Travelling the country in your van can be so peaceful and fun. But those cool camping vibes can quickly become stressful without proper bathroom planning.
Whether or not to have a toilet in your van is a personal preference that is highly debated in the vanlife community. Ultimately, your decision will depend on:
My opinion on the matter is… unless you’re planning to spend all of your time in serviced campsites, having a toilet in your van is essential.
In this article, I’m going to touch on the following:
While some Vanlifers choose to install a more “permanent” plumbed toilet to really make it feel like home, a more popular choice in the Vanlife space is to purchase a portable toilet.
A portable toilet – as the name suggests – is a transportable toilet that can be used without a permanent connection to your van.
Here are a few features that make the portable toilet stand out:
Your toilet selection will really depend on your preferences but also your van’s layout. Let’s dig into the most popular portable toilet options.
Price Range: $90 – $250 (moderately expensive)
Cassette toilets are known for being budget-friendly, with separate containers for storing solid and liquid waste. They use chemicals and absorbents to keep the toilet odourless and sanitized. These portable toilets come with a water tank and a flush.
✅ Small & Compact
✅ Can feel like a normal toilet you’d find at home
✅ Easy to install
❌ Requires emptying
❌ Requires chemicals
❌ Can be smelly
This toilet costs around $245 and is both compact and reliable, making it one of the best portable toilets for vans.
✅ Convenient: Comes with a manual flush, a small cabinet for toilet paper, and a tank level indicator.
✅ Easy to Clean: Simply uncork the external pipe and empty the excrement directly into a sewage hole or disposal bag.
✅ Variety: Available in different models catering to a wide variety of customers.
❌ Toilet Paper Dispenser: The toilet paper dispenser can get stuck when on bumpy surfaces.
❌ Flush: The flush in this model is relatively slower than other models in the market.
❌ Complex Instructions: Several users have complained about the manual being too complicated.
Verdict: Thetford Porta Potti is a solid option if you are looking to invest in a portable toilet that is reliable, convenient, and durable.
The Camco portable travel toilet is another leading cassette toilet in the market, costing around $140.
✅ Secure: The toilet comes with side latches and a sealing valve that secures the toilet and ensures no odor escapes the container.
✅ Design: This product is specifically designed for vans and RVs and is therefore travel-friendly. Its sleek design also takes care of seating height and bowl size.
✅ Capacity: Camco Portable Toilet has an ample capacity of 5 gallons and a flush tank capacity of 2.5 gallons.
✅ One-touch flush: This model also includes a one-touch flush for ease of use and an indicator to notify when the bin is almost full.
❌ Awkward Position: The sitting position can feel a bit awkward, especially if you are taller than average. You may take some time to get used to it.
❌ Difficult to empty: The most common model includes a 5-gallon tank. However, it can be difficult to empty if almost full because it’s tricky to unclog, and the base is heavy.
Verdict: This cheaper cassette toilet works best for a small family with moderate toilet needs because the seat is a bit uncomfortable to use for a relatively long period of time.
Price Range: $990 – $1300 (most expensive)
Another popular option for portable toilets is the eco-friendly and sustainable composting portable toilet. This toilet allows you to separate the waste into different bins and compost it. Composting toilets are quickly becoming one of the most popular toilet options in the vanlife space thanks to their eco-friendly qualities.
✅ Less-frequent disposals
✅ Easy disposals (waste can be thrown in a dumpster or a deep hole in nature)
❌ Can take some getting used
❌ Can be smelly when not used correctly
❌ Requires maintenance
❌ Some models require 12-volt power
The Nature’s Head composting toilet costs around $1030 and is an excellent long-term option.
✅ Sustainable: This product ensures that the excrements are composted with peat moss. This helps keep the solid tank dry.
✅ Large Capacity: The large capacity of this product makes it one of the best toilets for vanlife. If only two people are using this toilet, it will require emptying every 5-6 weeks only.
✅ Zero Odor: With a separate urine jug and a sealed compost bin, you can avoid bad odors.
❌ Space: Being bigger than any other portable toilet, this item does take a lot more room in your van.
❌ Price: Relative to other portable toilets, this product is comparatively expensive.
Verdict: If you are looking to invest in a long-term, eco-friendly solution with convenient usage, this item is a perfect choice.
Another trendy composting toilet in the market is the Separett Villa, with a price tag of $989.
✅ Urine separation: The toilet offers urine separation by diverting urine to a separate tank. This makes it easy to compost solid waste.
✅ Conventional Style: With dimensions ranging from 131.1 x 15.6 inches, this toilet is a close substitute for a fixed toilet, especially for taller people.
✅ Light Indicator: This model notifies you when your solid waste tank is almost full so that you can empty it timely.
✅ Exhaust Fan: Separett villa includes an exhaust fan to keep things fresh and pleasant.
❌ Expensive: It costs $989, which can be a bit heavy on your pocket.
❌ Technical: Installation and usage can be overwhelming for many vanlifers.
Verdict: The Separett Villa is a robust option for full-time van lifers who are interested in value for their money.
Price Range: $20 – $50 (least expensive)
These toilets are ideal for emergency usage or quick trips. They are known for their small size and easy disposal system.
✅ Most basic and portable option
✅ Very affordable
✅ Easy to set up and use
✅ Doesn’t require chemicals
❌ Bags need to be purchased and thrown out frequently
❌ Not a desirable aesthetic, if that’s important to you
This toilet is a bucket toilet that costs $20 and works well for most van lifers. Let’s look at its pros/cons.
✅ Cheap: This toilet is one of the cheapest portable toilets you can find on the market, making it an ideal budget-friendly option
✅ Easy-to-use: The Luggable Loo is an easy-to-use toilet with a slide-and-slip lid.
✅ Efficient disposal system: The toilet works fine with most trash bags to dispose of the waste. You can buy the official Double Doodie bags to feel more comfortable and at ease.
❌ Can tip over: This toilet can easily tip over in windy weather or bumpy ground. You can put in some rocks when not used to ensure it keeps standing.
❌ Small size: The toilet seat is too small for adults, making it challenging to sit and balance yourself when using the toilet.
Verdict: If you are looking for a cheap and easy toilet option with minimal usage, the Luggable Loo can be the perfect option for you.
The Green Elephant Portable Toilet is a foldable toilet that is a great option for emergencies with a price tag of $50.
✅ Saves space: With a sleek foldable design, this toilet can be tucked away anywhere in the van without worrying about space issues.
✅ Easy-to-use: You can conveniently use this toilet with a toilet bag or over a hole.
✅ Ensures cleanliness: The toilet bag covers the entire seat, ensuring that all the waste is safely collected in the bag. This way, you don’t have to clean any remaining waste yourself.
✅ Kid-friendly: As the toilet has sturdy and built with stainless steel, it is an ideal option for kids.
❌ Uncomfortable: Like most portable toilets, this toilet will also take some time to get used to as it doesn’t feel like a conventional toilet.
Verdict: With a strong built and budget-friendly value, this toilet is an excellent option for emergencies.
Thanks to their compact design and efficient functionality, portable toilets are a great solution for any campervan. Whether you are going for a more expensive option such as a composting toilet or evaluating cheaper alternatives such as a bucket toilet, you can count on convenience and value for your money.
Here’s a wrap-up of the complete article:
After reading through this guide to the best portable toilets for vanlife, I hope you feel more confident with your selection. Depending on your usage, capacity, lifestyle, and the bathroom option that you prefer, you are now the best judge to know which portable toilet is best for you!
Thinking of building a bathroom in your self-converted van? Read this first!
It’s natural to become hyper-aware of all the systems you have on the go in your new home-on-wheels.
Whether you want to incorporate all the comforts of home into the van, or you’re gearing up for some adventurous offroading, you may find yourself with a long wishlist of upgrades for your van.