When camping you have several options when choosing your campsite. You may choose to stay at a campground with showers and restrooms for your convenience. Campground restrooms are often well-stocked with toilet paper and running water for your hygiene needs, though not all public outhouses are created equal. Also, porta potties are not always available at all campsites. Car Camping and having a well-equipped RV gives the camper more options.
Some campers choose to get as close to back to nature as possible. If you are one of those people, you may find that the spot you chose has no toilet facilities, meaning you will need to do your business in the woods. This often means having to dig a hole to do your business in, and is not the most comfortable experience.
Luckily, you can have some level of comfort with a camping toilet. These are light, portable, comfortable, and environmentally friendly. What follows is a guide on how to create your own camping toilet to make your outdoor experience a little more comfortable.
DIY Camping Toilet
Creating your own camping toilet is a fairly easy DIY project. You will need a few materials to get started and this can be assembled fairly quickly. First, you will need the following supplies to get started:
- Utility knife
- Heavy-duty wire cutters
- ½” polyethylene pipe wrap insulation
- Large compostable garbage bags
- Sawdust to fill an empty 2-lb coffee container
- A sturdy 5-gallon bucket with lid
- Roll of toilet paper
Once you have all of your tools and supplies, you are ready to construct your camping toilet. This can be done in a few easy steps.
- Use your knife to cut the pipe insulation the length of the rim of the bucket. Fit the insulation along the rim and adjust as needed.
- Slide the handle of the bucket to one side, and using the wire cutters, cut the wire as close to the center of the handle as possible. Gently separate the wire of the handle where you made the cut and slide the toilet paper roll over where you have made the cut. This will be your toilet paper holder.
- Line the bucket with the garbage bag. This will keep the container clean after each use. Replace the pipe wrap and use a clamp to secure it to the rim when in use.
- After you’re done, sprinkle some sawdust in the toilet. This will absorb moisture as well as cut down on any odors.
- Remove the insulation wrap and secure the lid back on the bucket.
- When the bucket is full, remove the garbage bag and either bury it or dispose of it according to local regulations.
This toilet can be assembled easily and quickly. In no time, and at very little cost, you can have a comfortable toilet to do your business in.
If you or your camping buddies enjoy the comfort and familiarity of a traditional toilet seat, these can be attached as well. Using plastic adhesive, attach the toilet seat to the insulation tubing. Once the adhesive dries, you will have a comfortable seat that can be attached and detached from your toilet.
If you have a jigsaw, you can also trace the bottom of a seat onto a piece of plywood and cut out the seat.
- Then, drill holes through the wood at the points where the plywood will be screwed into the seat.
- Using four small wooden blocks, nail or screw them to one side of the plywood.
- Attach the plywood piece to the bottom of the seat using the screw holes at the hinge points.
- Place the seat over the bucket, ensuring it has a tight, secure fit.
If you cannot find sawdust easily kitty litter, sand, or newspaper are good alternatives. You want to make sure you have some type of absorbent material in your bucket to aid in cutting down on odors and moisture. Odor reducing garbage bags can also help in masking any odors. Deodorization not only will make your trip more pleasant but will keep from attracting animals to your camp.
For extra privacy, you may also designate an extra tent as the toilet tent. When traveling with a group, this is a good option to avoid having to lug the bucket around every time someone needs to use the bathroom. A simple canopy tent can create an easy to assemble and transport outhouse. Just make sure that whoever uses it last properly disposes of their waste.
Using a Pool Noodle for your Commode
If you cannot find insulation tubing, a pool noodle can work just as well. Pool noodles are cheap and easy to find at most stores. They also come in a variety of colors, if you want to make your camping toilet a little colorful and more inviting.
Much like with the insulation tubing, you are going to make a cut down the tube about the circumference of the 5-gallon bucket. Use your hands to make sure that the cut is deep enough for the pool noodle to fit securely around the rim of the bucket.
Portable Camping Toilet
Another option for campers are portable camping toilets. These toilets are designed to be easy to transport from campsite to campsite. Most of these toilets are on a foldable hinge with a toilet seat attached. A trash bag can be attached underneath the seat, or your 5-gallon bucket can be placed under the seat as well.
Portable camping toilets are also super lightweight. If you are backpacking, this may be a viable option. These toilets will fit snuggly over your backpack and won’t take up too much room. This will allow you to do your business in relative comfort.
Composting Camping Toilet
Composting camping toilets are a controversial alternative to the portable camping toilet. These toilets can be found in many campgrounds and parks across the country. The idea of these toilets is that it helps to break down human waste through the natural process of composting. The controversy comes from the fact that not all pathogens may be eliminated in this process.
The idea with these toilets is using separate toilets for liquid and solid waste. The dry waste is allowed to break down organically in a dry environment, which reduces water waste. The solid waste is mixed with solid materials like plant fibers and natural bacteria to create a compost like material. Using naturally absorbent materials such as moss will also help to cut down on any odors.
Composting toilets are becoming very popular with people who live off the grid or trying to go green. They are also popular with RVs and boaters in a portable form.
There are several types of portable composting toilets. These toilets are designed to separate solid and liquid waste. Other toilets use separate receptacles for each type of waste. The liquid waste can be properly disposed of, while the solid waste can be used to create compost.
Don’t Forget the Toilet Paper
This step should go without saying, but it is worth reiterating. Make sure to bring enough toilet paper for your needs while camping. You do not want to be out doing your business and realize you are out of toilet paper. This could lead to unpleasant situations such as wiping with leaves, etc. A good rule of thumb would be to take one roll for every two days you plan on camping.
If you worry about rolls of toilet paper taking up space in your back, Coleman makes toilet paper specifically for camping. These packs hold three rolls of toilet paper and can double as a dispenser. They also fit easily into a backpack.
Along with toilet paper, it is important to keep your hands clean. Using camping soap and wet wipes will help to keep your hands clean. Use them after each use of your toilet to keep your hands sanitary. Camping soap can work as an all-purpose cleaner, so it is worth adding it to your supply list.
Responsible Disposal of Waste
It is also important to properly dispose of your waste when you are finished using the camping toilet. Throw the garbage bag into proper trash can is available for hazardous waste, or bury the waste in the ground away from the campsite and water sources. Do not bury garbage bags. After emptying your camping toilet, sanitize it with soap and water.
Best Camping Toilets
As has already been discussed, there are several options when it comes to camping toilets. You can create your own bucket toilet to use, or you can also buy a camping toilet from many retailers such as Amazon. Most outdoor outfitters also have camping toilets available for purchase.
Emergency Zone has an emergency toilet seat. This seat easily snaps on to any 5-gallon bucket to make an instant camping toilet. Just make sure to line the container with your garbabge bag. When you are done, the seat comes off and can be stored away for future use.
For portable camping toilets, Green Elephant is a great choice. Their folding toilet is not only lightweight and portable but comes with plastic toilet bags. This bags cover the seat, so you do not have to worry about cleaning up any accidents. This is great for if you have little ones that will be camping with you.
Another easily portable toilet is available from Black Pine Sports. Their turbo toilet has a pop-up design which makes it easy to store. It comes in a zippered carrying case with waste bags and odor pills. Its sturdy design can also support 350lbs. This small toilet is perfect for backpacking and hiking with its compact design.
For a traditional bucket portable toilet, Relinace has you covered. Make of heavy-duty plastic, this camping toilet cames a detachable seat and can use any standard garbage bag for waste disposal.
If you want to go a little more high-tech, then Alpcour’s portable toilet may be the way to go. This toilet can be used with RVs, boats, or tent camping. The toilet has a 5-gallon receptacle and requires no extra power source for the flush system. It also has a spray cleaner, to make cleaning the toilet much easier. It also comes with a waste level indicator to let you know when it is full, as well as easy drain spouts to empty the contents. It also comes with a carrying case for easy transport and storage.
Final Being Responsible about Your Waste
No matter what type of camping toilet you decide to go with, being responsible for your waste is an important part of camping. Always dispose of your waste properly when you are camping. Human waste has many pathogens which can be harmful to the environment. Leaving your waste on the ground can cause disease to other campers as well as local wildlife and plant life.
Place your bag from the toilet inside another bag and, if available, in a hazardous waste bin at the campground. These bins are made to handle human waste and will be disposed of properly.
If this is not an option, find a spot a good distance away from the campsite and bury it. Make sure that it is not near a water source to avoid contamination. The hole should be at least 6 inches deep to keep animals from attempting to dig it up. Make sure to cover the whole and pack the dirt above it.
If burying is not an option, you will need to pack it with you and dispose of it at a proper site. Double-bag the waste in plastic bags. Using deodorization pills, odor-reducing garbage bags, and pleasant smelling absorbent materials will help if you are taking it away in your vehicle.
While this is not the most pleasant part of camping, it is important to be environmentally conscious. You want to make sure that not only is your camping experience enjoyable, but also for those that follow.
Related article: The 6 Best Backpacking Trowels Reviewed.