How To Make A Great Outdoor Toilet

camping toilet
Best home made toilet for camping

You see to the right of this page the winner of an impromptu contest between a bunch of us, that of constructing the best toilet.

This winning entry is one we have used ever since. The instructions on how to make it sounds weird, but it is the best solution we have found to combine wilderness with (somewhat) the comforts of home.

What you will need:

  • 1 toilet seat, the cheapest one you can find, usually about 5 or 10 dollars.
  • 1 roll duct tape
  • a folding camp chair, the webbing of which has already been removed
  • 2 sections of 2″x 4″, about 5 feet long poles, or 2 five-foot-long sections of tree branch about 2″ thick.
  • 1 fully compostable garbage bag.
  • a shovel
  • a mattock (optional)
  • 1-2 tarps
  •  several bungee cords.
  • 1 section of log
  • a plastic toilet roll container with lid.
  • 1 roll compostable toilet paper.
  • 1 small spade

How to put it all together: 

  1. Duct tape toilet seat to the back bar of the chair where the seat and the back meet. Next, put two long strips of duct tape from that join up and over the back of the chair, as pictured.
  2. Duct tape “feet” of chair to the two five-foot sections of wood so that they will straddle the hole you are about to dig.
  3. Select spot for chair at least 100 yards away from any water source, preferably in the middle of a stand of at least three saplings or small trees, and dig a hole as deeply as possible (at least 3 feet deep), breaking the ground with the mattock if need be. (The mattock is a pain to take along but the first time I used it I knew I needed to have it with me whenever I went camping.) Leave the dug-up soil in a tidy pile beside the hole.
  4. Take compostable garbage bag and cut the bottom off, leaving you with a tube of compostable plastic.
  5. Use several small squares of duct tape and “tape” the tube to the underside of the seat part of the toilet seat, then position the chair over the hole, shaking the bag out so it hangs down into it; this protects the back of your legs against your own pee should a wicked wind kick up.
  6. Up-end log section to use as a small end table and place handily beside the chair so that your toilet paper is within reach.
  7. Leave small spade with the pile of dug-up earth. A shovelful of earth into the hole to cover over poop keeps the smell down wonderfully. (Never, ever throw anything into the hole that is not compostable, including sanitary napkins and tampons. Pack such items home in a small personal garbage bag).
  8. Finally, use the tarps to wrap around saplings or trees that may surround your toilet. Use the bungee cords (or twine if you prefer) to attach the tarp to the trees.

Packing Up:

When you get ready to go back home simply detach the compostable plastic bag from the duct tape and let fall into the hole, then bury. Use a pen knife to remove the seat from the chair, pack all duct tape out of the camping area with the rest of the garbage to take home, wipe the seat down with a little hydrogen peroxide and put the seat and the chair into a clean garbage bag to pack into car. That way you can leave it in the bag and pack it away with the camping gear for the next time you go camping!


Take along a bottle of biodegradable, non-toxic waste treatment for outdoor toilets. It is an even better way to keep odor at bay. We use the earth all the time, and now and then add a little waste treatment to the pit. Be sure that it is biodegradable and non-toxic, though–the last thing you want to do is add chemicals to nature. Try to leave as little a footprint as possible at your campsite, even if it is one others use regularly.

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