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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Indelicate But Necessary Discussion: Portable Toilets For Trailers


When it comes to practical accessories for your vintage trailer, here's one that deserves its own post: the portable toilet.

This is a must-have for anyone whose sweet old trailer has no built-in 'facilities,' and this would include most older trailers that are less than 15 feet long. (Something to make note of if you are just beginning the foray into shopping for a vintage trailer.) If you're someone who makes regular middle-of-the-night bathroom trips at home, then you'll probably need and want a place to 'go' when camping, without having to get dressed and hunt for the campground toilets in the dark.

Your choice of receptacles and amount to spend is completely up to you--we can't think of anything more private than this particular need! Here's a rundown of your options:

* Free and extremely basic:  3-lb. coffee can with lid. This, you will discreetly empty every morning and flush into a campground toilet.

* Next step up: Vintage chamber pot with lid, of the sort that Great-Grandma may have had. This, too, requires an every-a.m. disposal of contents into a campground toilet.

* Newer, and relatively inexpensive (under $20): Go to a sporting goods store, like Cabela's, and buy a Luggable Loo toilet seat with lid that fits onto a lined 5-gallon bucket. You can either buy plastic liner bags made for the Luggable Loo, or simply use two heavy-duty kitchen trash bags as the liner.

* For absorption and odor control, you can: Buy pre-treated disposal bags (costly over time); place a layer of kitty litter at the bottom of the lined bucket; or, use a large-size, heavy-absorbency disposable diaper. My favorite solution: Pour 2 cups of stove pellets (manufactured as wood stove fuel) into the lined bucket. They're made of compressed sawdust that absorbs 20x its weight in liquid, and cost about $5 for a 40-lb. bag; find them in the heat/fuel section of any big-box store. One bag will last you a very long time; keep it in your garage and use a small container to hold enough pellets for a trip. (Two cups per day is plenty.)

* Fancier variation on the Luggable Loo theme (about $35): Look for a portable camping/boating toilet, such as the Reliance Hassock, shown in the photo above. These have a toilet seat under the lid, and can be used with either the Double Doodie (double-lined, odor-absorbing) waste bags made to go with them, or with the method outlined above, for the Luggable Loo. Dispose of contents the same as you would with the Luggable Loo.

(Handy hint for either of the bucket-type methods above: Find a collapsible, wide-bottom laundry hamper to hold the bucket and disguise it. Set outside your trailer, set a basket or plant on top, and mum's the word about what's inside!)




* Costliest: Buy a chemical, flushing, standard Porta-Potty ($65 and up): These aren't quite as simple to rig up and use as the bucket methods, but some gals prefer them as being, shall we say, less primitive. With these, liquid waste is flushed into a separate chamber that has odor-treatment chemicals. Some campers empty at the RV dump, and others empty and clean after they get back home.

Not the most delicate of topics, we know. We prefer to keep it real, though, and besides--who else are you gonna ask besides good ol' Girl Camping Girl?

42 comments:

  1. I have the 'Porta Potty' type and I empty it @ the campground Dump Station... unless I have been dry~camping at a friends,,,(and forgot to dispose of the waste) in which case I bring it home & dump it into our system at home., The nice thing about this type is it stows easily in a small cabinet or under the bed. A because I use an RV enzyme additive,,, there is no odor,, even when having forgotten to empty it a week later, in the Summertime no less.lol!

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  2. I think I am notorious or my 'potty envy' during rallies... Oh to ooh and awwwww at someone's potty, during open house. I truly DO need to just stop.
    Got myself a Luggaloo! Now am going to get my own personal potty tent for it!!!

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  3. someone told me the cedar kitty litter is the best because it absorbs the urine and makes it easier to maneuver. This way it can be put into the regular trash- nice if the park picks up trash!

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  4. Where I live in Montana, anytime you are camping and there isn't an outhouse, you have to have a toilet. The rangers come and check. We bought the kind with the toilet seat and bags. Liked your idea of putting it in a bag though. We have a big river raft and we do float and camp trips so we have to carry everything on the boat...would be nice to hide it so we don't have a toilet hanging off the back!

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  5. What part of Montana, Melissa? (I'm 'next door,' in Idaho.)

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  6. I use the vintage chamber pot with a draw string kitchen garbage bag and disposable diaper in it. Toss it in the camp garbage in the morning if I used it. All the supplies fit inside the chamber pot during the day so it just looks like a cute vintage chamber pot sitting there. I ready it for use before I go to bed. Nice thing about it is it is relatively small and unobtrusive compared to the other options and it is cute - so it is okay that is it sitting out for all to see (lid on of course).

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  7. Where did you get the cute laundry bag to hide the loo? I think I might have to invest in the Loo

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  8. I found the laundry hamper at a Ross store.

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  9. Thank you! This is a brilliant article. I love that you include an option that's (almost) free. Will you be doing an article about showering?? Or did you already do that?? Thanks again, sz

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    1. We have not done a post about showering yet, but will when it warms up enough to take the photos!

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  10. I have a Luggable Loo seat on a Home Depot bucket- cheaper and a little less obvious if you don't have a laundry bag yet. I highly recommend the Porta Privy from Cabela's if you want an easy pop up outhouse/shower option. I have a teardrop, so I can use it for changing,etc. also. Feline Pine is a pellet cat litter that works great if you go with any of the bucket types.

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    1. Sorry, I didn't realize that this was publishing without a name.
      MaureenM in Portland

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    2. Love the Luggable Loo seat option, it's mentioned in the post.

      As a less costly substitute for pet pellets, I use pine stove pellets. They work the same (because they are the same, with different labeling). About $4 for 40/lb bag, enough for plenty of campouts!

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  12. Thinking out loud..husband injured 3 years ago and required treatment at a skilled nursing facility... thankfully, he no longer needs the porta potty seat with adjustable legs, arms and a back...potty slides in a track under the seat or it would accommodate a 5 gallon bucket with some type of litter underneath....and the trash bag liners.... this is just something we've been discussing since he has since had gallbladder surgery too....so now nature calls differently... sorry TMI...LOL anyway, I see where lots of Vintage Travel Trailer owners opt using porta potty's in a closet...how large are these closets normally?

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    1. The closets are pretty narrow--20 inches across or less. Americans were little people when these old trailers were built. Some older trailers did have toilets, and that might be your better bet.

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  14. Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!





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  17. I;m glad I stumbled upon this post. I was wondering about this topic myself and had two questions: •What to go in. •Where to do it. I am going camping for about 4 months with my very tiny teardrop in the desert. I will be boon docking (no facilities) and there are not too many trees or bushes to aid as a natural outdoor privacy screen. I like all the ideas everyone here has about what to go in. WHERE to go is my remaining question now.

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  18. Check into free-standing camp shower rooms--they break down like a tent, set up fast, and afford privacy for use of portable toilet.

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  19. Something to consider... Disposal diapers never disintegrate. They are awful for the environment so cedar kitty litter is much more eco-friendly (the silicone in other kitty litters requires eye-sore mining which they're now doing in sensitive areas along with everything else). Thanks for this great site!

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  20. Thanks for the post! I came across this looking for a portable toilet trailer in Chicago. I normally go out in the woods but there's going to be a lot of families and kids so the trailer is a better idea.

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  21. Portable toilets are essential for trailer and the blog posting is very informative and interesting. Thanks a lot.

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  23. I am just learning about all of this. Great suggestions! Thank you.

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  24. I use a Folgers coffee can with Cat's Pride flushable litter. The litter is tiny pellets of newspaper. I line the can with kitchen scrap sized bags and carry travel size toilet tissue between the can and liner while traveling.

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  25. Howdy! I'm at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 4! Just wanted to say I love reading your blog and look forward to all your posts! Carry on the great work!

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  26. Thank you for the informative post. I spent this past weekend in my vintage Airstream and tried your suggestion of wood pellets in a bucket instead of braving the freezing cold and making a mad 100 yard dash to the porta potty stashed in a corner of the outdoor bath house at 4:00 in the morning! I will try a smaller version using a gallon can as I glamp around this summer in my little vintage 1960 camp trailer. Great blog!

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  27. Portable rest rooms are essential for outdoor events.

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  31. Hi, Something no one has mentioned that I wonder about is if having a portable toilet of any kind in a tent attracts bears in areas where they are to be found. What are your thoughts on this? They say not to even have toiletries in your tent because of the fragrances.

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  33. I have tried the bucket type toilet and also the various folding options but I've just bought the flushing double chamber toilet for this year and the main problem now is finding a way of hiding it. I love your idea of the pretty laundry hamper, my new one is square so I don't quite know if it would work but it has certainly planted an idea. I am not that handy when it comes to sewing so making a cover is a last resort for me.

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    1. How about setting a large square basket over it--something such as a hamper, with the lid removed, might work perfectly.

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  34. One of the most important thing to consider before going out. But I wonder, since it is portable is it possible after use could be replaced with another?

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  35. I use a round foot stool made for storage. I have a 3 gallon bucket that fits in is perfectly. I use plastic trash bags and Cleanwaste Mini 55-Use Poo Powder Waste Treatment in it and a toilet seat with it. During daytime, the seat stores in a cabinet and everything else stores in side and it just looks like a foot stool. I set it up at night for night-time emergencies and throw the sealed/tied close trash bag away in the morning if needed over night. Given I am in a vintage VW bus, every inch of space counts. =])

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