Going to the bathroom outdoors is often the least glamorous part of camping. But you don’t have to dread doing your business in the woods! With the right gear and know-how, you can set up a clean, comfortable camping toilet for hassle-free use.
In this post, I’ll explain the step-by-step process for easily setting up a toilet at your campsite. You’ll learn how to choose the optimal location, assemble a portable toilet or DIY bucket, properly line and use the toilet, and dispose of waste. Follow my tips and you’ll be able to answer nature’s call in privacy, without sacrificing comfort or sanitation.
Whether you want to avoid late-night trips into the forest or simply desire some home-style facilities, this guide has you covered. I’ll provide plenty of tips for first-timers, from what supplies you’ll need to rules for waste disposal. With a properly functioning camping head, your outdoor adventure will stay hygienic from beginning to end. Let’s get into the nitty gritty on setting up camp toilets!
Choose the Right Location
Choosing the right spot for your camping toilet is important. You’ll want privacy, but you also need to follow leave no trace principles.
Consider these factors when picking a location:
- Find a flat, clear area without a lot of rocks or tree roots. This makes it easier to set up the toilet structure.
- Stay at least 150-200 feet away from any trails, camping areas, or water sources like lakes and streams. Human waste can contaminate water.
- Scout a spot that is out of view from the main camp area, but not so far away that it’s inconvenient to access.
- If camping with a group, set up toilet areas separately for privacy.
- Avoid digging holes or trenches for waste. Follow leave no trace guidelines and pack out all waste.
Assemble Your Camping Toilet
You have two main options when it comes to camping toilets: using a portable toilet designed for camping or creating your own toilet setup.
Portable Camping Toilets
Many brands like Reliance make portable toilets specifically for camping. Models range from basic bucket-style toilets to larger units with removable waste tanks.
Benefits of portable camping toilets include:
- Convenient and easy to set up
- Waste tanks simplify disposal
- Comfortable seats and lids
- Some have added features like toilet paper holders, cleaning brushes, and double-seal lids to contain odors
DIY Camping Toilet
If you want a cheaper option, you can make your own camping toilet using these supplies:
- 5-gallon bucket or similar container, preferably with a lid
- Pool noodle, foam pipe insulation, or wooden seat cut to fit bucket
- Heavy-duty trash bags
- Toilet paper
- Hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes
Follow these steps to assemble a DIY toilet:
- Cut a pool noodle or foam tube open down one side so it can wrap around the bucket lip. This serves as the toilet seat.
- Line the bucket with a trash bag, allowing extra to hang over the edges. This is your waste receptacle.
- Place toilet paper and hand sanitizer nearby for use.
- Optional: Cut plywood or a wooden seat to fit over the bucket if you want a more sturdy seat.
Use Proper Toilet Techniques
Using your camping toilet properly makes the experience more pleasant and minimizes issues.
- Before use, open the toilet lid and line the bag or waste container with toilet paper to absorb liquid.
- Sit comfortably but avoid contact with the edges of the waste bag or bucket.
- After use, wipe with toilet paper and dispose of it in the waste bag. Close the lid to contain odors.
- Use the hand sanitizer after to clean your hands.
- For women, a portable female urination device makes using the toilet easier. Products like the GoGirl or Freshette allow you to urinate standing up.
- Empty the toilet when it’s around 2/3 full to prevent spills. Follow disposal steps.
Dispose of Waste Correctly
Waste disposal is an important part of camping toilet use. Follow these steps:
For portable camping toilets:
- Remove waste tank from the toilet base. Seal tightly.
- Dispose of sealed waste tank at designated RV dump stations or restroom facilities that accept it.
- Never empty waste directly on the ground or into water sources.
For DIY toilet:
- When nearly full, tie off the trash bag tightly. Place inside a second sealed bag.
- Pack out sealed bags of waste and dispose of at dump stations or trash receptacles.
- Do not bury waste or leave bags at your campsite. Carry out all trash.
Other disposal tips:
- Designated waste disposal areas may be available at some campsites. Check guidelines.
- Waste drop-off stations, outhouses, and RV dumps allow disposal for a small fee.
- Use double-bagging, absorbent materials, and air-tight containers to contain odors and leaks while transporting waste bags.
- Hand sanitize thoroughly after handling waste bags.
- If camping with kids, have them practice proper waste disposal and hand washing when using the camp toilet.
- Carry enough trash bags, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer to last your entire trip.
- Monitor the toilet’s position. It may shift with use and need re-leveling.
- Weather can impact accessibility and hygiene. Move the toilet if area becomes flooded or muddy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What type of toilet paper should I use for my camping toilet?
Use toilet paper that is suitable for RV or marine use. These fast-dissolving types won’t clog pipes or waste tanks as easily. Avoid scented, dyed, or extra-thick toilet paper. Bring enough for your entire trip.
How do I make my DIY camping toilet more comfortable?
Line the seat area with foam for padding. A pool noodle cut in half lengthwise adds cushion. You can also make a simple wooden seat with a hole cut out to place securely over the bucket.
What should I use to clean the camping toilet?
Pack disinfecting wipes, soap, and paper towels. Use gloves when cleaning. Empty waste first, then scrub with soapy water. Rinse and disinfect. Let dry fully before packing up. Always wash hands after cleaning.
Can I put regular trash in my camping toilet waste bag?
No. Only human waste and toilet paper should go in the camping toilet. Pack out general trash separately. Combining trash types makes disposal more difficult and unhygienic.
How do I deal with odors from my camping toilet?
Use double-bagging when disposing of waste bags. Absorbent materials like cat litter can soak up smells. Air out and clean the DIY toilet regularly. Portable toilets with removable waste tanks contain odors effectively if lids seal tightly.
Setting up a camping toilet requires forethought and diligence. But having a handy and sanitary bathroom option makes roughing it in the wilderness much more comfortable. Follow these tips to responsibly manage waste while enjoying your time connecting with nature.