3 Rules for Picking a Camping Toilet
People are always curious about where we find toilets, or if we have one inside, and isn't that uncomfortable, or does it smell. All sorts of folk, and not even people who are thinking about moving into a rig. They just want to gauge the lifestyle. Toss it over in their heads for a bit. Maybe play out a brief fantasy. And when they hear the word "bucket," the fantasy quickly ends for most.
If you hear the word "bucket" and think, "oh, do tell more," then please follow along as I give you my insights into this past year of camping toilets. There are many avenues to consider, but our rig does not have a built in septic system, and thus cannot utilize hook ups for dumping. If that is what you have, congratulations. You have the extreme pleasure of not having to interact with your waste in the ways we do.
As I have mentioned in previous posts and podcasts, the biggest thing to remember when transitioning to #RigLife is to not apply old mentalities to a new existence. In a rig, nothing is the same as a concrete living structure. Everything moves, temperature is difficult to control, food you once ate is no longer feasible, and you yourself are a fluid concept. Because of this, I find it funny that many of the toilets out there designed for camping are reminiscent of a home toilet.
Rule #1 - forget what you think a toilet should look like
Beginning this journey, we unconsciously tried to duplicate what we were accustomed to, despite it's clear incompatibility. We had a wooden dresser, ate tons of lunch meat, and had a toilet that was a square version of the western classic. And, it was impossible to keep clean. Not just the toilet, but the entire bus. The cooler reeked of spoiled meat, the veggies wilted, and the toilet trumpeted over the symphony of stink.
We cut out the meat, learned how to organize a cooler, but did nothing to solve the toilet problem. Why? Because it looks like what a toilet should, and maybe we just have to live with that. Or so was our thinking. I became diligent with it's emptying, and disinfected it often. But, the smells had been introduced, and the receptacle tank was designed to capture fluids; not to be cleaned.
Rule #2 - find a system that is the easiest to clean
Many systems out there have a top flush, and lower receptacle. This is in fact completely wrong. While I love a good flush, water is a precious commodity. Not only because we have to carry in every gallon we use, but also because using water to flush is entirely unnecessary. It makes the unit heavy, while also doing nothing for its overall cleanliness. And, if you are a full timer like us, then you will be interacting with your toilet entirely too much in order to maintain that system.
Might I recommend a modified bucket. There are many styles, from the bare bones paint bucket, to the Reliance Hassock Portable Toilet, which is the model we own. It just happens to be a bucket within a glorified black shell. I was happy about it not having to be white in order for us to understand that it is a toilet. Not to say I haven't used a black toilet, I just don't stay in casinos often enough to identify them that way.
One thing that makes the bucket system superior is its simplicity. There are no moving parts, and no hidden areas for spillage to accumulate. If it does get dirty, then it doesn't require disassembly for clean up. The unit also utilizes garbage bags - allowing you to gather your waste in a manner that best suits you. But, what? Waste can be used more? Yes! You can experience the joys of collecting your waste for composting, if you so desire. It requires a bit more planning in regards to diet and collection smell reduction, but is doo-doo-able.
Rule #3 - know your poo goals
Are you living in a rig alone? Or with a buddy? Maybe a significant other? Children?
It comes down to living only slightly outside of your comfort zone. If you know you could never truly be comfortable having your companion within sound/smell distance, and you are only looking for an emergencies unit, then something small like a handheld urine receptacle (with a GoGirl for the ladies) would allow you to dispose of it easily at your next pit stop. But, if you know you will be using it as a #1 and #2 unit, then having a simple structure that allows you to dispose (or collect) the waste with a capture bag, and a means to completely clean the unit is necessary.
If you plan to compost, be sure to use sawdust to cover the waste after use. Otherwise, kitty litter, baking soda, maybe with a mixture of sawdust, or any other scent reduction method would be fine. After that, seal off the bag and toss in a dumpster. Do not pour down a storm drain, do not leave on the street, do not put it in a poor old ladies trash can. Just find a public waste dumpster, and toss it out. According to the BLM, it doesn't have to go down a toilet. Because of course, that isn't always feasible.
If you have any additional questions, or have some tips of your own - comment below!