Choosing whether or not to have a toilet in your campervan is a tough call. While having a campervan toilet makes it easier to stealth camp, dealing with a black tank or a bag of doo-doo isn’t the most fun activity in the world.
Plus, a van toilet takes up room in what’s already a really small living space. That’s the main reason we don’t have a toilet in our campervan, which is a small Chevy Astro.
Instead, we rely on campground bathrooms, vault toilets, truck stops, fast food joints, or my personal favorite: going in the great outdoors.
We are backpackers already, so digging a cat hole isn’t a big deal. If you do choose this method, dig a hole 6-8 inches deep and then cover everything when done to leave no trace.
To minimize toilet paper usage with this method, we use a portable bidet.
However, you may be one of those people who absolutely needs a campervan toilet to live the van life. You may need to get up and “go” throughout the night or want your privacy in the morning.
We hope this post helps you pick the best portable toilet for van life, or maybe you’ll decide to go au natural with no toilet at all.
In a hurry? Here are our top three picks!
- Holding tank indicator
- Battery-powered flush
- 5.5 gallon waste tank
- Snap-on lid with cover
- Use with bio-bag
- 5-year warranty
- Separate containers for #1 and #2
- Easy to install/maintain
- 5-year warranty
Do you even need a campervan toilet?
Before you put a van toilet in a DIY campervan conversion, you’ll want to first weigh the pros and cons. A van toilet is a very personal decision and depends on the type of travel you’ll be doing and how comfortable you feel “going” outdoors.
Campervan Toilet Pros:
Campervan Toilet Cons:
Things to think about before choosing the best portable toilet for van life
Are you set on having a portable toilet in your campervan? Here’s what you should consider before making a purchase:
How much space do you have?
Look around your campervan and figure out where your van toilet will go. Take measurements and figure out just how much space you can dedicate to a portable toilet.
If you don’t have a lot of space, you can always use a folding campervan toilet with a bio bag. My dad just started van life and he uses this folding toilet.
Do you want a permanent van toilet or one you can carry around?
One type of portable campervan toilet, called a permanent cassette toilet, is meant to be permanently mounted inside your campervan. This toilet is connected to your vehicle’s water system for flushing and features a small outer door where you can access the tank, or cassette.
Then, the tank can be carried or wheeled to a restroom or a dumping station.
Do you want to deal with a waste tank you’ll need to empty?
Think about whether you want to deal with a van toilet with a waste tank you need to empty and clean, or if you prefer dealing with a bio bag or composting toilet instead.
Do you want to go both #1 and #2 in the campervan toilet?
Some people choose to only do #1 in their van toilet. That means you don’t need to add any chemicals, and can simply clean the toilet with water and maybe a little vinegar or bleach.
Do you want to put toilet paper in your van toilet?
Another question to ask yourself is whether you want to put toilet paper right in your portable van toilet for your campervan. This can cause the tank or bag to fill up even faster.
Some van lifers choose to stick their paper into a trash can with a lid, then empty the can frequently.
The 4 best van toilet options for a campervan
There are quite a few different options when it comes to choosing the best campervan toilet.
In this post, we’ll tell you about the pros and cons of each van toilet so you can decide what’s best for you.
The portable chemical van toilet
A portable chemical toilet for van life is easy to move around. This means when you’re not using it in your campervan you could set it up outside using a privacy tent.
Plus, you can easily hide it away when the van toilet isn’t in use.
These small porta potties for van life comes with a small waste tank and a freshwater tank for flushing.
Some come with a hold down kit, so you can secure your portable toilet while driving around.
Some portable toilets can get about 50 flushes per tank – not bad! The main problem some van lifers talk about is the smell if not cared for properly. You also have to deal with removing the waste tank and carrying it to a toilet or outhouse for dumping.
Here are the most popular portable toilet models:
Thetford White Porta Potti
Folks in van life Facebook groups rave about the Thetford White small porta potty for van life. This toilet is specifically designed for use in RVs, trucks, boats and vans. We love that the toilet has a sealed valve to prevent odors from escaping.
The Thetford white features a battery-powered flush, and a capacity for over 50 flushes. There’s both a freshwater and a wastewater tank inside the toilet.
One van lifer says you can secure this to the floor of your van.
Serene Life Outdoor Toilet
This rugged and corrosion-resistant Serene Life outdoor portable toilet is a great pick for van life. Like the Thetford, you’ll get over 50 flushes before you have to empty the detachable holding tank.
What sets this toilet apart from the others is it comes with its own carrying case. It also uses a 3-way pistol flush system with the press of a button.
A double-sealed drain valve protects against nasty odors. We think this is a van life toilet worth checking out!
Camco Premium Portable Toilet
The Camco Premium Travel Toilet is another great option for a van toilet. This portable toilet has a 5.3 gallon holding tank with a 3.75 gallon flush tank.
This van toilet was built to avoid odor, from its sliding valves to ABS material that keeps waste and odors from clinging to the walls. A pump flush action thoroughly rinses the toilet’s bowl and a comfortable seat makes you feel right at home.
While this Camco toilet gets mostly great reviews on Amazon, some warn the tank started leaking after not much use. (ew!)
With one of these best toilets for van life its a good idea to put some sort of odor neutralizer in the detachable holding tank part of your toilet. I have heard some people using just vinegar as a deodorizer.
Here are some portable toilet chemical options:
Bag or Bucket Portable Van Toilets for a Campervan
Bag or bucket portable toilets for van life are the most affordable on the market, and can even be homemade.
You don’t have to buy an entire bucket toilet – if you already have a 5-gallon bucket laying around, just buy one of these lids that fits right on top!
What’s cool is that you can legally throw the bags away in any garbage dump.
These portable camping toilets are small enough, but you’ll need some sort of cabinet or place to tuck them away inside your campervan. These van toilets can be used either inside or outside your van with a privacy tent.
Here are the most popular bag or bucket toilets:
The 2.3-pound Luggablo Loo comes with a snap-on lid with a cover to mask odors. It’s compatible with Reliance’s own Double Doodie Toilet waste bags. However, one reviewer uses it with a regular kitchen bag and a few scoops of cat litter!
This affordable van toilet comes with an incredible guarantee – a 5-year warranty against material or workmanship defects.
Reviewers say the Luggable Loo is smell free and efficient.
Camco Bucket Toilet
Another respected brand of bucket toilets for van life is Camco, which also comes with a snap-on seat and lid attachment. The main difference between the Camco toilet and the Luggable Loo is the Camco can hold 300 pounds.
It has a smooth interior which makes it extra easy to empty and clean.
The Camco bucket toilet‘s seat and lid are made out of UV-resistant polypropylene.
While most reviewers on Amazon love the toilet, some say its hard for a grown man to use.
A composting van toilet for a campervan
Composting toilets are some of the best toilets for a campervan and are becoming increasingly popular among van lifers. They’re environmentally-friendly and have a low odor if properly maintained. You can go a long time without emptying the toilet as well.
These toilets do require more maintenance and setup than other toilets. They also need a power source to run properly, with outside venting.
Composing toilets are the most expensive option on this list for van toilets. However, they are durable and high-quality, and a great choice if you’re going to be spending an extended amount of time in your campervan.
Here are the most popular composting toilets:
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
Nature’s Head composting toilets are by far the most affordable ones on the market and are very popular amongst full-time travelers.
Nature’s Head uses stainless steel hardware, can take the jostling and vibration of life on the road. They’re also small enough to fit in the tiniest space.
This composting toilet is fairly easy to install and has separate compartments for #1 and #2.
Separett’s toilets are sleek and minimalistic, and most-closely mimic a normal toilet. According to Separett’s website, their toilets “overcome the ‘visual acceptance’ hurdle of changing toilet systems.”
A huge difference between Separett and the other options listed here is that the composting doesn’t happen inside the toilet.
Instead, you remove the biodegradable bag and put it somewhere else, like in the ground or a separate composting pile so it can continue composting.
Folding/Collapsible Toilets for Van Life
Another type of toilet we can’t leave out is a folding/collapsible toilet for a campervan. These toilets can fit in any type of van because you just fold it up and slide it anywhere in your van.
My Dad uses this type of toilet and just stores it under his bed platform when not in use.
You can either attach a bio bag to your folding toilet, or just dig a deep hole in the ground and put the van toilet right on top. If you do that, you won’t have to worry about carrying your waste until you find a dumpster.
Popular folding toilets to check out:
Green Elephant Folding Commode
The Green Elephant folding van life toilet is only 3.5 pounds and is made of durable stainless steel.
If you choose to use a bio bag, it covers the entire seat, keeping the toilet clean and sanitary for storage.
You can fold the Green Elephant toilet down almost completely flat to fit anywhere in your van conversion. This is a great toilet for smaller van life vans.
Blika Stainless Steel Camping Toilet
The Blika folding camping toilet for a campervan is different from the Green Elephant in that it can support up to 300 pounds.
The stainless steel construction is rust-resistant and durable with rubber stoppers to prevent slipping.
Blika’s folding van life toilet has a comfortable sitting height and folds up neatly for storage.
Accessories to go with a campervan toilet
If you’re “going” out in nature, there are some accessories to make your van life bathroom experience a little more comfortable.
Here are our top favorite accessories for a more pleasant #1 and #2 in the great, wild outdoors.
A Portable Bidet
One thing we truly love using while camping in our campervan is a portable bidet. A portable bidet means you’ll use far less toilet paper. You can even fill the bidet with warm water to make the washing experience more enjoyable.
I kid you not – we have TWO of these. One lives in our campervan and one in our sailboat. We even take it backpacking so we don’t have to carry toilet paper around.
Rapid Dissolving Toilet Paper
Another thing you’ll want to consider is toilet paper that easily disintegrates. Scott’s Rapidly Dissolving Toilet Paper for RVs and Boats is a great choice. This means if you do want to put toilet paper into your portable toilet, it will dissolve very quickly and won’t take up as much space in your tank.
A Privacy Tent
A privacy tent for your portable toilet might be something to consider if you’re going to be camping in a public place. This is great for campgrounds when you don’t want your toilet inside your vehicle.
We’ve see a lot of these when boondocking in more crowded places!
Conclusion on the best portable toilets for a campervan
Before buying the best portable toilet, spend some time thinking about whether you really need one in your campervan. There are opinions for and against. Here’s a really interesting article on Curbed about why one 4×4 Sprinter van owner chose not to have a toilet in her van.
Also, check out The Bearfoot Theory’s blog post about Pros and Cons of a Sprinter van bathroom.
Ultimately, you’ll have to decide whether or not you absolutely need a portable toilet for a campervan.
Or, you can do what some people do, and only use a toilet for #1. There are plenty of other toilets out there for #2, including truck stops, rest stops, gyms, coffee shops, campground bathrooms, you name it.
A portable camping toilet for van life does add another level of convenience when you’re living full-time on the road. It’s especially a good idea for someone who has to go to the bathroom frequently throughout the night.
If there’s a toilet right in your van or RV you won’t have to stop as often for bathroom breaks.
Luckily, there are so many options out there that you’ll be able to pick the best portable toilet perfect for your unique situation.
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Kristin Hanes is a journalist who founded The Wayward Home as a place to learn about alternative living. She currently lives on a sailboat and in a Chevy Astro van, and has written articles about alternative living published in Good Housekeeping, Business Insider, Marie Claire and SF Gate. Read more about Kristin here.