We tend to devote much discussion to certain aspects of outdoor life and off-grid lifestyles ranging widely from digging your own well, building your own cabin, installing your own solar system, buying the right survival tools, choosing a waterproof tent, selecting an efficient backpack, knowing how to build a fire, recognizing edible wild plants, raising farm animals, and self-sufficiency in general. All this while one very basic necessity of time spent away from civilization is typically ignored among discussions in polite society. Succinctly put, when it’s time to go, you need a place to go, and this subject is not often addressed in either popular planning literature or coffee table conversations.

Depending on who you are and where you are, nature’s call might be answered in an established campground facility, a classic two-holer out back behind the cabin, or simply behind a tree along the trail. Also depending on who and where you are, this may be handled with either casual aplomb or a fair amount of griping and grumbling, and in most cases involving people not used to such things, the more comfortable you can make the process the better. In general, it rarely hurts to have both suitable and sit-able accommodations available if a camp or other outing may be an extended one, and it’s highly advis-able if composed for both genders. (Trust me, pay attention to those last eight words.) For rustic cabins without plumbing amenities, it’s essential, and an outhouse may not be do-able.

What do you do when there’s no toilet where you’re going? You take one with you.

Rothco Portable Camp Toilet

outhouse, outhouses, outhouse alternatives
Rothco’s minimalist folding “camp chair commode” is inexpensive and takes up little room. Whichever way you use the bag ring, make sure it’s secure in use.

Starting out light and minimal, Rothco’s foldable camp toilet is available for a whopping $25, and for occasional use as a toss-in-the-truck/ATV item, it gets the job done adequately. The unit consists of a plastic seat with a bag-retaining ring that snaps onto a scissor-leg platform and folds out for use. No water is needed as this 2.8-pound toilet uses plastic bags (it comes with six and can use standard garbage bags) that are held in place by a plastic ring inside the seat. Simple to set up and use, you “hang” a bag inside the seat, snap the ring into place to anchor the bag, and off you go. When finished, remove and tie up the bag for disposal, fold up the unit if moving on or leave it standing for the next occasion or person. The unit is sturdier than it looks and very functional. Deodorizers from various sources can be used with the bags, and it can be set up anywhere level (the key word there is “level”), including inside a tent.

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Emergency Essentials Tote-Able Toilet

outhouse, outhouses, outhouse alternatives
Bulkier, but carrying its own deodorizer, TP and such on the way out, this Emergency Essentials bucket seat can be used with or without bags.

Taking up a shade more space, but staying light and inexpensive, the Tote-Able Toilet from Emergency Essentials consists of a standard plastic 5-gallon bucket with a carry handle/bail, detachable plastic seat and rubber-gasketed hinged lid, all weighing under 4 pounds. Extremely simple and quite strong, the Tote-Able Toilet comes with two deodorizing enzyme packets for $16. It can be used with a garbage bag under the seat for single-use visits, or without one if you anticipate extended group use over a period of time, and can carry lots of bags, toilet paper and enzyme packets (available separately) inside when traveling.

RELATED: Nature’s Head Composting Commode

For more information, visit, or call 800-999-1863


Go Anywhere Portable Toilet

outhouse, outhouses, outhouse alternatives
A step up, the Cleanwaste Go Anywhere Portable Toilet folds out quickly from a “suitcase” into a sturdy tripod with removable lid, hinged seat and a net to support its bags.

The Sportsman’s Guide touts this Cleanwaste design as being used by the Forest Service, FBI and FEMA in disaster situations. The all-plastic Go Anywhere Portable Toilet is both rugged and markedly more sophisticated, while still collapsing into a fairly compact 7-pound, 19-by-14-by-5-inch suitcase. The unit has an integral carry handle, three fold-down legs, a hinged top cover that locks closed over a hinged seat for carry or storage, and a mesh internal net that supports the double-bag toilet kits sold for the toilet. Since the bags don’t hang under their own weight from above, the bag tops can be folded over the seat to cover it entirely during use without sanitary issues. The unit sells for $70 and comes with one bag kit (double bag with zipper, deodorizer, toilet paper, hand sanitizer), while a 12-pack goes for $27 separately. If you prefer, you can also use it with an appropriately sized plastic garbage bag.

For more information, visit, or call 877-520-0999


Sanitation Equipment Visa Potty

outhouse, outhouses, outhouse alternatives
At the top of our potty chain, the Visa Model 268 offers at-home performance with fresh-water flushing and a sizable holding tank.

Moving way up the scale for more convenience and a wider variety of stationary sanitation situations, the Visa Model 268 is a self-contained, flushable toilet with a 2.6-gallon clean water tank, a detachable 6.3-gallon holding tank, tank level indicators, a large seat, a deep bowl with dual-direction rinse, a replaceable piston pump, and a leak- and odor-proof seal in the holding tank. The unit is just over 16 inches high and weighs 12.2 pounds empty, but gains a lot with use so you may need help emptying it. Simple to use, easy to empty into a toilet back home, an RV dumping station along the road, or an appropriate pit (where legalities allow) in rural situations, the Visa Potty may become the most beloved piece of outdoor equipment in camp, cabin, trailer or tent. Carrying an MSRP of $100, it ships with a sampling of deodorizers.

RELATED: 4 DIY Outhouse Basics

For more information, visit, or call 970-569-2276


Camp Improvements

outhouse, outhouses, outhouse alternatives
One of the conveniences of civilization few of us mind taking along in the outdoors is a portable toilet of some sort. The right one can easily justify its space and weight.

Any of these four portable commodes is a welcome improvement over nothing but you and a roll of TP. Besides camp or trail use, they can all be quite handy to keep around as part of an emergency standby system in case of a hurricane, earthquake or other plumbing-disruptive natural disasters. Dump or dispose of properly, use readily biodegradable toilet paper, and if you stock up on bags for any of the first three beyond what each company sells, I’d strongly suggest you resist the impulse to cheap out on lesser-grade (and lesser-strength) products that you may regret later in actual use. Some regrets are just more intense than others, and this would be one of those cases.

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