How Does a Portable Toilet Work?

500756414A portable toilet is a camping accessory than can make extended trips into the outdoors a more comfortable experience. It's a kit that when assembled and set up provides similar function to an in-home toilet, sans plumbing.


A portable toilet provides comfort to all in your camping party. Having one may encourage people to join in an outdoor experience who otherwise would have stayed home.


Placing the portable toilet is a key task. The site should be no less than 150 to 200 feet from any trail or water source. If using a portable toilet system that requires waste burial, a hole must be dug at least 6 to 8 inches below the toilet. A privacy screen should be set up for the portable toilet site, either by hanging a tarp or by using a manufactured PUP privacy tent.


A portable toilet system is not intended for use while backpacking or for other activities that might require hand-carrying over a long distance. They are good for remote car camping, canoe/kayak camping, or for any site in the outdoors not equipped with plumbing.


Portable toilets come in kits that assemble and disassemble quickly. Some fold up into suitcase-like carrying cases. They are available in models that require digging cat holes for waste burial or models that collect waste in bags that can be removed from the camping site and disposed of in garbage receptacles.



If using a portable toilet with a waste bag system, do not allow the bags to overfill--the clean-up is a messy job that will garner few volunteers.

Article Written By Seth C. Burgess

Seth C. Burgess has been an outdoor writer for since May 2009. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in information technology and a Master of Business Administration degree, both from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y.

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