The Luggable Loo is the Best Piece of Camping Gear I bought all Year

Can one of the best pieces of camping gear also be one of the simplest and least expensive? The Luggable Loo says yes.
Photo: Matt Miller

Is camping one of those things that gets better as you get older? Judging by the amount of people who exclaim “I’m too old for this,” I can’t say for sure. Some are convinced that as they age, their bodies just won’t handle the cold, hard ground the same way it used to. I’ll have to wait and see, but in my mid-30s, I enjoy it as much as I did in my mid-20s, and in my youth.

In my 20s, I backcountry camped as a way to save money on mountain bike trips, an already costly endeavor. Living in the West, there are so many tracts of land available to us that make it possible to camp off-grid for weeks at a time. Not only is it free, the cherry on top is snagging a spot in a beautiful place and sleeping below an alpine peak or on the rim of a canyon.

The views, the solitary experience of backcountry camping, and challenge of being self sustainable have often kept me pitching tents time and time again instead of slapping cash down for a hotel room. And though some might argue the physical impacts of tent camping get worse as you age, most are generally able to attain better gear than when they were younger, being more financially stable and all.

There’s one piece of gear I bought this year though that quickly became my favorite. It costs only $26 ($43 with waste bags) and I could have and should have bought it long ago.

It’s simple really. The Reliance Luggable Loo is a heavy-duty five gallon bucket with a rope and a toilet seat. Throw some Reliance Double Doodie Waste Bags with Bio-Gel in there, and you’ve got a crapper that’s almost as easy to carry around as the crap inside of you. I found this at my local REI just ahead of camping season.

The toilet seat and cover snap on and off the bucket and the bottom of the bucket has a handle for…pouring. I haven’t found pouring necessary yet.

The benefits of the Luggable Loo are twofold in my opinion. First, it is now evident that humans shouldn’t be leaving their crap in wild places. PACT Outdoors has a blog about burying versus packing out poop and in most cases the answer is to pack it out.

“Where you are ‘going’ is the most important factor in determining whether you should bury or pack out.”

In forests, there tends to be more going on in the soil, which helps break waste down, though it depends on how dry it is. It’s also important to know you’re a reasonable distance away from water sources.

Photo: Hannah Morvay

Places like the dry desert or the high alpine don’t have the same elements in its soil to break down waste. Recently, more wild areas have had to resort to permitted visitation due to excess garbage and human waste left in the area.

Aside from being a good steward though and packing out your own waste, I’d argue that sitting on a toilet-height bucket is more comfortable than pulling your pants down to your ankles, leaning against a tree, and trying not to crap in your underwear.

The first time I used the Luggable Loo, I went on an alpine camping trip well above treeline. I was excited to try it out.

I pulled the Loo out of the back of my truck, popped the lid off, opened a waste bag with the grainy Bio-Gel mixture and shook it open, wrapping it around the base of the bucket.

These bags hold up to 12lbs of waste, according to Reliance and have a heavy duty outer bag with a leak-proof double zip-lock and then a bag inside which can be rolled up before sealing.

I carried the bucket to a spot behind some bushes and sat down for a view of the surrounding mountains. Best. Poo. Ever.

This summer, the Loo strongly held the contents of three adults on a one night trip, and two adults on a two night trip. At the end of both trips, we were ready for a new bag.

The Bio-Gel does a great job at soaking up unpleasant scents and the odor is slightly reminiscent of a Porta Potty, but instead of being stuck in a stuffy, plastic-walled closet, you can enjoy your movement under some trees or near an overlook. The gel is also what makes it possible to properly dispose sealed bags in a garbage can back home.

You could buy the seat top and hook it onto a Home Depot bucket with the uncomfortable metal and plastic handle, but at $18 for the lid alone, it makes more sense to get the Reliance bucket with a sturdy rope.

Then there’s the option of buying the foldable toilet which also uses the Double Doodie bags. It’s more compact than the Luggable Loo, but it’s also nice to have a dedicated spot to stow your used waste bag when you’re leaving the campsite instead of throwing it somewhere in the back of the car — leak-proof bag or not.

The Double Doodies are easy to wrap up and seal without contaminating your fingers. I sealed up the bag, put it in the bucket, and the scent has been very light and nearly unnoticeable driving out of campsites.

Bottom line

Photo: Hannah Morvay

There are simple tricks to make camping better: a better sleeping bag, better food, and not having to awkwardly balance over a tree stump to relieve yourself. The Luggable Loo is one of the simplest pieces of gear I’ve bought in years, but considering it makes being human easier and keeps wild places cleaner, it’s my new favorite.

  • Price: $21.95 for the bucket and seat, $17.95 for six bags and Bio-Gel.
  • Buy from REI.