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15 Best Portable Toilets for Camping (& My Own Toilet Setup)

Whether you’re a hardcore budget vanlifer, weekend warrior or car camper, one thing that all campers have in common is that..nature calls. Picking the right portable toilet for camping (AKA van life toilet) can make or break your experience!

And if I’ve learned anything on the road, it’s that nothing beats a reliable, comfortable, easy to setup portable toilet when you gotta go outdoors (or in a van). Oh, and a tight-seal Nalgene water bottle for those late night pees.

Let’s walk through the most popular types of portable toilets for camping, so you can figure out which loo is best for you!

Best Portable Camping Toilets

Camco Bucket Toilet

Serene Life Cassette Toilet

Playberg Folding Toilet

Thetford Flushable Toilet

Nature's Head Compost Toilet

5 Types of Portable Camping Toilets for Van Life

Which van life toilet best suits your needs? There’s a lot to consider, so let’s walk through an overview of each.

1. Bucket Toilets

Typical Price Range: $25 - $50

A bucket toilet is exactly as it sounds – a bucket that you use as a toilet. It’s the most basic type of portable camping toilet, and so simple that you can easily make one yourself using just a 5-gallon bucket. 

Pro-tip: use a garbage bag as a liner to make it easy to empty, and put some sawdust, peat moss, or coco coir in there to absorb liquid and help with the smell.

Buckets Toilets:

Camco toilet

– Any 5-gallon bucket with this on top


– Cheap.

– No complicated parts so it’s easy to use and maintain.

– Cleans and stores easily.



– Doesn’t smell great.

– No way to break down waste so it fills quickly.

– You’re pooping in a bucket…


A Slightly "Fancier" Bucket Toilet

Want a toilet that puts the “ass” in class? The Giantex Portable Travel Toilet is as fancy as you can get while still essentially just being a bucket toilet. Its current price tag is $65. 

It’s a bit bulkier than other bucket toilets, but it boasts a built-in toilet paper holder and a smaller, removable bucket for waste. What I like about this design is that you’re never directly going to the bathroom inside the outer shell, but just the inner bucket (that comes with a lid). This will make cleaning up a lot quicker and easier. 

2. Cassette Toilets

Typical Price Range: $150 - $500

A cassette toilet is a portable camping toilet that’s also known as a chemical toilet. It uses a chemical powder (gel or liquid) to break down waste and reduce odor. It operates like your toilet at home, meaning you can flush waste away into a holding tank where the chemicals will do their magic until it’s time to empty it. You can dispose of the waste at a pump-out station or public facility.

Cassette Toilets:

Serene Life Outdoor Portable Toilet

Thetford Porta Potti 260B


– Smell of waste is greatly reduced, and it’s “out of sight out of mind.”

– Can use it like a regular toilet. 

– Seals with a latch, so it’s easy to carry without spilling.


– Some chemicals can be bad for the environment

– You may not be able to dispose of waste everywhere.

– The pump system can break. 

– Chemical smells

– Repurchasing chemicals can get costly long term

3. Folding Seat Toilets

Typical Price Range: $25 - $50

A folding seat toilet may be the most basic of all portable camping toilets. A folding seat toilet at its most basic is not really a toilet– it’s a seat that you position above a hole in the ground to create the illusion of a toilet. One step up and you can attach a bag to the underside of the seat to catch waste. The bag detaches from the seat for easy disposal in any public toilet or porta-potty.

If you aren’t into expensive campervan builds, this could be the toilet for you.

Folding Seat Toilets:

Playberg folding portable toilet seat

Tri-To-Go Camping Foldable Portable Toilet Chair


– Lightweight, foldable, and easy to carry.

– Can double as a normal camping chair. 

– Cheap.


– One-time use bags are not great for the environment, and restocking can get pricey.

– If you’re not using bags, you must figure out how to dispose of the waste. 

– No way to combat smell.

4. Flushable Toilets

Typical Price Range: $150 - $900

The fanciest of portable camping toilets: the flushable toilet. A flushable toilet is as close as you’re going to get to a regular toilet when you’re camping. Flushable toilets are slightly less portable than other options because of their size, but if you’re someone who likes the feeling of using a real toilet, this is the option for you.

There are two types of flushing portable toilets: wet and dry. Wet flush toilets must be filled with fresh water, and waste is stored in a holding tank. Dry flush toilets use a bag inside the bowl and a special flushing mechanism. When you flush a dry flush toilet, the bag is twisted, sealed, and compacted into the holding tank, reserving space and eliminating the need for water.

Flushable Toilets

Thetford Porta Potti 365P Portable Toilet

Laveo Dry Flush Toilet


– Surprisingly lightweight (when empty).

– Wet flush toilets are not very expensive. 

– Very comfortable and the ultimate “out of sight out of mind” experience. 


– Wet flush toilets must be filled with fresh water.

– Dry flush toilets are pricey and use special one-time-use bags. 

– Complicated flushing system can break.

5. Composting Toilets

Typical Price Range: $200 - $1,000

Composting toilets are the most environmentally friendly portable camping toilets out there. They are also the only option that enables you to dispose of your waste in a regular garbage can (as long as it is sufficiently composted by the time you dispose of it.) Unfortunately, they are also the most expensive, and most are not truly portable (except for the Cuddy.)

A composting toilet has two separate tanks – one for liquids and one for solids. The separation of waste allows the solid waste to remain dry and to compost, usually with the aid of a bulking material like peat moss or coco coir. It also eliminates odor naturally: smells only happen when liquid waste combines with solid waste, forming sewage.

Composting Toilets

Nature’s Head

The Airhead

– Cuddy


– Environmentally friendly – no chemicals.

– Comfortable, can be used almost like a regular toilet. 

– No smell. 

– Can be left for months without emptying (in fact, it works better when you do this!)


– Expensive.

– Not truly portable – except for the Cuddy, which is a new model. 

– Liquids tank fills up pretty quickly.

Cheapest Van Life Toilets

Maybe you’re just looking for a very basic and inexpensive portable loo to use in a pinch. Check out these toilets that are a hybrid of the simplest designs, such as the bucket toilet and folding toilet. 

Trip Tips Portable Camping Toilet

For $38 you can get yourself a Trip Tips camping toilet, which packs up impressively small, just two inches wide! This makes it ideal for camping, backpacking, car rides, or van life. I don’t think you’ll want to be cleaning this out daily, though. It comes with one waterproof, reusable bag. 

The Trip Tips toilet can also be used as a stepping stool, small seat, trash bin, or a good ‘ol vomit bucket (yum). 

Vingli Portable Toilet

I can vouch for this budget portable toilet because it’s my go-to loo on the road! The Vingli Portable Toilet is a modest $25 and is essentially a plastic toilet seat lid with screw-on plastic legs. The toilet comes with two different sets of legs–a long and short set. 

You can fill the toilet seat with warm water to heat up your bum on a chilly morning, or to help weigh down the toilet. You can either dig a hole outdoors, and simply place to toilet above it, or (as I do) use compostable waste bags

IPXEAD Portable Camping Toilet

Look at this simple beauty–don’t you want to sit your tush on it? For just $26, the IPXEAD portable toilet can be yours. It’s advertised as an emergency toilet, but can also be a basic outdoor toilet. 

The legs are made of stainless steel and can support up to 250lbs. This toilet is so simple, that you just fold an 8-gallon plastic bag over the toilet seat, and that’s how it stays secured while doing your business.

My Portable Camping Toilet Setup

I’ve gathered some wild van life bathroom stories after a year on the road. From tasing myself accidentally in a pit toilet, setting up my portable toilet in a bed of fire ants, to ripping a hole in my compost bag while going to the bathroom INSIDE my van…

I prefer the great outdoors and a good poop shovel as my van life toilet. If that’s not an option, I use my collapsible Vingli toilet with Green Elephant portable toilet bags. Don’t forget the zip ties to make sure NOTHING escapes that bag!

Nalgene Water Bottle

Redcamp Folding Shovel

Vingli Portable Toilet

Green Elephant Waste Bags

Waste Bag Zip Cable Ties

How to Choose the Right Portable Camping Toilet


Comfort Level

If you’re the kind of hardcore outdoors-person who thinks “the world is my toilet”, then a foldable seat toilet over a hole in the ground might be all you need. Just make sure you’re observing the rules of the wilderness and packing out your waste if that’s required.

For those who need a bit more, uh, cush for their tush, a more typical flushable toilet or composting toilet might be preferable. 


The bucket toilet is certainly the cheapest option on the list. In fact, if you happen to have an old 5-gallon bucket laying around then boom – free toilet!

Composting toilets are at the other end of the spectrum, sometimes running as much as $1500 – but for that, you are getting a well-built, environmentally friendly solution that requires almost no maintenance and is unlikely to break on you.

Flushable and chemical toilets lie somewhere in between – usually in the $300-$700 range – but you will have the continuing cost of restocking bio bags or chemicals.

Frequency of Emptying

Emptying a toilet after every time you use it gets old, and if you’re using a bucket or foldable seat toilet, you will either be emptying the bucket or dealing with a bio bag after every use (unless you don’t mind sitting with the smell for a few days.)

Chemical, flushable, and composting toilets, on the other hand, can be emptied much less frequently. In fact, you can leave a composting toilet for months without emptying it.

Privacy Solutions

Let’s face it, going to the toilet while you’re camping is never going to be glamorous…unless you’re rocking one of these.  

Seriously though, whatever portable toilet solution you choose for your next camping trip, there are ways to make the experience more private, from the Yoni robe linked above to pop-up privacy tents to a complete portable bathroom system.


No matter what kind of camper or van lifer you are, taking care of business is something that happens multiple times a day. Don’t skimp and don’t leave it to chance. A portable toilet can mean the difference between a comfortable camping experience and a miserable one, and with so many options out there, you’re bound to find something that fits your needs.

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