Camping toilet models vary but can be broken down to 3 basic styles, or categories. Each has its strengths and weaknesses (pro and cons). Understanding the differences between the 3 styles will help determine the best fit for your needs.

Bucket Toilet
The simplest camping toilet of all is the bucket toilet. Other common names for them are potty pail, commode pail, commode bucket, bucket potty, potty loo, or camping toilet bucket. Regardless of the glamorous name, the bucket toilet is the no-frills, get-the-job-done, low cost, basic camping toilet. The standard design consists of a bucket, a seat, and a lid.

They range from the bare bones, 5 gallon bucket versions such as the popular Reliance Luggable Loo portable toilet to more advanced designs that incorporate removable liners and even toilet paper dispensers such as the Hassok Portable Toilet.

In comparison to the other camping toilet styles, the bucket toilet offers lighter weight than a portable flush toilet but is bulkier than a folding camping toilet.

There is nothing fancy about the bucket toilet but their light weight and simplistic design coupled with a lack of moving parts to potentially fail make them an attractive choice for a portable camping toilet.

Collapsible Toilet
The collapsible toilet or, foldable camping toilet, is another low-cost, lightweight option. They come in various shapes and sizes but the basic design is usually the same, consisting of a seat, a waste bag, and tubular steel legs that collapse. An exception to this would be the “brief case-style” such as the top selling PETT Portable Environmental Toilet which is built of heavy duty plastic.

In comparison to the other portable camping toilet designs, the collapsible toilet offers lighter weight than a portable flush toilet and less bulk than a bucket toilet due to their collapsibility. Depending on the quality, durability could be a compromise with the lower quality models. You will want to be sure and read the customer reviews before deciding on a model.

A collapsible toilet is a good option for a packable camping toilet that will easily fit behind the seat or in the trunk. The lower cost models are a good option for an emergency model but due to their lack of durability they are not the best choice for long term use.

Portable Flush Toilet
The portable flush toilet is the deluxe camping toilet. They offer the convenience most like a traditional “home” toilet and are great for a more luxury, longer-term solution. The most popular name in the portable flush category is the Porta Potti, made by Thetford.

Though the Thetford Porta Potti is the model most associated with this category of camping toilets, there are other manufacturers that offer similar and equal portable flush toilet designs such as the Century Portable toilet line, the Sanitation Equipment product line, and even Coleman has a few portable flush toilet designs.

The convenience and comfort of a portable flush toilet does come with a compromise. They are bulky and heavy, especially when filled with a full tank of fresh water. This is not a big deal for RV and boat applications, but it is worth noting for basic car camping use.

Another consideration to be made is that unlike the collapsible and bucket style camping toilet that usually use a disposable liner or bag, the portable flush toilet design retains waste until disposed of and cleaned. This is not so much of an issue from an odor perspective (there are deodorant chemicals involved for that) but from a clean-up point of view. The question becomes, do you want to simply seal the bag, toss it, and be done with it, or put it off and clean it later?

Their price tag is also generally higher than that of a collapsible toilet or bucket toilet but it is not something I would consider “over-priced” by any means ($50 – $150). Quality does vary amongst the different manufacturers and models so you will want to be sure to read the customer reviews before deciding on a specific model.

Filed under: Articles