In my opinion, a campervan toilet is a must-have piece of equipment. Not convinced? Why not just use the campsite toilet, I hear you say? Yes, it’s true, that all but the most basic campsites should have toilet facilities. Even so, I can guarantee that there’s going to be times that you wish you had your own loo.
Take it from me, it ain’t much fun trudging to the toilet in the dead of night (especially if it’s raining) and finally arriving to discover that there’s no toilet paper! Still need convincing? There have been many times in the middle of a long journey, miles from civilisation, when either my wife or I have needed a pee. I can’t tell you what a relief it is just to climb in the back of the campervan, and go. Aahhh!
OK, now you can see why having a toilet in your campervan is a good idea. So what are your options?
In a hurry? Skip to the summary and our recommended campervan toilets
Campervan toilet solutions:
There are 3 types of toilet you can use in a campervan. Bucket, two-part container (Porta Potti), and cassette. All of which use liquid chemical concentrate to break down the waste and mask odours. More about this later. (I bet you can’t wait!)
Chemical toilet prices range from around £25 for the basic bucket- type toilet. To over £350 for a high end, built-in cassette toilet. The size of your campervan (available space) ease of installation and budget will determine which toilet is going to be best suited for your needs.
With these factors in mind, I’ve researched what I think are the three best campervan toilet solutions. Hopefully, after reading this article, you’ll be able to choose the perfect loo for your campervan.
Quick fact: The first chemical toilet became available in the 1920’s. It was produced by Elsan, which is still a popular brand today. In world war two, the Elsan toilet was used by RAF bomber pilots. It was also used by civilians seeking protection in air raid shelters.
The bucket-type portable toilet:
The most basic and easy to use campervan portable toilet is a bucket-type toilet, like the Kampa Khazi Toilet. This type of camping toilet is going to be one of the cheapest portable toilets you’ll find. They consist of a removable waste bucket (with a lid) and are made from high-density polyethene, which makes them portable and lightweight whilst remaining reassuringly strong and sturdy.
The bucket-type of camping toilet does not have any kind of flush system and is probably only best used as an overnight toilet or for emergencies. Before using the toilet, tip a small amount of chemical toilet fluid in the bottom of the bucket and dilute with a little water. Once full, the toilet can be emptied at the campsite chemical disposal point.
As an alternative to using chemical concentrate, some people use biodegradable bags with a small amount of cat litter at the bottom. If you use this method, then bear in mind that you can’t dispose of the contents at the chemical disposal point. So probably best check with the campsite to make sure that they have alternate disposal facilities.
One big disadvantage of the bucket-type toilet is that unlike a two-part container type chemical toilet (see below), the waste bucket is not sealed. This may be an issue for containing odours and will certainly be a big consideration if you find yourself driving around with a half-filled waste bucket!
Even though this type of toilet is pretty basic, it will do the job it’s intended for. I’m sure you’ll agree, that it’s still a much better option than having to find your way to the toilet block in the middle of the night when you’re half asleep!
Two-part container type toilet:
The best selling Thetford Porta Potti Qube 165 – Recommended
The two-part chemical toilet is quite a step up from the bucket type toilet. They consist of two separate containers that are locked together when in use. The top container holds water (and bowl flush chemicals) for flushing the toilet. It also incorporates the toilet seat, toilet bowl, and flushing mechanism. The bottom (waste) container has a pull lever which opens and closes the opening where the waste goes down.
When the toilet needs emptying, the two containers are separated. The waste container is then carried over to the campsites chemical disposal point (CDP); then an articulated spout (if fitted) on the waste container is rotated 90 degrees, the end cap is removed, and the contents are poured away.
There are two main advantages to this type of two-part toilet over the bucket toilet. The first being that you can actually flush the toilet. The second is that the waste container is sealed, this keeps odours down to a minimum. This also makes it possible to travel if the toilet has been used, without the fear of any spillage!
This type of toilet makes an ideal campervan toilet and is a very popular choice amongst campervan, caravan, and boat owners. Speaking from my own experience using this type of toilet, I found them comfortable and easy to use. They also take up little space (especially the super compact Thetford Porta Potti Qube 335, see below). If you haven’t got the room for a dedicated bathroom area in your campervan, you can always make provision for the toilet under one of the seats, like some self-builders have.
Thetford Porta Potti toilets:
One of the best-known brands of the two-part toilet is Thetford, with their Porta Potti range of toilets. A very popular choice is the best selling Thetford Porta Potti Qube 165. The Qube 165 is well made (maximum user weight 28.5st ), easy to use, and incorporates a bellow manual flush system and an integrated articulated waste pouring spout. The 165 has a 15L top water container and a large 21L waste container. It has a seat height of 408mm and weighs approximately 4Kg.
For an extra few quid, you could go for the Thetford Porta Potti Qube 365 which has the same spec as the Qube 165 but also includes a waste level indicator and a better pump/flush action.
Need a small campervan toilet?
The super compact Thetford Porta Potti Qube 335 – Recommended
If you’re limited on space and are looking for a more compact two-part toilet then the Thetford Porta Potti 335 Qube toilet is a perfect choice, as it’s the smallest model available. The Qube 335 incorporates all of the features of the Thetford Qube range of toilets, such as a manual flush, pour spout, and even a level indicator. The small and lightweight (3.3Kg) Qube 335 has 10L water and waste tanks and has a seat height of just 308mm. This makes the 355 ideal for fitting under a seat or storing in a cupboard. The Qube 335 also comes with quick release hold down kit, which enables the toilet to be fixed to the floor if needed. If you’re looking for a small campervan toilet then the 335 Qube is a perfect choice.
The cassette toilet:
The third and most expensive option is the cassette toilet. As you can see from the picture, these more closely resemble the toilet you have at home. A cassette toilet works by collecting the waste in a removable sealed waste tank (cassette) which is accessed from outside the vehicle via an access door. This is a very convenient and hygienic way of emptying the waste cassette.
However, this also makes fitting a cassette toilet in your campervan more complicated. You’ll need to position the toilet so you can gain access to the rear of the toilet in order to pull out the cassette. A cassette toilet is also much larger than a two-part Porta Potti type toilet. So your campervan is going to have to be large enough to accommodate one.
Some cassette toilets will need to be plumbed into your vehicle’s water supply so that the toilet can flush, and if you decide to fit one of these ‘plumbed in’ type of cassette toilets, then the high-quality Thetford C200CS would make a good choice. It has a 17L waste tank, 180-degree swivel seat and an electric flush. Dimensions for the C200CS are 58cm x 35.3cm x 53.8 cm.
If you haven’t got the room for a permanent toilet in your campervan, then you could always use a toilet tent. Modern toilet tents are inexpensive (under £50) and easy to assemble. A little tip – don’t position the tent near any bright lights or with the sun behind it, or the whole campsite will see your silhouette!
As the name suggests, chemical toilets use liquid chemicals to break down the waste and mask odours. A chemical toilet uses two types of liquids. The liquid that goes in the toilet bowl (usually coloured blue or green). And the liquid that goes in the water flush container (usually coloured pink). Both types of toilet chemicals come in a concentrated form.
A word of warning, read the instructions carefully. Adding too much concentrate and not enough water can create an overpowering chemical smell. We always try and buy environmentally friendly (organic) toilet chemicals. In our experience, they work just as well as the non environmentally friendly ones, and cost about the same.
Some toilet chemical manufacturers, recommend the use of ‘easy to dissolve’ toilet paper. We have always used just normal toilet paper in our Porta Potti toilet with no problems.
Emptying the toilet:
When you talk about camping to the uninitiated, one subject that is guaranteed to get a reaction is the chemical toilet. The main fear seems to be of emptying it. Well, it’s really no big deal emptying a chemical toilet and you soon get used to it. Some campsites have only a basic chemical toilet disposal points (like an outside toilet around the back of the toilet block). However, most sites we stayed on last summer had a ‘proper’ CDP (chemical disposal point).
Emptying a chemical toilet such as a two-part ‘Porta Potti’ or cassette toilet, is simple. You take the waste tank (or cassette part of the toilet) over to the CDP. Then rotate the spout (this extends the opening so it’s further away from you). Next, undo the cap and pour. (Remember to hold down the air valve button as this will allow air to flow inside the tank or cassette.) This will release its contents.
Finally rinse out the waste tank or cassette with clean water (a hosepipe should be provided close by). Then add your concentrate and a little water, screw the cap back on, and you’re done. Remember to refill/top up the ‘flush’ water container, and add some flush (pink) concentrate.
There you have it, the DIY Campervans guide to campervan toilets!
So, which toilet would I recommend?
Unless you intend to fit a cassette toilet in your campervan, I would personally recommend choosing the Thetford Porta Potti Qube 165 or Thetford Porta Potti Qube 365 (with level indicator) for their ease of use and their flushing system plus their practicality and hygiene (both ‘in use’ and when emptying the toilet). And, not forgetting of course, their size, and affordability.
However, if space in your campervan is at a premium, then I would go for the super compact Thetford Porta Potti 335 Qube which has all the features of the larger model but without taking up quite so much room.
Oh, and one quick tip.
If you do choose a Porta Potti, stand the toilet on a rubber mat to stop it from slipping. This is what I did in our campervan. I also screwed a piece of wood to the floor at the front of the toilet to create a lip. This helps to prevent the toilet from sliding forward when travelling or braking.