Van life travel comes with several challenges, one of which is where to go to the toilet. A toilet is one of the van life essentials that people don’t like to think about, after all emptying your own waste instead of merely flushing it down the drain isn’t a very appealing thought. However, if done correctly, this process can be almost pain (and smell) free and having a toilet in your compact camper van becomes less problematic. In com composting toilets, the most sustainable and eco-friendly way to go to the loo.
If you are new to the idea of living in a van, then you may not be familiar with the toilet options available to those living the van life. The most commonly used toilet in a campervan is a porta potti; however, these require a substantial amount of water for use and for cleaning after emptying. They also need strong chemicals which are harsh to use, not good for the environment and smell pretty disgusting. Composting toilets are an excellent alternative for those travelling in a van as they require no water for use, no chemicals and are environmentally friendly, which is good news for outdoorsy vandwellers looking to protect their landscapes.
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So, how do composting toilets work?
Today we are going to show you a list of eight different composting toilets perfect for travel in a van, or even off grid living, but first, let’s find out how composting toilets actually work. The primary function of a composting toilet is to separate the solids from the liquids so that they can be composted correctly as poop needs to remain dry to be able to break down into usable compost. The composting process can take around six months for composting on a household scale, so no composting actually takes place in the majority of composting toilets.
Sawdust or another dry, natural substance is used to diminish smells and to begin the composting process. Often a small ventilation fan is also used to dissipate the smell from the composting toilet outside. The urine container needs emptying more regularly than the solids container. It can be used directly as a fertiliser, the solids container can often last much longer than a porta potti and can be emptied onto a compost heap. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the composting toilets perfect for your campervan.
1. Nature’s Head
First up on our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers is Nature’s Head Composting Toilet. The composting toilet was designed for people living and travelling on boats by a team of designers who have been on the water their whole lives. They, therefore, know what it is like to live in close quarters and have designed the perfect, smell free, composting toilet for anyone on a boat or in an RV.
This toilet has extensive waste storage facilities, based on usage full time by two people the urine needs to be emptied once every three-four days but the solids only need to be emptied, on average, once a month. This is excellent news for people on the road full time as you only need to find somewhere suitable to empty once a month. The Natures Head is smell-free when used with peat, sawdust or coconut coir and the 12v fan, also good news for those living in small campers. This toilet is practical, compact and easy to use but does come with a rather hefty price tag of £980. A Natures Head toilet is an investment, but once you’ve bought the initial product, there are minimal costs involved with running the toilet, which is sturdy and will last years.
2. Kildwick EasyLoo
Next up on our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers, we have the Kildwick EasyLoo, a dry separation toilet perfect for those living a life on the road. The Kildwick EasyLoo is functional but also aesthetically pleasing, something that most portable toilets fail miserably at achieving. The outer casing for this toilet is made from plywood, with a bamboo toilet seat and is as compact as possible. This cube-shaped toilet would fit nicely inside a bench seat if you have minimal space available inside your camper and would be great for those converting their own camper (check out our how to build a camper E-book here!).
Inside the compact and stylish wooden cube is a Kildwick separation unit to separate the liquid from the solid for a correct composting technique and two containers for the urine and poo. These containers are easy to access and handle when the time comes to empty the toilet. Smells are kept to a minimum thanks to the use of sawdust and the 12v fan. This composting toilet comes in at €539 or, if you are a good DIY-er then save your self some money and go for the self-assembly option for just €299.
3. Separett Weekend 7010
At number three on our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers, we have the Separett Weekend 7010. Separett has been around for forty years so they know a thing or two about composting toilets and they are continually improving their design to bring the best quality design they can. The Separett Weekend has been designed with ease of use, safety and the environment in mind and would make the perfect addition to any camper van or off-grid homestead.
This compact composting toilet has a waste separator and two containers for liquids and solids. This toilet is easy to empty; simply remove the separator and use the handle to carry to your compost heap or disposal point. The dry waste container is best used with a compostable bag to keep it clean to avoid needing to wash the container thoroughly. A 12v fan ventilates the toilet to prevent smells and also acts to dry the solid waste, which reduces its volume significantly. This toilet comes in at a reasonable £495.
4. Piteco Dry Toilet
We are halfway through our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers and next up we have the Piteco Dry Toilet. The Piteco Dry Toilet is one of the most affordable composting toilets on our list at just €150, so it is a good option if you are working to a tight budget. The design of the toilet id a bit clunky, and the ventilation system uses just a pipe, not a fan which may not be as effective at releasing odours. The Piteco Dry Toilet also uses a different separation system to most of the other composting toilets on this list as liquid and solid are not separated at the very beginning of the process.
In the Piteco Dry Toilet, all waste goes into the same container, which has a drain at the back. This drain needs to be connected to a separate liquid waste tank in, or under your camper. The tank inside the toilet is sloped to allow all liquid to drain off down the fluid pipe. There is a separator inside the container to stop the solids from clogging the pipe. There is also a sieve-like filter over the pipe entrance. This toilet could be a good option if you want to empty your urine less frequently. However, we are not convinced by the separation system.
5. Strumpet and Trollop
If you’re looking for something a little bit different then these composting toilets from Strumpet and Trollop that our next on our list will be worth checking out. Using the toilet is an integral part of everybody’s day, so why should your toilet be dull and ugly?! Well, at Strumpet and Trollop your toilet can look however you like and will most certainly stand out from the crowd. Strumpet and Trollop will personalise your composting toilet to look however you wish- think bright colours and glitter! What more could you want?!
In addition to looking good, these composting toilets are functional and work by separating the solids and liquids. The two internal tanks are separate from each other and can be easily accessed to empty when the time comes. This unit does not have a fan to move air outside but does have ventilation. A unique composting toilet from Strumpet and Trollop costs a reasonable £620, or go for the slightly smaller version for just £500.
6. Air Head Toilet
At number six on our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers, we have the Air Head Toilet. We are going to be looking specifically at the Air Head Marine which was explicitly designed for use on boats. However, this sturdy, compact design transfers well to use in vans and RVs. The Air Head Toilet works with a separator that ensures the liquids go to the front container and the solids to the box at the back. The toilet was designed only to need to be emptied at the end of one season of use. This is good news if you are a weekend warrior! If you are a full-time vanlifer, then the solids will need to be emptied every three to four weeks, the liquids more regularly.
The Air Head toilet can be used in conjunction with peat, sawdust or coconut coir to reduce odours and to speed up the composting process. There is also a 12v fan ventilation system to ensure that no smells filter into your living space. This composting toilet comes in at the higher end of the price scale at £999.
We are nearing the end of our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers, but we still have a couple of different options coming up on our list. Up next we have the Simploo Composting Toilet. Simploo has managed to create a composting toilet that looks just like a regular toilet in a house; we love this sleek and stylish design; it’s minimalistic but so effective. This composting toilet works like most of the others on our list with a separator for liquids and solids. It also has a fan to reduce smells within your camper.
Once through the separator, your solid waste is stored in a 20l container that has a sliding hatch to cover it when not in use. There is no need to add sawdust when using the Simploo composting toilet. The Simploo can either come with a 6litre urine collection bottle or a diverting pipe that you can attach to a larger container externally. This is great if you have a larger urine waste tank fitted beneath your camper as you will need to empty it less regularly. This toilet comes in at £299- £329, depending on which option you choose.
8. Separett Rescue Camping Toilet
Last, but not least, on our list of the best composting toilets for vanlifers, we have another option from the Separett brand. This time we are looking at the Separett Rescue Camping Toilet. This composting toilet may not be an excellent option for anyone living the vanlife full time but could be a good option if you go out regularly on weekends or are heading to a festival in your camper.
This portable toilet folds out, and a compostable waste bag is fitted below. Urine drains out of the pipe attached to the seat onto the ground below, where you can dig a small hole if needed. Solid waste goes into the bag where it can be disposed of on your compost heap when you return home. The bags are designed not to break down for four weeks so they can be safely taken back with you. This toilet may not be fancy, but it allows you to go to the toilet when no other option is available without using any chemicals usually found in portable toilets that could be harmful to the environment. This toilet comes in at £85.
We have come to the end of our list of composting toilets for vanlifers, and hopefully, there is something that suits your needs and price range. Composting toilets are an excellent option for the environmentally-minded vanlifers and are a brilliant alternative to chemical toilets. They can be an affordable toilet choice, but even the more expensive models do not take any money to run and keep. We think composting toilets are an excellent option for any vanlifer and would be a particularly good choice for someone living in their van on a piece of land. Let us know what you think of these toilets by joining the Van Clan over on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.