No matter if you’re taking a weekend off to explore the wilderness or planning an epic overland expedition, it’s always beneficial to bring along a dependable bathroom solution for the journey.

Overlanders have plenty of options when it comes to going potty while on the road. Portable toilets, catholes, composting toilets and public restrooms all make it a little easier!

In a Nutshell: Overlanders & Bathrooms

Overlanders use various methods to manage their bathroom needs while on the road, depending on their personal preferences, the type of vehicle they have, and the availability of facilities in the areas they are traveling. Here are some common ways overlanders handle bathroom situations:

  1. Public restrooms: When available, overlanders may use restrooms at gas stations, restaurants, campgrounds, or other public facilities. This is often the most convenient and comfortable option.
  2. Portable toilets: Some overlanders carry portable toilets, such as chemical toilets or camping toilets, in their vehicles. These toilets consist of a seat, a holding tank for waste, and sometimes a flushing mechanism. After use, the waste can be disposed of at designated dump stations or taken to a proper waste disposal facility.
  3. Bucket-style toilets: A simple and budget-friendly option is a bucket-style toilet, which consists of a 5-gallon bucket fitted with a toilet seat lid. Waste is collected in a plastic bag, which can be sealed and disposed of properly. To reduce odor and make cleanup easier, some overlanders use absorbent materials like kitty litter or sawdust in the bag.
  4. Folding or collapsible toilets: Lightweight and compact, folding or collapsible toilets are designed for easy transport and storage. They typically consist of a foldable frame with a seat and a removable waste bag.
  5. Cathole: In remote areas without facilities, overlanders may need to dig a cathole in the ground to bury their waste. A cathole should be at least 6-8 inches deep and located at least 200 feet away from water sources, trails, and campsites. After use, the hole should be filled in and covered to minimize environmental impact.
  6. Urine bottles: For those who do not want to leave their vehicle during the night or in unfavorable weather, using a wide-mouthed bottle with a tight-sealing lid can be a convenient solution for urination. The bottle should be emptied and cleaned regularly.
  7. Biodegradable bags: In some situations, overlanders may choose to use biodegradable bags designed for human waste disposal. These bags often contain chemicals that break down waste and neutralize odors. Once used, the bags can be buried in a cathole or packed out for proper disposal, depending on local regulations.

Regardless of the method chosen, it’s essential to practice good hygiene, such as washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer, and to adhere to Leave No Trace principles to minimize environmental impact. Proper waste disposal is crucial to protect the environment and maintain the cleanliness of the areas visited during an overlanding trip.

(1) Portable Toilets

The bathroom is an integral part of your overlanding experience. It’s where you go when you need to relieve yourself, shower or do laundry; plus it’s somewhere you share with others – whether family members or friends.

Before indoor plumbing was available, humans relied on an outhouse for waste disposal. This structure typically consisted of a stall with an opening in it where waste was dumped directly onto the ground beneath.

Modern plumbing has enabled humans to eliminate their waste in more sanitary, convenient facilities like toilets. These toilets tend to be lightweight, portable and more efficient than the outhouses used in the past.

Overlanders use a variety of toilets while traveling. Some are budget-friendly options while others provide additional features to make the bathroom experience more pleasant.

One popular option for overlanders is a bucket toilet, which comes in various styles and sizes. These toilets usually include a seat, bucket with lid, and liner bag filled with gelling powder.

Another popular option for overlanders is a privacy tent, which serves to cover the toilet area and offer extra privacy when needed. These can be purchased at most camping stores and are perfect when you don’t want to disturb other people or the environment while overlanding.

Finally, overlanders have the option of using a bio-toilet, an environmentally friendly alternative to the traditional toilet that relies on microorganisms to break down human waste. These can be purchased at most camping stores and are especially helpful when overlanding in remote locations without access to running water.

When using a bio-toilet, the most critical aspect to consider is how composting will impact the environment. That is why it’s essential to use an environmentally friendly enzyme-based solution like Organica Biotech’s Bioclean BD for composting purposes.

(2) Catholes

Catholes are a fun and simple way to manage solid waste while camping in the great outdoors. Just be sure to dig a hole that’s the right depth and distance from your camp site or water source (200 feet is ideal).

For optimal results, place the cathole in a dry area of the terrain as rainwater can wash feces away during heavy downpours. In addition to using quality toilet paper, consider using poo powder gel which absorbs odors and acts as natural fertilizer for surrounding plants.

Catholes are not only a convenient bathroom option, but they can help reduce your carbon footprint as they’re less likely to be littered than public restrooms. If you’re traveling as a group, dispersing catholes throughout a wider area makes for a cleaner camping experience.

One of the primary reasons overlanders don’t use catholes is they can be challenging to locate or dig. Some even opt out of using them altogether in an effort to reduce their environmental impact.

To find the ideal bathroom solution for you, research the best option. Overlanding travel trailers are becoming larger and often come equipped with cassette or composting toilets as standard equipment. As always, read through its manufacturer’s manual carefully so you get all of your questions answered. Ideally, look for toilets which use minimal electricity consumption, provide a comfortable sitting and urinating position, and are built to withstand outdoor elements.

(3) Composting Toilets

Overlanders, particularly those living in RVs, often install composting toilets to reduce their water consumption and dependence on sewage. These toilets utilize aerobic decomposition to break down human waste into a humus-like substance that can be used as fertilizer in the soil.

These toilets don’t need a sewer or septic tank to operate, making them ideal for overlanders living in remote places. Plus, they use up to 60% less water than standard toilets when disposing of waste – up to 60 percent less!

They’re also odorless, which is a major advantage. Their system uses separation, carbon-rich material and an air ventilation system to dry out poop and eliminate odors.

Composting toilets come in a variety of types. Some are self-contained, meaning they’re built into RVs and can be emptied outdoors; others connect to a central septic tank for disposal.

The Separett Villa is the most popular toilet model, featuring a urine diversion system in the bowl to separate urine from feces and prevent moisture accumulation. Additionally, this system has a fan that ventilates the toilet to control smells, breaking down solids in waste containers faster.

These toilets can save up to 60% in water usage, cutting your utility bills and environmental footprint. Plus, they produce compostable medium that can be added to gardens or simply used as mulch.

Some models feature a heating element to expedite the process. Others boast liquid tanks that can be emptied regularly, making them simpler to manage when you’re off-grid.

Composting toilets may not be cheap to purchase, but they’re well worth the investment if you care about the environment or want to save on water expenses. Plus, many systems come with a starter culture so that your compost is free from pathogens.

They’re more cost-effective to operate than regular flush toilets and don’t need to be emptied as frequently, further cutting costs. Unfortunately, these toilets take time to fully compost so may not suit every situation.

(4) Public Restrooms

No matter where you travel, chances are good that you’ll come across a bathroom or two along the way. Most fuel stations feature flushable toilets and many national and state parks provide free or low cost bathhouses for weary travelers. Plus, most restrooms are open to everyone so no one will mind if you pop in for a quick pee or sneeze. However, making sure not to leave behind a trail of poo can be tricky; fortunately there are some clever solutions.

How do you select the ideal bathroom in your area? A little online research can go a long way in providing helpful information. The internet is an incredible source for finding details regarding bathrooms in your region.