Best Campervan Toilet Options for Van Life

Learn about the best camper van toilet options including composting, cassette, and emergency toilets, plus where to find restrooms on the road

Learn about the best camper van toilet options including composting, cassette, and emergency toilets, plus where to find restrooms on the road

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I’ve spent the last 6 years traveling in three different Sprinter Van conversions, and during that time, I’ve experimented with a variety of campervan toilet options. Understandably, where you go to the bathroom is one of the most commonly asked van life questions, so in this blog post, I share the most common toilets used by van lifers.

Over the years, I’ve tried portable cassette toilets, a composting toilet, pee jars, and my favorite Go Anywhere Toilet. Through personal experience and my conversations with so many van lifers, I can share the pros and cons of the best campervan toilet options for van life and how to pick the right one for your van conversion.


Pros & Cons of Campervan Toilets

You might be wondering whether you need a toilet or not in your campervan. I’ve done van life with and without one, and after 6 years, I’ve determined that you do need some way of going to the bathroom inside of your van. You don’t necessarily need a permanent toilet or an entire bathroom, but having something you can use for emergencies or in the middle of the night is really helpful.

Campervan Toilet Pros

  • Convenience – Having a toilet means you’ll never have to search for a bathroom, dig a hole (where this is allowed), or go outside in the middle of the night
  • Comfort – Sitting on a toilet in your van is more comfortable than popping a squat
  • Privacy – If you’re camping with a group, having a toilet allows you to do your business without anyone else knowing what you’re up to
  • Cleanliness – There are some nasty public bathrooms out there
  • More Leave No Trace Friendly – With the increasing number of van lifers living on public lands, having a toilet on board is a more environmentally responsible choice that will help keep our campsites more clean

Campervan Toilet Cons

  • Emptying the campervan toilet – No matter what kind of toilet you have, there will be chores associated with dumping it. Some toilets are easier to deal with than others. Depending on which toilet you have, this process is not only NOT fun, but when your toilet is full, emptying it becomes your top priority over any adventure you might have planned for that day.
  • Smell – When cared for properly, your campervan toilet technically shouldn’t smell, but this isn’t always the case. You may get the occasional whiff, even if it’s its only deodorizer, in your very small space.
  • The space it consumes – Camper van toilets aren’t that big, but they still take up quite a bit of precious space when you are living in less than 100 square feet. You also need to plan your conversion and floorplan around the toilet, otherwise, you might not have anywhere good to store it once your van is built. Dedicating a compartment to a toilet means you have to leave something else behind.
Thetford Porta Potty in a Sprinter Van
The portable camper van toilet in my first Sprinter van

Best Campervan Toilets that Use Wag Bags

Who wag bag toilets are good for: people who want something small, compact, inexpensive and portable and don’t mind using a public bathroom when they are available

Pros:

  • takes up the least amount of space
  • relatively affordable campervan toilet option (not including wag bags)
  • requires no/minimal cleaning or upkeep
  • easy to set up
  • super portable – can use it outside or transfer it between vehicles
  • great emergency toilet when no public toilets are available

Cons:

  • can only be used for #2
  • wag bags are expensive & the bags themselves are not environmentally friendly
  • the bags can start to stink if you don’t throw them in a garbage can quickly
  • doesn’t feel like a “real toilet”

Wag bag toilets are a low-tech, inexpensive camper van toilet option for van lifers who want a toilet for occasional use and/or emergencies. They are very basic, they have a base, a toilet seat to sit on, and a bag to catch solid waste. They are designed specifically for poop, but depending on the type of wag bag you use, the bag may be able to handle some liquid as well.

Wag bags can be expensive, and many van lifers will makeshift their own wag bags using normal garbage bags in order to save money. In our van, we have the Cleanwaste Foldable GO Anywhere Toilet described below. Since we don’t want to be paying to use wag bags every single day, we only use our toilet when we are camping on public lands and there are no clean public toilets available.

The major advantage of wag bag toilets is that there really are no chores associated with them. You do your business, seal up the bag, and throw it in any garbage can. It’s really that simple.

If you choose a wag bag toilet, you will also likely utilize a pee jar for going pee. In our van, Ryan goes pee in a Nalgene and I go in an empty risotto jar from the grocery store. This method of going to the bathroom in your van requires you to be very comfortable with anyone you might be traveling with. I share more about this at the bottom of the post.

Most Compact Van Toilet: Cleanwaste Foldable GO Anywhere Portable Toilet

  • Weight: 7 lbs
  • Packed Dimensions: 19 x 15 x 4 in
Cleanwaste Foldable Go Anywhere Toilet
Check Price: REI I Amazon

After traveling in my second Sprinter van for 2 years without a toilet, in 2020 we decided to get the Cleanwaste Foldable GO Anywhere Toilet. We wanted an emergency toilet on board, as well as to avoid public restrooms at that time. Since our van conversion wasn’t designed with a toilet in mind, we didn’t have a dedicated space for a toilet. Therefore, we needed something small and compact that could be stored out of the way. This portable toilet fits on a shelf right under our bed with immediate access whenever we need to use it.

The GO Anywhere Toilet is about the size of a briefcase when stored. When you’re ready to use it, you unfold the toilet legs, lift the lid, and attach a wag bag. It takes about 1 minute to set up. Then you sit down, poop into the wag bag, throw any used toilet paper into the wag bag, seal it up, and toss the wag bag into a garbage can. I really like this campervan toilet because there are no weekly chores associated with it. You never have to deal with dump stations or emptying compost.

Cleanwaste makes wag bags specific for this toilet that have powder in them that will solidify any liquids. While not designed as a toilet for liquids, the powder means you don’t have to worry if you accidentally pee in the wag bag while you are pooping. The wag bags also come with toilet paper and an alcohol wipe that you can use to wipe down the toilet seat or your hands when you are done.

The GO Anywhere Toilet is quite economical, but only if you truly utilize them occasionally vs. everyday use. The wag bags can be expensive, but you can save on them by buying the wag bags in bulk or by sharing a wag bag with another person before you seal it up. You can also buy the powder separately and make your own bags.

A Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Foldable Toilet in a camper van
I used the Cleanwaste Foldable Go-Anywhere Toilet in my second van

Cheapest Campervan Toilet Option: Luggable Loo

  • Weight: 3 lbs 1 oz
  • Dimensions: 15.6 x 14 x 13 in
Lugaloo Portable Toilet
Check Price: REI I Amazon

The Reliance Products Luggable Loo is a very simple 5-gallon bucket with a snap-on toilet seat lid, and it is the cheapest option on this list. You could go pee straight into the bucket and dump and rinse in the morning, but that could get messy quickly if you can’t clean it regularly. For poop, you can line the bucket with their compatible Double Doodie Bag which contains an absorption powder to neutralize odors. When you are done, you simply seal up the bag and throw it in the trash. Because of the size of the toilet, the bags are designed to be used multiple times before you throw them away.

This option takes up more space than the Go Anywhere foldable toilet, but it’s much cheaper and if you only use it for #2 (with lined bags), you can use it for storage when not in use. Another advantage is because it’s a simple 5-gallon bucket, any type of trash bag will fit helping to save money on the wag bags.


Best Portable Casette Toilets for Van Life

Who cassette toilets are good for: people who want access to a normal toilet in their van but don’t want to have to deal with installing anything permanent, people who want a toilet that feels the most similar to home

Pros:

  • smaller and more compact than composting toilets
  • doesn’t require venting or installation
  • easy to move around
  • way more affordable than a composting toilet
  • no need to stock up on wag bags

Cons:

  • requires frequent dumping at dump stations which often cost money to use
  • dumping is not a fun chore
  • pee and poop goes into a single container and this requires heavy deoderizer chemicals in order to avoid nasty smells

Portable cassette toilets function most like a regular toilet in that you sit on the seat, and everything goes into a toilet, or “cassette” bowl. Then you flush it, and it rinses everything down into the holding tank. You have to use a healthy amount of scented deodorizer, which breaks down the poop into a liquid and prevents it from smelling. Then once you reach the max fill line, you have to find an RV dump.

I used a cassette toilet in my first Sprinter van, and I really hated dumping it. To dump it, you take the entire toilet out of your van, as there is no permanent plumbing. Then you separate the holding tank from the bowl, unscrew the hose, and pour it down the dump drain. Then rinse and repeat. As you can imagine, it’s not the most pleasant of activities. I’d recommend wearing gloves and closed-toed shoes. This type of portable campervan toilet is also very affordable relative to the composting toilet.

I know plenty of van lifers who have cassette toilets that are perfectly happy with them, so it really just comes down to personal preference and budget. Here are a few top choices for cassette toilets:

Most like your Toilet at Home: Thetford Porta Potti Curve Portable Toilet

  • Weight: 10 lbs
  • Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 16 in
  • Total capacity: 5.5 gallons
Thetford Curve Portable Toilet
Check Price: Amazon

The Porta Potti Curve Portable Toilet by Thetford is the one I had in my first Sprinter Van. It’s comfortable and has a 4-gallon fresh water tank with a battery-powered electric flush. The waste water tank is 5.5-gallons and the bottom section can easily be removed for dumping. There are plenty of options from Thetford for portable van toilets depending on your space and needs.

Compared to the Dometic portable toilet mentioned below, this one is taller and feels more like a normal toilet. The downside is it takes up quite a bit of room and won’t fit as tight in a cabinet.

Best Compact Casette Toilet: Dometic Portable Toilet

  • Weight: 14 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.5 x 15.5 x 16.5 in
  • Total capacity: 2.6 or 5 gallons
Dometic Portable Toilet
Check Price: Amazon

The Dometic Portable Toilet is a smaller cassette toilet option that is popular among van lifers. It uses a touch-button flush so no pumping or batteries are required.

It comes in two sizes – 2.6 gallons and 5 gallons, depending on your needs. Personally 2.6 gallons seems very small, especially if being used by two people. Using the 5-gallon toilet, you will need to find a dump station every 4-5 days with everyday use. If you go for the 2.6 gallon version, you might consider using this only for poop and utilizing a pee jar for pee. That way you won’t have the dump the toilet as frequently.


Best Composting Toilets for Van Life

Who composting toilets are good for: people who want to use their van toilet for both pee and poop, people who go off-grid frequently

Pros:

  • has separate compartments for liquid and solid waste to prevent smells
  • most environmentally-friendly option
  • easiest to dump & requires the least frequent dumping (every few weeks depending on how many people are using it)

Cons:

  • most expensive van toilet option
  • most need to be bolted down and require venting to the outside
  • typically requires 12V power
  • toilet will be full before poop is fully composted, so unless you have access to a backyard compost pile you will still need to put the poop/compost mixture and throw it in the garbage

Composting toilets are quickly becoming one of the more popular toilets for van life due to some advantages over the cassette toilet described above. For most composting toilets, you fix it to the floor using a pair of brackets, hook it up to a 12-volt power source, and then run the ventilation hose to the outside of your van. Composting toilets separate liquids and solids tank which means you can use the toilet for both #1 and #2.

On the poop side, you use composting fibers (coconut and peat moss are popular materials) and instead of flushing away your waste at dump stations, the poop begins the composting process to become nutrient-rich soil. Because of the compact nature of these composting toilets, the poop won’t be fully composted before the toilet is full. That means you wouldn’t want to spread the compost on your garden or just toss it in the forest since it will still be full of bacteria. Instead, most van lifers will put the poop/compost mixture in a garbage bag and throw it in the trash. Check out this blog post about how to responsibly dispose of solid waste from a composting toilet.

The big differences between the best composting toilets for van life have to due with their overall size, how much pee they can hold, and whether they ned to be vented to the outside of your van.

Here are some popular composting van toilet options:

Easiest Campervan Composting Toilet to Dump: Trelino Evo Composting Toilet

  • Weight: 9.5 lbs
  • Dimensions: 13 x 15.4 x 14 in
  • Liquid capacity: 1.3 gallons
  • Solid capacity: 2.1 gallons
Product image of the Trelino composting toilet.
Check Price: Trelino

The Trelino Evo Composting Toilet is the lightest, most compact, and easiest composting toilet to dump. It doesn’t need to be vented or permanently installed, so it’s portable and can be used inside or outside your van. Since you line the solid’s bucket with a compostable bag, you don’t have to pour or scoop the poop out to empty it. Reviewers appreciate its lightweight and small size, plus the sturdiness of the seat.

Trelino also makes the Origin Composting Toilet, which is even sturdier, has a wooden lid, and doubles as a step stool or seat. There are three sizes in both the Trelino Evo Series and Origin Series. The small is the most portable and lightweight, while the medium is compact and most versatile. The large is a convenient option for full-time use due to its capacity. Reviewers also note that the large size is the most comfortable for sitting due to its extra height, which you may want to consider especially if you are tall.

Largest Capacity Composting Toilet for Van Life: Nature’s Head Composting Toilet

  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Dimensions: 21.5 x 19 in
  • Liquid capacity: 2.2 gallons
Nature's Head Composting Toilet // Where do vanlifers go to the bathroom? Learn about the best campervan toilet options, the pros and cons of each, and my method of choice.
Check Price: Amazon

The Nature’s-Head Composting Toilet is a self-contained composting toilet that tackles odors by separating the pee and the poop. When the pee side is full, you can dump it anywhere  – in an outhouse, in a pit toilet, or in the forest (make sure to be respectful to other campers and to follow local regulations and Leave No Trace principles by emptying it more than 200 feet from any water sources). According to reviews, the 2.2-gallon urine container needs to be emptied every 1-2 days if used regularly by 2 people.

There are two versions of the Nature’s Head but the only difference is the handle. The spider handle adds 2″ to the width of the toilet, while the crank adds 5″. Reviewers note the crank is easier to use, but it’s personal preference as far as space saving goes.

Largest Solid Capacity: Air Head Composting Toilet

  • Weight: 29 lbs
  • Dimensions: 22 × 19 × 16 in
  • Liquid capacity: 1 or 2 gallons
  • Solid capacity: ~5 gallons
Air Head Composting Toilet
Check Price: Air Head

The Air Head Composting Toilet is the oldest composting toilet on the market and is super popular on boats. This toilet works in the same way as the Nature’s Head, and it’s gaining popularity in the van community because it’s slightly smaller than the Nature’s Head (but still larger overall than other toilet options). In terms of solid capacity, this toilet can hold the most before you need to dump it.

You can also customize the Air Head’s liquid tank size (1 or 2 gallons), tank shape, and what side of the toilet you want the crank and plumbing on. Similar to the Trelino Evo, the Air Head allows you to dump your liquids tank without opening the solids tank. Its liquid tank is opaque (vs. Nature’s Head) which makes dumping your pee a little more inconspicuous.

Most Stylish Composting Toilet: CompoCloset Cuddy

  • Weight: 21 lbs
  • Dimensions: 16.3 x 15.1 x 16.8 in
  • Liquid capacity: 1.7 gallons
  • Solid capacity: 3.9 gallons
Compo Closet Cuddy Composting Toilet
Check Price: CompoCloset

Originally funded by an Indiegogo campaign, the CompoCloset Cuddy is about the same size as a cassette toilet, making it smaller than most other composting toilets. Many reviewers comment that they love how the toilet has a wooden toilet seat option to make it more aesthetically appealing in their van.

Similar to the Trelino Evo, it doesn’t require permanent installation or venting to the outside, making it another portable option. The Cuddy has a carbon filter to reduce odors (why it doesn’t require venting), and it can be hardwired into your battery or plugged into an AC outlet.

Once I got the ratio of water-to-compost material right, the toilet did not stink. I love the compact and streamlined design. Due to its small size, it does have a smaller capacity than the Nature’s Head and Air Head, and both the pee and poop need to be emptied more frequently. The pee bottle is opaque, but it has an LED light that indicates when the pee bottle is full and needs to be emptied. Compo Closet was still working out a few kinks at the time I tested it in 2022 (I had an issue with the pee draining properly into the bottle). In recent reviews, van lifers mention they love how it is easy to empty and odorless.


What if you don’t have a toilet in your van

Several years ago, I traveled without a campervan toilet in my van. I didn’t want to deal with the chores, and I personally didn’t mind digging a hole when camping in the forest. However, with the increasing number of van lifers living on public lands, I’ve since decided that not having a toilet is an irresposible decision for those of us who spend a significant amount of time on the road. Having a toilet in your van is a more environmentally responsible choice that will help keep our campsites clean for others to use.

With that said, if you are a weekend warrior or you spend most of your time in paid campgrounds with bathroom facilities, you may decide you don’t need a toilet in your van. Toilets are certainly a sacrifice in space and can be an inconvenience to deal with, but you should be aware that there are an increasing number of places that no longer allow you to legally dig a hole due to overuse. Fortunately in many of those areas, we are starting to see more outhouses being installed for campers to use, but it’s always a good idea to have a couple of wag bags on hand for emergencies.

One really important thing to keep in mind if you choose to go the no toilet route is that you need to be very well-versed with Leave No Trace guidelines on how to properly poop outdoors and ALWAYS PACK OUT YOUR TOILET PAPER. This means throwing your used toilet paper in your garbage, not leaving in your fire pit for the next campers to burn.

Free dispersed camping areas are being closed due to campers not following Leave No Trace principles (ie taking surface dumps and not packing out their toilet paper). It’s really gross, and as van lifers who often live and recreate on public land, we have a responsibility to do better.

A poop kit on the ground - zip loc back, orange trowel, roll of toilet paper, and hand sanitizer
My poop kit for going #2 outdoors

If you are relying on public facilities, there are toilets everywhere…campgrounds, gas stations, grocery stores, rest areas, trailheads, McDonald’s, and the list goes on. Some of them are cleaner than others, but it’s usually pretty easy to find a bathroom in town or at a trailhead after a night of dispersed camping.


All about Pee Jars

There is nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night in your van, putting shoes on, and going outside in the dark to pop a squat. If you don’t have a toilet or you use a wag bag toilet, you’re going to want a solution for going pee inside your van.

Introducing the pee jar…Men can easily pee into a Nalgene, and women are going to want to look for a large, empty plastic wide-mouthed jar that they can pee into while standing up. It’s just like peeing in a cup at the doctor’s but a lot easier due to the large size of the opening and the jar itself.

As I mentioned, I use an empty risotto or cous cous jar. I find them to have enough capacity for a couple of pees, and they are easy to hold onto while I’m going. When I’m done, I just screw the lid on, put it in a cabinet, and then I dump it in the morning, either outside away from any campsites following Leave No Trace principles or in a campground toilet. After dumping it, I rinse it out, spray it with a 1:1 mixture of vinegar and water, and then it’s good as new.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t feel that ladylike when I’m doing this, and I can literally see some of your squealing faces as you read this… but ladies…realizing that you don’t need a bathroom to go pee is one of the most liberating feelings. If the trailhead toilet is gross, I just go in my jar. If we are driving down the highway, and I can’t hold it until we find a restroom, I go in my jar. No big deal. And dealing with the aftermath isn’t a big deal either.

If you are worried about people seeing your pee in a jar, then I’d recommend putting duct tape around the outside so no one can see what’s in it. You can also use a dark-colored Nalgene water bottle with stickers on it. Stickers are a good reminder that it’s not your water bottle that you want to drink out of.

If you’re traveling with a significant other and you are worried about what they might think, then you might want to rethink who you are choosing to do van life with. It’s close quarters, and to cohabitate in a van, you have to be very comfortable with one another.

What about those pee funnels?  Some people swear by pee funnels and others (including myself) don’t find them necessary. With a wide-mouthed plastic jar, you won’t need a pee funnel. One of our team members uses the P Style, but it really comes down to the individual and what works for your body.


Have you tried any of these campervan toilet options? Do you plan to have a toilet in your van? Share your tips, questions, and experiences in the comments below.

Learn about the best camper van toilet options including composting, cassette, and emergency toilets, plus where to find restrooms on the road

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77 Comments

  1. 5 gallon bucket with a pool noodle for seat, wag bag, and most importantly a Gamma lid. Keeps odors inside and just use a Tide wide mouth bottle to separate the #1. best and cheapest solution. Trent and Allie did a good video on the chemical toilet and could not stand emptying poo. I much prefer taking a black hefty bag to the rubbish 1x a week and emptying the bottle at the gym.

      1. Talk to a ranger or parks person about how they feel when they empty the trash and discover one of these “just dump it in the trash” sealed bags…
        Flush or bury your human waste

        1. Ziplocked small trashbags left in a dumpster are cleaner than diapers (seniors or children) and other people trash. I will ask a ranger when i see one as i cannot imagine they have an opinion on it – burying waste isn’t such a hot option either as seen on popular hiking trails. Not sure i get your point.

  2. WOW! campervan toilet options really is very essential for everybody. This article really useful for me. I confused for choosing the campervan toilet information what would be the best for everything. But review this article my confusion has cleared. Thanks a lot for sharing such an informative article about best campervan toilet options and where to go to bathroom and I have pleased to get this blog page. I have read your valuable page and gotten much information. Thanks Kristen and keep it up…….

  3. Of all the toilets mentioned, I think I’d have to stick with the Nature’s Head.

    It’s the only toilet on the list that does not mix solids and liquids creating either sewage or a chemical slurry of yukness!

  4. That’s a good point that you would want to have a toilet with you if you are going to be camping for a long time. I am thinking about camping in a single spot for a while, so it might be a good idea to invest in a full on porta potty. That way I wouldn’t have to worry about taking my toilet with me wherever I go. I could just have someone come take care of it for me.

  5. Me personally, it is essential. I am looking to build an adventure van and this is the #1 reason. I have dealt with stomach issues my whole life and it has made me miss out on so many adventures and life events. I say no more! If I have a toilet with me 24-7, I can go where I want without worry. This is a game changer for me and the main reason I am thinking of swapping my built Jeep for an adventure van. Many people can say “oh just stop at a McD’s or gas station when you need to”. That’s not always an option.

    1. Spot on Jeremy! My folding toilet with poo powder creates so much simplicity in my travels. I can drive whereever i want and not try to plan out toilet stops etc. I also use my Reliance folding toilet and bags for all trash. Cat litter, #1, wet paper towels, food scraps, coffee grounds and then roll inside bag down into ziplock outside bag. Game changer! Freedom! ZIplock works great to keep the smell out if i am not close to a trashcan and i just place bags outside of van until i am heading somewhere with trash cans. Not a big deal. Enjoy!

    2. I’m in my third year of being diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and it’s put a dead-stop to any outdoor activities and traveling. There are times where I have less than a minute to find a restroom and just thinking about driving anywhere gives me anxiety now. This year I purchased a portable toilet off amazon and rented a small cargo van so that I could join my family on a trip out of state. I even built a removable poop-station using PVC, a heat gun, and black-out curtains for privacy. Having the toilet in the van while traveling cut out all of my anxiety and my family was ecstatic that I was able to come along. Now I’m putting together a list of items to make my own travel/camper van.

    1. Im in the US and there doesnt appear to be any way to order one for US folks. Sadly. And I couldnt even find a price for the caravan model.

      1. Trish, click to the website, they are now in the US and Canada. A total of 4 distributors in the western US and Hawaii, and 2 in the Eastern US. They say something about it being a dealer installation, as there is electrical, gas, and a vent component, but of course you make the call…

    2. Wow! That is a cool concept for a toilet!!!. I never heard of it before, but it’s the best idea yet!

    3. i know someone who has an incineration toilet in his boat. it seems to be a more primitive model than the Cinderella – you can’t let too much liquid get in the bag with your “solids”, or it won’t incinerate (i’m wondering how the Cinderella gets around this logical problem, maybe the bags are made of higher-tech material?) so basically you end up having to pee in the sink (there’s a big warning label on the toilet so that visitors don’t excrete the wrong material down the wrong hole). it seems fine if it’s just you & your mate or a few friends on the boat, but a party full of people unfamiliar with the workings of your toilet are going to make a big mess of things. & it’s a boat, so it’s not like you can just pull up to the next rest stop & use their toilet if you’ve messed up yours. though he kept his mostly parked, it was an industrial area so theoretically you could try to take a crap behind the cement factory (but try explaining yourself if you got caught)

      unrelated to the long-winded Cinderella question, does anyone have any experience with the Porta-Potti re: stability? i’m just terrified that i’m on my way to the RV dump & i stop suddenly & the thing flops open, spilling unmentionable fluids all over the nice carpeted (WHY THE HELL ARE ALL RVs CARPETED CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME) floor. bc other than that, the price is certainly right, & i like that it isn’t permanent in case i want to move things around or change the layout or whatnot.

  6. I think cassette toilets are most useful in emergency moments. I already using it. Actually I’m a solo traveler. This kind of cassette toilets is looking beautiful and easy to carry. Most importantly, it’s user-friendly. In an emergency moment, we should use such kind of toilet that’s are like we can open fast and use fast. In that case, cassette toilets are really good.

  7. Love love love that you address peeing in a jar in this post!! One of the first questions my friends always asked when I first moved into my van was “where do you pee?!” I hated to paint the visual, but we really shouldn’t be embarrassed about about these common life occurrences.

    In a real pinch for #2 I’ve also double-bagged my garbage can and placed a few paper towels in the bottom before doing my business. At the end of the day, we are all toilet-paper entrepreneurs when we have to be 😉

  8. WOW! You had me at large wide mouth container. I know how to pee/poo in the woods and I’ve sworn off the funnel to bottle method after a few backpacking trips. While a Porta Potti would be nice I still consider it a luxury. Thank you for such helpful information!

  9. I have had a pee funnel with a hose that drains underneath my van since the 80s, I upgraded the funnel system to a “female fit” model about 8 years ago, I thought we were “good to go” when it came to #1. Then my wife asked if we could buy a toilet tent and a bucket toilet, it takes us about 20 minutes to unpack & set up and about 30 minutes to re-pack and stow away. It has held up to 40 mph winds if set up with all the stakes & ropes which adds another 10 minutes to the set up time. The toilet contents are in a plastic bag with absorbent beads designed to turn liquid into solids. Easy to zip lock and put into the trash, no smells after the bag is sealed.
    I can’t get any ladies to explain why the funnel is not user friendly for females but I believe my wife when she says “It Just Isn’t”, she still occasionally uses the funnel. When I grew up in the 60s my ant used a coffee can for both #1 & 2 in her trailer.
    We will soon be buying a larger van (current van is a 1973 Dodge) and we will probably be building the interior ourselves, my wife has requested a flushing toilet and a shower, this is how I found your article & blog.

    1. Thanks for sharing that Mikey! It’s always helpful to hear about other people’s setups and what they’ve tried.

      1. Wow! Thanks for all the work you did! I have a Roadtrek with a leaky black tank and the cost of replacing it will be astronomical! So I began looking for other options. This article was really helpful. I had been thinking a compost toilet would be the way to go, but seems like that requires quite a bit of work to empty too. Now I’m thinking the wag bags seem like an easy doable option since there is already a toilet in the camper. Couldn’t I just put a wag bag in there and throw it away after a couple of uses or is it only good for 1 use?

        1. I think most wag bags are designed for one time use, plus I can’t imagine it would be nice to have to open and close them and use them multiple times. There may be wag bag options out there that we’re not familiar with though that could potentially be used more than once…

          1. Can you use garbage bags, like with luggable loo? I’m just familiar with loo, we’ve used one for decades when unable to get to a bathroom.

          2. Normal garbage bags would work if they fit around the bucket. We recommend WAG bags (now called GO Anywhere Toilet Kit) because they contain a gel that deodorizes and breaks down waste. They are also safe to throw in a normal trash can. (Human waste in a regular trash bag shouldn’t be thrown in a normal trash can).

        2. I use a similar setup with a double doody bag and I use it for all kinds of trash and multiple times for #1. I empty my used coffee filter and grounds, cat litter mounds from my cat, any food scraps and #1 about 3-4 times before it is time to roll up and zip lock closed. I do add a tablespoon of Poo Powder to the bottom of each new bag, even though some powder comes with. Poo Powder works great for more than one use, i know i push it to the max sometimes, but it always gels up and no leaks at all.

    2. Can you tell us about tha “absorbent beads” , product name, and where to buy? Are these better than Kitty litter?? Thanks.

  10. A friend always has a traffic cone in the van which when turned upside down with a couple of liners in it is a rather precarious toilet.

  11. With my experience as a partial vanlifer (live and work from my van 1-3 months at a time a few times a year) over the past 5 years, based out of CO and travel in all directions (except East, there’s nothing THAT way :-), I would agree with almost everything you said. What isn’t true is “I’ve only had a dig a hole a handful of times this summer, but know that’s always an option.”. No, it isn’t always an option. You mentioned UT in your article, so surely you’ve come across dispersed camping areas where you are required to have a waste system with you because they don’t want you pooping in the desert. Even if you are there less than 24 hrs, I know I would likely need to poop before I can get somewhere. And frequently I’m in these areas for several days, doing fun stuff like climbing and canyoneering. What’s more, I’m finding those kinds of areas popping up more frequently. Of course also popping up more frequently are more and more no camping, or no overnight parking, areas.

    That said, I came to your article looking for options since I don’t have a toilet in my van either. I usually just carry some wagbags but ya pretty inconvenient on their own. Surprisingly I haven’t seen the Cleanwaste foldable before, I really like that option. The bucket system is ok, but just too bulky. So thanks for the article, I’m heading to Amazon now.

    Drop me a line if you guys pass through the Denver area and need a place to stop for a while or want to hit some adventures.

  12. Please, please don’t dig a hole! Please reconsider offering this as an option!
    Pack out what you pack in. Cat holes really are destructive. Soil is a delicate and essential element to an ecosystem. Please leave it alone.
    There are just too many of us using the same campsites to continue this practice! Doing your business in the woods doesn’t work anymore. There are lots of alternatives that don’t destroy the soil or sand where we all camp. For example, here is a solar powered one.. in the hot dry sunny desert where you are camped, poop on a piece of cardboard and leave it in the sun. In a day or 2 you will have a cute dried out turd that doesn’t stink. Wrap it in crepe paper, tie it up in a ribbon and just put it in your garbage. Seriously, it really works!

  13. Useful Post Kristen. Thank you! Elements not specifically discussed: 1) URINE VS FECES: It is almost always the case that the latter need can be postponed and the need met using facilities outside the van. It is the former that makes demands upon us (especially as we age), and especially at night. Our van is equipped with a C402C Cassette toilette with removable tank. We use is only for nighttime or poor-weather urination. Unlike dealing with feces, dumping a urine tank is not a particularly unpleasant activity. 2) ILLNESS INSURANCE: Though we have never required it, if an illness like diarrhea or vomiting came calling, a van toilet is one hell of a great insurance policy. There is nothing worse that having to find a toilet when one is ill and desperate. 3) TOILET USE IS NOT A BINARY EQUATION: In van life, a mixed strategy makes the most sense. If you use exterior toilet options when you can, and combine that with a no feces in the van rule (except in dire emergency), then you have a strategy that really reduces the unpleasantness of managing waste disposal.

  14. I am awaiting my van’s upfit, and have borrowed a lot of ideas from your van #2! I am using a TRIPTIPS Portable Toilet in my van. It is simple to use (uses the wag bags), and will mostly be used for middle-of-the-night peeing. It is a newish version of a chamber pot!

    1. I have had a Laveo Dry Flush for several years. I use it for #2 only, as I find #1 works best into ground corn cob, kitty litter or similar absorbing material. In my Sprinter van I have a 5 gallon bucket lined with a trash bag containing the absorbing material for #1 and the Dry Flush for #2. You will find that you can go for about 5 days with the Dry Flush before needing to change the “cartridge”. I also put a handful of absorbing material on top of each #2 to help absorb the moisture and extend the time before needing to change the cartridge. Using this system, my toilet remains completely odor free. Dispose of just like you would dirty disposable diapers.

    2. It uses mylar in the disposal bags (which are very expensive) and mylar NEVER breaks down unlike plastic, which takes 1000 years to break down. We have to all start weighing the environmental cost of “convenience.”

  15. You left out the cassette toilet which is probably the one that is installed in most of the builds like the Revel for instance.

  16. Being fairly honest I think that the space in the van should be used for a comfortable bed and a confortable toliet and a bidet.. and the cooking can be done outside or if you are in the the city just get a take away. thanks for the tips

    1. Hi Eco, thanks for reading! It is totally a personal preference. I also enjoy cooking outside vs. inside my van, but I know some people are the opposite.

  17. When in a pinch a large coffee from mcdonalds provides an easy option for urine (after coffee is gone) and a plastic one gallon ice cream container with plastic shopping bag are good when in a pinch.

  18. This is the amazing list of the things that you have shown in your blog and one can take the idea from your blog while opting any transit van conversion services.

    1. Hi Capelle, it looks like this product is only available in France, but thanks for sharing! I’m sure it will help those looking for toilet options for van life in Europe.

    1. We’ve been testing a prototype of the Cuddy and just updated the post with our current thoughts.

  19. I hope you get a chance to evaluate the soon to be delivered CUDDY Composting Toilet.
    Unlike the bigger and bulkier composters, this one is very well designed. Compact and ready to slip into a van. I first saw the design on Indegogo and supported it a little over a year ago. Pandemic, shipping delays in Long Beach, etc. etc. They’re shipping by months end.

    1. Hi Stuart, we’ve been testing a prototype of the Cuddy and just updated the post with our current thoughts. The small design is what initially drew us in too!

  20. You are missing the best RV toilet on the market. It’s a Separett Tiny, made especially for RV use. Hope I spelled that right. We’ve had ours since November and absolutely love it. Here’s how it works…for us. We have the liquids flow into a gray water tank under the RV. Solids dump into quite a large space which opens up when you sit on the unit. The two wings which open for solids closes after you stand up. Now the really nice thing is that a small fan runs “continuously” to dry out the solids. That is, this little fan which you can’t hear, runs day and night to keep the solids dry. Dry solids do not SMELL. The solids repose in a compostable bag or a plastic bag which you simply remove when needed. In our case, that solid dumping is about every 2 to 3 weeks. If you don’t want to go the gray water route, you can, instead, have a removable tank; but, I expect, that dumping that is going to be about as frequent as it is with other similar toilets. Our system makes for a very pleasurable RV experience.
    FYI: These “compostable” toilets are no such thing. It takes a very long time to compost!

    1. Hi Joan, thanks for the recommendation! We haven’t heard of this toilet, and appreciate your detailed review.

  21. Nice post that covers the available options well.

    After renting a Sprinter camper with a shower/toilet bathroom, my wife and I decided our own build would not have a bathroom – we wanted the space for bikes. We built a closet space for a small Thetford cassette toilet, which my wife uses for peeing. I use a couple rectangular Nalgene bottles as pee bottles, which helps extend the time before emptying for the Thetford. For pooing we mostly visit latrines, commercial bathrooms, etc. For the occasional panic use we have a 5 gal bucket w/ wag bags. Now that we’ve been doing more dispersed camping we’re investigating the idea of a composting toilet or other more thought-out solution.

    You make an important point about van life: you need to be comfortable with each other to live in a confined space like that. My wife and I are longtime backpackers, climbers, etc., so peeing and pooing is just another natural function to us. No need to be shy or embarrassed about it; just more tasks that need to be managed.

    1. Hi Dennis, thanks for sharing your experience! It’s always helpful to see what others do to manage bathroom needs on the road because it’s such an individual decision. What works for one might not work for another. Sounds like you guys have a great system figured out!

  22. Great article! We use empty Costco nut jars as pee jars–nice wide mouth, secure lids. We carry them in the van for our long trips, and even in our “at home” cars as part of our emergency kits. It really is freeing to know you can pull over anywhere you need to in a pinch without worrying about where the nearest toilet is. Also could not make it through a night of camping without them!

    We move around a lot on our travels, so we may be able to go for days just using public restrooms for our #2 stops. But inevitably you are out in the middle of nowhere and need a toilet. For #2 we use the TripTips collapsible bucket (here on Amazon: https://tinyurl.com/4ewnfdn5). When not in use it folds up into a fabric case even smaller than the three-legged stool. It is a bit short to sit on, but still comfortable enough. We have it stowed until someone needs it, then it stays up for several uses and/or days, or until it starts to smell. A trowel of dirt or sawdust or kitty litter after each use helps keep odor down, along with closing/twisting the liner bag shut until the next use. We are very careful to pee separately, and that helps too. It is small and lightweight enough when set up that it can easily be moved out of the way when not in use.

    We are currently lining it with heavy duty 8 gallon trash bags (the smallest heavy duty bag I could find, but not environmentally friendly) and disposing of the bags in landfill trash, but I just found a biodegrable version that I will order: Portable Biodegradable Toilet Bags from BetterBoat.com. I just hope they are sturdy, as there is no indication of how thick they are.

    1. Hi Pat, thanks for the tips! It’s always helpful to hear the innovative solutions other travelers come up with for bathroom needs on the road. Sounds like you have a great setup!

  23. Hi,
    Thanks for all you do for the van community. I will be building a van with a Dometic 320 toilet that dumps into a vented grey/black tank. Tight fit with a full shower as well but should work great. Just another option…
    Erwin

  24. To be able to go longer between emptying/cleaning my Nature’s Head Composting Toilet, I don’t put my used tp inside but rather toss it right into my trash bag. Traveling solo this summer, I was able to go (no pun intended) over 2 months before cleaning with daily use.

  25. As a man I didn’t find a permanent toilet as a requirement and use a lemonade bottle as my during the night solution. It has worked fine. When my wife travels with me I bought a Compo Closet Cuddy for her to me more comfortable. It is still portable and seems to work very well.
    I bought it when it was a kickstarter campaign so it took a while to get it but for her it is great and comfortable.

    1. Clint – so glad the cuddy has been a good solution for your wife. And yes, the delivery of the toilets took a lot longer than they initially anticipated, but it’s nice to hear that people who purchased it are happy with the outcome.

  26. I’ve been using our Cuddy for 4 months full-time on the road, and I am sooo happy we have it. We went on a trip up to Acadia NP back in the end of March/beginning of April when a lot of things were still closed for the off-season, and there was only ONE bathroom open in the whole park. I only used the Cuddy while we were there and it was so convenient. I’ve only set it up to go #2 one time to use for a week when I was staying at a Harvest Host/Boondockers location, where there was no public bathroom around, and I couldn’t go outside of the van. It was a chore to clean out after (because I am lazy, not because it was difficult), so since then, I’ve only peed in there. But the convenience of having it in cities or public areas without bathrooms makes it 100% worth it! We keep it locked in a cabinet that we pull in and out, so we’ve never smelled it while it’s sealed in the cabinet. My only negative is that you do need to clean it out regularly or else it smells every time you open it to use it. If cleaned though, it’s not bad at all. We’ve also never had to turn on the filter/fan for it, so we could use it completely without power. HOWEVER, if you are using it regularly for #2, I’ve heard from reviews that they say the filter does really help with the smell on that end.

  27. Why do you say the bags are only good for poo? I use the double waste bags from camco with the gel powder already loaded for both functions. I put a little kitty litter in the bottom too, to solidify the liquids and it works great! I usually wrap it up and get a new bag after a #2 but it all works fine! I also want to mention that a long screw driver will help close the legs on the go anywhere portable toilet.

    1. Hey Varin – That’s a great tip. The Double Waste Bags from Camco might be larger than the Go Anywhere bags? The Go Anywhere bags don’t seem large enough for going pee multiple times (a little dribble while going #2 is fine), but they’d fill up pretty fast for exclusive pee use. They also get expensive if you are using them for pee. But that’s great you’ve found a solution that works for you!

  28. I started vanlife with a Reliance foldup toilet very similar to the Go Anywhere toilet. It folds into a small suitcase for easy storage, has Reliance Double Doody bag offerings with powder included. I found after 2.5 years using this folding toilet, it is the most economical, easy to use set up and I have no intentions on changing a thing at this point. I did buy a big container of Poo Powder that I add a tablespoon of into a new Double Doody bag everytime I use. I go #1 all of the time, empty my kitty litter clumps into it, any wet trash like used napkins or paper towels and I empty my single cup used coffee grounds and filters into it. When used for #2, the bag within a heavy ziplock bag needs to be rolled up and stuffed into the ziplock, zipped and disposed of in a trashcan. I would often go a day or two with all of the above going into those heavy duty bags and not worry until #2. I buy the toilet bags by Reliance in bulk and do try to use public restrooms when possible. If one suffers from bending down lower to the ground, this may not be an option as the toilet is lower to the ground and requires some ability to balance or hang on to the kitchen sink edge to help. I do place it inside or outside of my van and depending on what I am carrying with, I love the fact i can move it around. Consolidating waste and trash into it has helped keep my van clean and tidy and being able to use in a minute relieves so much stress of wondering or worrying about where a bathroom is. It has improved my quality of vanlife. 🙂

  29. hi! as a tiny houser who moved into my house for about 6 months without so much as a toilet box, I found that an empty laundry jug was the best for peeing! 1. they have a double lip, so no matter where you site it, it captures the flow. 2. great capacity. 3. who would accidentally drink from a laundry jug? I now have my own compositing toilet, and I still use that laundry jug as the pee jug under the funnel. As a woman the capture is perfect! 🙂