With more and more campsites opening to the public (“At last!” we hear you cry), many shower blocks and toilets still remain closed. Not to worry, you can still enjoy an outdoor getaway without contemporary creature comforts! We’ve put together an all-inclusive guide on how to camp, 100% facility free!
Let's Talk Toilets
Toilets, pretty unavoidable anywhere, let alone when camping, but luckily there are alternatives out there! Portable, or chemical, toilets vary from the pretty basic to the more elaborate. So let’s start with the fundamentals.
The bog standard (excuse the pun) chemical toilet is known as the “bucket and chuck it”, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. The portable toilet will come with a bucket for waste, and a detachable seat and lid, usually with a safety catch, because you can never be too careful.
Much simpler than that is the foldable toilet. No frills foldable toilets are both low-cost and functional, simply unfold the stand with an integrated seat and add a bag to the seat to store waste, they really are as easy as that.
If you’re looking for something a little closer to home comforts, it’s worth considering flushable toilets. Although they generally sit at a higher price, the main difference with the more premium option is the holding tank. Holding tanks keep your waste separate to the main toilet, in turn reducing obtrusive smells. Flushable toilets allow the lower half to be removed, allowing you to easily and hygienically dispose of waste.
There are pros and cons for both alternatives. A bucket chemical toilet is a lot lighter and relatively inexpensive, it also doubles as storage on the way to your campsite. The flushable counterpart does have its downsides; with more luxury comes more weight. This can make it difficult to transport, but in turn, make it a lot easier to empty.
What Goes in Your Toilet?
We all know what goes in your toilet, but before you exit the page, I’m talking about chemicals. With the exception of foldable toilets (we’ll get to that in a minute), both bucket and flushable toilets require some form of chemical liquid to either break down waste, reduce smell, kill bacteria or a combination of all three.
To make things simpler, variations of chemical toilet fluids can be broken down by colour:
Blue Fluid – The most common chemical you’ll see used is some type of blue fluid. It will effectively break down waste and leave a pleasant odour behind. This type of liquid can be used in both bucket and flushable toilets.
Pink Fluid – Primarily used in flushable toilets, pink fluid is typically bowl cleaner. Bowl cleaners help to maintain both clean toilet water and tank as well as neutralising bad smells.
Green Fluid – An environmentally friendly alternative to blue fluid, green fluid will generally be natural and cruelty free. Some brands will also feature biodegradable packaging.
Toilet Bags – If you’re opting for a foldable toilet then you’ll need toilet bags for your waste. The most popular choice is “BoginaBag” degradable bags. Toilet bags are generally a one-use item, so protect the environment by choosing bio-degradable.
When it comes to waste disposal, many sites will have a designated waste area, but some may require you to take your waste home with you. Always check with each campsite before visiting for more information.
Shop toilet fluid.
One of the great campsite challenges is putting a tent up without either breaking a sweat, getting muddy or pitching in the pouring rain. For most, a shower is a fundamental necessity. Although nothing beats a hot shower, if you’re looking to get away this summer we might have to manage expectations a little (sorry).
If you’re only away for one or two nights then wet wipes are always a safe bet. They do the job until you can jump in the shower at home, plus they’re reminiscent of music festivals – remember those?
If you’re looking for a washing facility that resembles something closer to home, but don’t want to splash the cash, DIY showers are an effective, easy alternative. First, find a suitable place to hang a “shower head”, trees or tall friends work well. Next, you’ll need a bowl, bucket (the bigger the better), or umbrella. Drill or pierce holes through your chosen shower utensil and fill with water.
If DIY isn’t for you, luckily you can opt to buy a camping shower. They range from simple connections that can be fitted to your existing water bottle, to solar showers, which can be hung whilst collecting solar energy, transferring heat to water.
As with all showers, check the rules of your campsite and what they allow. Some campsites will have regulations regarding water runoff, you also need to ensure that water isn’t going to drain into yours, or another campers pitch. When setting up a shower, check that water will not run into existing bodies of water as the chemicals in products may affect the existing ecosystem.
Don’t forget to take a utility tent with you to house your chosen toilet or shower. Utility tents are narrow and tall, perfect for a campsite en suite.
Shop portable showers.
Keeping it Clean
Once you’re done in the makeshift bathroom, it’s time to clean up after a camp cookout. The simple method when it’s comes to washing up is to take a washing up bowl. A standard kitchen bowl is more than adequate and will double up as storage when travelling to and from the campsite. If you’re looking for a space saver, you can also find collapsible washing up bowls with a convenient carry handle. Don’t forget to bring tea towels or additional storage to air your kitchenware whilst they dry.
For camping with large groups of people a washing up stand may be a more useful substitute. Washing up stands have space for a washing up bowl and drying rack, usually with an additional storage shelf on the bottom.
Make sure you check and follow each campsite’s regulations and access to water taps when bringing your own facilities.