Assuming you can fight your way through the seemingly endless line when you need one, I think we can all agree that there are few things in this world quite as disgusting as a portable chemical toilet. There’s something about that unique scent of plastic, chemicals, and body fluids after several hours of baking in the hot sun that would put anyone right off, even though many of us acknowledge the portable toilet as a critical necessity in a mobile society.
Some entrepreneurial types, however, have decided that the basic model doesn’t go far enough when it comes to comfort and privacy—while others just like to have a bit of fun. Meet the new generation of mobile toilets:
1. The Stadium Pal. Originally marketed as a “just for men” product, the Stadium Pal consists of an external catheter attached to a leg bag so the wearer carries his own bathroom facilities. While marketed for use in stadiums to appeal to that all-important sports-going male demographic, it also, of course, has a number of other uses for pretty much any environment where bathrooms are hard to reach and the call of nature heeds no limitations (after all, the basic design is modeled on external catheters used in hospitals and care facilities). The original product was such a success that they brought out a partner unit, the Stadium Gal.
2. The Biffy Bag. Okay, so you don’t like the thought of using an external catheter. Fair enough. How do you feel about attending to your business in a giant plastic bag? To use, you just drop a proprietary powder into the bag, tie it around your waste like a sweatshirt (tres chic) and pull the loose end through to create your own personal, and disposable, toilet; when you’re finished, you can tie it up and dispose of it in a regular trash can.
3. The Foldable Portable Toilet Chair. You prefer something more traditional, but you’re also practical. You recognize the importance of packing light for tailgating, camping, and other important activities, because the more room you take up with supplies, the less room you have for beer. Multifunctional items are the order of the day. Say hello to the Foldable Portable Toilet Chair.
This might look like your average folding chair, complete with side storage pocket, but it’s so much more than that. Flip the canvas cover down and it’s a seat, sure, but flip it up and you’ll expose a handy commode, complete with collection bag. Add a privacy tent and you’re ready for any adventure, no plumber necessary.
4. Portable flush toilets. This is all well and good, you say, but you can’t get over the thought of using (and disposing of) a collection bag. You’re thinking about the smell, the possibility for messes, and the ick factor. I don’t blame you! Fortunately, numerous camping companies have come to the rescue with various iterations on the portable flush toilet, handy not just for wilderness expeditions but for boat trips and other outdoor adventures.
These models might look and feel more familiar, too; they consist of paired tanks to handle waste and hold water for flushing. Human waste is routed through to a sealed collection tank, and the whole portable toilet locks down for storage and transportation. When your trip is over, detaching the section containing human waste is a snap, and all you have to do is dispose of the contents in a public toilet. For the more environmentally-minded among us, portable composting toilets are available. Put your waste to work!
5. Go Anywhere. Perhaps you prefer something with a little more class and panache. Something that could, at first glance, look like an ordinary briefcase that unfolds into an artful, minimalist chair. The Go Anywhere might just meet your needs, with a stable three-legged design ensuring it can be set up anywhere, any time. Ideal for camping and other activities where you need to pack light but still have sturdy equipment—the high weight rating on the Go Anywhere ensures that it’s not going anywhere.
Longing for a fancier version? Alas, the Gotta Go Briefcase isn’t a reality.
6. Go Girl. The Go Girl, and other stand-to-pee devices, allow you to enjoy the comfort, flexibility, and freedom of peeing from a standing position. Originally developed for women who wanted to avoid messy public toilets or uncomfortable camping experiences, it’s a handy thing to keep around (complete with carrying case). For ordinary use, women use the Go Girl and then rinse it before storing, and disposable versions are also available.
7. The Bourdaloue. You may have heard of chamberpots, but this is the next level up, used well into the 19th century by discerning ladies of breeding. These discreet mobile toilets were designed for those with ample skirts and urgent needs—they didn’t want to wrestle with their garments in confined spaces, and sometimes didn’t have access to bathrooms during long journeys. Enter the bourdaloue, which was a smaller version of the chamberpot designed for use in confined spaces.
8. Space Toilets. Okay, so they aren’t exactly portable, but they are fascinating! How do you use the bathroom in a zero gravity environment? By getting strapped in like you’re on an amusement park ride, it turns out, with a highly advanced air circulation system that acts like a flush would on Earth. It may sound silly, but this is serious business: problems with the toilet system can require astronauts to switch to backup bags, which are not very fun to use.
When it comes to portable toilets, the world has expanded a lot in the last 10 years, making finding a bathroom on the go easier and a whole lot more sanitary. It turns out, though, that contractors often get stuck using chemical toilets on job sites. A fascinating dicsussion on a Roadbike Review forum began with a homeowner wondering where his Los Angeles roofers were using the bathroom, since they never seemed to come down off the roof. The answers are worth reading.
s.e. smith writes for Networx.com.