Toilet Setup Ideas?


What’s your toilet setup?

I know everyone does this differently, and some even choose to travel without one. I hope to hear various answers so others and myself will have some options to choose from as we make our own choice.

(Personally, my priority is smell - I DO NOT want to deal with a toilet that smells.)

What’s your toilet setup?



I use a handicap bedside version of a bucket toilet, lined with a plastic bag. Under the seat it has an odor proof lid.

These do take up a little extra room, but I like them because they’re sturdy and not tippy. With a cushion, it’s extra seating, and I can put my cutting board on top of the armrests for extra counter space.


"Smiles are contagious, pass them on!" ~ Van_Dweller


I’m not living in a van yet but I’ve researched every possible toilet and shower possibility available. I really like the idea of a composting toilet but the fact is, the waste is not going to be in anyone’s van long enough to truly compost anyway. (That alone will save me $1,000 on an over-priced toilet.) A cassette toilet is simply out of the question because my priority, like yours, is to not deal with black water, toilet odors or chemicals.

In short, after months of research, I’m choosing to go with the Luggable Loo (with pine or coconut shavings) for solids and a separate pee bottle. I’ll use the Loo, seal the bag, and throw it away the first chance I get. And I like the portability and hide-a-bility of it. So far, this is what I’ve decided to go with.



They work, same principle as mine, I just didn’t like the tippy canoe aspect when trying to get up of from them.


"Smiles are contagious, pass them on!" ~ Van_Dweller


I second the bucket. Planning your day around using a public bathroom isn’t the greatest thing in the world but necessary. I use something similar for emergencies. Add a little kitty litter and a liner, you’ll be good


I’ll be honest, the toilet situation is my least favorite thing about getting into van life. I was a missionary in the bushes of Zambia Africa for awhile. I like flushing toilets. A lot. In my mind, this is the one and only thing I consider to be a sacrifice. But, as folks have said before, you get to the point it’s no big deal anymore.

As for kitty litter, I understand the reasoning. I had a cat for 12 years (my only family) who died recently, so I’m used to dealing with kitty litter. But it’s just not an option for me, mostly because I don’t want to deal with possible spills (even fresh kitty litter). What a mess! Even the pine or coconut shavings I plan to use are unnecessary if you just seal and change the bag every time you use it. (Using a bag multiple times before changing it out is definitely out of the question for me.)


word. I totally hear you. I haven’t had to use the bucket, yet. I just keep it for emergencies. The toilet problem is a big problem to overcome

I mostly use my van to work and surf out of in Southern California and for the days that I am on the road I just plan to be at a public bathroom on the beach when I wake up. But I have the luxury of having a regular bathroom schedule



I add my trash to my toilet bucket, tie the bag off, then carry it in the bucket to dump it in the trash. That eliminates any chance of the bag breaking along the way. :slight_smile:


"Be the reason someone smiles today!" ~ Van_Dweller


I dont’ see any reason for the bucket at all. If you made the seat itself float by attaching a bracket to the back or make it slide out like a drawer and clipped the bag to the bottom you would not need it. I have not decided how or if I’m going to handle this issue but If I do I will not give up the room for a dedicated 5 gal bucket of space for this problem. Seat and a bage only or maybe one of those collapsible silicon buckets ? IDK, haven’t finished the thought process but I’m being stingy with my space.



Toilet situations are definitely personal to each person. To some, it’s no big deal and to others, it’s pretty important. For myself, it’s important, especially since I’m looking at living van life full-time and long term. (Permanently, unless something happens to cause me to be unable to.)

Also, being someone who lives more minimally than most even conceive, I’m happy to give a five gallon bucket the space. Space may be minimal in a van but if something can perform double-duty (seating and storage, for example), it’s worth the space. A five gallon bucket is always an extra, moveable seat.

Storage is not a concern for me. A few dishes, toiletries, food, clothes and books. I live so minimally that, if I needed to, I could pack a backpack with a couple changes of clothes, some toiletries, my Bible and walk out the door and never look back. But, that’s just me.


We went with a Laveo Dry Flush. It works really well for solids. It is supposed to work for liquids as well but we still go with a bottle. It makes it lighter when emptying it


Ideally, I think the Laveo Dry Flush is pretty close to being the next best thing to having a regular, flushable toilet. I can definitely see why people like it and I really wanted to. I looked into the reviews on Amazon and YouTube though and there are two main complaints. Combined with two other problems I see with it, that makes it a no-go for me.

The replacement bags are expensive. (Sold as a two pack for $110.) This is a common complaint and I agree. Personally, I find it difficult to sympathize though because that’s something they should have considered before they bought the toilet.

Reviewers expressed frustration that the toilet often needs to be flushed twice to get rid of all the waste, as well as puffing the mylar bags upwards too much in the process. Given the expense of the replacement bags, it’s a legit complaint. Here’s just one YouTube video demonstrating this problem using kitty litter clumped with water. Some commenters say they “probably didn’t install the bags correctly.” Even if that’s true, it’s one more problem to consider anyway. You don’t want to discover that you installed them incorrectly when it’s too late!

My first potential problem with it is that it relies on power. If that component on the toilet malfunctions, then you essentially have a $600 bucket. I think about this because products just aren’t made to last anymore. I don’t even like the computerized elements in a vehicle because it’s just more that can go wrong. Even electric door locks and windows. I’d rather push a button and crank a handle. If those break, they’re easier, and less expensive, to fix.

Secondly, and admittedly a personal issue more than anything, there’s not enough space between your backside and where the waste lands. I’ll leave it at that! That’s why I’ve decided to go with a simple Luggable Loo. It’s five gallons deep, cheap, and non-electric.


With respect to your comment about “months of research” (and with respect to your dignity and privacy), can I ask… Did this research include actual use of the different options? If yes, did you use the Luggable Loo in “field conditions” over a long period of time (like, multiple days)?

I know it is a huge debate topic, but the idea of throwing away (as in, into a dumpster) human waste is troubling for me. I don’t have a great alternative to propose, but this just sounds so wrong in so many ways.

I wish someone made a Kitty Litter product for humans (“Human Litter”) which would be composed of the same chemicals used in a WAG bag (

I also don’t mind the idea of saving waste for 3 or 4 days, ideally in compostable bags, and then burying it.

All of this sounds like a huge (and gross) hassle.


Hi yaz - Good questions. Just to clarify, the ‘months of research’ I’ve done has been since July 2018, when I decided that van life was for me. The toilet element was, by far, for me, the biggest concern. So, I’ve spent these last eight months researching every available option. Unfortunately, I can only go by research and reviews since I don’t have personal experience.

Yes, I’ve used a five gallon bucket for extended periods of time. I like camping in remote places and have always used a bucket. I don’t care for digging holes and then covering it up (personally) because I had to do this when I was a missionary in Zambia with the tribe I lived with. The bucket just works for me personally, as to where an RV toilet and emptying a black water tank works for others. It’s just personal preference and not a “right or wrong” thing.

Initially, I thought the same way you do about throwing away human waste in a garbage can. But, I couldn’t argue with the counter argument that people throw baby diapers and animal waste in garbage cans either. As long as a person is responsible to do it securely, and not throw away urine with it, I don’t have a problem with it anymore. I can’t control how other people secure their waste but that’s on them and they’re going to do it anyway.

If I lived in a tiny house, I would definitely have a true composting toilet. The “composting toilets” in RVs and vans are not real composting toilets because the waste isn’t in the vehicle long enough to compost.

And I agree whole-heartedly - it’s all a huge and gross hassle! But, it’s one of the elements of van life that helps weed out real van lifers from those who have romanticized the Instagram version of it.


Thanks for the thoughtful response, Mr.E. This is all very helpful for me because we seem to be aligned on the whole “toilet matter”… Bucket = check. Dispose of waste = check. Poop is gross = check.

Your comments about composting toilets in vans and RVs are very helpful and interesting, begging more questions. For me I would definitely suffer this “not in the vehicle long enough” problem you describe, because I will not be a full-time vanlifer. But I would think this would work for you, given that all of your waste can be retained in a composting toilet, all the time. Why won’t this work for you and other full timers?


Seems super expensive. Do you not worry about that, or have you found a lower-cost workaround?


With regular care and maintenance in the right conditions, waste can compost in as little as 1 to 2 months. An unmanaged pile could take from six months to two years to compost thoroughly. Then there’s the fact that, as a full-time van dweller, a person would be constantly adding to it so it would essential never be fully composted. That’s why I don’t find it a feasible option for me.


I think you are totally right. I was a little concerned about composting given the “Golden Gate Bridge” effect* caused by pooping every day.

*They never stop painting the Golden Gate Bridge. As soon as they finish (takes 7 years, I think) they have to start again on the other end. Like poop… there’s more new stuff coming every day.


This is a creative DIY toilet.


As for now I have a portable Camco toilet with 5.3 gallon tank. No smell or leaks, using it almost for two years (after my bucket+chair system).
Just remember that for public health reasons, a human waste bag should not be dumped in the trash-even if it is diluted with kitty litter. I know, no one policies this, and I realize infant diapers go into trash cans, but it is still way less than ideal disposal.
Though you can bury biodegradable sacks in open countryside. They usually contain a powder that turns liquid waste to solids. These can then be buried.