› Camping toilets

Camping toilets: how essential are they?

They give you piece of mind, but portable camping toilets also come with some limitations. Then again, how comfortable are you with the alternatives? Even talking about toilets is uncomfortable, but here we go.

Lovely Judds Lagoon, QldThey tricked us...Camps 5 said there was a toilet here at Judd's Lagoon, but we discovered that it was long gone! Still, it was too beautiful to leave.

It all depends on what you can live with.

If you want the most luxurious toilet...

There is no avoiding it, you'll need to buy a caravan or camper with an en-suite.

If you are happy to squat and use a shovel...

That’s the simplest and cheapest option, and available to all types of campers. It’s also possibly the most environmentally friendly.

If you are somewhere in-between...

Ask yourself:

  • Whether you have enough space to carry a portable toilet,
  • How often you would use a portable toilet, and
  • Whether you’re willing to carry it around until you can find a dump point.

Can you bush camp without a toilet?

Most bush camping areas will have some kind of toilet. It might be a waterless long-drop toilet, a flushing toilet or somewhere in-between. You might have to walk a long way or even drive to get to it. Camp toilets can be in excellent condition and smell-free, other times they can be putrid.

There are some bush camps where you’ll find no toilets (like Judd's Lagoon, pictured here). Some of these spots are beautiful and peaceful, and you might like to stay a while. Camp rules sometimes state you must have a portable toilet to stay there. Others don’t, but you’ll still need some kind of toilet solution that you’re comfortable with.

Consider your family's toileting habits.

Argh! What a topic. Seriously though, give this some thought. If you plan to stay mostly in camps with toilets, then you can probably get by without a portable toilet. That assumes you’re okay to hold your nose, wee ‘in nature’ and use a shovel when you need to.

Also, think about when you go to the toilet. We had a friend who needed to go in the middle of the night, every night. She used her porta-potty purely for her nightly ‘wee’ visits, which saved her traipsing outside each night. If you can generally hold your ‘number 2’s, you might be able to drive to the closest toilet rather than using a shovel / portable toilet at all.

Portable camping toilets

Camping portable toilets are chemical toilets that need little to no water. Depending on the size, how often you use them, and what you put in them – they can last up to five days.

Once your portable toilet is full, you need to find a designated dump point to empty it. You can’t empty it into public toilets or in any other way. Once empty, you’ll need to clean the toilet out and add fresh chemicals for your next use.

You can buy portable toilets and chemicals in most camping stores or online.

Work out how you're going to use your toilet before you buy.

There are a lot of portable camping toilets on the market, all with different price tags to match. I wouldn’t rush into a decision.

Get on the road and see how you go without one.

Talk to other people and see what they recommend. You can buy a toilet on the way once you decide you need it. After all, it could end up being one of your essentials, or it could just be something that takes up precious space in your camper.

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› Camping toilets