How To Choose The Best Portable Toilet & Shower?
Love camping, fishing, 4WDing, hiking and festivals but hate the bathroom situation? Having your own portable toilet and shower is awesome when the ones on offer are a bit iffy, too far from your tent, or have long queues. You'll feel clean and can use your portable shower for other things too - the washing up, hosing down your gear and washing the dog.
Everyone's different, and like many things in life, what's best for one person might not be best for the next. The best portable bathroom for you depends on your particular needs:
- Where you'll use the bathroom (near water and people or in the middle of nowhere?)
- Who you'll camp with (now and in the future - how many people and how big they are)
- How easy you want using the toilet and shower to be (refilling/emptying frequency?)
- How often you'll be camping and for how long (on weekends only or for a few weeks?)
- How long you want it to last (for a few short trips or for many years of camping?)
What portable toilet and shower should you buy?
Working out which shower and toilet to buy is easier when you go through these six steps:
First, think about where and how you'll use the portable toilet and shower:
- Water - will you have access to a tap or need to take all the water with you?
- Campers - how many people will be using it every day, and for how many days?
- Frequency - will you only use them for a few days here and there, or for weeks?
- Portability - will you set them up in one spot, or need to move them around a lot?
- Privacy - will you be camping somewhere private or around lots of other people?
- Rules - are you allowed to use a portable toilet or shower where you're camping?
Next, consider what size shower and toilet will suit your particular needs:
- The bigger the water and/or waste capacity is, the larger and heavier it will be.
- Think about how many times you can use it before you need to refill the water.
- If it holds more water you get more/longer showers before you need to refill it.
- The bigger it is the less often you need to refill or empty it (but it'll be heavier).
- The smaller it is the easier it is to carry (but you'll need to refill/empty it more).
- Some showers have a flow adjuster (a more powerful flow uses water faster).
- If you're doing a 14-day wilderness trek you won't want to carry anything heavy.
- When you look at it's weight, keep in mind that it will be heavier when full.
- Are you strong enough to carry it alone when it's time to refill or empty it?
- Will you be able to lift and hang up the shower bag when it's full of water?
- Really low toilets or basic bucket toilets require more squatting when using.
- A taller toilet is better for tall people and men (less splashback when standing).
- A toilet that's lower to the ground is better for shorter people and kids.
- If you're using the power of gravity for the shower, what will you hang it from?
- The size of the hole in the toilet seat needs to suit the people using it.
3. Comfort & Convenience
- The convenience of having a bathroom right next to your tent.
- Complete privacy when you're camping with other people.
- A way to keep odours outside (even if a toilet would fit in your tent).
One toilet and shower tent or two?
- One tent - switching the toilet and shower in and out saves space (but takes time).
- Two tents - separate tents gives you more convenience (but takes up more space).
You'll just need to peg the toilet/shower tent to the ground so it's secure in the wind.
Some shower tents have:
- Pockets for your toiletries.
- A place to keep your towel dry and clean.
- A floor or mat to keep your feet clean.
Some toilets have:
- A basic bucket design.
- Disposable plastic liners.
- A seat you can sit on.
- A lid to contain odours.
- Luxury comfort designs.
- A manual flushing system.
- A battery-powered flush.
What type of portable loo is best for you?
A portable toilet collects your waste so doesn't affect the environment. They can be:
- A simple squat-and-go scenario.
- Bog bags you use once and then dispose of (like when you walk the dog).
- A bucket that temporarily stores your waste then you empty and clean it.
- A glorified bin with a loo seat and lid, and a disposable bag underneath.
- Use liquid chemicals to keep the toilet clean and break down waste.
- Are more hygienic to use and and manage waste than basic toilets.
- Are better suited to longer-term camping trips.
- A blue chemical breaks down the waste, covers up odours and reduces gas.
- Flushing toilets have a pink chemical too that keeps them hygienically clean.
- The containers need to be emptied every day or two.
- Are a much fancier, more comfortable toilet experience.
- Have a built-in water tank that creates a flushing system.
- Manual flushing toilets have one of the following flush mechanisms:
- You push a bellows tube repeatedly until there's enough pressure to flush.
- You pump a piston until there's enough pressure to push the flush button.
- You pull then push the piston pump once (or as many times as needed).
- Powered toilets have flushing systems powered by a battery or electricity.
Which camping shower is right for you?
Portable showers have two or three parts:
- A soft bladder or hard plastic container you fill with water.
- A showerhead or hose that sprays the water onto you.
- A power source that heats the water and creates water pressure.
Camping showers can be used with:
- Cold water - the shower's water vessel is filled with tap or bottled water.
- Warm water - that's generated in one of two ways:
- The water is heated by a power source.
- The power source creates water pressure too.
- A battery, gas bottle or generator is needed.
- The fastest way to heat water for a hot shower.
- These showers create the best water pressure.
- Doesn't need to be connected to a battery or to power.
- Manual pressure or a pressure chamber pushes water down the hose.
- The sun heats the water bag then you hang it from above (on a tree or pole).
- Gravity propels the water from the bag down the hose and onto you.
- On cloudy days when there's no sun you won't have any warm water.
- On blazing hot summer days, the water can be boiling hot so be careful.
- Light and easy to carry but will take a few hours to warm up the water.
Won't have access to water or going hiking?
- A great way to wipe off the day's grime, sweat salt and odours.
- Gentle on skin and pH balanced thanks to the extra thick viscose non-woven fibre.
- Readily compostable after use so they're gentle on the environment too.
5. Powered by
- Powered showers and toilets have different power sources with different benefits. Think about what's important to you and how you'd prefer to power them.
- Toilet flushing systems can be powered by plug-in electricity (or a generator).
- A lithium ion battery or 12V car battery can power some toilets and showers.
- You can control the water temperature for the perfect camping shower.
- Heats shower water fast but they're big and heavy so suit long-term camping.
- An LPG gas bottle heats the shower water (same kind used for a camping stove).
- The shower water is pressurised by a battery or plug-in power.
- Great for showering on big family camping trips and 4WDing.
- Heats shower water fast but they're big and heavy so suit long-term camping.
- You'll need lot of gas for lots of people showering, long showers or long trips.
- Solar showers are compact and light so can be easily carried.
- They need to be left in the sun for hours to heat to the water.
- The bigger the shower water bladder the heavier it will be to lift and hang.
- Solar showers don't need batteries or power, just sun, so can be used anywhere.
When you're weighing up which toilet or shower to buy, think about quality versus cost:
- Battery and gas-powered showers more expensive than solar-powered showers (but heat water faster).
- Plastic shower water bladders don't last as long as fabric bladders.
- Brands offering ongoing service can help you with potential future issues and parts.
- Toilets that flush manually are cheaper than powered toilets (but less convenient).
- Models with water and waste indicators are more expensive but more convenient.
When it comes to how much you should spend on a toilet or shower:
- If you only camp for a weekend once or twice a year, a cheap one will do the trick.
- Cheaper models don't tend to last as long, so you do get what you pay for.
- If you camp regularly or for more than a few days a time, spending a bit more:
- Gives you years of comfortable camping.
- Is an investment in being a happy camper.
- Find out if/how you can buy replacement parts if needed one day.
- Factor in the cost of anything else you may want to buy for your toilet or shower:
Anaconda has a range of:
- Showers from $16 (solar) to $550 (gas), and the majority are $100 to $400.
- Toilets from $20 (buckets) to $280 (flushing), and the majority are $50 to $200.
When you go to the camping toilets and showers section on the Anaconda website, you'll see tick box filters down the left hand side of the page. Using these filters makes working out which shower and toilet to buy easier and faster because you can choose to filter the showers and toilets you see by their:
- Categories - so you can choose to only see toilets, showers or accessories.
- Deal - so you only see all the showers and toilets on sale or at clearance prices.
- Brand - so you can just see brands like Thetford, Coleman, Spinifex and Oztrail.
- Price - so you only see toilets and showers within your budget on the page.
- Size - so you can just see the showers and toilets that suit the size you want.