Finding a suitable, comfortable toilet for your RV or campervan is crucial.
While some people are quite happy managing with public restrooms or the great outdoors, others want a functioning toilet they can use in the comfort of their RV.
One option is a cassette toilet, sometimes called a cartridge toilet. It’s not entirely portable, and unless you retrofit a SOG kit, you’ll still need to use chemicals to control odors.
However, they’re more budget-friendly than expensive composting toilets, and their design means you don’t need to carry waste through your living area.
If you’re looking for a cassette toilet for RV living or your campervan, here are some of the best options, along with some portable chemical toilets too.
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Best Cassette Toilets for RV & Campers: Our Top Picks
Best Budget-Friendly Cassette Toilet
Camco Standard Portable Travel Toilet
– 3 directional flush
– 2 sizes available
How Does a Cassette Toilet Work?
A cassette toilet works in much the same way as any other portable chemical toilet.
You’ve got an upper tank that you fill with water and a wastewater tank that you add chemicals to.
Once you’ve used the toilet and flushed it with clean water, the waste goes into the lower tank, where the chemicals break it down.
The difference with a cassette toilet is that you then empty the cassette or cartridge from an internal access door, or more commonly an external hatch, rather than having to carry the tank through your living area.
The tanks often have wheels or carry handles to make this easier.
Pros of a Cassette Toilet
The main advantage of a cassette toilet is that it’s a permanent solution – you can install it and have a properly working toilet in your own mini bathroom space.
For many people, this helps them feel more comfortable – instead of a portable toilet taking up living space, you instead have a dedicated toilet space.
They’re also cheaper than composting toilets. So if you want a permanent toilet in your RV or campervan but have a budget you’re working to, then a cassette might be the best solution.
And while cassette toilets by default aren’t eco-friendly, you can retrofit a SOG. These kits use small, low-power fans to draw odors away from your bathroom area into the cassette.
SOG 2 kits instead vent outside the vehicle, either through the floor or the roof. Either way, the result is a toilet that doesn’t smell without the need for harsh chemicals.
Cons of a Cassette Toilet
Unfortunately, cassette toilets aren’t perfect, and there are a lot of things to consider before you buy one.
Firstly that issue around needing chemicals if you don’t upgrade with a SOG kit.
Chemicals aren’t always easy to buy when you’re traveling, and even when they are available, they can be expensive. Plus, you need to find a proper dumping station.
Even when you find a dumping station for your chemicals and waste, it’s not exactly a pleasant job, and it isn’t always an environmentally friendly option.
Plus, while they’re cheaper than composting toilets, they’re much more expensive than a standard portable cassette toilet, and they’re trickier to fit, too – you’ll need to install your own access hatch into the van wall.
Cassette Toilet Size
Cassette toilets come in different sizes, and while you can read about their weight when you choose which one to buy, you need to remember that they’ll weigh a lot more when they’re full.
They do have wheels and handles, though, so you aren’t expected to carry them, and you can empty them before they’re full too.
Still, if you want a more maneuverable one, look for options with a smaller capacity – you’ll need to empty them more frequently, but they won’t be as difficult to transport to the dump when full.
Features To Look Out For
Some of the optional or varying features to look out for with a cassette toilet are:
Flush Type and Nozzles
Cassette toilets will either work with a manual pump flush or with a battery. If you choose the battery, you’ll need to keep it charged, while the manual one just needs a little bit of work every time you use it.
Many cassette toilets have one flush nozzle, but some have up to three, which is usually cleaner – more water across more of the toilet’s surface means it’s more likely to clean waste away in one go.
Because the cassette is stored below the toilet and accessible from an external hatch, it’s not always obvious when it’s full and needs to be emptied.
Some cassette toilets have indicators to let you know when they’re full.
Carry Handles & Emptying Spouts
Emptying a cassette is never pleasant, so look for one that makes carrying them to the dump easier. You’ll also want an easy-pour spout because nobody wants splashbacks from their toilet.
Other Toilet Options
There are campervan toilet options to suit every budget.
Collapsible camping toilets are really simple, essentially a seat with a hole. Add in a biodegradable bag (or two – double lining is always a good idea), and you’re good to go.
Easy, very cheap, ideal for small campers or car camping but not the most comfortable, nor the best at keeping things sanitary.
Portable chemical toilets are the same as cassette toilets, except that you can move them around. This means there’s no complicated installation in your RV or campervan.
Emptying one is a little trickier, and you need to be careful if you carry them through the rest of your van.
Composting toilets are the most expensive RV toilet, but they’re eco-friendly, sanitary, and easy to use.
The solid waste consists mainly of water. A composting toilet evaporates most of it with a fan keeping the tank ventilated. The rest decomposes.
Installation is a little more complex, but the results are worth the effort.
Of course, the easiest and cheapest option is to use nature as your toilet – as long as you are comfortable doing so, discreet and above all else, responsible.
All you’ll need is a shovel to bury your waste and some toilet paper, which you’ll need to find a bin for. But, please don’t go pooping on a beach or anywhere else other people may pass by!
Not only is it disgusting but you’d be giving every van lifer & RVer a bad name. Just lookout for a public toilet. It’s not always easy in the middle of the night, though.
Emptying a Cassette Toilet
The actual process of emptying a cassette toilet is relatively straightforward. Open the hatch on the outside of your vehicle and push in on the pressure points to release it.
Then pull up the lever to unlock it before sliding it out.
Wheel or carry it to the disposal, and then swivel the nozzle around to face away from the cassette, removing the cap. Then just press the pressure release valve, and pour out the contents.
Once it’s empty, it’s a good idea to give it a bit of a clean.
Once that’s done, refill the chemicals if necessary and replace the cap before rotating it back around.
Slide the cassette back into your vehicle and push the lever down to lock it into place.
If you’re looking for fun but practical information on it, check out our detailed post on how to empty a cassette toilet. We’re not completely serious about the Hazmat suit!
Cassette Toilet Chemicals
You can use a few different chemicals for a chemical toilet, but you’ll usually just choose from blue or green in the black water tank.
Check your campground and RV dump station requirements, as some mandate that only green can be used.
Pink chemicals are also available, but these aren’t for the waste tank. They are additives for the flush tank that improve the fragrance of your toilet. They aren’t needed, so it’s up to you.
To do away with the need for chemicals you can retrofit a SOG kit. It adapts your cassette toilet so it works in a similar way to a composting toilet.
Cassette Toilets and Toilet Paper
Using regular toilet paper with a chemical toilet can be a little bit risky because it’s possible to block the waste tank.
An alternative is to buy quick-dissolving paper that’s designed to break down faster. Others people just prefer to use a separate bin next to the toilet to store used paper.
Ultimately, it’s your preference, but if you buy a bin, make sure it has a lid and that you empty it regularly. Otherwise, those odors will quickly build up.
We use a separate bin in our onboard bathroom and use biodegradable and slightly scented dog poop bags.
Best Cassette Toilets Reviewed
Thetford is the major brand for cassette toilets, and this electric flush model is comfortable to use.
It has an advanced level indicator to let you know how full the waste tank is, with a 5.1 gallon capacity and a 4.1 flush tank capacity enough for more than 50 flushes.
As it’s an electric flush model, you’ll need to make sure it’s connected not just to the plumbing but the battery too – the power draw is very low, so don’t worry about that.
A Thetford cassette toilet is one you can rely on.
This curved porta-potti model from Thetford is modern, sleek, and easy to use and transport around.
It’s leakproof, odorless, and has a comfortable seat height – everything you could want from a portable toilet.
It’s also got a kit to hold it down while you’re on the road, so it doesn’t splash around.
This durable portable travel toilet from Camco is sure not to leak. The tank is sealed firmly, so no smells will escape while you’re traveling. It uses a bellows-type pump to flush and can hold over 5 gallons of wastewater.
Be aware that when completely full, this can weigh up to 25kg, and it has no wheels, so it will need to be carried to the dump – you may wish to empty it more frequently.
The small size only has a 2-gallon waste tank but bear in mind that at a little over 12 inches, it’s really short so you’ll need to squat when using it. The 5-gallon version featured here is a more practical option.
This is a portable chemical toilet, so it works the same way as a cassette, but you can use it anywhere.
The toilet bowl is designed with 360 degrees cleaning with every flush using a piston pump.
It’s very lightweight so carrying it back and forth from the dump is more manageable – although that’ll depend on how full it is.
If you want a compact portable toilet, this Dometic option is nice and small – just be aware that crouching that low to sit down might not be super comfortable, but that’s common between many portable toilets.
The tank is easy to monitor, so you’ll know when it needs to be emptied, while the push-button flush is simple to use.
The Dometic 970 series of cassette toilets come in 2 different sizes, so you can find a model perfect for your available space.
Thetford’s final appearance on this list is a no-frills, simple design that’s just very effective as a portable chemical toilet.
It’s compact and has as modern a design as portable toilets can have. Emptying is easy, too, as the rotating pour-out spout is made to be as sanitary as possible.
There are two good features to shout about with this Earthtec portable toilet. Firstly, it has a non-stick bowl with nanotechnology polymer – this just means that no waste will stick, so it’s always cleaner.
Also, the toilet is lightweight but extremely sturdy – it’s been tested to hold up to 440lb without breaking.
Basic, simple and reliable, this chemical portable flush toilet has a pump flush mechanism and a seat and cover that snap on and off, so they’re easy to clean.
One thing to note is the manufacturer states colors can vary, so you might be on a bit of a lucky dip if you order one.
Dometic CTW 4110 Cassette Toilet
For that real home-away-from-home toilet, this Dometic model may be expensive, but it’s incredibly comfortable.
The ceramic inlay is easy to clean but weighs less than a whole ceramic toilet, while the high-power flush system keeps everything nice and sanitary.
The seat can rotate up to 90 degrees for total comfort in smaller areas.
The 4.2 gallon waste tank is a good size, while it has a simple control panel on the waste tank to make it really easy to use and empty.
A cassette toilet is a good option if you can’t afford the upgrade to a composting toilet. They’re a step up from a portable toilet and a leap forward from a low-cost and less sanitary option.
The best cassette toilets are comfortable and easy to use. Find one that’s a good size for your camper, and be careful when you empty it.
It’s not a nice job, but you’ll get used to it. Or just get your partner to do it for you every time.
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