Best Camp Toilet

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Best Camp Toilet

A camp toilet is essential anytime you are going to be away from more structured amenities, and you are going to need the best camp toilet you can get to manage this.

There are a large number of camp toilet options and styles to choose from, and it can be overwhelming to try and figure out which option is best for you.

The best camp toilet for you will vary based on your budget, how long you expect to be away, how much space you have to transport one and the ‘preferences’  of your camping companions, and where you are planning to go. 

If you regularly go out on a variety of different camping trips, you might be best served by buying multiple different setups. But if your camping activities are reasonably consistent, there might be a single solution that meets all your needs. 

Best Camp Toilet – Comparison Table

ImageToilet DetailsPrice
OZtrail Quadfold Chair
  • Waste Capture: Bag/Hole
  • Weight: 2kg
  • Chemicals Required: No
  • Warranty: 1 Year
Check Price
Elemental Thunder Down Under
  • Waste Capture: Bag
  • Weight: 1.2kg
  • Chemicals Required: No
  • Warranty: 1 Year
Check Price
Dometic Portable Chemical Toilet
  • Waste Capture: Holding Tank
  • Weight: 5.4kg
  • Chemicals Required: Yes
  • Warranty: 1 Year
Check Price
Thetford Porta Potti
  • Waste Capture: Holding Tank
  • Weight: 4kg
  • Chemicals Required: Yes
  • Warranty: 3 Years
Check Price

Camp Toilet – In Depth Reviews

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OZtrail Quadfold Toilet Chair

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For some people squatting is either not possible, or not desirable, and more support is required.

If so, another option to consider is a pop-up or folding camping toilet seat (sometimes known as Komode). OZtrail makes a good folder camping seat that demonstrates this concept well.

These pop-up/folding chair options can be used in conjunction with nature, or you can store and process the collected waste. 

Many people are comfortable with the concept of depositing their waste into a hole or onto the ground, but just have issues squatting.

When this is the case, these collapsible and folding camp toilet seats are great to place over a hole you have prepared or a suitable piece of flat ground. In these cases, you will just need to process your used toilet paper accordingly, as discussed above.

In some cases, you may have a choice over whether you capture and process your waste, but in those cases where you do not have a choice and you are required to capture it, these camping toilet seats are a convenient way to do this.

These seats are designed to fit a bag to capture waste, when can then be changed, stored, and disposed of appropriately.  

Most units you buy will come with a small number of bags, and once you have used them up, you can buy refills from the supplier, or find a suitable alternative at the supermarket. 

Pro’s

  • Very space efficient (they fold-up small)
  • Can be used either with bags or into a hole
  • More comfort for those unable to squat
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Don’t feel as sturdy as ‘porta potty’ style
  • Need to manage the waste bag (if collected)
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Elemental Thunder Down Under Bucket

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The bucket toilet, also known as a Thunderbox, or Boom Bucket, is an affordable, all-in-one alternative to the camping toilet seat, for those not wanting to squat. The Thunder Down Under is a classic camping bucket product.

They typically comprise of a standard 20-liter bucket with a manufactured seat/lid that clips on top of the bucket providing a comfortable way to get your waste into the bucket. Some models even include toilet roll holders. 

The lids are manufactured to seal really well so they can be transported with you, inside your car, without the smell leaking out. 

You need to use waste bags inside bucket toilets. Otherwise, disposal can become tricky. The bags also help you keep hygienic and minimize health risks. 

Toilet Bucket Tips

  • Use separate toilet buckets for wee and poo. If you are putting both into the same bucket, you will need to change your bags more regularly. Instead you can use an unbagged bucket for wee (just start with 10cm of water in the bottom for dilution) which can easily be emptied.
  • Place your toilet bucket inside a square milk crate for more stability. Though the bucket itself is solid, some people find that the the round base can be a bit unstable so the milk crate stops it tipping over. The crate can also hold some of your supplies (bags, toilet paper etc).

Portable Camping Toilet

A portable camp toilet is the most complex and substantial of all the camping toilet options. Portable camp toilets give the closest thing to a ‘normal’ toilet experience. Portable toilets process human waste with toilet chemicals (wet) or composting (dry), and the designs vary accordingly. 

Chemical Portable Toilets

Chemical toilets consist of two tanks that are stacked on top of each other, with a seat and lid incorporated into the design, making a compact unit for easy storage and setup.

The top tank is filled with water for flushing your waste from the toilet bowl into the bottom tank, where it decomposes. 

These units are extremely popular with many campers, especially those away for more than a night or two.

They get the name ‘chemical’ toilet as both the top and bottom tanks have chemicals added to aid with the functioning of the toilet.  

The top tank is what holds water for flushing waste into the bottom storage/decomposition tank.

A chemical is added to the top tank, usually pink in color, which has a deodorizing effect and also lubricates the seals and mechanisms of the toilet. This lubrication effect is critical to the ongoing success of your portable toilet. 

The bottom tank is where your waste is washed too, from the toilet bowl, and where the waste is broken down, ready for emptying.

To stimulate the decomposition, the bottom tanks are initially filled with two to three liters of water and a chemical additive (usually green in color), that stimulates the breaking down of the process of your waste. 

How many litres can a Portable Toilet hold?

The storage capacity of a portable toilet varies from model to model, and often the amount of water you can store (top tank) will be different from the amount of waste you can store (bottom tank). The product description for each unit will clearly indicate how much storage the product can manage. 

Keep in mind that the capacity of the bottom tank incorporates an initial amount of water, that your waste is disposed of, so it is not a pure measure of ‘waste’ capacity. This is important to help with the decomposing process. 

How do you flush a Portable Toilet?

There are two main types of flush mechanisms found on portable toilets – piston or bellow flush. In both cases, the flush action is located in the back corner of the unit. 

With the piston flush, you pull the handle up and down, and this pumps water out of the tank and into the bowl to wash your waste into the bottom tank.

The bellow flush mechanism requires a ‘push’ action by applying pressure to the spring mechanism. As you push down, water is pumped into the bowl to clean it and wash your waste to the bottom tank. 

Can you poop in a portable toilet?

Yes, it is absolutely fine to poop, or poo, in a camp toilet. There are designed to handle this type of waste.

There are benefits in minimizing the amount of urine you dispose of in this unit and maximizing their use for poo if you are able, so you do not need to empty them as regularly.  

Can I put toilet paper in a Portable Toilet?

Standard toilet paper is not suitable for use in a portable toilet. It is preferable to use specific ‘soft’ toilet paper, which breaks down easier.

It is slightly more expensive than standard toilet paper, with a six-pack retailing for around $10. If you search for ‘soft toilet paper’, or ‘chemical toilet paper’, you will find something suitable. 

How do I know when I need to empty my portable toilet?

The most common way to check is to visually monitor the level rising, by looking down through the bowl.

However, some of the more advanced units come with a gauge on the side that provides information on how full your bottom tank is getting. 

How do I empty my Portable Toilet?

The best place to empty the waste from your bottom tank is at a dedicated ‘waste disposal’ point, but if you are able to get home in time, you can also empty into your toilet and flush it through your own septic system. 

How do you clean a Portable Toilet?

Cleaning your camp toilet is similar in nature to cleaning a usual toilet. Using a brush, you can scrub any waste that does not wash away easily with water.

If you want to reduce the amount of cleaning required, you can use camping toilet liners, which you place in the bowl before depositing your human waste. They make the cleaning process a lot easier, and also save you on water due to less flushing being needed.

Can you buy spare parts for a Portable Toilet? 

The majority of manufacturers do not supply spare parts, especially the cheaper ones, so make sure you do your research before purchasing.

Some of the more expensive units do have spare parts available but check at the shop before you make your final decision. 

Many people find it useful to have a second bottom tank, so they can store more waste, without having to return to a dump point.

But in many cases, to achieve this, you need to buy a second unit, and use the rest of the second unit as other spare parts. 

Portable Toilet Pro’s

  • Most ‘toilet’ like experience
  • Clean way to collect and dispose of human waste

Porable Toilet Con’s

  • Most expensive to purchase
  • Ongoing need to buy chemical additives
  • Hard to get spare parts
  • Storage capacity might quickly run out (especially with multiple users)
  • Need to find dump point for waste disposal in most cases

Popular Camping Toilet Brands

Thetford

Thetford dominates the global market with their popular ‘Porta Potti’ series of products.

Their strong reputation comes from many happy customers over many decades, and they have a great line of accessories and accompanying chemicals that they also sell.

Dometic

Dometic is another prominent outdoors brand and has a limited portable toilet range. The products receive good reviews and are reasonably priced, comparable to the ‘Porta Potti’ range.

Best Camp Toilets Reviewed

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Dometic Portable Toilet
Chemical Toilet

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Dometic is a public company based in the USA, whose mission is to make mobile living easy. Originally established as a division of the Electrolux corporation, Dometic was brought into existence to service the growing ‘leisure’ market fuelled by the post-war boom.

Though it is no longer part of the Electrolux family, and a stand-alone company, Dometic has continued its strong service to the leisure market with a range of climate, food, hygiene, safety, and power-related products.

Dometic manufacture two different SaniPottie chemical portable toilets that they offer to the Australian Market. Chemical toilets consist of a lid, set, and two water tanks that stack together.

The top tank is the flushing tank, and its job is to wash waste from the bowl into the bottom storage tank. In the bottom storage tank, the waste is exposed to chemicals that break it down and reduce the gas and smell.

This makes the waste more manageable for storage and disposal at a later time. I have written more about how chemical portable toilets work in this article if you are interested in reading more.

The two Dometic SaniPottie units are similar except in the size of their holding (waste) tank. While the Dometic 972 has a 9.8-liter holding tank, the Dometic 976 model has a much larger tank that can hold 18.9 liters of waste.

The Dometic units have an adult-sized seat for comfort and include a waste tank level indicator, so you know when you are approaching full.

These features make the unit compared with the Thetford Porta Potti 300 series. 

Flushing Mechanism

The Dometic portable toilets have a flushing mechanism different from many others on the Australian market. Most Australian models are equipped with a below (push) flush, or a manual piston pump flushing mechanism.

But Dometic uses a different approach. Still using a piston, but instead of a piston pump, the piston creates air pressure in the water tank, which is then released when you push the flush button, and it pushes the water out through the jet to clean the bowl. 

thetford 145

Thetford Porta Potti
Portable Chemical Toilet

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Thetford has three different Porta Potti series – the 100, 300, and 565 series. I’ll take you through each series in turn, and look at the models and how they differ. 

The pricing listed below was accurate at the time of publishing this article but may have changed since then and may vary between different retail outlets. 

Thetford Porta Potti 100 Series

The Thetford 100 series consist of Thetford’s two-base model units. These units offer the same basic entry-level functionality but differ in the amount of waste they can store. 

Thetford Porta Potti 145 Toilet

The Porta Potti 145 weighs approximately 3.6kg, has a bellow (push) flush mechanism, and has a 15-litre flush tank and 12-litre waste holding tank.

The seat height of the 145 is 32.4 cm off the ground.  

Thetford Porta Potti 165 Toilet

The Porta Potti 165 weighs 3.9kg, has the same bellow flush mechanism as the 165, and flush tank capacity of 15 liters. However, the 165 has an increased waste storage capacity of 21 liters.

The seat height of the 165 is 40.8 cm off the ground. The height difference is due to the large storage tank raising the height of the unit. 

Thetford Porta Potti 300 Series

The Porta Potti 300 series units are similar to the 100 series, with some additional features included.

The main features you get with the 300 series that you don’t get with the 100 series are a manual piston flush pump (instead of a bellows push flush) and a holding tank level indicator.

Thetford Porta Potti 335 Toilet

The Porta Potti 335 is a compact offering for those extra tight spaces. It is slightly shorter and wider than the other models in the 300 series. In addition to the piston pump and the level indicator, the 335 also includes a mounting kit to attach the unit to the floor. 

Weighing 3.3kg, and including a 10-liter flush and holding tanks, the 335 seat height is 30.8cm. The 10-liter flush tank should provide around 26 flushes. 

Though it has the least storage of all the units, the extra cost (though slight) is due to the compact design and floor mounting kit. 

Thetford Porta Potti 345 Toilet

The Porta Potti 345 weighs approximately 3.8kg and has a 15L flush tank and 12-liter waste storage tank.  

The seat height of the 345 is 32.4cm off of the ground.

Thetford Porta Potti 365 Toilet

The Porta Potti 365 is similar in dimensions to the 345, and has the same features (piston pump and holding tank level indicator) as the 345, but includes a larger storage tank. 

It weighs approximately 3.8kg, and has the same 15-liter flush tank, with the larger 21-liter storage tank, 

Given the larger storage tank, the seat height is 40.8 cm off of the ground. 

Thetford Porta Potti 565 Series

The Porta Potti 565 series is markedly different from the 100 and 300 series in both their design and advanced functionality. Moving away from the square tub shape, the 565 series is more cylindrical and appears closer to a traditional house toilet. 

Often referred to as the ‘jewel’ of portable toilets, these units really stand out from their competitors with their superior convenience and comfort. These units even include a pop-out toilet roll dispenser. 

Thetford Porta Potti 565P Toilet (Piston Pump)

Weighing 4.9kg, the 565 models have a 15-liter flush tank and a 21-liter storage tank. The 565P utilizes a piston pump flushing mechanism. 

The 565P has a seat height of 44.3cm, which is the highest of all Thetford portable toilets. 

Thetford Porta Potti 565E Toilet (Electric Flush)

The 565E is identical to the 565s in all ways except the flushing mechanism. As the name suggests, it has an electronic flush, as opposed to a piston mechanism. 

As a result, it is slightly heavier (5kg), and you need to bring 6x AA batteries to power the pump. 

Product Support

All Thetford toilets have a warranty period of three years. This is much longer than the 12 months that most other brands offer. There are over 200 stores Australia-wide that can provide product support and advice if you need it. 

Accessories

Chemicals

Thetford offers a range of accessories for their portable toilets. Most importantly, they have a popular range of chemicals that are recommended for use, and available at most camping retail stores. 

These chemicals range in purpose from lubricating the bowl, breaking down waste and gas, odor improvement, and system cleaning.

Toilet Paper

Special toilet paper that breaks down quicker is required for use in chemical toilets, and Thetford’s ‘Acqua Soft Original’ is perfect for this purpose.

Carry Bag

Though Thetford doesn’t offer carry bags themselves, other brands have created a range of canvas carry bags products you can use with your Thetford Portable Toilet. 

Though these bags are not compulsory, and you can transport your toilet safely, and odor-free inside your car, these bags can make it easier to maneuver them, and lug them around.

A few times a year, the big camping stores often run ‘package’ promotions with a toilet, carry bag, and chemicals included. 

Customer Experience

A combination of personal experience and reading many online customer reviews reflect a really positive experience with Thetford toilet models. Most ratings are four or five stars, and the comments all rave about how well the units work without issue. 

What is the best Porta Potti?

The best Porta Potti for you depends on how big a tank you need, and which features you want.

In my opinion, the 300 series are a great fit for most people and include a better flush mechanism and tank level indicators. However, the Porta Potti 100 series are still solid products that will serve you well.

Best Camp Toilet Summary

The best camp toilet for you will ultimately depend on the type of camping you are doing and the preferences of the people you will be camping with. There is no perfect solution that will suit all situations.

As a general guide, we recommend that for really short stays of one to two nights, the simplest version you can manage is best. Whether it be digging a hole, or taking a folding seat, you want to minimize the waste you have to manage.

However, if you plan to be away for a longer period of time, there are a lot of benefits in investing in some sort of portable toilet.

They do take a little bit of setup and maintenance, but these hassles are outweighed by the benefits and ease they provide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you poop in a camping toilet?

Yes, portable toilets are designed to handle all human waste, including ‘poop’. The chemicals used in the storage tank break the waste down so it can be easily and safely be poured into a suitable dump location.

How do you clean a portable toilet?

If human waste residue is left in the toilet bowl, then this needs to be brushed as you would with a normal toilet bowl.

However, the general maintenance and cleanliness of the toilet are taken care of by the chemicals used in its operation. These chemicals keep the seals moist, and the odors from getting too strong. There are additional ‘wipe down’ products you can use if you wish to give the bowl a really good clean, but these are required infrequently at best. From time to time, you may wish to spray down with a hose or pressure cleaner, but they are low maintenance in general.

How do you flush a portable toilet?

Portable toilets have two main flushing mechanisms, the ‘below flush’ or ‘piston flush’. The piston flush is a more effective and easier to operate mechanism.

What do you do with camping toilet waste?

Camping toilet waste needs to be deposited into specific ‘dump points’. These can be found in most caravan parks and also certain locations in towns and cities. Search the internet for a dump point near your location.

Can you empty a chemical toilet into a septic tank?

In general, no. The nature of chemicals used in camping toilets can ruin the functioning of a septic tank and interrupt the breakdown of the waste.

Some of the ‘green’ chemicals on offer for camping toilets can be added to septic tanks without harm, but in general, you should look for a dedicated waste disposal point.

How many liters can a portable toilet hold?

This varies from model to model. Each model has a ‘holding tank’ which dictates how many liters it can hold. This should be easy to read in the product description.