Carplife Bivvy Loo Review
Simplicity is often the best option, especially when the choice involves portable camping toilets. Read on to learn more about the Carplife Bivvy Loo….
Why we like the Carplife Bivvy Loo: compact; stable; easy to clean; simples!
It hopefully goes without saying that we are all avid outdoor enthusiasts at Camping Secrets, and as such the lure of the open countryside is a strong force in each of us. However, as a family unit we generally choose not to camp out in the wilds but instead make our base of activities the humble UK campsite. This applies whether we are in one of our tents, our parent’s caravan or our own campervan. After giving it some thought as to why this might be the case, I’ve come to the conclusion that the main reason is………. (wait for it)…… toilets.
Let me explain – our Mercedes Marco Polo campervan is only small and doesn’t have an on-board loo or shower, and tents don’t generally come supplied with an in-built WC. Having a toilet-block on-hand, especially with a young child in tow has always felt like a non-negotiable requirement.
It could also be said that the loos at most UK campsites are far more comfortable than the thin-walled, cramped-for-space options you get in caravans and motorhomes. These are vehicles which you invariably share with other people. people who may be sat only a few feet away, separated by a panel of fibreglass. Perhaps it’s just me, but I hate the idea of anyone being able to hear my exertions, and sometimes wish I could automatically block everyone’s ears with a Godlike superpower. Sadly my powers haven’t yet been activated!
One option that has gradually sunk into our collective family consciousness to combat this reliance on standard campsites is the idea of the portable toilet. If we could find a decent example of a portaloo, we could start to explore smaller, wilder campsites which might have an Elsan point but no actual toilet block. Living without a shower is much easier than living without a toilet, especially for shorter stays of a few nights. There are some beautiful campsite gems in farmer’s fields, hidden away off the beaten track which my motorhome-owning buddies brag about visiting but to which we haven’t been able to access. That is until now. Step forward the Carplife Bivvy Loo.
Originally designed for anglers who like to hole up by a lake with rod in hand, the Carplife Bivvy loo operates on a very simple concept that is attractive to me (well as attractive as toilet operation can get!) – no contact of waste material with the actual loo (it goes into a disposable liner bag), and no onboard storage of said material – the bag can get disposed of immediately so there are no smells and odours near your patch at the campsite. Set up, do your business, dispose of it and move on with your day. Perfect!
So let’s see what’s involved with the Carplife Bivvy Loo.
Carplife Bivvy Loo - Design and Operation
The Carplife Bivvy Loo packed comes in a well made and discreet green carry case which measures only 41 x 35 x 8 cm. The packed-away toilet is much thinner than you might expect and extremely easy to stow away in a car or campervan boot. Weight is a solid 2.9kg which lends a feel of substance and solidity to it – fairly useful properties for a loo – you don’t want it to blow away in the wind! In retrospect, that probably wasn’t the right phrase to use…
On unzipping the case, the folded bivvy loo is available in all it’s glory. It consists of a white oval-shaped solid plastic toilet seat with a green nylon fabric layer zipped into the central aperture. The same fabric is used on the outside of the seat perimeter to connect to a solid plastic base at the bottom of the toilet. So far so good, but it wasn’t immediately clear to me how to turn this into a useable loo!
With a bit of investigation, it soon became clear how to set it up correctly. The toilet seat and the plastic base are extended outwards from each other in a similar way to a concertina. If the central fabric section is unzipped, then inside four decent-quality metal hinges can be found which can be simply snapped into a rigid open position in order to force the toilet into cylindrical and solid unit.
Once erected, the toilet becomes exceedingly strong and stable – in fact I may even christen it “Theresa May” in honour of the ex-PM’s infamous election campaign slogan in 2017. In the case of the Carplife however, it really lives up to the description with an ability to carry at least 23 stone in weight (>146 kg). I found I could stand on the toilet with no problems.
How to use the Carplife Bivvy Loo
The only way to use the Carplife toilet is to use some form of liner bag to capture the waste. The bag will be opened to reside mainly inside the toilet, with the outer part of the bag placed over the seat of the Carplife. Critically this means that when you sit down on the seat, no part of your body or waste material will actually touch the toilet, keeping it completely clean and free from any potential mess.
In terms of which bags to use, the bivvy loo comes complete with a starter pack of 12 biodegradable liner bags which contain a special powder to soak up the waste and convert it into a non-hazardous gel like form. These are then safe to tie up and dispose of in standard refuse bins. The liner bags use a fairly thick material which is unlikely to split thank goodness. Carplife also supply 12 hygienic biodegradable wipes to use, and it all seems to be of a very high standard of cleanliness and quality. We really recommend this pack of accessories to use.
Other Options to the Carplife Bivvy Loo
We have tested a range of other portable camping toilets and toilet tents which you can read about in our roundup article. These toilets range from full on flushing loos to a folding spade to dig a hole in the ground.
The flushing loos look great on paper but you always have to bear in mind that they require filling, emptying and cleaning and this is never a fun business to partake in with risk of splashes etc. In addition, they need a supply of pink/blue chemicals to be kept functioning cleanly and take up much more space than something like the Carplife. Ultimately it comes down to personal preference, but we think the ‘one bag per visit’ approach of the Carplife is the best way forward for our future camping adventures.
Carplife Bivvy Loo - Conclusions
The Carplife Bivvy Loo takes the “less is more” approach to the perennial question of the best camping toilet choice. As long as you’re prepared to use one disposable liner bag per visit then we feel it provides a very clean and hygienic method of completing one of life’s essential processes.
While it may be true that keeping stocked up on the liners and wipes adds to the running costs, this is true for any camping toilet – the flushable Thetfords of this world still require the pink/blue liquid and loo roll to be replenished over time.
Overall, this is a classy choice which we can thoroughly recommend for campers, mountainbikers or anglers who need to get out in the wilds with a degree of confidence that they won’t get themselves awkwardly caught short!
The Carplife Bivvy Loo is a well-built and extremely compact portable toilet which can either be kept for emergency use only in a car or campervan, or used as a full-on enabler for wild camping explorations. We were impressed with it and hope that it can expand our camping horizons. Recommended!