Having a toilet in your campervan is a must for most. The convenience of staying out of bathhouses and shower rooms saves you uncomfortable and possibly cold trips to the shared bathrooms of campgrounds around the country. What are some campervan toilet ideas that will blow your mind?
Having your own toilet isn’t always what it is cracked up to be. There could be water and smell issues that make it more of a place to store your poo than a way to beat the crowds down at the camp showers. Don’t let that distract you! Read on and learn some amazing campervan toilet ideas that are sure to blow your mind.
Campervan Toilets Ideas
There are only a few options for a toilet in your campervan when it comes down to it. If you want to take it the extra mile, and have space, and make a shower, there are even a few great combinations you can try. Whichever type you decide to choose, make sure that space is available, and all the plumbing and walls are finished before use.
The days of customizing the inside of your van yourself are disappearing fast. Companies around the country are clamoring to cash in on the campervan market, but they all offer the same three types of bath options. Be sure they have what you want before sinking hundreds of thousands of dollars into a new model.
The three types of toilet options for your campervan are:
- Stored Toilet
- Full Bath
Having a Stored Toilet is the Most Common Type of Campervan Option
When it comes to campervans, the most crucial part of any addition is going to be space. Being inventive with the space that you are given better be high on your to-do list if you don’t want to to-doo in the woods during a rainstorm or the middle of a cold night. The market is flush with all sorts of composting and chemical options.
The name stored toilets imply that you might have them stored in your cabinets, but most refer to the greywater area that houses your water and solid waste. Some toilets will have a clamshell design, while others favor storing the waste in the base of the appliance. Whatever you choose you should know that there are pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of a Stored Toilet
One of the best ways to make a decision is to set it up with a list of pros and cons. Above all, your needs must be met before you pull the trigger on any kind of purchase or rebuild. Having your pros and cons allows you to get what you want as well as a few surprises that you might not have been expecting.
The pros of a stored toilet are:
- Price – One of the best things about a stored toilet is the price. Like composting toilets, they can be bought for a relatively small amount, and their replacement parts are often much cheaper and easier to find. Don’t skimp, as cheap toilets are known to stink to high heaven after only a few uses.
- Easy to Install – A storied toilet is little more than a bucket with a lid. If you are going for a fast and cheap install, they are your best bet. They are often so small that they can be moved around as needed and possibly moved outside, weather permitting.
- Little Upkeep – A composting toilet is one of the most effortless appliances to take care of. The most significant part of taking care of a stored toilet is cranking the machine to process the solid waste and emptying the basin when needed. There are few moving parts, and could be none at all depending on the model.
- Portability – Moving around a stored toilet is another great pro that shouldn’t go unmentioned. Space is king, and being able to occupy unused space when it is out of service and move around when needed frees up tons of room for other options you might want.
While it might seem like the best idea for your campervan, some drawbacks might make you want to rethink the stored toilet route. Other campers could think that space is better used for adventure gear, like kayaks or camping gear. Whatever you decide, you should know that there are some negatives to a stored toilet.
The cons of having a stored toilet are:
- Smell – The biggest drawback to a stored toilet is going to be the smell. Not all of them have a chemical well that helps dissolve the solid waste. Once the toilet has been used a couple of times, you will be able to smell it. Once it sits inside a closed van during the heat of a summer day, you will understand why some people prefer the no toilet route.
- Stability – When you are in a moving van, and you have a few day’s worth of solid waste sloshing around in your stored toilet, you will learn the meaning of careful driving. Spills can happen and could ruin the inside of your campervan if a nasty spill occurs in the wrong place.
There aren’t many cons for a stored toilet because there isn’t much wrong with them. Outside of the smell and spill probability, it is hard to go wrong with a good stored composting or chemical toilet. Maybe you are the kind of person who needs a shower and running water each day; if that is the case, you should consider installing a wet bath.
A Full Bath is a Luxury Some Can’t Live Without
The next option for a toilet in your campervan is the full bath or wet bath. That means that in addition to a toilet, you have a shower that can connect to water at the campground. A warm shower is one of the most wanted things on any campground in the country. When you have one in your van, it makes camping life a breeze.
A wet bath will have a significant share of the space in the campervan. You should also note that there are some problematic installations involved in having a full bath that could be a headache. If one thing goes wrong, your van could be flooded with greywater, or your amenities might be unavailable until you get them fixed.
Having the toilet installed inside the shower stall saves space and also makes for some interesting designs. Having a detachable showerhead allows you to sit on the toilet and get warm water on your sore muscles from days of hiking or mountain biking. A hard door is recommended, but a decent shower curtain will work too.
Pros and Cons of a Full Bath
Having a full bath is one of those luxury items that most van campers dream about. One of the most important things to remember is that you must use the space you have. A shower and toilet will take up a decent-sized footprint, and making your warm shower dreams come true could have drawbacks that you weren’t expecting.
The pros of having a full bath in the campervan are:
- Convenience – The most significant advantage of having a full bath in the van is convenience. Not having to pop a squat outside or wait in line for a shower stall in the camping area is worth the lost space. When nature comes to ring its little bell, you don’t have to hoof it into the woods to answer the call, just open the privy and go.
- Longer Trips – The water in your tanks means that you can make the trip even further off the grid. Most would have to keep it close to the campsite to keep warm water and possibly power, but with your extra rations, you will be able to stay out as long as you want.
- Warm Water – Nothing on the planet feels better than a warm shower after a long day fishing or hunting. Having a full bath means you have a water heater, and on-demand hot water is always a gift. The tanks hold enough for about four good hot showers, and that’s more than any couple needs while in the woods.
While being more self-sufficient and convenient are great reasons to have a full bath, there are also some disadvantages. What they boil down to is a matter of personal preference. Some could see using the extra space as a necessity, and others couldn’t possibly see having anything else but more camping gear to play and relax with.
The cons of having a full bath are:
- Space – While there are ways around having a shower stall and rooted toilet, there isn’t any way around how much space the van has. If you have a large Sprinter van, you could have room to spare, but if you are in something that is more normal-sized, you must learn to cut corners to save space.
- Installation – Don’t take installing the required plumbing and reservoirs lightly. It is a hard job and will be intricate work that you should leave to a professional. If you are just starting on your van build, it would be wise to get all the help you can install a full bath.
- Appliances – The biggest drawback to a full bath, some may argue otherwise, is the number of appliances you have to try and squeeze in a tiny space. A water heater and toilet are essential; while a stall could be confined to a small area, the tub and drain must have dedicated floor space.
Cons are hard to deal with, but they can be overcome with a bit of ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. A trending idea allows the shower and toilet to populate a corner of the outside of the van. This saves space on the inside while still giving the pluses of having a full bath in your campervan.
Where to Put Your Campervan Toilet
Now that you know which type of toilet you need, you can begin to think about where you would like it to go. The shape of your van and its height in the rear are two crucial elements you must know. Once you have these measurements, you can begin to select the location, here are just a few ideas to mull over.
The most common places to put a bathroom in your campervan are:
- By the Bed
- By the Cab
- In the Back
You should know that no matter where you choose to place your bathroom, there is no wrong way. If you are new to the van life, you can sleep out in the woods a few nights to see what works best. Going with a fantastic design you saw on the internet could make your van look nice, but it is a better idea to go with function over form.
A Nice Place to Have a Bathroom is by the Bed
One of the most chosen and most convenient places to have a bathroom is by the bed. You can roll right over in the morning and do your business before heading out into the wild for some real fun and adventure. Having it close by is always a good idea if you have overindulged on your uncle’s chili.
One of the best things about having a bathroom by the bed is that you can use space that would be wasted under the bed with a cabinet for your toilet. Valuable cabinet space can be saved by cutting corners like making your bed and toilet close by. Be warned this could lead to a stinky night’s sleep if the toilet isn’t working properly.
Another Popular Spot for a Toilet is Near the Cab
Having your toilet and shower close to the driving cab is the most popular choice of van campers. The internet and camping message boards are packed with builds that feature a toilet just behind the driver’s seat. It is also a convenient spot to empty your tanks as it is also close to the gas nozzle on some campervans.
Some of the best built-out campers have a shower stall and toilet near the cab. When you add a solid shower door, you make a great storage area when you are traveling. It makes for a chic design that leaves room open for personal interpretations, like having a more extensive leisure area or attached kitchen.
A Toilet in the Rear is Great for Long Haul Van Camping
A toilet in the rear of the van is a new look that works great for some vans. It allows you to have a solid door, the rear van door, and a possible wall between you and the living area. Having a separate restroom area is essential for some campers as it doesn’t have ill effects on the camper’s interior.
Toilets in the rear of the van are extremely easy to take care of. If you have chosen a spot that is farther away from an opening door, you know the terror of a dropped compost toilet inside your living area. The toilet in the rear is easier to dump and if you plan on being out for a while, being able to dump greywater quickly is a must-have.
An Outside Shower and Portable Toilet are Great for Warm Climates
Composting toilets are easy to move around, and chemical toilets can be as well. Rigging your water heater or water access to a showerhead on the outside of the van is pretty standard. When the two are combined, they create a bathroom with zero impact on the inside of your living area and only a tiny bit of space when you are moving.
Adding an extendable frame for a shower curtain allows you to close it and use the area for a toilet as well. Having multipurpose regions is a massive part of van camping. An outside toilet and shower are as multipurpose as you can get. Also, the lack of water inside the van keeps it from rusting and degrading the interior.
What is the Smallest Campervan With a Toilet
When it comes to van camping, there are only a few smaller-sized models that can hold a toilet. When making a camper, you must know the dimensions of your shower and toilet to root out a footprint for the plumbing and tanks required to make the system work. These models are made by the manufacturer to have a full wet bath.
The smallest vans with a toilet are:
- Airstream Interstate – The smallest Class B on the market with a toilet is the Airstream Interstate. Airstream is one of the most adored names in the camping industry, and their Interstate lives up to the hype. You can build a model especially for you that features a bathroom and luxury countertops, and leather seats.
- Carado Banff – While the company went under in 2019, a few Carado Banff models are still out there on the market. They are also a Class B camper that can be outfitted with a toilet and possible shower. Check for these on the used market, and you will get a steal of a campervan.
- Winnebago Revel – Winnebago makes another great Class B that is one of the smallest on the market with a toilet. They are built on the Sprinter frame and come with amenities like televisions and a full wet bath.
- Fleetwood IROK – An Irok is a great small model with an almost unlimited compartment arrangement. The shower and stool models of the Irok are some of the most sought after and have been proven great toilets for such a small camper.
- Winnebago Travato – The van camper business is booming, and the Travato is an excellent example of a small van with everything. Their well-known models have wet baths and even rows for extra passengers. The seats can be removed and replaced with whatever goodies you need for your trip.
When it comes to customizing your van, there are a few wrinkles. You can install just about any sized toilet, roof height permitting, that your van has the free space for. The tricky part is finding a place to install the tanks and plumbing that doesn’t interfere with how the van drives or its ability to go off-road.
Sometimes Going Without is Your Best Bet for Adventure
Camping is for getting out there and seeing what Mother Nature has to offer. That means that you will need every piece of gear and equipment at your disposal at a moment’s notice. Not having any kind of toilet or bathroom will allow you to bring whatever you need. Some will balk at the idea of no toilet, but there are ways around it.
A van is a perfect platform for making a camper. That doesn’t mean it is the ideal place to install a toilet. The cramped area produces some interesting smells, and when you have been camping a few days, you could go nose blind to the scent and be a walking body odor/pee/poo sponge without even knowing it.
Pros and Cons of Having No Toilet
There’s a good deal of roughing it when it comes to using a campervan. Nothing about it will be easy, and you learn that your mind can make some concessions about where they use the potty and how often. Still, as prominent as technology is in our lives, it only takes a second to find a public restroom.
The pros of having no bathroom in your campervan are:
- Extra room – If space is the key when camping in your van, not having a toilet is a surefire way to have extra space. Space won’t be enough to radically change how your van looks on the inside but can be enough to pack some extra fishing gear or some extra food if you intend on staying out indefinitely.
- No Work – There is no upkeep if there is no toilet. Saving time on maintenance and upkeep means that you also have more money to spend on the things you require, like places to sleep and ways to cook or store food. Less time working means that you have more time having fun and exploring.
- Less Used – When it comes down to it, how nice would you like your toilet to be? Are you planning on spending lots of your vacation time there? That’s precisely the reason you don’t need a bathroom. You are hardly ever there, and when you are, it is only for a few brief moments.
- Alternatives – Depending on how resourceful you are, a toilet could be a plastic bottle away. There are also a surprising number of public restrooms, like fast food restaurants, and even a few public showers if you are close enough. Using the bathrooms at the campground is always an option when not off the grid.
Having no bathroom saves a ton of space and time that could be better used on other parts of the van. There’s no tricky plumbing to wire or tanks of greywater to dump. That may be all well and good, but to truly live off-grid, you must have a toilet and shower that allows you to stay away from the city for more than a couple of hours.
The cons of having no bathroom are:
- There’s No Bathroom – The biggest drawback of not having a toilet is not having somewhere to do your business. After a long day out on the trails, the last thing you want to do is poo in the wilderness. Those late-night trips to the cold nethers to tinkle can be very unforgiving.
- No Water – Nothing is more critical while in the wilderness than having a freshwater source. Not having a bath means that you don’t have any access to running water. Not only is water essential in a crisis, but having a small sink with water means you can clean game and fish as you catch it.
Not having a place to go to the bathroom can be a real bummer. It means that you are constantly eyeing the bathhouse or campground bathrooms in anticipation of your next trip. Don’t concentrate your energy on such worry. Camping is for relaxation and libations, and everything else is just icing on the cake.
Choosing a toilet and where to install it is one of the joys of van camping. Some choose to forgo a toilet altogether to make more space for activities or gear they might need while on the campout. Whatever you decide upon, go with your needs first and add amenities as you build. This allows for your taste much better than building and dealing with the outcome.
Campervan sizes change almost yearly. The switch to smaller vans is apparent as more companies build Class B RVs with toilets and showers. They are usually self-contained and take advantage of the smaller-sized vehicle height. Heavyweight names from the camping world have some great models with exceptional amenities.