Choosing whether or not to have a toilet in your campervan is a tough call. While having a portable 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 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.
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Do I need a toilet in my campervan?
Before you put a 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 portable toilet will go. Take measurements and figure out just how much space you can dedicate to a portable toilet.
Do you want a permanent toilet or one you can carry around?
One type of portable toilet, called a 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 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 toilet?
Some people choose to only do #1 in their portable camping toilet for van life. 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 portable toilet?
Another question to ask yourself is whether you want to put toilet paper right in your portable camping 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 types of best portable toilets you can put in a campervan
Don’t want to deal with any type of waste tank? Then you can choose a portable toilet with a bio bag. With these toilets, you put a scoop of powder in the bio bag which breaks down your waste and turns liquids into solids. These bags can be thrown away in any trash can.
If you want something more permanent in your rig, you can also consider a composting toilet.
Composting toilets are environmentally friendly and easy to maintain. Plus, you don’t have to deal with dumping.
The best portable toilets are easy to carry and set up. They’re perfect for camping, boondocking, picnicking, and tailgating. You can even purchase a privacy tent to use your portable toilet in peace.
The cassette toilet
✅ Pros: It looks and feels like a toilet you’d find in your home, small and compact, swivels so you can get comfortable, can be dumped in any public toilet or dumping station
⭕ Cons: It’s permanently fixed in your campervan, the waste tank can get heavy, dumping is a yucky chore, you have to deal with chemicals, and it’s the most expensive option
A cassette toilet is permanently mounted over a portable waste tank in your campervan. Some of these toilets attach directly to your rig’s water system to assist in flushing and rinsing the bowl. Another model has its own freshwater tank for flushing.
When you’re ready to dump your waste, you go outside your rig to open a side door, where you’ll be able to disconnect the waste tank. Then, you carry or wheel the tank to the nearest public restroom.
This campervan toilet comes with a waste tank indicator so you know when to dump.
The portable chemical toilet for van life
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✅ Pros: Small and compact, easy to move around, feels like a normal toilet, easy to set up, affordable
⭕ Cons: Have to deal with dumping, liquids can freeze in winter and damage the toilet, have to deal with chemicals
A portable chemical toilet for van life is a bit like the cassette toilet, although you can easily move it around. This means when you’re not using it in your campervan you could set it up outside.
This portable camping toilet 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.
Portable toilets can get about 50 flushes per tank – not bad!
Here are the most popular portable toilet models:
- [VERSATILITY]: Award-winning, top-of-the-line portable toilet, suited for RVs, boats, trucks, vans, healthcare, medical, camping and even off-the-grid lifestyle, with a 4 gallons fresh water tank capacity and a 5.5 gallons waste water capacity
- [DESIGN]: Sleek, modern, and homelike look, Porta Potti Curve comes with a comfortable seat height, increased bowl size, and battery-powered flush
- [FUNCTIONALITY]: Easy to use and clean, Curve has an ergonomic carrying handle, an integrated toilet paper holder, and a tank level indicator
- Detachable Holding Tank: 5. 3 gallon holding tank is detachable
- Prevents Leaks and Odors: Holding tank seals firmly to prevent escaping leaks and odors
- Pump Flush: Fresh water holding tank utilizes a pump flush action to effectively rinse the bowl of the toilet
- Refreshed, modern appearance
- Industry-leading performance
- Exclusive, rotating pour-out spout
Bag or Bucket Portable Toilets for a Campervan
✅ Pros: Affordable, easy to set up, no chemicals required, can throw the bag away into a regular garbage bin, smallest portable toilet you can get, environmentally friendly
⭕Cons: Bag must be thrown out frequently
Bag or bucket portable toilets for van life are the most affordable on the market, and can even be homemade. Some van lifers will fill the bag with cat litter or peat and use that to soak up the waste.
Otherwise, you can sprinkle something called poo powder into the bag, which works to solidify liquids and break down solids. You can legally throw the bags away in any garbage dump.
These portable camping toilets are small and easy to store. The Cleanwaste Portable Toilet even folds up into the size of a briefcase.
Here are the most popular bag or bucket toilets:
- Compatible with reliance's standard Double doodle bag
- Weight: 3.00lbs
- Economically priced portable toilet
- Sealed 5–gallon bucket for compact, airtight storage
- Tamper evident, bright orange lid for emergency identification and security while stored
- Snap–on toilet seat and supplies convert bucket to emergency toilet
A composting toilet for a campervan
✅Pros: Environmentally-friendly, low odor, can go a long time before being emptied, good quality
⭕Cons: Most expensive option, requires more maintenance, requires a power source, isn’t portable
Composting toilets are becoming a popular option among van lifers. They’re environmentally-friendly and have a low odor of 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.
Here are the most popular composting toilets:
- Proudly made in the USA
- All stainless hardware
- Full size elongated seat for comfort
- Composting,Waterless,Urine diverting, off-grid, toilet
Accessories to go with a campervan portable toilet
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.
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 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.
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 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.
Check out these other posts on building a van:
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