Lifestyle Van Builds

What Are Your Toilet Options in a Camper Van?

Have you ever wondered how people go to the bathroom in their vans? Here are a few different toilet options for your camper van!

Have you ever wondered how people go to the bathroom in their camper vans? It might seem like a strange question, but don’t worry, you aren’t alone! You might be surprised to find out that there are actually a lot of different toilet options for camper vans.

The type of toilet that you get will depend on your personal comfort levels. Some people don’t mind having a bucket for their business. Meanwhile, others feel that they can’t live anywhere without a functioning toilet!

Let’s take a look at a few toilet options for your camper van.

No Toilet

Restrooms sign with an arrow points toward a nature trail that leads to the bathroom at a campground in Oregon.

This option isn’t as hard as you might think! A lot of smaller camper vans choose to not have a toilet in order to save space and money. Instead of a camper van toilet, you would use public bathrooms. This includes bathrooms at gas stations, campgrounds, beaches, parks, stores, and more.

This option is the true meaning of nature calling. If you’re boondocking, you would simply do your business outside! With this option, it’s important to have a trowel in order to bury your waste. (You also want to familiarize yourself with backcountry bathroom rules so you don’t leave any trace or harm the land!)

You might also use an empty bottle (like a Nalgene bottle) for emergencies. Just make sure to mark it so you know not to drink out of it!

The downside to this option is that it’s a lot dirtier than having an established toilet. It also might feel unsanitary to some people to only use public shared bathrooms. Also, a lot of public bathrooms have closed due to COVID-19, which makes it harder to find a place to go.

Bucket Toilet

A Luggable Loo bucket toilet strapped in place in a camper van.
Photo by @topaz2041

Thinking of a more classic nomadic-style bathroom? The bucket toilet may be for you! This camper van toilet option is basically exactly what it sounds like – a toilet seat attached to the top of a bucket. You can line this bucket with bags and dispose of them when you’re done.

This is an extremely affordable option since it’s just a bucket! You can purchase buckets with the toilet seat attachment for only about $40. Plus, they’re portable and easy to move around. Unlike the no toilet option, you don’t need to leave your camper van to do your business.

Unfortunately, this toilet option has a lot of downsides. If you line the bucket with bags, you’ll likely want to dispose of them as soon as possible to avoid a nasty odor. These buckets do not seal shut, so you risk spillage. They can also be bulky and take up a lot of room in your van.

Compostable Toilet

A compostable toilet being installed in a camper van.
Image by Far Out Ride

The compostable toilet is one of the most popular camper van toilet options. This toilet is more eco-friendly and can hold both liquid and solid waste. The best part? It doesn’t smell!

Your solid waste is blended with compostable materials like peat moss and coconut coir to essentially turn it into soil. The only part of this toilet that smells is when you’re emptying the liquid waste tank.

The biggest downside to this is that it’s an extremely pricey option. Compostable toilets clock in at around $1,000, so a lot of people can’t afford them. It is also slightly more difficult to install in your camper van since it requires ventilation.

Cassette Toilet

A cassette toilet sitting in its own compartment within a camper van.
Image by Van Focused

The cassette toilet is another very popular van toilet solution. Cassette toilets essentially have one tank for all of your waste that can be detached from the toilet for easy dumping. They can range from electric to manual. Plus, they typically have a flush option.

These portable toilets can also be a cheaper solution, with some cassette toilets starting at only $90! They can be mounted into your van to make it feel more like a “real” toilet. Alternatively, a lot of people enjoy that these toilets are portable so they can move them into other areas of their van or even other vehicles!

However, cassette toilets are less eco-friendly as they require chemicals to get rid of the smell. They are also less ideal for solid waste since everything sits in one tank. Cassette toilets can fill up pretty fast, so you might have to dump them fairly often, which can be an expense in itself.

Flush Toilet

If you simply cannot live without a fully-installed toilet, you might consider having a full flush toilet option in your camper van. These toilets connect to a black water holding tank, typically located underneath your van.

This van life toilet can make you feel like you are really in a tiny home! It’s a permanent toilet solution, with the holding tank being typically much larger than a portable toilet’s. This means you won’t have to dump it as often.

However, these take up a lot of space, so you’ll likely need to have a much larger camper van for this to work. You will need a large freshwater tank for the flush and a large black water tank for the waste. While the toilets themselves are pretty cheap, you will need to spend a lot of time and money on the installation. You also might need to build out a bathroom area in your van since it is not portable.

When it comes to going to the bathroom in your camper van, you have a ton of options! Choosing the right toilet for your rig depends on what you are really comfortable with. Some people don’t mind doing their business on the wild side, while others can’t live without an established bathroom.

Everyone has their own personal preferences, and that’s part of the reason why building out your own van is so exciting (or having a van conversion company do it for you)! There’s really no “right way” to have a toilet in your camper van. You have the ability to go with what best suits you!

Did we miss any van life toilet ideas? Let us know in the comments!

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3 comments

  1. Composting toilets dont need ventilation, fans, ducts… once the solids are covered with a styling medium no odor is produced.

    You should search…
    “ROAD COMMODE”

    They’ve solds over 400 units with no ventilation and not a single complaint.

    They are also not $1000 they are on Etsy and Ebay for $325

  2. The info on the bucket toilet is wrong. First, you can put one together for around $15, definitely under $20. A bucket will cost around $5, if you can’t find one free. The seat, I think I paid $10 for mine, but if you are handy with tools, you can make a seat, for the cost of the wood, or even free wood. You do not put bags in it. You line it with a trash bag, held in place by the seat, same as placing in a trash can. Then put some sawdust, pet bedding, peat moss, or similar in the bottom. After you go put in some more sawdust or whatever it you are using. And you DO NOT need a urine diverter. When full enough, remove the bag and put in another. Want more details? Read the book Humanure, a lot of info, and directions for making one. You can build a box around it, and use it as a stool, no one will know.

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