What is the best portable toilet on the market? There’s a lot of debate over that and it’s a popular topic of discussion. Since everybody goes, we all have some thoughts on this. Recently we had a chance to look into the Laveo™ toilet by DryFlush and came away with an interesting take on that device. I mentioned this toilet a few months ago when I reviewed the Imperial Outdoors XploreRV XR22, which has no black tank since it has the Laveo.
What is the Laveo?
The Laveo is a toilet that uses a semi-metallic liner that seals off each use of that liner when you press the flush button. It does not use or require any water and you can put just about anything into the toilet that you can think of.
Well, maybe not things like an elephant, but things within reason.
Unlike a traditional RV toilet that flows into the black tank, the Laveo is completely self-contained so you can flush all sorts of human-generated “content.” But you can also put any kind of toilet paper you choose, “flushable” wipes, feminine products and just about anything else in it.
Even things you’re not supposed to put into the toilet that some folks still do, until they’ve paid the plumbing bill. But that won’t happen with this.
Further, it does not feed a tank at all but rather creates individual bags of waste each time you flush the toilet, albeit out of one long, continuous, semi-metallic sleeve. Since it doesn’t feed a tank and doesn’t use any water whatsoever, this could be a great resource for a van or cargo trailer build, or just to replace an RV toilet.
Good for camping in cold places
It also makes a lot of sense for those who camp in very cold places. The only limitation is that the battery in this is rated to -20°F. But if you’re using this toilet at that temperature, you truly are freezing your buns off.
In fact, I know of one couple who has replaced their traditional RV toilet so that they no longer ever have to deal with the black tank in their RV. To that end, they then joined their gray and black tanks and effectively doubled their capacity by doing so. This is a couple who seriously loves boondocking.
How the Laveo works
Essentially there is a “pail” of sorts in the main body of the toilet into which you put a plastic bag that’s much like a garbage bag. From there you put in an insert that has the foil “sleeve.” That’s it, you’re done.
Every time you flush the toilet, the Laveo essentially twists the metallic “sleeve” which pinches off what you’ve created and seals the whole thing so that odors don’t permeate and share what you did with whomever you’re camping with. It then uses a vacuum motor to suck the sleeve against the walls of the toilet so that it’s ready to accept whatever political promises you’re going to create next.
Where does the stuff go?
The interesting thing about this toilet is how easy it is to process the things you’ve made so carefully with your own self. Essentially, when the bucket is full or you’ve gone through an entire sleeve of the inserts, you simply remove the seat, close the bag that first goes in the bucket and dispose of the contents.
They’re already encapsulated in the semi-metallic material and then that is enclosed in the garbage bag. You can legitimately throw one of these completed packages into the trash just as you would baby diapers or anything else of the sort.
Unless you’ve made some big mistake in this process, you’re not coming into contact with any of the contents of the toilet—it’s a very, very clean and easy process.
Of course, as with any mechanical device on this planet, there are limitations, the first of which is the ability for the “bucket” inside the toilet to accept additional “product.” DryFlush claims that each of the sleeve inserts has 15-17 flushes in it and that the bucket can accommodate this much content.
But if you’re particularly prolific about creating said content, your mileage may vary, so to speak.
Essentially, the only way to empty the bucket is to dump the entire insert. So if you’ve filled the whole thing but still have flushes left on the insert, that’s just the way the poop flows.
Having done as much research into this as possible by talking to folks who have these, it seems that creating more content than a package of sleeves can hold isn’t really something that happens—unless, as written, your ability to create content is greater or you’re just flushing more stuff than the average bear.
One of the chief competitors to something like this would be a composting toilet, only because it, too, doesn’t need a black tank, per se.
However, a composting toilet has two “wells” of sorts: one that’s full of a composting material like peat moss and the other just a container. The peat moss/composting portion is for the big job. In that you can put number two and specific types of toilet paper, although some users of composting toilets choose not to put any toilet paper in them at all.
There’s also a container for number one—so you effectively have to pee and poo in two separate containers. Further, the urine tank has to be emptied somewhere. While you can just water the neighbor’s lawn, it’s probably better to be a good human and dump the urine in a place that others might have less objection to. If you’re at a campground, for example, the obvious choice would be the camp bathroom.
A composting toilet is environmentally friendly
However, what’s good about a composting toilet is it essentially only creates compost. So it’s very, very environmentally friendly. I’ve known people who have removed the urine tank on their composting toilet altogether and simply plumbed the urine provision into their gray tanks. This is not really a bad thing, either.
Further, once you have your composting toilet, the ongoing cost is relatively minimal. So you’re doing good for the environment and also minimizing your expenses. Like the Laveo, a composting toilet doesn’t use any water. So, again, it’s great for boondocking.
But a composting toilet does have to be vented to the outside world, which also means it needs a power source. So, there are two things you have to accommodate if you choose to have a composting toilet in your RV.
Disadvantages of the Laveo toilet
There is one significant disadvantage to the Laveo toilet: the inserts. Since the toilet uses proprietary inserts to get its job done, you have to have these on hand if you plan to use the toilet. Without one of these inserts installed, the toilet is just a crappy chair. Well, that’s what it is anyway—but it loses its principal advantage.
Further, they’re not especially cheap. The metallic sleeve inserts are about $22 each and sold in packages of three so you’re spending $65 to get a three-pack of the inserts. Each insert is good for about 15-17 flushes, so you’re talking about $1.45 per flush. The toilet itself is currently $785 on the DryFlush website.
Now there are ways to minimize this. You can use this toilet only for the big jobs and then use other resources, such as an open window at 70 miles per hour, as a solution for the less solid of the bodily functions. Although, probably, that’s a bad idea.
Though, yes, I know someone who has done this. It proved to be a very bad idea.
I also know someone who used a Snapple bottle for number one. He also happened to have a piercing that actually caused this operation to become complicated and the bottle had to be forcibly removed after he was done with the process. This was not good. But we all did get one heck of a laugh…and cringe. [Note from editor: TMI, Tony. 😆 ]
Multiple steps in the Laveo process
Further, most toilets are rather simple affairs. But this one has multiple steps that it goes through to make the process less messy, so there are multiple potential failure points. I don’t know of anyone who has one of these who has experienced a failure, but I’m someone who appreciates things being as simple as possible, especially in this department.
There is a legitimate concern that the semi-metallic bags and the plastic that you’re throwing away aren’t biodegradable. You have to do what you feel is best in this end, but it is good to know.
Also, it has been recommended to me that men use this sitting down. Women, too, for that matter.
Does it stink?
First, I have to admit I do not own one of these—I just know folks who do. I already have a toilet in my RV, but I have been looking at these if I move forward on my cargo trailer build. I may also replace the toilet in my vintage trailer with one of these.
From everyone I know who has one, there is essentially no evidence of odor or discomfort in the entire process of using this toilet. You don’t touch waste, you don’t see waste—it just works and does so effectively.
If this matters to you, the toilet was developed by two friends who are both veterans of our military. DryFlush has been in business for about 10 years. Further, these toilets are made right here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. The toilets weigh about 27 pounds (empty) and are battery operated, although there’s an AC-powered version or a provision to tie the toilet into an available 12-volt DC power system if you choose. The rechargeable battery is $45, and the battery charger is $54.95 on the DryFlush website.
The toilet itself retails for around $785 which makes it less expensive than some of the more popular composting toilets. There are also optional mounting bases and even covers and such and the company even sells a tent so you can go in the woods, like Bigfoot.
The toilet has also been tested to 550 pounds.
If I do replace the toilet in my vintage trailer, which I have not been able to find parts for, then this is the way I’m going. This also makes sense if you happen to go where it’s very cold as this unit isn’t affected by any degree of cold where you’re willing to bare your backside. It’s also a good choice if you have visions of repurposing your black tank or simply don’t have one.