An old wooden outhouse in the mountains

The Complete Guide to Find the Best Portable Camping Toilet

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There are a few modern luxuries that we take for granted, yet, we couldn’t live without. If you have ever camped in a place without modern facilities then you understand pooping in a hole gets old fast, really fast.

Camping toilets bring not only the comfort of knowing you have a toilet but also a little peace of mind on how and where you’re going to go.

Camping toilets or portable toilets are a great way to bring some modern comforts to the campsite, as well as, sticking to the leave no trace principles. With the invention of portable camping toilets, you can have a throne to sit on in privacy that will remove the stress of not having a toilet.

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What is a portable camping toilet?

Exactly what the name suggests, it’s a portable toilet that you can bring camping or anywhere there are no modern facilities available. It may sound gross lugging around a toilet, however, it sure beats digging a hole and burying your waste at least 6 inches in the ground each and every time.

Not to mention squatting and going potty takes a little bit of practice to keep your balance. What if you miss? Then you got a smelly mess on your hands, or on your feet rather.

A wooden outhouse in a grassy field

Styles of camping toilets

Yep, there are different styles of camping toilets to choose from. A bucket style, collapsible, and portable flush. Each style is slightly different, however, achieves the same ultimate goal… A container for your poo.

The bucket toilet

Starting with the bare bones camping toilet we have none other than the bucket toilet. Imagine sitting on a 5-gallon bucket, like the orange ones you see at home depot with a makeshift seat and lid on top.

Inside the bucket, there is a bag, and that’s where the magic happens. A bucket toilet is the most basic version of a camping toilet and can easily be made at home for a few bucks. There are fancier versions on the market with a toilet paper dispenser and removable liners, but you’re still pooping in a bucket.

These are a good fit for a group of guys or anyone who doesn’t want to put too much effort into worrying about a camping toilet. They work just fine, and a seat that rests on the bucket is highly recommended. There are some pretty cool designs out there if you want to go the DIY bucket toilet route.

The Folding Toilet

Similar to the bucket toilet, the folding toilet is pretty close to bare bones. Not much difference other than it comes with legs that fold up similar to a folding chair with a toilet seat that you sit on. They come in a bunch of different styles while all achieving the same goal, a relatively safe place to go number two

The folding style uses the bag method of collecting the waste, there is just a little more comfort when sitting down. This style as flexible as a bucket toilet in terms of mobility and can be set up within minutes of arriving at camp. The one thing to look out for is going to the cheap route, the last thing you need is your portable toilet collapsing on itself with you landing in the pile, gross!

Flushing toilet

These are the creme de la creme of camping toilets. The ultimate icon of luxury at any remote campsite is the portable toilet that flushes. These come with all the bells and whistles of the toilet at home, it flushes with fresh water, (some) have a toilet paper dispenser, along with a comfortable seat.

These collect the waste in the bottom until it is cleaned out by someone, and that can get a little gross. You can always add chemical deodorants to mitigate the smell, however, there’s no getting around the fact that waste removal is going to be a stinky endeavor.

This is going to be as close to the toilet at home as you get outdoors, however, they are bulky and heavy when filled with water. They are meant to be set up in one place until it’s time to pack up and go and they cover the smell the best out of the three options.

wooden outhouse in the surrounded by trees

Factors when considering a portable camping toilet

While they are perfect for campgrounds that don’t have a functional toilet, they aren’t going to work for a long-distance backpacker. There are a few questions that need to be addressed before you decide to go the portable route.

How do I empty the toilet?

This is going to depend on the style of camping toilet that you decide to use. For the bucket and folding styles, there is going to be a bag full of human waste that needs to be disposed of. The Leave No Trace principles state that you need to bury human waste in 6-8 inch holes at least and then cover it up.

Flushable portable toilets are going to differ depending on the manufacturer, but most have a tray or waste receptacle that is going to need to be emptied on a regular basis. Some will have biodegradable bags that can be disposed of, while others will have a powder that converts the liquid waste to solid.

Digging a hole and burying the waste is going to be the most effective way to handle the waste when you’re dealing with any of the three styles of toilets. The Bureau of Land Management has some great advice on disposing of human waste.

How much does it hold?

Most portable camping toilets will come with a 5 gallon bucket or waste receptacle. The number of people that you have camping is going to dictate how often you will need to empty it. The bucket styles need to be emptied more frequently simply because the smell gets awful.

The flushing variety usually has some sort of gasket to prevent the smell from escaping, so you can wait a little bit longer. You never want to fill them all the way to capacity that makes emptying it much more challenging.

How high is the toilet seat?

Something that is easily overlooked when choosing a camping toilet. The seat elevation should be similar to the toilet at home, you don’t want to feel like your squatting. Comfort is key here and you definitely want something that feels about the same as the toilet you have at home.

What about the smell?

If you go for the bucket or folding style than the smell is something that you are going to have to deal with. If you have ever used a porta-potty at a music festival then you know what to expect.

The flushing style is more advanced and has odor controls built in. Usually in the form of air-tight valves that separate the waste section form the toilet bowl itself.

Where should I set it up?

As the old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

The toilet should be set up at least 200 feet from and bodies of water and 200 feet your livable camp space. This will protect the water source from nasty bits and your family and friends from those terrible smells. The last thing you need is funky stank hitting you first thing in the morning.

What about privacy, I get stage fright?

Privacy is a big deal when using the restroom, it’s something that we have all become accustomed to. It is no different from a camping toilet. No one wants to watch you go and no one wants to be watched while going.

While most camping toilets don’t come with a shelter, you can always use strategic placement to your advantage. Find some natural coverage being bushes or trees. If that doesn’t make you comfortable, there are simple shelters that you can purchase that are made exactly for this situation.

Downside of portable toilets

Sure they are great and convenient, however, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine. Disposing of the waste is the biggest issue, improperly disposing of the human waste can do serious damage to the surrounding environment.

The smells you simply will never get used to, whether you’re emptying the bag or cleaning the toilet.

You also have to lug them around, especially if you get a flushable toilet. They can be heavy and cumbersome to load and unload.

The 7 best portable camping toilets

When nature calls you need to be ready. From the state-of-the-art to the simplest form, here are the 7 best portable camping toilets.

Camco Camping Toilet

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The Camco Premium Camping Toilet is a portable and flushable solution for your wilderness bathroom needs. It comes with a 5.3 gallon detachable holding tank, as well as, a 3.75 gallon holding tank.

It has an increased bowl size and an oversized seat, giving it a familiar feel. The holding tank uses a pump action to simultaneously flush while cleaning the inside of the bowl. The interior of the holding tank is built with a slick surface making cleaning it relatively easy.

The lid can be latched close so if you are not near a good place to empty the tank, you can transport it without concern. It is constructed with ABS resin that helps seal in unpleasant odors, and when completely full it weighs 56 pounds.


  • 5.3 gallon tank
  • 11.5 pounds
  • Very little smell


  • Large
  • Rare freshwater leaks
  • Heavy when full

Best Choice Dual Spray Camping Toilet

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The Best Choice Dual Spray Camping Toilet is a flushable portable camping toilet. It has a 5 gallon waste container and a 3 gallon water tank that will last for 50 flushes.

It features a heavy-duty dual spray jet that flushes in a clockwise flow for fast and clean waste removal. It comes with a full-size toilet seat, just like the one at home, and a polyethylene leak proof tank, so theoretically no smelly messes.

The toilet itself is rated for 440 pounds and is stable and not top heavy as the picture suggests. The toilet does sit a little low when compared to the toilet at home which is something to consider.


  • Rated for 440 lbs
  • 50 flushes
  • Water saving


  • Sits low
  • Rare leaks
  • Heavy when full

Palm Springs Camping Toilet

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The Palm Springs Camping Toilet is a self-contained flushable camping toilet. It has a 5 gallon holding tank for all that nasty waste, as well as a 3 gallon freshwater tank.

The tanks are both made with high-density polyethylene, in a one piece leak free design. The toilet has a double-sealed drain valve to protect you from odors and the environment from leaks.

When fully assembled the toilet is roughly 37 inches high, giving it a comfortable place to sit and meditate. The flush on this could be a little more powerful, however, it does a fine job of keeping odors at bay.


  • 5 gallon tank
  • One piece tank
  • Leak proof


  • Small seat
  • Tough to empty
  • Heavy when full

Reliance Luggable Loo

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This won’t take the cake as the fanciest or the best looking on the list, after all, it’s nothing more than a bucket with a toilet seat in place of the lid. What the Luggable Loo misses in aesthetics it makes up for in portability, convenience, and economics.

It has a snap on seat and cover that latches onto the rim of the bucket to act as a seat. It also has a 5 year warranty that covers any defective parts or pieces, makes you feel for the guy who handles returns.

The hinged seat cover will limit the odor from the bucket, it won’t completely eliminate it though. It is a camping toilet, so you should be setting it up far away from the common area to avoid wafts of stink. It works best with bio-degradable bags inserted inside to collect the waste.


  • 5 gallon bucket
  • Lightweight
  • Ultra-portable


  • Small hole
  • Lacks stability
  • Short bucket

Reliance Self-Contained Toilet

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This is similar to other bucket toilets in shape, however, it differs in the level of comfort. It’s portable and lightweight and comes with one Eco-Fresh packet which are the bags you place into the bottom of the bucket.

This is built in 5 individual parts: an outer lid, inner lid with a toilet paper holder, a seat, an outer black bucket, and the inner bucket. The inner bucket is where you place the plastic bags and it sits inside the outer bucket. It makes for extremely easy waste removal, and if you do have a leak there’s only one piece to clean out.

It is under 15 inches high which is a little tough to get used to. Basically, your knees are closer to your face, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easy peasy. The nice thing about bucket style toilets is how easy they are to clean out, just toss the bag out and you’re done.


  • 5 lbs
  • Contoured seat
  • Toilet paper holder


  • Sits low
  • Lid doesn’t snap
  • Lacks stability

Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Portable Toilet

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This folding portable camping toilet folds up into that little briefcase in the picture next to it. It’s fairly lightweight and the way that it folds up makes it ultraportable.

Three legs fold out and lock into place and it’s rated for 500 pounds. The removable cover on top also doubles as a flat surface to give the legs a level surface to rest on.

The “holding tank” for this toilet is a different design, but the same in practice. You simply place a bag around the seat and empty it whenever it gets too full. There is a mesh bag that the plastic bag rests in to prevent it from leakage and a drip edge that prevents waste from getting on the outside of the plastic bag.


  • Rated for 500 lbs
  • Compact
  • Standard seat


  • Short
  • Rare leg issues
  • Challenge to close

Folding Toilet Seat

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About as basic as it gets, this one isn’t going to win any design awards. It’s a folding chair with a toilet seat where the seat would normally be, minus the backrest. That doesn’t mean that it should be overlooked, it serves its purpose and performs the task at hand.

It folds up extremely easy and sets up in under a minute. In order to fasten a bag to the seat, you simply wrap the bag around the seat and do your business.

It will easily hold 200 pounds plus, and is extremely lightweight and portable. The bag can take a little practice to get just right, the last thing you need is the bag cutting loose mid load.Its simplicity is what sets this apart, just fold it up and you’re good to go.


  • Rated for 500 lbs
  • Compact
  • Standard seat


  • Short
  • Rare leg issues
  • Challenge to close


For a quick solution to a potty problem, a camping toilet will cover the basic needs. They are the perfect addition to a dispersed or wild camper’s gear set. With all the options available you should be able to find somewhere to poo.

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2 Responses

  1. Hi,me and my family are planning for camping and we are trying to find a portable toilet to use. and my father-in-law is a arthritis patient so looking for something comfortable for him looking for a portable toilet that is not so costly but comfortable I’m very much concern about odor and stability of a portable toilet. Is there a specific type that might be better for a trip and arthritis patient as well?

    1. Hi Saisha! It sounds like your father-in-law requires a toilet that sits high for his Arthritis and includes an air-tight container to eliminate unsavory smells. Your best option is a flushing portable toilet. These portable toilets are stable with the least amount of stank. Make sure that you always use a flat surface when setting up your toilet. A small piece of plywood cut to fit your toilet is a wise investment 🙂

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