When it comes to caravanning, portable toilets come with the territory. And many of them come with eco-friendly options and a range of clever features. After all, feeling nature's call shouldn't come between you and your enjoyment of the great outdoors. And there's loads to enjoy when your portable camping toilets come with features like push-button flush units, water level indicators, built-in paper roll holders, and spare valves. But if you're in the market for a loo you can take with you, here are the tree main features to look for in your portable camping toilets:
There's no shortage of would-be portable toilets out there, but only one type of toilet can truly claim to be portable. It's the type of loo designed with two sections that come together. The top one is a bowl that doubles up as a water tank. This flush tank can usually be lifted away and refilled, making it infinitely reusable. The lower bit is the waste tank. After waste and flush water flow into it, it's closed. It's also very important that it can be removed and emptied for reuse.
These two-piece portable toilets can be used by campers as well as caravanners. They're a must for smaller caravans or campervans that don't have built-in toilets. And some campers also like to use portable camping toilets, as they're light and small enough to fit inside a pop-up shower tent.
Of course, cassette toilets, which can be emptied from outside your motorhome, are much more convenient. Along with the right toilet chemicals, these toilets make wastewater handling a breeze.
Another important feature is tank capacity. The bigger the tank, the less frequent your visits to dumping points. Bear in mind that a couple reliant only on their chemical toilet would fill a 20-litre tank in about three days, but a family with no access to campsite facilities would need more. However, tank capacity goes hand in hand with weight, which is an important factor for any caravanner.
MTPLM (Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass) is calculated in kilograms, but the tank's capacity will be given to you in litres. To make sure that you don't go over your weight limit, you need to be able to convert your tank capacity into kilos. A litre of water has almost the same mass as a kilo, whether it's frozen or liquid, so every litre of water adds a kilo to your total mass. To avoid going above your limit, you may need to empty the waste tank more often.
When it comes to portable toilets, size is not an issue to be sniffed at. For a typical household toilet, the height of the pan is 40 to 45 cm. But the overall dimensions of a portable toilet this tall probably wouldn't match your size requirements. If you need to store your portable toilets under a caravan bed when you're on the road, or if you'll be carrying your portable camping toilets yourself, then the smaller the better.
Also, let's not forget that when water freezes, it expands. Ideally, you shouldn't fill up your tank above a certain level in winter. If you do, then make sure there's a bit of space around the tank that can be taken up as the water expands. When space is at a premium, you don't want to overlook this basic precaution.
Then look at how your preferred portable camping toilets flush. Top of the range, ceramic bowl toilets come with a nifty feature called electronic flush. Basically, they flush for you at the push of a button. However, they require a source of electricity.
Other portable camping toilets come with a piston, or a pump that works like bellows. It's a very effective mechanism, but it tends to wear out quickly. The next step up is the hand pump, the piston flush, and then higher up is the battery-operated electric pump. Obviously, the design, flush mechanism, and size of the tank will also determine the level of noise these portable toilets make.