Portable River Toilets: Part 1 Why you need one

Most multi-day river trips require the use of portable river toilets. Even if you’re floating a river that has outhouses or doesn’t require a portable toilet, you should still carry one.

As a General rule: If you’re doing an overnight river trip someone in your party should bring along a portable toilet whether it’s required or not.

On most wild and scenic or government controlled rivers they’ll check to make sure at least one portable toilet is with the group. They won’t allow you to put-in without one.

Typically when you check in at the ranger station to pick up your permit (if it’s a permitted river) they’ll check to see if you have a toilet. For the Rogue river all they really care about is whether or not the lid to the toilet has a rubber gasket. I guess this assures them that it won’t leak into the river if you lose it.

I’ve even had random toilet checks once I was on the river. A BLM raft will float into camp and demand to see your toilet setup. On the Rogue river they’ll do this even if you’re camped at a place with an outhouse.

But if there are outhouses why do I need one? You need one in case you’re forced to camp somewhere other than the designated campsites with outhouses. Don’t rely on the outhouses, they could be closed for repair, closed for cleaning, too nasty to enter, whatever, bring your own and you’ll never have to worry.

Don’t be the raft trip that ends up digging a hole behind a rock and burying your poop. Sure, you won’t be affected, once your done with camp you’ll float downstream and forget all about the mess you left, however the next group will notice.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across nasty toilet paper gardens despoiling otherwise beautiful riverscapes. No matter how well you’ve covered up your deed, forest animals will dig up the hole and spread the nasty stuff all over. It’s disgusting and easily avoided, bring your own toilet.

Karma being Karma you’ll eventually camp somewhere where someone has used your idyllic camp spot as their personal crapper…serve you right!

Advantages of portable river toilets

A lot of river runners balk at having to use a portable toilet, but I’d much rather do my business in a portable toilet than I would an outhouse. Outhouses are nasty.

Typically they’re enclosed in a shack. In summer these get hot and no amount of disinfectant will kill the smell emanating from the crap filled hole.

When you first open the door, flies as big as bumble bees burst from the hole. When you squat you can feel the nasty buggers landing on you. They get so big they can hardly fly and end up crashing into your backside, rising up through your crotch area. I could go on and on, but you get the point.

With a portable toilet there isn’t any of this nastiness. There are no walls to keep the heat, smell and insects inside. You can set up anywhere you want.

We normally set up away from the main camp but somewhere that has a nice view of the river. There’s nothing better than sipping your morning coffee, watching the river burble while you do your business. Sure you’re pooping into a bucket, but you’re in the open air, surrounded by beauty.

Many people complain about having to carry the poop with them on the trip. They believe they’ll have to smell the crap all day because the toilet is strapped to their boat, but if you invest in a good river toilet you won’t smell a thing. They’re air tight and unless you don’t seal it correctly there is no offensive smell.

This is part one of a short series on the use of portable river toilets. In the next post I’ll talk about what to look for when buying a portable river toilet.

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