What's the Best Composting Toilet for RV Living

What's the Best Composting Toilet for RV Living

By far, the most common question RV, campervan, and boat travelers get is, "Where do you go to the bathroom?" Before we started traveling in an RV, we had no idea people cared so much about poop! There are actually quite a few ways to manage waste, including our favorite - composting toilets.

Whether you're a full-time traveler, interested in off-grid living, or just someone who takes an occasional trip, we can help you find the best compost toilet for RV boondocking.

Before we start talking RV compost toilets, let's break down compost

Before we get into what's out there, let's review the composting process. You might have or be familiar with the concept of a compost bin or compost pile. In the simplest of terms, you separate organic materials and mix them with a carbon-rich medium like sawdust, coconut coir, or peat moss to aid in decomposition, and science does the rest!

Because human waste is organic, it can be composted, too! Here's how it works.

How does a composting toilet work?

In order to determine the best compost toilet for RV living, you'll want to make sure you know what they do. I guess you could say you should "know before you go!'"

While flush toilets use water to move your poo to a sewage system, composting toilets use the natural processes of decomposition and evaporation to break down and eliminate human waste. These toilets are designed to facilitate the aerobic decomposition of organic matter (woo scientific words!), turning it into a nutrient-rich material that can be safely returned to the environment or disposed of in a typical trash receptacle.

Important! Most composting toilets separate liquids and solids. The decomposition process only works if you divert or separate liquid waste from solid waste. If #1 and #2 get mixed together, you'll have a stinky situation; take my word for it!

To aid in the composting process, composting toilets can have an agitator, something that is used to mix solids with the composting material. Think of a beater on a mixer; it's the same concept.

Some composting toilets have a small internal fan that keeps air flowing inside to avoid moisture buildup.

Check out Green Citizen to learn more about the fascinating science behind composting toilets.

Benefits of a composting toilet over a traditional toilet in your RV

  • Water conservation: Composting toilets are waterless. That means you won't use any water at all. A regular RV toilet uses fresh water each time it is flushed. Look at you, saving the environment with your composting toilet!
  • Low maintenance: Say goodbye to searching for sanitary dump stations! Composting toilets eliminate the need for a black tank in camper vans and other RVs. Use your time to travel, not wait in line to dump!
  • Off-grid capability: A safe and clean way to pack out your toilet waste and leave no trace, composting toilets make backcountry camping and boondocking feel luxurious!
  • Portability: Composting toilets are not permanently attached to your rig, meaning you can move them around if you need to. Some can double as a seat in your RV; talk about double duty!
  • Smell: In an RV with a black tank, there's often a sewage smell when flushing the toilet. When used correctly, there is little to no odor with a composting toilet. If anything, there might be an earthy smell, like taking a hike in the woods.
  • Self-contained: With a composting toilet, you are self-contained, meaning you can camp at all those campgrounds with the restrooms and dump stations closed in the winter!

Composting toilet vs. chemical or cassette toilet

Cassette toilets are portable toilet options for RVers. You fill them with a chemical (think along the lines of that blue stuff in a porta potty), do your business, and the chemical turns the solid waste into a liquid that can be poured out, either at a dump station or into a toilet.

Take it from someone who used to have this option for vanlife; even though it's liquid when you dump it out, you can often still smell and see your poo. Ew!

Choosing a composting toilet over a cassette toilet means you'll have fewer chemicals in your RV or camper van, which is better, safer, and more eco-friendly. Plus, over time, you'll save money on having to buy all those chemicals!

There are also other benefits, like saving water, because composting toilets don't use any.

Choosing the best RV composting toilet

So now you know why they're great, and you want your own composting toilet. Fantastic! But, what's the best compost toilet for RV life? Here are some things to think about when selecting a composting toilet for van life, RV trips, or off-grid travel.

Factors to consider

  • Ease of use - Some composting toilets require dismantling to empty and can be difficult for one person to handle on their own. Cuddy is simple to maintain, lightweight, and has a removable solids bin that can easily be emptied solo! There's even an LED light to show you when the liquids bottle needs emptying. That's right, you can avoid that awful vanlife right of passage where you overflow your pee container!
  • Capacity - How many people will be using your composting toilet? Are you a solo traveler, or do you have a whole crew in your rig? A smaller capacity unit like Cuddy Lite might be best for vanlife or occasional travel and Cuddy may be better for more off-grid use by several people for longer periods.
  • Size- How much room do you have for your composting toilet? If you're living or traveling tiny, chances are you need every square inch of your space. Cuddy is a compact composting toilet that's perfect for small spots!
  • Shape - And while we're talking about space...Once you realize that traditional toilet seat shapes take up unnecessary real estate, it's easy to see why the square shape of Cuddy makes sense! It will fit better into your RV or off-grid vehicle setup than other large, cumbersome, "toilet-shaped" options. Plus it's cute!
  • Purpose - Some composting toilets are made to be used in bigger spaces like homes. By choosing one designed specifically for travel, like Cuddy, you'll save space and money! And you know that extra cash will come in handy for gas!
  • Budget - There are composting toilets for just about every budget. From buckets to boxes, basic to bougie, and everything in between, you've got options. While it's not the cheapest, Cuddy is more affordable than many other composting toilets. Plus, it comes with a great look, feel, function, and impeccable customer service.
  • Power - Many composting toilets need power to operate a small fan that keeps air circulating as part of the decomposition process. These typically come hardwired for 12v RV batteries. Cuddy makes installation easy. It comes ready to connect to your 12V system and just needs a 9V battery to operate that nifty LED light.

Things to note before you buy your composting toilet

Here are a few notes on things to look at before you get to the checkout with your new composting toilet:

  1. Have you measured up so you know exactly where to store your own composting toilet?
  2. Is a side crank or front agitator handle right for your set-up and space requirements?
  3. Are you using your toilet as a seat, too?
  4. Do you need to buy a vent hose, drain away kit or other accessories?
  5. Do you need a compostable bag to use this toilet?
  6. How easy is emptying?

Here are some do's and don't before you buy, because quite likely you'll need a bit more info before you go ahead.

A few composting toilet Dos and Don'ts

Do remember to empty the liquid bottle regularly! Just about everyone who has a composting toilet has had the unfortunate initiation of overflowing the urine container! Luckily, the Cuddy‘s smart LED should prevent this from happening!

Do put your toilet paper in a separate trash bin. Keeping the solids bin free of toilet paper will extend the amount of time in between empties.

Don't put food scraps or animal waste into your compostable toilet. This can attract bugs, and that's no bueno!

Don't put bleach or other chemicals in it. Clean your composting toilet with vinegar and water, and you're good to go!

Don't use the compost from your toilet as fertilizer in your garden. The entire process of composting human waste takes several months and will not be completed by the time you need to empty it (every few weeks). Instead, put it in a biodegradable trash bag and dispose of it in an approved trash receptacle.

Or do add it to your home compost pile and let it continue to compost further into what we call Humanure.

Why Cuddy is the best compost toilet for RV and Van Life

There are lots of composting toilet options available nowadays with a variety of features. But your bum deserves the best! Here's why we recommend the Cuddy composting toilet and think it's the best of all the toilets on the market!

Unique features: With that internal carbon filter, Cuddy provides extra odor protection in addition to the fan. It also doesn't need to be vented outside unless you want it to be. And the usefulness of the LED indicator for the liquids bottle cannot be overstated!

Stylish and thoughtful design: Cuddy is pretty adorable. You can even upgrade to a bamboo lid which makes the Cuddy blend right in with your camper design. You'd never even know this cute little stool contains "stool," haha! The liquid container is also dark colored, so you can discreetly dump it without parading through a campground with a see-through bottle of pee.

Customer Service: If you have questions or concerns or just want to tell us how composting toilets have changed your life, we're here for it! We have the best customer service team dedicated to making sure you have a positive experience with our products!

There you have it. Cuddy is the best compost toilet for RV or off-grid travel. Get yours and brag about it next time someone asks how you go to the bathroom!


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Sierry Eberly

Sierra Eberly

Sierra Eberly is an avid trail runner, dog mom to Snow, and solopreneur who has been traveling full-time in a campervan since 2020. 

After traveling for over a year while working remotely full-time at a corporate job, she decided to shift gears and pursue her passions for writing and marketing strategy. Boondock Consulting was formed, and she now supports like-minded small businesses with their big aspirations. 

Sierra and Snow continue to travel, balancing work and play while trying their best to make a minimal impact on the planet and enjoying everything it has to offer. You can follow along with their travels via Instagram or Sierra’s personal website, Sierra’s Traverse.