A Guide To How Camping Toilets Work

A Guide To How Camping Toilets Work

Camping in the middle of the wilderness on a beautiful day is an amazing experience that provides a lot of physical and mental health benefits. However, it can be a hassle when nature calls and you are nowhere near restrooms. Plus, you don’t want to leave human waste near your camping area. That is why portable camping toilets were invented, so you can dispose of human waste in a better way.

Portable camping toilets can range from basic biodegradable double-bag systems to intricate flushable systems that can be used to easily dispose of your business. Continue reading the article to find the camping toilet that will suit your needs.


When you’re packing for a camping trip, you should make sure that you’ll bring everything you need. It’s very annoying to discover that you’ve forgotten something important when you’re already in the middle of the woods and nowhere near a store to buy the item that you forgot. To help you avoid this situation, we came up with a list of all the camping items you’ll need for the great outdoors


The 4 Main Types of Camping Toilets

We’ve listed the four main types of camping toilets and how each works to give you a better idea of what suits your camping trip better.

1. Flushable Camping Toilets

These may be the most sophisticated portable camping toilets that function and feel similar to residential flushable toilets.

Flushable camping restrooms are composed of three main parts: the freshwater tank, the wastewater tank or holding tank, and the bowl. The wastewater tank is found at the bottom and allows the waste to flow from the bowl through gravity. These toilets also come with a bowl seat and lid. Some also have an elongated toilet bowl and seat that are more comfortable than round ones. The lid snaps on the bowl to lessen vibrations during transportation.

Manufacturers try to adjust the seat’s height to make it as close as possible to that of residential or standard toilets.
Before usage, a little blue chemical is added to the holding tank to break down the waste and control the bad odors.
The freshwater tank is smaller than the holding tank and has a removable cup that will allow you to add more water if needed.

To use these portable toilets, look for the sliding valve handle, pull it out to reveal the wastewater tank, and do your thing. Some of these toilets feature a manual pump that you need to pump a few times to flush, while others feature a battery-powered flushing system. You can easily disconnect the holding tank if you are ready to dump at a designated waste point. These holding tanks have a pour-out spout or pivoting spout to allow you to dump without spillage. After poring the waste out, rinse the holding tank two to three times using clean water and attach it back to the toilets.

2. Portable Composting Toilets

These types of camping toilets are also called dry or non-flush toilets and have the ability to biologically break down human waste into garden fertilizers or dry compost matter. Some of these toilets are permanently installed, but some of the best for camping are easily portable and lightweight.

Portable composting toilets also contain three main parts: the bowl at the top, a liquids bin in the front part, and a solids bin located directly under the bowl.

These toilets are designed to separate liquid waste from solid waste for effective decomposition. Furthermore, as urine is the main cause of bad odors, separating it can eliminate the potential of having smelly toilets. Emptying the urine bin every day can also help minimize odors.

The solids bin does not need to be emptied daily as the solid waste needs time to decompose. That is why you also need to make sure that liquids do not go into the solids bin.

Composting toilets may look slightly different from each other depending on the manufacturer, but they basically have the same main parts. Cheaper models can’t separate liquids from solids, causing them to smell bad. Quality composting toilets have an agitator to help mix the waste and peat moss after usage. There is also a valve that keeps the bin air-tight when not in use.

You should have a spray bottle nearby to wet the bowl with water before and after every use to prevent leaving streaks of waste. You can also use a brush with the spray bottle to clean the bowl, which is one way to avoid using too much water, which can affect the efficiency of this type of toilet.

High-quality composting toilets have a fan that can run on both AC and DC. This fan can help prevent the accumulation of bad odors. Plus, it keeps the solids dry to speed the composting process.

3. Portable Bucket Toilets

These are 5-gallon bucket toilets featuring a snap lid that is also used as a seat. Bucket toilets have a simple design and are easy to carry around using the metal handle. They are the most inexpensive portable camping toilets. You can either buy them or make your own.

To use bucket toilets, you need poo powder and compostable garbage bags. You can also purchase bags with gel at the bottom as these can also break down the waste while preventing bad odors. If you do not have enough budget to buy all that, an ordinary garbage bag and kitty litter will suffice. However, make sure to double the garbage bag to prevent leakage.

You also have to make sure the garbage bags go under and not over the toilet seat to avoid contact with the waste. Remove the seat, put the bag in, and ensure the edges of the bag are hanging just outside the rim of the bucket. Then, snap the seat and lid back, and it’s ready and secure.

Portable bucket camping toilets are inexpensive, secure during transportation, and do not need water to function. They are also lightweight but do not have a system to separate the liquid from the solid waste, and so, should be emptied frequently.

4. Collapsible Camping Toilets

These toilets have collapsible or foldable legs, are compact, and can easily fit tight areas, which is really helpful during camping trips. Like bucket toilets, collapsible toilets are categorized as dry toilets, which means they do not need water to function.

The only difference between collapsible and bucket toilets is that collapsible toilets look more stylish and can fit in tight spots. Other than that, they pretty much work the same way.

To use collapsible toilets, you first need to fully unfold the legs. Make sure they are fully extended to avoid breakage or them slipping and falling off. Often, each leg will let out a clicking sound to confirm once fully extended. Once unfolded, insert the garbage bag, add some poo powder, and it’s ready. For gentlemen, it is best to do number 1 outside, if not prohibited, and reserve your camping toilets for number 2.

Collapsible toilets are very sturdy but very short compared to regular residential toilets. However, it lets you squat in a way you are comfortable, which is ideal for people with bad knees.


Staying clean is an important aspect of camping. Just because we’re away from bathrooms and running water does not mean that we have to stay filthy. We’ve been on numerous camping trips and we’re more than happy to share with you our tricks to stay clean while camping even without a shower


Can you poop in a portable camping toilet?

Yes, you can poop in portable toilets because they are designed for urinating and pooping. Furthermore, you should poop in portable toilets or at a restroom facility when on a camping trip because if you do it near the campsite, you can attract a lot of insects and creatures. Plus, the bad odor will make your camping experience unpleasant.


Camping Toilets Sanitation

  1. Do not store your camping toilets near food and cooking equipment to prevent cross-contamination.
  2. Always have soap or antibacterial sanitizer nearby so you can wash your hands after using the toilets.
  3. Use powder-coated gelling agents or poo powder to neutralize solid waste and convert liquid into gel, making it easier to manage. Most bags already have gel at the bottom and are usually environmentally friendly, landfill approved, or biodegradable.
  4. Urinate or defecate directly into the container or bag rather than doing so in one place and then transferring it into the bag afterward.
  5. Use disinfectant to kill germs on the toilet seat. Disinfect the toilets often, especially if more than one person is using them.
  6. Always use rubber gloves when handling, setting up, assembling, and cleaning the toilets.
  7. Cover the toilet lid to avoid attracting insects and other creatures to the camping area.
  8. Store all toilet accessories together, but put the toilet brush in a separate container to prevent cross-contamination.
  9. Add water to the content so that it is in a semi-liquid state before emptying the toilets.
  10. Impose an adequate system to accommodate everyone at your campsite.
  11. Make sure to check any available user manual and cleaning instructions before setting up and using portable camping toilets. Proper setup, usage, cleaning, and sanitation will make your camping toilets last many seasons.
  12. Empty the holding bin at an appropriate waste disposal area and not just anywhere as it will add to environmental pollution and can spread waterborne diseases.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to maintain the cleanliness of both your portable camping toilet and your campsite. When dealing with waste management and waste disposal, it’s important to properly follow procedure in order to make sure that you won’t negatively affect yourself and the environment.



Flushable camping toilets work like an RV or camping trailer toilet. These toilets consist of a freshwater tank and a lower holding tank to store the waste. They can be flushed by pumping water via a bellows pump or piston to move water through the tanks.

While some camping toilets consist of the simplest bucket and bag, others are much more elaborate to offer campers the convenience of the toilets they have at home and allow them to flush the waste into a tank to help minimize odors and make things more sanitary.

One thing that often turns people off when it comes to camping is the lack of ways to properly answer the call of nature. If you’re one of these people, you can now enjoy camping without this worry because of portable camping toilets. There are tons of options to choose from, all that’s left to do is to find the one for you.

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