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When you are on the road, it is not too difficult to find a public restroom or fast-food restaurant to stop in so you can use their facilities. Utilizing spaces like this comes with the territory of a long road trip; using anything and everything at your disposal to make life in your van more comfortable.

In the backcountry, it is a little more difficult.

Photo by Branden Michelkamp


You have just driven 10 miles down a bumpy dirt road and that coffee you had to drink is starting to tell you that you need to find a campsite soon. What do you do? You either find a bush or use your well-thought-out compostable facility that you already built into your van.


These options also work great on a road trip if you are in an urban area with no access to a public restroom, or in the middle of a global pandemic.


To Dig A Hole, Or Not To Dig A Hole


The ultimate question of the backcountry, how to use the restroom. Some places require you to dig a hole, some require you


to carry everything out, but if you are near your van, why not use a toilet?

With the rise in van life, and the increased desire for people to get outdoors, companies are coming up with ingenious ideas that assist in those dreams. And that has led to numerous ways to relieve yourself in your van.


There are multiple styles of toilets to choose from, including vault toilets, bags, and compostable toilets.


Cassette Toilet


A cassette toilet is permanently mounted inside of your van. This toilet is flushable and is connected to your vehicles water system, similar in theory to any RV or camper. The tank can be carried to a dumping station or a public restroom to be emptied out.


One pro of using this toilet is that it is most like using a toilet at home, but you will have to deal with dumping out the bucket itself.


Compostable Toilet


These toilets use compostable elements instead of flushing. Much like a backcountry compostable toilet, you just add the compost and mix it. These are relatively low odor options but do require a power source to run the fan that is attached.


These toilets are also environmentally friendly, which is why they are becoming increasingly popular with young van lifers.


Folding/Collapsible Toilets


This option is a toilet seat attached to collapsible legs, making it easy to store and less you need to worry about. If you do not plan to use it regularly, this is a great option. You simply attach a bio bag to the contraption, and then deal with the bag later. Or, if you do not want to deal with a bag, you can dig a hole and set the collapsible toilet above it.


Of course, in a situation like that, you always want to use the guidelines for disposing of waste in that particular area.


Leave No Trace (LNT)


Whenever you are recreating in the outdoors, you always want to dispose of waste properly. Each area you visit on this planet is unique, and to keep it clean and pristine we want to be respectful and dispose of our waste properly. Information on how to do this can often be found at the local ranger’s station or information office of whatever outdoor area you are in. Or look up the website for the land you are recreating on. You can also easily follow general LNT guidelines by visiting their website and learning more.


Upfitting Your Van


If you are looking to have your van upfitted by professionals, VanBuilders can help. We can add hidden compartments to store your toilet, keeping it out of your way, and out of your eyesight.

With a selection of standard builds and custom designs, you can rest assured tha


t your build will check all of your boxes and carry you safely into the outdoors.

Need to talk with someone about your van build? Give us a call.

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