Should you get a toilet for your tent?

June 14, 2020

Even if you stay at a campsite with the best of facilities, getting up in the middle of the night, or first thing in the morning when it is a bit chilly, just to use the toilet, isn’t that fun.

So, should you get a toilet for your tent?

Well, that’s something you’re going to have to decide for yourself.

Have a read our little guide to using a camping toilet and decided for yourself.

We had a toilet but don’t any more

Many years ago we bought a small chemical toilet to take camping.
We had a toilet not so much because of the late-night/early-morning inconvenience, but because we liked to camp at remote campsites, where the toilets and facilities would be some way off.

It made perfect sense.

kept the toilet smells away from where we eat and sleep

We bought a Campingaz canister chemical toilet and a separate toilet/shower tent, which kept the toilet smells away from where we eat and sleep.

And we did use it. A couple of times.
After many years in its box in the garage, we finally got around to selling it this year.

Why we sold our camping toilet

The convenience of having the toilet wasn’t worth the hassle of it.

With many people in the family using the toilet, it wasn’t long before it would become full and need emptying.

Unfortunately, this could result in some seepage

Perhaps if we weren’t at remote campsites, this would have been easier, but for us, the long trek to the chemical disposal point involved driving in the car. Unfortunately, this could result in some seepage from the canister 😐

The alternative was a long walk carrying a cumbersome and smelly toilet canister. I remember doing this once on a hot summer day. It wasn’t pleasant.

It wasn’t pleasant

And, it wasn’t long after I went through all that, it would be full again, and I would need to repeat the whole sorry process.

The toilet (and chemicals), also took up quite a lot of space that was better used for taking other things to the campsite (like the BBQ/Firepit).

However, Many Campers Do Take a Toilet

I know plenty of people who wouldn’t camp without their portable toilet. This is mainly to make things easier at night.

Some tents have a porch in the side entrance, which is where a lot of people place their toilet.

Camping Toilet Options

So if you do want to get a camping toilet, there are quite a few options.

We created this Pinterest board that’s got a range of ideas, from the DIY approach to full-on glamping.

The most basic DIY approach is a bucket with some cat litter.

Bog in a Bag – A Popular Non-Toilet Option

An alternative to the Chemical Loo is the Bog-in-a-Bag option.

Where it scores points over traditional camping toilets is that the Bog-in-a-Bag is disposable and lightweight, even if it doesn’t feel quite like a toilet.

You buy bags that contain an absorbent pad (a bit like a nappy) which you then attach to the Bog-in-a-Bag stool (err, the wrong word perhaps!?!).

As Mary suggests below, you might want to enforce ‘no solids‘ and ‘only after bedtime‘ rules.

enforce ‘no solids‘ and ‘only after bedtime‘ rules

Mary McGrory

Comparison of Different Camping Toilets

Space Saving
Bog in a Bag
A simple option. Takes up little space.
  • Easy to transport
  • No toilet chemicals
  • Perhaps not the best solution for solids.
  • Limited Capacity
Outdoor Revolution
The Big Loo
A basic bucket with a seat option. You will want to use toilet chemicals.
  • Cheaper than a full toilet
  • Waste is not sealed off.
  • Toilet chemicals needed.
  • Concerned about it tipping over.
  • Bulky to transport
Best Cheap
Khazi Portable Toilet
An upgrade on the seat and bucket arrangement.
  • More stable than just a bucket
  • Waste bucket easy to remove
  • Waste is not sealed off.
  • Toilet chemicals needed.
  • Bulky to transport
Portaflush 20
A proper camping toilet with waste container.
  • 50 Flushes
  • Double-sealed 20L waste
  • Easy to Empty
  • Toilet chemicals needed.
  • Bulky to transport
Porta Porti Qube
A flushing toilet with a large sealed waste container. Great reviews.
  • 15L flush
  • Double-sealed 21L waste
  • Easy to Empty
  • Toilet chemicals needed.
  • Bulky to transport

Pink, Blue, and Green: The Toilet Chemicals you need

Depending on your toilet (and the campsite you are staying at), there are different chemicals needed for your toilet.

Their main purpose is to keep your toilet as hygienic as possible, mask smells, and breakdown waste, making your toilet easier to empty and clean.

Many brands make the camping toilet chemicals, though Thetford Aqua-Kem is often thought of as the standard.

Blue Liquid

You pour the Blue Liquid into the waste container.

Its job is to break down the solids, mask the smells, and reduce gas build-up. They claim that one dose can last up to 5 days, though you would typically need to empty the waste container before then anyway.

Blue Sachets

Carrying liquids to the campsite is not ideal. They take up a lot of space and you wouldn’t want them to leak.

You can also get the ‘blue liquid’ as sachets.

Each sachet has exactly the right dose, and you only need to take as much as you need for that camping trip.

Pink Liquid

You only require the Pink Liquid if you have a camping toilet that flushes. You treat the water in your flush tank with it.

When you flush, the Pink Liquid helps clean your toilet bowl and adds a protective layer to fight against bacteria.

Green Liquid

The Green Liquid does the same job as the Blue Liquid and it goes into your waste tank.

The big difference is that the Blue Liquid fights the bacteria and odours with chemicals, this liquid promotes the natural biological process to break the waste material down, and so it is safe to use on campsites with septic tanks.

Green Sachets

Green camping toilet chemicals
Probably the best option

Just as with the Blue Liquid, you can get the Green Liquid in Sachet form, which is going to be easier to take to the campsite.

Which toilet chemicals should you take to the campsite?

Some campsites will only accept the Green toilet liquid or sachets (such as one that we recently visited). So if you get the blue liquid or sachets, then it’s best to get some green, just in case.

lternatively, just buy a pack of Green Sachets.

I haven’t had it confirmed, but I suspect you can’t use the Pink Liquid on campsites that require the Green, as the Pink Liquid will probably destroy the micro bacterial processes created by the Green sachets. If anyone knows different, please let us know in the comments below.

Where should you empty your camping toilet

Campsites that have ‘Chemical Waste Disposals’ have somewhere where it is safe to empty your toilet waste. (You can search for campsites with Chemical Waste Disposals in our Campsite Finder).

Toilet Chemical Disposal
Special Toilet Chemical Disposal at Delamere Campsite

The Chemical Waste Disposals usually look like toilets where you can empty the contents of your holding tank and flush it away. They usually have a hose so that you can rinse out your camping toilet.

If there are no chemical waste disposals at the campsite, speak to the campsite owner. If you are using the Green Septic-Tank friendly version, then you might be allowed to flush it down the toilet.

Otherwise, you’ll have to transport the waste out of the campsite.

Accessories for your Tent Toilet?

Loo Paper

Aqua Soft Camping Toilet Paper
Not necessary but can make it easier to clean

Yes, I bet you didn’t think you would need special toilet paper, did you?

Well, you don’t, but you should. Let me explain.

As you may well know, wet toilet paper forms clumps and can stick to lots of things. This can be a bit of a problem when you have to empty and clean out your waste tank. Though bucket-style camping toilets don’t really have much of a problem, the sealed cassette waste tanks can be a bit more difficult to cleanout.

Thetford has created this fast-dissolving toilet paper to reduce this problem.

It’s not essential you have it, but if you’ve had to spend ages rinsing out a smelly waste tank, this might be one of those things to make life a little bit easier.

A Separate Tent

Tent for Camping Toilet
The Kampa Privvy makes it clear what the tent is for

Some family tents have a little side porch that can be zipped off from the main living space. This makes an ideal place for the toilet inside your tent.

Alternatively, you can create your own outhouse for the toilet, keeping the smells (and sounds??) away from the tent.

This is what we had (until we sold it).

What do you think? A toilet in your tent or not?

Leave your comment below.

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Gav Grayston
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Gav Grayston Contributor

Father to 3 kids, who loves getting out and about (hiking, running, camping, cycling, canoeing...) Co-founded Get Out With The Kids to help other parents enjoy the outdoors with their family.

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  1. Hi what would you suggest for a beach for example a day on the beach in summer with 4 kids under 7.each of them wanting to go at dif times this meant a trip or 2 each hour. Like yday it was a nightmare the promenade was packed with 1000s of people for armed forces day. The ques for the public toilets were stupendisly long by time you got in them they were in a disgusting state getting worse as the day went on after 1000s of people had passed through them. Il spare you the details.needless to say it kind of spoilt it for me quing and having to find the least contaminated cubical each time so I’m thinking next time we will have to take a small shelter and a baggie toilet with some sand in and dispose of it in the dog mess bins each time saving time frustration kids wetting themselves in the que, and my sanity to.

  2. Hi Gav, I use a King Kampa Khazi or a camping stool toilet (you have one pictured) and with both I use bags I get from a supermarket, either biodegradable compost bin bags or pedal bin liners, and wood based kitty litter. I only use them for liquids and I can usually get two uses per bag. I put the tied up bags of soggy kitty litter in the black bin liner with the rest of my rubbish in the morning. I use normal cheap toilet roll and no chemicals. This works very well for me.

  3. For me the toilet is non negotiable. We have three! The one we take depends on the type of camping we are doing. For a quick overnight we take ‘Bog-in-a-bag’, because it is lightweight, portable and it does the job. We also have a Kampa Khazi. Slightly more sophisticated (just) and then the Thetford Porta Potti Qube for longer camps. The rule in our family is no solids and only after bed time. This means they don’t fill up too quickly and they don’t smell. The only other rule is that emptying it is a man’s job!!! As my husband almost never uses the toilet he thinks this is a little unfair but my daughter and I are very happy with the arrangement!

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