Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on your point of view, the days of the squat and a shovel are rapidly disappearing, due to the number of campers around making it difficult to find a private spot.
So what are the other options for performing this most essential of bodily functions? In this blog, I will cover portable camping toilets that make “Toileting in the Bush” easy.
Two aspects need to be considered:
- What to do it in
- How to do it privately
This age-old method of toileting in the bush can still be a possibility in more remote areas, but even it needs some consideration.
Dig and squat
This method of toileting in the bush can still be a possibility in more remote areas, but even it needs some consideration:
- The hole must be at least 30cm deep to ensure enough soil on top of what has been deposited to reduce the chance of animals, attracted by smell, digging up the area.
- Burn the toilet paper (ensure kids are supervised and there is not a fire ban) to reduce the chance of the paper being dug up and scattered.
- As we like more comfort, we have for years used a toilet seat mounted on old camp stool legs which can be placed over the hole. A variety of these is now available online. The one I made works well as long as you remember to put the lid down to keep the flies out!
- Sometimes trees and bushes do not provide the required level of privacy. This is where a pop-up toilet/shower tent is invaluable.
If you prefer a little more privacy, a pop-up toilet or shower tent is well worth the investment.
Portable Chemical Toilets
Although the Porta-Potti has been around for years, many people have not seen the need, have been discouraged by emptying, cleaning and the smell.
Well, things have changed!
Modern portable toilets are easy to use, easy to flush, easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes and some even having an electric push-button flushing mechanism
Many Councils around the country have installed public dump points for the emptying of portable toilets (look for the RV Friendly sign when coming into country towns) and most caravan parks now have this facility. My significant other who has a very sensitive nose has embraced the use of the Porta-Potti with enthusiasm. So, let’s see how they work.
The modern (and easy to use) Porta Potti portable loo.
Construction and Setup
- Portable toilets consist of an upper flushing tank and a lower waste tank that clip
together and are separated by a sealed opening into the waste tank.
- Fill the top tank with water and add the required amount of flushing tank fluid. This fluid deodorises the water and gives it a degree of “slipperiness”, a bit like detergent. I find Thetford Aqua Rinse works really well.
- Place a small amount of water and the required amount of waste tank fluid in the waste tank. Thetford Aqua Kem Green is very effective.
The top and bottom tanks of the Porta Potti.
How to use the Portable Toilet
- Regardless of gender and the nature of the visit, I find that sitting down on the job is the best way of using a portable toilet
- If “number 2’s” are the order of the day, I find a couple of sheets of toilet paper placed in the bottom of the bowl and across the opening aid in later cleaning. Even though special toilet paper that breaks down easily is often recommended, I have never had a problem with normal toilet paper.
- To flush the toilet, open the sealed separator between the two tanks and push the flush button or use the pump until the bowl is clean.
- When flushing, a small toilet brush is useful to ensure proper cleanliness. If staying in one place for some time, set the toilet up in a changing tent with a container of water mixed with a small amount of waste tank fluid to hold the toilet brush.
- Close the sealed separator after use.
Emptying the bottom tank of a Porta Potti.
Emptying the Portable Toilet
This is probably the bit that puts people off using a portable toilet more than anything else but needs not be a major hassle. Modern toilet chemicals deal with the smell and are very effective at breaking down solid waste and toilet paper.
- Separate the flushing tank from the waste tank.
- The tank should be emptied at a proper dump point or in a toilet on a sewerage system. Never empty into a toilet on a septic system as the chemicals can kill the bacteria that makes the septic system work.
- Always ensure that the breather mechanism is operated when emptying the tank to avoid any “glugging” causing splashes.
- Thoroughly rinse the tank to ensure a complete clean.
- You are now ready to add more chemicals and flushing water to set the toilet up for further use.
Don’t leave behind any toilet paper!
Toileting on the move
Sometimes the call of nature comes whilst travelling through the bush and a quick stop is needed. To go for a walk into the bush only to be confronted by toilet paper or waste that hasn’t been disposed of properly is nothing short of disgusting.
A piddle behind a bush causes no problem. However, if toilet paper is needed, take a zip-lock bag to place paper in for later disposal. Make sure you carry a small foldable spade in the vehicle in case of the need to dig a hole and follow the points detailed earlier.
I admit to being a late convert to the use of a portable toilet but now wouldn’t go camping or caravanning without my Porta-Potti.
Even in a caravan park with good facilities, the middle of the night toilet visit to the porta-potti in the van is far preferable to dressing for the cold and sometimes wet walk to the park loo.
Has that changed your view on toileting in the bush? If you are a seasoned camper, do you have any further tips? If so, please share your experiences so we can all help to keep our beautiful backyard clean.
About the writer...
After experiencing camping, and being a boy scout as a child, I developed a love of the outdoors and the outback. I’ve taken every opportunity to travel across the outback through South Australia, the Northern Territory, and down the Western Australian Coast. In more recent times, after becoming an empty nester, I have organised and led many outback trips for family members, friends and acquaintances, to explore some of the more remote places across the country.