How to Make an Emergency Portable Toilet


Eventually, you are going to need to use the bathroom. In the middle of civilization, you usually can just head to the nearest toilet, but sometimes there are unique circumstances that require quick thinking and prior knowledge to take care of your “bodily business.”

Biffy Bag Pocket

Making an emergency portable toilet is necessary if you are an avid traveler or camper. You may come across a situation where you are miles away from the nearest bathroom, so it is important to think ahead and have an emergency portable toilet available.

Read on if you’re interested in making an emergency portable toilet and learning more about making this a mess-free experience.

How Portable Toilets Work

Portable toilets are lightweight and compact because if they are heavy, you wouldn’t be able to carry it with you. They mostly consist of a seat and something that props the seat above a “catching” system. While almost every portable toilet available on the market requires the usage of waste bags to remove bodily waste, these bags make it easy to remove and clean afterward.

Depending on your needs, a heavier toilet with a seat and flush system can be kept in your car or campervan. But in most cases, it’s best to have a portable toilet tucked in your camping backpack just in case “inspiration” strikes far away from your car.

Benefits of Using a Portable Toilet

Hypothetically, you could squat and relieve yourself near a bush. But if you have an emergency camping toilet on hand, you won’t need to run off into the woods to find a good spot. In some camping places, the Porta-Potties and public bathrooms are so disgusting and poorly maintained that you probably walked out. With a camping toilet, there’s no longer any need to rely on these places.

The 2 Best Emergency Toilet Solutions

You can poop in anything as long as you are desperate enough. In a real emergency, you need to use all the tools you have at your disposal, so here is how to make a few emergency toilet options.

Catholes

Catholes are a small hole dug with a shovel. The hole’s purpose is to mask smells, protect the water supply, and help decompose faster. You squat over and, when finished, fill it back in with dirt or leaves. However, it is not environmentally friendly—especially if you accidentally shovel near drinking water or other users in the area.

Here are some important things to note when looking for a spot to dig a cathole:

  • Make sure it’s in a private area at least 200 ft (60.96 m) away from a water source
  • Deep soil where you can easily dig a hole about 6 inches to 1 foot deep (about 15 cm to 30 cm)
  • A sunny place as the sun will help decompose faster

The disadvantage is that you might not have a shovel available. Especially in higher altitudes, the ground could be rocky or frozen, which makes it too difficult to shovel with simply your hands.

Poop Tube

The “poop tube” is an airtight PVC pipe that holds human waste. After you do your business in a plastic bag, wrap it up and store it inside the poop tube. This stores your waste inside the tube until there is an opportunity to dispose of it. Here’s a DIY version to carry out human waste that can be found by visiting your local hardware store. 

You will need the following:

  • PVC pipe at least 12 inches (about 30 cm) long and 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter.
  • PVC coupler that is at least 2 to 4 inches (about 5 to 10 cm) in length and about 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) in diameter
  • PVC cleanout and plug about 4 inches (10 cm)
  • PVC toilet flange that is 4.25 inches (10.8 cm) in diameter
  • PVC cement

After finding all these items, follow these steps to create your emergency portable toilet:

  1. Connect the PVC pipe to the flange with PVC cement. This is the bottom of your tube; you can add PVC cement to the threading before closing to permanently shut this end- but people prefer to leave it open to make cleaning easier.
  2. Use PVC cement to attach the coupler to the PVC pipe on the opposite end of the tube. Make sure to leave a bit at the top for the cap.
  3. Glue the coupler to the cleanout and plug, and add your cap. Wait at least 12 hours for the PVC cement to settle fully. Twist the cap off the open or close your tube

Best Emergency Camping Toilets on the Market

Rather than create an emergency toilet, you can always purchase a portable toilet as an emergency measure. Lightweight foldable toilets can fit in your camping backpack, while some models are the wastebasket type that needs to be carried around. It’s important to consider your needs before buying a portable toilet. Here are a few emergency camping toilets for sale, with options for every budget:

Essential Toilet Appliances

Make sure to bring a roll of your favorite toilet paper from home. In worst-case scenarios, ensure that you are wearing socks to have something to wipe. In a pinch, you could resort to wiping with plants such as weeds or other soft leafy plants. However, if you don’t know your way around plants, then do not randomly pick any plant as it could end up being poison ivy! 

Rather than risking your posterior, consider a pack of Coleman’s Camper’s Toilet Paper, especially if you are trying to keep weight down and travel light. The 2-ply toilet paper not only fits into any backpack but also doubles as a convenient dispenser.

When camping, it is especially important to follow the “Leave No Trace” principles, as leaving toilet paper in the wild can attract wildlife to your campsite. You would not want to come across used toilet paper on natural park trails. Toilet paper can take a long time to decompose, especially in dry climates, so consider taking it out with you when you leave the campsite as burying doesn’t make it degrade instantly.

For an upgrade to your toilet paper, try wet wipes like Surviveware Biodegradable Wet Wipes. Moistened for your comfort, you can clean up and feel fresher than ever. Not only can these be used for your posterior, but you can also use these wipes to clean your entire body.

Final Thoughts

A toilet is an essential item and is a part of human life. But it can cause problems if it is not taken seriously, as improperly managing your waste can contaminate drinking supplies. It’s important to understand how to handle this situation in a clean, safe, and efficient way.

It’s important to plan ahead and have a backup emergency toilet in hand that is lightweight and mess-free. Do your research, create a toilet, or buy your own for potential emergencies, so you are ready to handle any situation no matter where you are.

Hivan Team

As an independent team of travelers, we do share positive and negative observations as we find them and make our best to help and inform other vanlifers around the globe.

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