If you’re trying to decide on the best camper van toilet options for your van build, we’ll walk you through everything you should consider as well as the best campervan toilets on the market.
It’s not a fun topic to discuss. But when you plan on living in a campervan for any amount of time, the decision of whether to add a toilet to your van, RV or trailer is a pretty important one to make.
When evaluating the pros and cons of toilet systems, you have to consider more than just the toilet itself. Will you add a plumbed flushing toilet?
If so, you’ll need to modify your van’s water system to account for both running water and a small waste tank to collect it. If not, will you use a portable toilet that you have to empty regularly?
Or maybe a composting toilet that separates the solid waste from the liquid? Be sure to account for mountains of kitty litter or cedar shavings and having to take a look at your #2 in a plastic bag or container as often as you empty it.
And then, of course, there is the idea of no toilet at all where you contain your bathroom breaks to pit stops in gas stations and restaurants as you travel or a nice hole in the ground in the middle of the woods.
To complicate things, there are those of us out there with gastrointestinal diseases (we travel full-time with Crohn’s Disease) where there is no decision about whether or not to have a toilet. Instead, the decision was made about which type of toilet fit our lifestyle, space and budget.
But enough of the toilet talk! Or, rather, let’s get started with more toilet talk by sharing our top pick for our campervan toilet and why we thought it was the best for any van build.
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Editor’s Choice: Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
We feel like the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is the absolute best of the campervan toilet options out there. There is no need to plumb it into your water system, waste disposal is relatively quick and easy, and it does not take up as much space as other toilet options.
As far as camper van toilets go, this is the industry standard that allows you to worry less about finding an RV dump station and more about living your best van life.
Pricey as it may be, it is worth every dollar to be able to go to the bathroom in your own toilet in the middle of the night.
Best Product // Our Top Picks at a Glance
|Product||Type||Permanent or Portable||Capacity||Price Range|
|Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet||Composting||Permanent||3 gallons||Over $1,000|
|Thetford 32812 Cassette Toilet||Cassette||Permanent||5.1 gallon||Over $500|
|Thetford Aqua-Magic V||Plumbed||Permanent||NA||Under $200|
|Porta Potti 92306 White Thetford||Portable||Portable||5.5 gallons||Under $200|
|Dometic 301097606 Portable Toilet||Portable||Portable||5 gallons||Under $200|
|Luggable Loo Portable Camping Toilet||Bucket||Portable||5 gallons||Under $40|
The Best Camper Van Toilet Options
If you’ve decided that you want an actual toilet of some sort in your van, then we’ll cover the 6 best campervan toilets in this section. If you’re still on the fence about whether a van life toilet is actually necessary, however, read on to our section on what to look for when shopping for camper toilets.
We’ll break down some pros and cons for different kinds of toilet setups too. But as you read through this section, you’ll find that we have included our top pick for each type of toilet option out there.
Choose from composting toilets, cassette toilets, plumbed RV toilets, portable toilets and bucket toilets.
WHAT WE LIKE
WHAT TO CONSIDER
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
Best Cassette Toilet
Thetford 32812 Cassette Toilet
Best Plumbed RV Toilet
Thetford Aqua Magic V
Best Portable Campervan Toilet
Porta Potti 92306 White Thetford
Dometic Portable 5 gal toilet
Luggable Loo Portable Camping Toilet
Best overall: Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
A composting toilet works by separating the liquid waste from the solid waste when you use the restroom. The liquid waste is diverted to a separate storage tank or container to be emptied as often as necessary while the solid waste enters a container to dry out.
You add a composting medium such as coconut coir or wood pellets or shavings to assist in drying it out and you can churn the waste to further dry it out.
Nature’s head is well known for its eco-friendly products. Their composting toilet is the best product on our list for a variety of reasons. The premium self-contained toilet does not need any water or chemicals to flush and decompose the waste.
We like that it is designed to endure the bumps and bruises that come with van life with its durable and sturdy yet lightweight plastic construction.
The toilet comes with a ventilation hose and fans to efficiently move air from the toilet and keep it odorless. Moreover, it also has a wall adapter for the 12V fan. It’s an all-in-one package, so you don’t have to get anything separately except the compositing material like coconut coir, sawdust or peat moss.
The features we loved the most are the elongated seat and big capacity. The seat is as comfortable as your standard home toilet.
And with 2 people using it regularly, you don’t have to empty the solid compost waste for 4 to 6 weeks, which is remarkable. You should even be able to last a week or more before needing to empty the urine container if you opt not to plumb it to a black water tank.
Moreover, it automatically separates the liquid and solid waste for better compost. As it is a dry toilet, you don’t need water to flush. Instead, it has a spider handle to mix the solid waste and composting medium, which eventually dries out.
But we recommend that you do not flush the toilet paper with waste as it can affect the composting efficiency.
We also like that the Nature’s Head composting toilet is easy to install and comes with a 5-year warranty. You don’t have to permanently mount it to your van. So you can store it out of the way until you need it if you don’t want to designate a permanent toilet location.
A downside can be its hefty price tag. And we’ve learned that it may be challenging to keep the urine entirely separated from the solid waste due to the minimal space allocated for urine in the front of the toilet.
If urine enters the compost it will prevent the solid waste from drying out and can make a terrible mess when it comes time to empty the waste container.
Other than that this is one of, if not the, most popular composting toilets you will find for van life.
- Comfortable elongated seat.
- Huge capacity.
- Comes with a 5-year warranty.
- Built-in fan and vent to keep the surroundings fresh.
- Fairly expensive.
- May be difficult to keep solid and liquid waste separated
Best Cassette Toilet: Thetford 32812 Cassette Toilet
Cassette toilets are great options for van life because they are small in size, more affordable than composting toilets, operate similarly to a normal toilet and can be emptied in a number of sanitary places.
Essentially a cassette toilet stores your waste in a bin that can be pulled from the side of your van and discarded anywhere human waste is processed.
The Thetford 32812 Cassette Toilet represents Thetford’s brand as a high-quality, functional and stylish manufacturer of RV products and appliances.
The permanently mounted cassette toilet is a great option for vans. It is a bench-style toilet with indoor plumbing, an electric push-button for flush, and an LED indicator for waste tank level. The LED is a handy addition because it can be beneficial as it indicates when it is time to empty the tanks without having to guess.
The best thing about this cassette toilet is its waste tank. The big 5.1-gallon tank has wheels and a retractable handle to easily carry it to the toilet facilities.
The space-saving tank can be accessed from outside the toilet if you have the proper plumbing, and you will not have to carry it through the campervan (a big bonus, since you don’t want to spill it!). Moreover, the water tank has a 4-gallon capacity ensuring plenty of flushes between refills.
We like that you don’t have to carry the entire Thetford cassette toilet outside to empty it. You can pull the waste tray from the side of your van and carry it directly to an appropriate place to dump.
We’re big fans of this idea because you can dispose of it in any number of ways, from pit toilets in national parks to dump stations in RV parks and even public restrooms. Moreover, dumping it is easier than the black water tanks.
On the downside, because it does incorporate water when you flush, you will have to empty this toilet fairly regularly compared to a composting toilet.
And while the process of removing the tank and dumping it is relatively simple, it may also be quite messy. You should plan to be near a source of non-potable water at a dump station to be able to rinse the waste container out before putting it back into the toilet.
Also, the seat is comparatively higher than other toilets, which can be a problem for some users.
But we think it’s fair considering the features of this campervan toilet.
- Large waste tank with wheels and handle.
- LED indicator for the waste tank.
- Electronic flush button.
- Requires relatively frequent dumps
- Can be a bit messy to empty
- The seat is a bit higher for some users.
Best Plumbed RV Toilet: Thetford Aqua Magic V
If you want a proper plumbed toilet, you are one of the few in van life as these campervan toilet options are not entirely convenient and require both plumbed fresh water and a black tank for wastewater disposal.
But if you want to have the experience of using a regular toilet as you would at home, this is as close as it gets.
Aqua Magic V is another excellent product from Thetford. The lightweight and affordable campervan toilet has a robust polypropylene construction with a textured and soft lid to prevent scuffing on the back. Moreover, it completely conceals the toilet keeping the debris out.
The plumbed toilet is straightforward to install. Simply align it with the sewage hole in the floor, tighten the bolts, connect the water supply, and you are good to go. Although it is not a portable toilet, it still weighs less than 10lbs.
We love the high-profile and angled design of the toilet. The height is perfect for every person, and the angled design provides a comfortable sitting experience. For a campervan toilet, this is as close as you’ll get to a normal toilet on the road.
Aqua Magic V has an easy-to-use hand flush on the left side. The handy lever has dual functionality. Pulling it halfway will add water, and a full pull will provide a power flush to push all the waste into the tank. Moreover, it also has an option to add a hand sprayer to hand wash your underside when you’re finished with your business.
On the downside, this toilet must be an explicit part of your van’s plumbing system. This means you have to account both for freshwater coming into the toilet and black water being stored in a black tank afterward.
In van life water is precious. And you don’t want to have to install a black water tank if you don’t absolutely need to. But if you want the comforts of home on the road, this is your best option.
Also, the bowl of Aqua Magic V is not very deep. And some people prefer a version with a foot flush pedal as opposed to a hand pedal.
- Affordable, lightweight and durable.
- Comfortable tall seat.
- Dual-function hand flush.
- Requires plumbing to fresh water and a black tank
- Bowl is not very deep
Best Portable Campervan Toilet: Porta Potti 92306 White Thetford
To simplify the process when you need to go to the bathroom, you can always invest in a portable campervan toilet. With very few bells and whistles, these are nearly as basic as it comes requiring little effort to install, use or maintain along the way.
Porta Potti is Thetford’s portable toilet that is a great fit for small camper vans. It weighs only 15.5 lbs and stands at 17.7 inches. It has polypropylene construction for a rigid and smooth finish.
The portable toilet is divided into two compartments. The top compartment is the seat that is comfortable to sit on and stands tall at a suitable height.
The lower compartment is where all the waste goes. It has a big 5.6 gallons capacity, enough for several days of normal use. The tank is relatively easy to remove and clean. Moreover, the 4-gallon fresh water tank can flush more than 50 times on a single fill, which is great for vans and small RVs.
We really liked Porta Potti’s integrated toilet paper holder. The toilet has a designated room for toilet paper which is a great space-saving feature for any camper van.
We also like the nature of a portable toilet in that you can store it virtually anywhere in your van and pull it out to use indoors or even set it outside to use if you would like.
Installation is easy and does not take a lot of time as you are virtually setting it somewhere in your van. And the flushing system is powered by 6 AA batteries which can be an extra investment, but it saves essential campervan electricity.
On the downside, the Porta Potti is, well, a portable toilet. It lacks the features of more permanent installations and must be emptied and cleaned regularly.
Additionally, it has a strong exterior, but internal plumbing is not always durable and can break easily.
- Easy to use and install.
- The flushing system is water efficient.
- Straightforward to clean and maintain.
- Portable with no bells and whistles
- Internal plumbing can break under pressure
- Must be emptied regularly
Runner Up: Dometic Portable 5 gal toilet
Dometic 301097606 is another popular portable van toilet. The handy toilet is not better in aesthetics than its counterpart, the Porta-Potty. But it has arguably better features.
This model is the perfect product for a small campervan. With a circumference of 1ft x 1ft, it seamlessly fits in a cabinet while leaving room for a toilet paper rack.
We will advise sticking some rubber pads on the bottom to quickly pull and push it in and out of the cabinet and reduce the damage to the toilet or floor.
Moreover, it is pretty easy to carry around thanks to the solid handle on the front which also allows you to remove the waste tank conveniently.
We loved the soft flush button and hand pump. It is super convenient and requires next to no effort. Simply fill the tank as much as you want by pulling the lever. And push the button to flush it out into the tank.
On the downside, the tank will release some odor when opened. But the lid has a solid seal to block out all the foul odors when not in use.
Also, this camper van toilet has a robust ABS construction, but sometimes residue sticks to it. So, always fill the bowl with some water to avoid this. Or plan on getting a little dirty with routine cleaning.
- Portable with no bells and whistles
- Can be stowed in van easily
- Solid waste residue tends to stick.
- Odors released when flushing
- Must be emptied regularly
Cheapest Option: Luggable Loo Portable Camping Toilet
If you’re looking for the absolute easiest, bare-bones way to include a campervan toilet option in your build, look no further than the Luggable Loo. This is arguably the best portable campervan toilet because of its small size and versatility.
What it lacks in comparison to other campervan toilet options it gains in its simplicity.
Luggable Loo is simply a portable bucket toilet. It is the simplest and cheapest campervan toilet with no fancy features like a flush button, fresh water tank, sealed lid or pressurized pumps.
It is more like an emergency toilet that every campervan should have at the minimum to keep from digging holes all over campgrounds, racing to public restrooms or having to go in the middle of the night.
Although it may be a simple toilet, it can be fairly helpful in that there are no parts that can malfunction and with a plastic bag it is pretty much self-cleaning. The durable portable campervan toilet comprises a 5 gallons bucket and a lid, that’s it!
After a composting toilet, the Luggable Loo is the easiest of the campervan toilets to clean. Simply put a garbage bag in the basket, finish your business, seal the bag and throw it in the trash as frequently as you desire.
On the downside, this is not the kind of toilet you’re proud to share with guests. If you are a single camper or don’t mind more intimately knowing your partner, then this is a great option.
But you’ll be constantly fighting odor, buying new bags and composting medium (kitty litter, at the least!) and you definitely want to secure this toilet before you hit any bumpy roads.
Unlike composting and cassette toilets, since you are using a plastic bag to collect your waste you cannot simply dispose of it in a public restroom, pit toilet or dump station.
But there is nothing terrible in this campervan toilet and it’s a great option to digging a hole in the woods next to your campsite. It is the cheapest and the simplest of the campervan toilet options out there so we cannot ask for more.
- Small and portable
- No additional parts or plumbing required
- Can lead to odor buildup
- Should be emptied frequently
- Requires plastic bags
How to Choose the Best Camper Van Toilet
There are many factors that go into deciding whether or not you even need to shop for the best campervan toilet options. So we’ll cover a few questions you might be asking yourself first before getting into the details of what to look for in a toilet for your van.
Then we’ll get into explaining each type of toilet and the pros and cons of having each inside your van.
Do I really need a toilet in my campervan?
The answer to this question is yes, and no. Yes, if you are human, you need a toilet. But does it have to be in your van? No.
There are several options when it comes to having a van toilet. And each has its pros and cons.
The biggest pro for not having a toilet in your van is the amount of space you save by not having one. Depending on which toilet option you may have selected, other benefits include not worrying about plumbing a holding tank or having to regularly search for an RV dump for waste disposal.
You’ll also appreciate not having a stench from the toilet.
But clearly, if you opt against having a toilet, you’re at the mercy of public restrooms or proper use of the great outdoors when nature calls.
Be mindful that van life has a terrible reputation, partly due to van dwellers who do not properly bury their waste in the woods or rely on improper disposal of urine from “pee bottles” they use.
We group composting toilets, cassette toilets and plumbed RV toilets in this category simply because they look like normal toilets. If you opt for one of these, you will have all the benefits of using the restroom in the convenience of your home on road.
But depending on which one you choose, you will have to consider things like how much space they take up, where and how to install a holding tank and how to properly dump your tank or containers for waste disposal.
You may also need to carry additional items such as biodegradable toilet paper, chemical treatments, plastic bags and peat moss, kitty litter or other composting mediums.
These toilets are a compromise between having no toilet and having a regular toilet. Depending on which kind of portable van toilet you choose, there may be more comfort similar to traditional ones.
Unlike with a permanent toilet, you can often carry these into a toilet tent or some other area designated for doing your business. And you can stow them away in creative places in your van build, so they don’t take up much space or let any odor waft through your van.
But you will still have to consider exactly what you must do for waste disposal, whether you have a detachable holding tank or simply empty your waste into a pit toilet or other appropriate disposal area.
Types of Toilets
There are five types of campervan toilet options explained below.
Plumbed campervan toilets are similar to our household toilet and are often found in big motorhomes and RVs. They are hooked up to fresh water and black water tank containing odor-eliminating chemicals and waste.
Plumbed toilets are further divided into two types: gravity and macerating. The gravity toilet works the same way as our house flush, but the waste is stored in the black tank instead of the sewer. Macerating is almost similar, but the waste is ground and mixed with blades before entering the black tank.
Black tanks can hold a massive amount of waste as they can only be dumped at special toilet facilities because of the chemicals.But in a van, adding a black tank usually results in additional cost, space and effort. And plumbing fresh water into these toilets is a terrible waste of the most precious commodity on the road.
A composting toilet is an eco-friendly alternative to cassette and chemical toilets. They are also known as “dry toilets.” The human waste is separated into liquids and solids.
Liquid waste is plumbed to a portable container (or black tank) for separate disposal. While solid waste goes to the composting tank, where you add a composting medium such as coconut coir or wood shavings, where it dries out over time. The compost can then literally be used by gardens and is safe for disposal virtually anywhere.
Because they are relatively new and incorporate more high-tech processes, composting toilets are the most costly of the campervan toilet options. But they are eco-friendly and hold the waste for a very long time. Moreover, the composting materials are very cheap.
Cassette toilets operation is similar to gravity toilets. They are divided into two parts. The top part is where you sit and flush, while the bottom part has the tanks to store the waste. Some of the best options have a freshwater tank for flushing.
These toilets can have a lot of different features like integrated toilet paper holder, waste tank level indicator, hand flush, pedal flush and many more.
These campervan toilets are quite convenient, and the portable black tank is quite easy to remove, dump and clean.
Portable van toilets are another option for van life. They are similar to the cassette toilets with three main compartments: bowl, wastewater tank and freshwater tank.
The waste holding tank holds all the mess while keeping the odor at bay. They are easy to detach, and you can dump them in any dumping ground or facility because they don’t have chemicals.
The best portable toilet is lightweight and easy to move, affordable, easy to use and does not need plumbing.
Bucket toilets are the most straightforward toilet options for a van. Simply put, it is a basic 5-gallon bucket with a seat and a snap-on lid. There are no bells and whistles. Just a bag to catch your business.
Moreover, the bucket toilet should be emptied regularly because aside from a flimsy snap-on lid, there is no mechanism to seal or remove the odor.
Space is an essential factor when determining the best campervan toilet for your van. You will need a designated space for composting, plumbed and cassette (in some cases). This is especially true if you do plan to incorporate a black tank either with a composting toilet or a plumbed RV toilet.
In comparison, bucket and portable toilets will easily fit in a cabinet and can be pulled out and used when required.
Ease of Install
Installing a campervan toilet should not be a difficult task. They require only a little knowledge and effort.
Portable and bucket toilets actually don’t require any installation while you have to do some basic plumbing and electric supply for other types.
Portable vs Permanent
Choosing a portable toilet or a permanent option is a personal choice. But the choice is highly dependent on the available space and how much you want to make your van feel like home.
So, if you have ample space, go for a permanent one to get the true homelike experience. Otherwise, a portable toilet is the best choice for the simple van life experience.
Stand-alone toilet or wet-bath
A stand-alone toilet is the standard toilet discussed above. While a wet-bath toilet is a shower and toilet combo. Often times a wet bath is a great way to save space in a van if you opt to have an indoor shower.
But with a variety of van life shower options, you may opt for a stand-alone toilet coupled with an outdoor shower.
Cost is another crucial factor when selecting the best camper van toilets. You can get a good bucket toilet for under $25, while cassette and portable toilets can range from $150$ to $300 or more. And more high-tech composting toilets can go up to $1000.
Sometimes money should not be the ultimate factor in making a decision. You could put $1,000 to many other uses in your van if you choose not to spend it on a Nature’s Head composting toilet.
But knowing you have the best campervan toilet that doesn’t require you to search long and hard for the next place to do your business is imperative to making the most of van life.
The decision to add a toilet to your van should not be difficult. But deciding which toilet is best maybe.
While there are quite a few things to think through in terms of how various toilets work and each one’s pros and cons, we are set on the idea that a composting toilet is the best option for van life.
And the best of the best is the Nature’s Head composting toilet, worth every dollar in convenience and ease of use down any road you may travel.
Christopher Harvey is the founder and primary content creator for Called To Wander and Van Life Movement. He lives and travels full-time in his RV with his wife Lindsay and their two Australian Cattle Dogs. Passions include helping other people understand how to life a nomadic RV lifestyle and studying and planning an epic van build to drive the Pan American Highway in 2023.