Whether it’s an RV road trip or a getaway to the summer cabin, a compost toilet can be a practical option for when you’re on the go.
Composting toilets are perfect for maintaining all the comfort of a traditional toilet while being away from water, electricity, sewage lines, or other infrastructure. They’re the preferred choice for homesteads, off-the-grid homes, RVs, boats, or even in normal homes that are prone to flooding.
It’s time to give up dark walks in the woods armed with a lantern and a shovel. Read our guide to choosing the best composting toilet for your off-the-grid home or recreational needs.
When choosing a composting toilet, think about where you plan to use it and how many people it needs to accommodate. Then, check for specs like it requires electricity, its size, and its capacity.
Our top choice is the Nature’s Head Self-Contained Composting toilet because it’s easy to use and highly durable.
[su_box title=”Our Top Choices” style=”default” box_color=”#4D59A7″ title_color=”#FFFFFF” radius=”5″]
Best Self Contained Composting Toilet
For a toilet that can withstand some moving and shaking, choose the Nature’s Head self-contained composting toilet for your RV, boat, trailer, or other on-the-go spaces. Its stainless-steel frame is resistant to scratches, rust, and other damage.CHECK PRICE
Best Off the Grid Composting Toilet
The Separett Villa 9210 DC/AC is a top-tier choice if you’re looking for a sleek, traditional design paired with off-the-grid practicality. This model is the preferred choice for tiny-homes, summer cabins, and other medium-stay places.CHECK PRICE
Best Portable Travel Toilet
The Camco Portable Travel Toilet is a no-frills yet highly-functional toilet that has some flush-power to help bring the comforts of home to the RV, campsite, and other recreational activities.CHECK PRICE
Best Design Portable Toilet
Thetford’s Porta Potti 565e is designed to be sleek and comfortable. It uses universal height, has a large bowl size, and a toilet paper holder built into the base of the toilet. These factors make it a good choice for both short term and longer-term needs.CHECK PRICE
Editor’s Choice: Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
You can’t go looking for compost toilets without hearing about Nature’s Head. They’re a reputable brand in the space and have an interesting origin story. This toilet was designed by two sailors who were fed up with the unintuitive and fragile compost toilet options on the market. They set out to make a highly durable and easy to use toilet that stays functional in a range of conditions. As our top pick, we’d say they achieved their goal.
- Durable Stainless Steel Construction
- Urine Separation for Dry Toilet Performance
- Includes Fan and Venting System
- Easy Dumping
- Hand Crank for Faster Composting
- Full Elongated Seat for Standard Comfort
- Electricity limits use in certain places
- Weight: 28 pounds
- Capacity: 5 Gallons
- Dimensions: 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
- Type: Self-Contained
- Electricity: Yes, 12 Volts, Wall-Outlet
- Warranty: 5 Years
Stainless Steel Construction
Thanks to its durable construction, Nature’s Head says you can comfortably use this toilet in your home, cabin, tiny house, RV, workshop, or boat. Once you register your warranty, it’s valid against defects in materials and workmanship for up to five years from the date of initial purchase.
In addition to its durable make, this toilet has an elongated seat for comfortable use.
By collecting urine and feces separately without the use of water, your toilet less likely to emit unpleasant odors and retain pathogens.
Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting toilet is rated one of the best urine-separating dry composting toilets. The toilet is self-contained, urine-diverting, and the waterless operation allows for ease of use for many applications.
Typically, the urine container will need to be dumped out every two days or so, but the compost itself won’t need emptying until around 80 uses.
Compost Hand Crank & Easy Dumping
The spider handle hand crank is built into the side of the tank. The handle makes it easy to agitate the compost and promote quicker composting.
To empty the compost, unhinge the clips on either side of the liquid tank. Then, use the handle to pull up the whole unit. The solid waste container that can be used around 60 – 80 times before it needs emptying.CLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Best Off the Grid: Separett Villa 9210 DC/AC
The Separett Villa 9210 is a popular option among people who live off the grid. This model was newly released in 2018 for the US market and replaces the previous Villa models. This waterless and urine-diverting model comes with a fan that can be powered by AC or DC supply. Its sleek design helps it fit in small spaces and keeps it from being an eyesore.
- Takes AC or DC power
- Includes Fan and Venting System
- Child-Seat available as an accessory
- Sleek Design: Looks similar to a traditional toilet
- Easy Dumping
- Fills with Toilet Paper Quickly
- Quite Expensive
- Weight: 37.2 pounds
- Capacity: If four people use the toilet daily, then a container will last about 3-4 weeks.
- Dimensions: 21.3 x 17.95 x 26.4 inches
- Type: Self-Contained
- Electricity: Yes, AC/DC
- Warranty: 5 Year Warranty (Fan is 3 Year Warranty)
Sleek & Functional Design
The Separett Villa has a pressure-sensitive seat. Once it senses weight on the seat, it’ll open the covered solid waste bin. It will also begin to rotate the waste so that the contents are covered with bulking material.
On other models, you need to rotate the handle to help the decomposition process. This makes the Villa model not only self-contained but self-composting as well. Not having a handle to turn also saves space, which helps maintain this Villa’s sleek design.
In appearance, this toilet looks similar to a traditional toilet. Other composting toilets can look unusual or bulky, making it an intimidating experience for first-time users. At just 18 inches in width, this compost toilet can comfortably fit in small spaces.
Although this composting toilet requires electricity, you’ve got options for power outside of a normal house outlet. This toilet accepts 12V DC power that can come from solar panels, wind turbines, or other battery packs. If you’re on the grid, this toilet can also use AC power.
Urine Separation & Large Capacity
Like the Nature’s Head model, this Villa model also separates urine. This helps reduce the potential for odor from the toilet and speeds up the decomposition of solid waste.
Separett estimates that regular use by four people will require the solids waste bin to be emptied around every 3-6 weeks. Although it has a large capacity, some reviews note that it fills up with toilet paper quickly.CLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Best Toilet for Travel: Camco Portable Travel Toilet
This Camco portable travel toilet is a favorite among campers, RV owners, boaters, and other holidaymakers. Many reviews hail it as a lifesaver for skipping long stumbling walks in the dark to the campsite restroom. Its small size can squeeze into the corner of a large tent or in a tight bathroom space.
Although this toilet doesn’t produce soil-like compost, the final mixture is environmentally friendly and safe for dumping in a home toilet or other designated dumping area. This model comes with one packet of Camco biodegradable toilet chemical that should be added to the toilet before use.
- Small compact size
- Affordable Price
- Has carrying handle
- 2.5 Gallon Flush Tank
- Offers several ventilation options
- Includes one packet of biodegradable toilet chemicals
- Doesn’t produce soil-like compost
- No options to secure to the floor if desired
- No compost soil
- Weight: 10.8 pounds
- Capacity: 5.3 gallons
- Dimensions: 14 x 16 x 15.5 inches
- Type: Portable
- Electricity: Non-electric
- Warranty: Limited 1 Year Warranty
The Flush Tank
Unlike the previous two toilets recommended, this toilet does have a limited flushing ability. The Camco has two tanks. The top flushes water and the bottom holds waste.
The top flush tank can hold 2.5 gallons of water. On top of the toilet, there is a twist-off cap that can be removed to fill the flush tank with water. The bellows-type pump on the other side of the toilet needs to be pushed down to flush water into the waste tank.
Side latches on either side secure the tank to the toilet. You have the option to undo the latches or take the latches off completely.
Small and Lightweight
This Camco is constructed with polyethylene construction, helping keep it compact and lightweight. Even when full, it weighs less than some other compost toilets on the market. The actual seat width is 13 inches.
When it comes time to carry it, this Camco has built-in handles on the sides. Once it’s full, the toilet weighs a manageable 32 pounds.CLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Porta Potti 565e White Thetford Corp
This elegant Porta Potti Curve comes with comfortable seat height, increased bowl size, and battery-powered flush.
This toilet doesn’t produce compost. However, it’s safe to take along with you for camping, road trips, or any other outdoor adventure where you want the comforts of home with you.
It’s similar to a traditional toilet, so it’d be comfortable to use in your off-the-grid house, trailer, shed, or other longer-term living space.
- Built-in Toilet paper holder
- Visually Pleasing Design
- Tank Level Indicator
- Carrying Handle
- “Hold-Down” kit secures it to the floor
- Comes with the first six batteries needed
- Includes one use of biodegradable toilet chemicals
- Batteries only last for around 55 flushes
- No compost soil
- Weight: 13.45 pounds
- Capacity: 5.5 gallons
- Dimensions: 18.4 x 15.8 x 17.8 inches
- Type: Portable
- Electricity: Battery-powered, six AA batteries required.
- Warranty: three-year warranty
Visually Pleasing Design
We know we’ve said other toilets on this list are visually pleasing – but this Porta Potti takes the cake. It’s all white with a strip of gray around the tank. The rounded design looks like a futuristic space pod or oversized vase. The toilet paper holder is discreetly built into a hatch on the side of the toilet. In addition to its cool design, the toilet is at universal height, making it easy and comfortable to use.
If aesthetics are important to you, this is definitely the toilet for your space.
Battery Powered Water Tank
The blue button near the toilet seat allows you to decide how much water to add to the tank before flushing. When pressed, a small pipe built into the bowl pours water into the bowl. This helps prevent wasting water when you only need a little.
You’ll know when it’s time to dump the toilet thanks to a tank level indicator behind the toilet seat. This helps take the guesswork of when it’s time to empty the toilet.
Although the battery-powered water brings water into the tank – it doesn’t actually flush your waste into the waste tank. There’s a small gray lever on the right side of the unit that will flush everything down.CLICK TO CHECK PRICE
Buying Guide for the Best Composting Toilet
Why have a composting toilet?
There are a few reasons a composting toilet may be the preferred choice for your home. Firstly, composting toilets don’t need a water or sewage connection. Skipping this step makes for quick and easy installation.
If you’re somewhere that’s susceptible to flooding a composting toilet also removes the risk of sewage backflows.
Because they don’t need a connection, composting toilets are often chosen for their portability. They are especially useful in off-the-grid homes, tiny homes, and portable homes.
If you’re looking to be more eco-conscious, composting toilets don’t flush. Therefore, you can save anywhere from two to five gallons of water per bathroom visit. Also, the limited discharge of these toilets reduces the amount of waste that returns to local bodies of water.
What is a composting toilet?
Composting toilets rely on the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to turn human waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer.
Waste that can evaporate is carried back into the atmosphere through the vent system. The remaining material then decomposes and is converted to soil. Once you use the toilet, your waste is added to materials such as sawdust, peat mix, or other materials that help support the decomposition process. These materials also make the final product safe to handle.
What should good composting toilets accomplish?
A well-designed composting toilet should carry out three main tasks: evaporation, compost waste without odor, and create a final product that is harmless to handle and safe to use.
- Efficient Evaporation: First, the composting toilet should be able to evaporate almost all of the moisture from the waste. Some units have a separate tank for liquids to allow quicker evaporation. Newer models may even have a lightly heated tank to speed up the process. All composting toilets have a vent so that the odors never leak into your bathroom.
- Compost Waste Without Odor: Your composting toilet should have high-quality materials in it that support the quick decomposition of the remaining solid waste. These materials (peat, sawdust, etc.)– are efficient at absorbing moisture and allow oxygen to help bacteria break down the waste.
- Produce Safe to Use Compost: Although the idea of dealing with human waste can be off-putting, the final product from a good composting toilet should look and smell like any normal handful of dirt. Composted waste should be free of any dangerous pathogens – but it’s still better to use this fertilizer for non-edible plants like for house plants or flower gardening.
What you can do with your compost varies by state. Get familiar with the local regulations and safety procedures before burying waste, dumping into trash bins, or applying to your garden.
What factors should I look at when choosing a composting toilet?
Like with any home appliance, there are a few factors to consider when choosing the best composting toilet.
- Powering: Composting toilets can be electric or non-electric. Electric tends to be more expensive and will require an outlet near where you plan to place your toilet. Both types will get the job done.
- Capacity: Consider how many people will be using the toilet and how frequently. For example, a summer home for four people will need a different capacity than a two-person, one-week road-trip in the RV. Most composting toilets will have a number of recommended uses before dumping (i.e. dump after 60 uses). Run the numbers to make an estimate of the capacity that’s best for you and err on the larger side.
Design: Self-Contained vs. Central Composting
Self-contained composting toilets act as both the toilet as well as the composter in one place. Central systems use a separate storage container that processes and composts the waste.
Central systems make your toilet look less bulky, and you’ll be able to wait longer before dumping the compost. However, they’re a bit more difficult to install and usually need to be placed in a crawlspace, basement, or some other hidden place.
Self-contained systems are better for spaces where there’s no space for a central system. Although they’re bulkier, they’ll still comfortably fit in most bathroom spaces.
If your toilet is going to be on the move a lot (think RV, boats, trailers, etc.) – you’ll want to place a high-premium on durability. Look for composting toilets made of durable materials such as stainless steel.
Although installation is straightforward, it’s important to follow directions carefully to avoid odors, hinder evaporation, and other malfunctions. Most installations of self-contained systems are easy for those who have some limited DIY experience. Central composting systems are more advanced and may require an experienced plumber.
Take careful measurements of the space you hope your composting toilet to use. Don’t forget to leave some extra space, so you have room to maneuver when it’s time to remove the compost.
Which Composting Toilet is best for me?
The composting toilet that’s best for you depends on the range of factors we mentioned above. Carefully consider how many people will use it, where it will be used, and maintenance preferences for the toilet.
Once installed, composting toilets can be a low-maintenance way to lower your impact on the environment save money and lower your water consumption.
FAQ on Best Composting Toilet
Question: Do composting toilets smell bad?
Answer: Composting toilets are designed to be odorless, however – your toilet may smell is if it’s been installed incorrectly or venting is not working as intended. Some compost toilets come with a fan, so check that it’s functioning correctly. Finally, make sure there’s enough compost material in the toilet to cover the waste.
Once you’re a seasoned compost toilet user, there are a few extra things you can do. For example, you can try adding vermicomposting worms to your compost pile. Worms can help digest waste and other materials to speed up decomposition. You can also add pine shavings or coffee grinds for a pleasant smell.
Question: How often do you empty a composting toilet?
Answer: This will vary depending on the capacity of your toilet. Typically, you’ll need to empty your composting toilet anywhere from every three weeks to as rarely as once a year. If you plan to use the compost toilet regularly, try to wait at least eight hours after your last bathroom visit to dump the compost.
Question: Can You Put Toilet Paper in the Composting Toilet?
Answer: Yes! It takes longer to decompose, but it is safe to put in the toilet. You can also buy special toilet paper like Marine or RV toilet paper (single ply) that’s more lightweight and decomposable. You shouldn’t put sanitary pads, but 100% cotton tampons can be thrown into the toilet. The inner cardboard tube of toilet paper can also be composted.
In summary, the Nature’s Head self-contained composting toilet is our top pick. Its durable design is perfect for unstable spaces like RVs, boats, or trailers – but would do just as well in a cabin outhouse or lakeside home. The Separett Villa 9210 DC/AC functions just as well as the Nature’s Head, but is a bit sleeker and less intimidating to use for first-time compost toilet users.
If you’re looking for something that can be moved from the RV to the tent, the Camco portable travel toilet is a functional no-frills option. Although the Thetford’s Porta Potti 565e is also portable, its design allows it to be a sleek and comfortable choice for both long and short-term use.
Like with any new appliance, there’s going to be a bit of a learning curve. But once you and your family get the hang of it, you’ll be sure to enjoy your new compost toilet.
[su_note note_color=”#ffffff” text_color=”#000″]
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.