – I simply couldn’t camp without one.

You should probably consider getting a camp toilet if;

  • You or a family member frequently wake up to use the loo during the night
  • You are camping somewhere basic or wild that doesn’t have a toilet block
  • For safety reasons, you want to minimise your families use of shared campsite toilet facilities
  • You are camping at a campsite that decides not to open its shared toilets and will only allow campers with their own toilet facilities on site
Camp toilet buying guide

Why I recently bought a 4th camp toilet

I’ve had 4 camp toilets in my camping lifetime. Before you think I have a weird camp loo fetish, let me explain.

My old Luggable loo packed inside my car ready for a camping trip

The first, a Luggable Loo shown above packed into my car, complete with giant google eyes (similar to this), was basically a bucket with a seat, but it did me proud for a good 8 years of camping. Whilst not sealed or watertight, the seat and lids closed with a reassuring click. When the seat broke, I made the decision to replace it with a small flushing camp loo.

I chose a small Hi-Gear flushing camp loo, used it just once and then sold it as I didn’t get on with it. The waste tank capacity at 10litres was too small, it got clogged and at the time, it was too big to fit in my car with the rest of my camping gear.

I then went back to a bucket-style loo, but this time, I chose a different style (BranQ 1306) with a seat and lid that didn’t fit firmly, so I constantly worried I was going to knock it over and face a sewage disaster.

Thetford Porta Potti Qube 165 Flushing Camp Loo
My Thetford Porta Potti

Last year, saw me purchase my fourth camp toilet. I chose the Thetford 165 Porta Potti after talking to a friend with one and following weeks of research and review reading. A year on, and I’m still delighted with my purchase.

Types of camp toilet

There are two main types of camp toilets that family campers should be considering. There are the cheap and basic bucket-style camp toilets or the fancier, bulkier and more expensive, flushing camp toilet option. There are pros and cons of both to consider.

Pros & cons of basic bucket-style camp toilets

  • These generally take up less space, and in transit, because they are essentially a bucket with a loo seat and lid, you can use it to store stuff inside.
  • They are much lighter than a flushing camp loo.
  • Bucket style camp toilets aren’t suitable for solid waste due to the fact they aren’t sealed, and whilst you can use chemical toilet liquid in them, I wouldn’t recommend it.
  • They are generally pretty cheap – you can pick a bucket-style camp loo up for around £15.
  • This style of bucket loo is generally best for emergency night time use only.

Pros & cons of flushing camp toilets

  • They tend to be quite bulky, so you’ll need to ensure you have enough space in your car to transport one.
  • They come in lots of different sizes and so vary in price from around £45 and upwards.
  • Some camp toilets have dodgy seals (yuck!) and designs that make them more difficult to empty as they may be more prone to clogging.
  • Depending on what design you go for, you’ll find that flushing camp loos are much more stable, so there is less chance of knocking them over.
  • If you’re on a site that doesn’t have a chemical disposal site, most can be transported (carefully!) without leaks and the contents disposed of at home if necessary – this does vary by manufacturer and model though, so do your research – a surprisingly large number of reviews mention leaks!
  • You get next to no smells when using a flushing camp loo as long as you are using the recommended chemicals and the right levels – again, please read reviews as some are more highly concentrated, have nicer smells and are more effective in use than others.
  • They can be heavy when full, especially if you go for a camp loo with a large waste holding tank.
  • Although you can use toilet roll with a flushing camp loo, too much can cause clogs when it comes to emptying time, so we’d strongly recommend minimising the use of loo roll, and using loo roll designed to be used in camp toilets, like Thetford Aqua Soft Toilet Paper.
Camp toilet bowl cleaner and fluid

What are toilet chemicals and why do I need them?

Flushing camp toilets should be used with special fluid. A blue fluid is added to the waste tank which helps to not only break down waste, but also to keep smells under control and to reduce gas build-up.

A different liquid, usually pink in colour, is added to the flush tank that will help to deodorise and clean the bowl after use.

There is a third toilet fluid option which is generally green and promotes a more natural biological breakdown of the contents of the waste tank. A handful of campsites will only accept green, so do check first.

Go Outdoors
Guide to buying a camp toilet

Camp toilet purchasing considerations

1. Size of the camp toilet waste tank

The main thing to bear in mind is the size of the waste tank. The cheapest and smallest camp toilets will have a relatively small waste tank, and whilst this might be suitable for a small family to use on a short weekend break, you’ll generally need something with a bigger capacity if more than a couple of people will be using it.

For more than 2 people, or for camping trips longer than a weekend, I’d recommend choosing a minimum waste tank capacity of 20 litres.

2. Access to chemical toilet disposal points

Does the site you are planning on visiting have a chemical disposal point? It’s fair to say most, but by no means all campsites have chemical loo disposal points, so if your loo fills up whilst you are away and you can’t empty it, you could be in trouble!

Either make sure the tank capacity is big enough to see you through your whole trip or make sure your chosen site has a disposal point. Also think about how far away the disposal site is, walking with a full 20+ litre tank can be hard work, and not all waste tanks are high-quality enough to be able to safely transport without leaks in the car!

3. Don’t forget to purchase (and take with you!) the right toilet chemicals

Some toilets come with chemicals, others don’t so we’d recommend checking and buying these separately. You’ll generally need a pink bowl cleaner which goes into the flush tank and a separate (usually blue) liquid which goes into the waste tank and helps to eliminate any nasty smells.

Do remember too, that toilet chemicals represent a small ongoing cost to factor into your purchase. I personally use and recommend Blue Diamond Toilet Fluid & Bowl Cleaner.

4. Where will you put your camp loo?

Big family tents will often have several different rooms or even a side entrance that you could use as a makeshift bathroom. or you can buy stand-alone toilet or utility tents.

If you have a bell tent however and don’t use an inner tent, think about the practicality of where you’ll put the loo and how you’ll use it with a modicum of privacy! As a bell tent camper, I found making a privacy screen using a folding clothes airer with a throw over it was ideal.

5. Design of waste tank

You might need to pay a little more, but a good camp toilet will allow you to safely detach the waste tank, which you should also be able to seal off. This means the unit can then be easily moved or carried to the disposal point, or even transported home.

Please read reviews, and don’t scrimp on the toilet model you choose. Having the contents of a camp toilet leak is something you seriously don’t want to risk happening!

Camping toilet options & accessories

Outwell 20L Portable Toilet £64.99

Sunncamp Lulu Tourlet Portable Toilet £19.99

Sunncamp Lulu Tourlet Portable Toilet £19.99

Thetford Aqua Rinse Concentrated (750ml) £9.60

Thetford Aqua Rinse Concentrated (750ml) £9.60

Thetford Porta Potti 365 Portable Toilet £89.99

Hi Gear Portable Camp Toilet £22.50

OLPRO Pop Up Utility and Toilet Tent Tree Design £39.00

OLPRO Pop Up Utility and Toilet Tent Tree Design £39.00

Where to next?

Shell Robshaw-Bryan
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