Do recreational vehicle owners need to buy an RV portable waste tank?
The answer depends on if your camper has waste tanks and how long you can camp without overflowing the RV tanks if you do.
New RVers may not understand what a portable waste tank is and why you would need one. To help you learn all you need to know, I put all the details in this guide to portable waste tanks for RVs, including the top-rated models.
Savvy campers prepare for any scenario once they hit the road, so stay here to see what a portable waste tank has to offer on your next RV journey!
Why You Need A Portable Waste Tank for RV
You need a portable waste tank when you RV because there are times you won’t have a full-hookup campsite, especially if you enjoy staying at state and national parks.
While access to water and electricity is more common at partial-hookup campgrounds, a sewer connection is typically lacking.
If you camp longer than a weekend, chances are your tanks will fill, and you’ll have to move your RV to empty them at the dump station.
Everyone who RVs knows how wonderful it feels to finally park your camper, set up your campsite, and relax. Having to close up and move your RV in the middle of a trip to drive a short distance to a dump station is extremely frustrating.
The answer to this dilemma is to empty your RV grey and black water tanks into a portable tank, or “honey wagon,” and bring that to the dump station instead.
You can pull the portable tank by hand, hitch it to the back of a vehicle, or use a golf cart or ATV.
Using a quality portable waste tank with great features isn’t complicated or time-consuming, so you can quickly get back to having fun.
Types of RV Portable Waste Tanks
There are two main types of portable waste tanks for RV use, but both come in various capacities, so you can tailor them to fit your needs.
Tanks with two wheels often have a smaller capacity, as manually lifting and dragging the tank to the dump station would be challenging otherwise.
Two-wheel RV portable waste tanks that are larger are best for people who plan to hitch it to the back of a vehicle to tow it to the dump station. If this is the case, ensure you purchase a model with a sturdy handle or hitch mount and bigger wheels to make the task easier and avoid spills.
Be aware that as you lift the two-wheel RV waste tank to transport it, all the weight of the contents will shift to the wheels. This fact means it’s harder to roll over grass or soft soil and works best on smooth pavement.
Four-wheel portable RV waste tanks distribute the weight of a full tank evenly, which means you can pull it with less stress as you don’t have to lift it off the ground. The stable design also makes it much easier to drag over the rougher terrain found at many campgrounds.
Even if you plan to hitch the tank to the back of a vehicle to dump it out at the station, having four wheels makes it much easier to pull the full tank from the back of your RV and get it into position.
Depending on the design, you may need to stand the two-wheel RV portable waste tank upright to empty it fully, whereas most four-wheel versions can drain while remaining flat to the ground.
While most expert RVers upgrade to a four-wheel portable tank to collect and dump the grey and black water, they are more expensive than the two-wheel versions, so keep that in mind if your camping budget is a concern.
Storing your portable tank is generally inside a basement compartment in Class A or Class C motorhomes, long travel trailers, and fifth wheels, or strapped to the rear ladder or bumper of smaller recreational vehicles.
The 5 Best Heated Water Tanks for RV Use
1. Barker 4-Wheeler Portable RV Waste Tote Tank
The Barker 4-Wheeler portable waste tank for RV is a fantastic choice for quality, features, and long-term performance.
This Barker tank has the largest capacity at 42-gallons, which allows you to empty many camper grey and black tanks, saving on trips to the dump station. The brand also makes tanks in 16, 25, and 32-gallon sizes.
I appreciate the pneumatic (rubber, air-filled) wheels that really grip and easily roll over all types of surfaces, but be aware the 16-gallon size swaps them out for hard rubber wheels instead.
- 3″ sewer valve for quick dumping
- Doesn’t require lifting to transport or dump
- Durable polyethylene, zinc-plated steel, and aluminum construction
- Full tank indicator to prevent spills
- Front tires swivel with hitch handle for tight maneuvering
On the downside, the Barker portable RV waste totes are expensive, but the quality ensures years of no-fuss use, which is worth the investment.
2. Camco Rhino 2-Wheel Heavy Duty RV Waste Tank
The Camco Rhino Heavy Duty RV Waste Tank is another top choice for RVers as the HDPE polyethylene molded tank can withstand years of use, travel bumps, and exposure to the elements.
The Camco Rhino portable waste tanks for RV come in gallon capacities of 15, 21, 28 (4-wheel), and 36 2- and 4-wheel versions, so you can easily find the perfect size.
I love how the value of this Camco Rhino tote tank increases with the inclusion of all types of accessories such as the rugged detachable handle, tank rinser, ladder hook, sewer hose adapters, and no-flat wheels.
- UV stabilized polyethylene tank to prevent degradation
- Bearings in the large wheels for smooth movement
- Includes high-strength, removable steel tow adapter
- Climate-control in stalls keep horses calm and cool
- Blow-molded tank reduces leaks
While RVers like the more affordable pricing of the Camco tanks, the 21-gallon tank in this review is best for smaller recreational vehicles or shorter vacations. Using it for longer campground stays or larger RVs will require two or more trips to the dump station to empty the grey and black waste tanks fully.
3. Thetford SmartTote2 LX 4 Wheels Portable Sewer Tote 40518
The SmartTote2 LX 27-Gallon Portable Tote by Thetford has ample capacity to handle boondock or non-full-hookup camping trips for many mid-to smaller recreational vehicles.
The blow-molded polypropylene tank and four heavy-duty rubber wheels allow leak-free and smooth tote usage season after season, making Thetford a reliable choice. The company makes portable RV waste totes in 18 and 35-gallon sizes as well.
I love the extendable wide plastic front handle for comfortable manual pulling or hitching to a tow vehicle. Also, including all the hoses and adapters in onboard storage compartments is super convenient and prevents losing essential components.
- AutoStop level gauge to prevent overfills
- Large mouth and vent port for quick disposal of liquid
- Easy to clean out the interior after use
- Front wheels turn with handle for easy transport
- Large wheel diameter covers all terrain easily
On the downside, you’ll need to creep to the dump station if you use a motorized tow vehicle, as this tank has a 5 MPH max speed rating. The Camco is also pricier than other similar-size models from other brands.
4. Barker 22 Gallon Tote Tank 2-Wheel
The Barker 2-Wheel 22 Gallon Tote Tank makes the list for its more affordable pricing, especially if you only need a smaller-capacity tank for short RV trips.
The Barker brand offers super-reliable and rugged performance, and the two extra-large, heavy-duty wheels make moving the tank when full surprisingly easy. In addition, the tank is only 16 pounds when empty, so you don’t have to worry about lugging around extra weight on travel days.
I like that the tank integrates standard RV sewer hose bayonet fittings into the design for fast and tight hookups. I also like that they offer 2-wheel tanks in 10, 15, and 30-gallon sizes as well.
- Durable blow-molded polyethylene and zinc-plated steel construction
- Tow bracket and 5-foot sewer hose included
- Large tires roll smoothly over all terrain
- Empties quickly and remains stable in the upright position
- No assembly required for instant use
On the downside, the lack of front tires makes this tank harder on the back to lift and pull, and the axle for the tires can pop out of the groove if you try to tow the tank at speeds over 5 MPH.
5. Tote-N-Stor 4-Wheel 20129 38-Gallon Portable Waste Tank
The Tote-N-Store 20129 Portable Waste Tank is an ideal size for most RVing needs when a sewer connection isn’t available at your campsite.
The Tote-N-Stor tank design is probably the best for ease of use in storing the low-profile shape and having all the hoses and adapters you need in the handy onboard compartments. The model comes in 18 and 25-gallon capacity options as well.
I can verify their claim of having a vent system that allows you to fill and empty the tank faster than any other portable RV waste tank brand. I also find moving the tank when full a breeze with the four-wheel design.
- Translucent tube lets you monitor fill status
- Allows horizontal moving and dumping for less strain
- Storage for all accessories keeps things tidy
- Comes fully assembled with all adapters for instant use
- Longer built-in towing handle is easier to steer and attach to hitch
On the downside, the front wheels of the Tote-N-Stor work best on harder surfaces as the thinner width makes them prone to sinking into softer soil.
What Size Portable RV Waste Tank Do I Need?
You may wonder what size portable waste tank you should buy for your RV, and the answer is it depends on how you plan to use it.
Think about the size and how often you need to empty your black and grey waste tanks with normal usage when you RV camp.
If you have a smaller recreational vehicle with small waste tanks, it’s always best to buy a portable honey wagon that can hold all of the contents of your black and grey water tanks.
Making one visit to the dump station with a portable tank is much faster and less messy than if you need to make two or more trips.
Suppose you only need to use a portable tank sporadically and don’t mind the hassle of multiple trips to the dump station while camping. In that case, a smaller-capacity tank is much lighter and compact to store during travel days and easier to lift and maneuver when it’s full.
If you never plan to camp at locations that don’t offer sewer connections, you can choose to go without a portable RV waste tank entirely. You can also choose to pull out your camper when necessary and take it to the dump station during camping trips or conserve water usage and wait until your trip is over to empty the tanks.
Important Portable RV Waste Tank Features
Materials and Construction of the RV Portable Waste Tank
Most RV portable waste tanks use polypropylene or polyethylene for the main holding tank, with plastic, rubber, and metal for the wheels, fittings, and other attachments.
You want thick, seamless plastic on the tank to avoid leaks and damage from exposure to the elements. Polyethylene material is more rigid but is also a bit heavier than a polyethylene tank of the same size.
Polyethylene has more resistance to UV rays that can deteriorate the plastic, which is another reason to look for this material in the manufacture of a portable tank.
You want tires to have a wide diameter so that they can roll easier over all types of surfaces. A pneumatic tire has more give and grip, so it moves smoother, but it can deflate and cause even more headaches.
Hard-rubber tires are much better than hard-plastic tires, so inspect the material closely.
Axles that pop into a groove underneath the tank should hold securely.
RV Portable Waste Tank Venting and Flushing Capability
All waste tanks will need a vent to allow proper airflow to either fill or empty the tank.
Look for a large vent opening for the fastest fills and dumps and a full-size (3 1/2″) sewer hose connection to avoid the hassle of using adapters to fill or empty the tank.
Look for a flush valve, which allows you to use a garden hose to rinse out the interior of the tank to remove all waste and debris, so the tank doesn’t smell or clog.
Without a flush valve, you’ll need to use the primary sewer hose connection to rinse the tank, creating more work to clean it out.
RV Portable Waste Tank Components and Onboard Storage
A portable waste tank for recreational vehicles that comes as a complete kit is a great value and avoids having to buy all the adapters and fittings you need to fill and dump the tank while camping.
A portable RV waste tote kit that comes with onboard storage of all the components is even better, as it allows you to keep all the parts together for less chance of losing them.
How Often Should I Sanitize My RV Portable Waste Tank?
Keeping your portable RV waste tank clean should be a top priority.
It would be best if you sanitized the tank, along with all your RV sewer hoses and adapters, after each RV trip.
The best way to kill all the germs inside the tank is to mix up one part of bleach with 20 parts of water in a ratio that will fill your portable waste tote completely.
Let the bleach mixture sit overnight or for a minimum of four hours to ensure total sanitation.
If you find your tank has a lingering foul odor, fill the tank a second time and use a chemical RV waste tank treatment which should eliminate the issue.
When your sanitation process is complete, make sure you drain the liquid into a designated sewer line or dump station. Leave the vent and fill valves open to let the interior dry out before shutting them and storing the tank for future use.
Favorite RV Waste Tank Treatments (Video)
An RV portable waste tank is a handy product that allows you to camp just about anywhere and will enable you to use your RV sink, toilet, and shower like normal when no sewer hookup is available.
I hope you use the guide to ensure you are getting the right size, features, and quality of portable waste tank you need, and use the reviews to narrow down the best choice of brand and model.
When you want to explore and enjoy campgrounds that don’t offer full hookups, an RV portable waste tank is the solution for comfortable camping freedom!
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