If you want the best marine toilet, then you are at the right place. You cannot afford to buy the wrong marine toilet and getting the best one is very important. No one wants a malfunctioning lavatory while they are out on the open water.
You should need a marine toilet that is odorless, eco-friendly and quiet, however, there are many types of boat toilets out there which purport to be all that and more.
We have gone through the value of having a head on your boat and thus we have come together with this guide on how to get the best marine toilet for your next sea voyage.
Top Electric Marine Toilet or Heads Reviews
Jabsco Marine Electric Toilet Household Size
The Jabsco model 37010-1090 leaves a relatively small (14-5/8″ tall and 14-5/8″ wide) footprint, an important consideration for a vessel with limited space. After all, you want to make room for all the other cool stuff you need to have onboard.
It’s pretty good looking, with a shiny china bowl and a sturdy enamel-coated wooden seat and cover. This little demon runs on 12-volt DC power and has a strong macerator and raw water flushability.
This means you will be able to use seawater to flush your john, but you will have to take care – especially in warmer climes – to keep your head from smelling like an old-fashioned outhouse. Seawater contains bacteria that can hang out in the lower parts of the hose structure and really stink up your boat.
Using PVC instead of hose can help contain the odor, but it’s not as easy to work with, especially in tight spaces. In the category of the good news, seawater flushing helps to conserve your fresh water on long voyages.
Although you can install this model either above or below the waterline, the above-waterline installation is the most foolproof.
The product comes with detailed instructions, you should consider hiring a professional to install any below-waterline toilet to insure against possible flooding. Nothing spoils a boat party like an overflowing toilet.
Five Oceans Electric Marine Toilet
While not considered to be one of the top name brands in the marine head business, this Five Oceans model very much resembles a small version of a home toilet. The small-size seat and vitreous china bowl are pretty streamlined and with the lid down you’d think you were in your own landlubber bathroom.
The 12-volt DC motor is push-button operated and both macerates waste and rinses the bowl with a self-priming action. The flushing action is a little on the noisy side but given the number of features that are the same as its more expensive cousins, it is a bargain to be considered.
Here’s a perk: The cabinet-style design surrounding the toilet base makes for easy cleaning and a more attractive look. It’s also 15″ tall at the bowl, with the seat adding another inch or so, making it more comfy for taller sailors. The small bowl is the most economical but if you need a little more room for your caboose, Five Oceans also makes a medium and large version of this same marine throne.
Best Manual marine toilet or Heads Reviews
Jabsco Manual Full Size
As the largest manufacturer of marine toilets for small vessels, Jabsco has a good reputation for quality whether you choose an electric or manual head. The 29090-3000 manual with a compact bowl is everything that you would expect from a manual toilet and with a couple of bonuses.
To begin with, there is a twist-and-lock feature on the pump handle and the pump housing is positioned at an angle, making it easier to get a long stroke. If you are doing your own work, you’ll appreciate the light weight of the unit, despite the enameled wooden seat.
The only downside is that the pump apparatus is kind of bulky so whether you put it on the left or right you’ll have to carefully think out the rest of the space. All in all, this is a workhorse of a marine toilet that will last for years if treated with all the care and respect a good head deserves.
Johnson Pumps Aqua T Manual
Marine toilets come in many shapes and sizes and if your boating budget runs more to spendy fishing gear than a fancy toilet, you can get a really good manual pump head for a fraction of the price of a high-end commode. From Johnson, the AquaT 80-47229-01 is extremely affordable.
The pump can be put on either side so lefties don’t have to put up with the old “reach across.” It’s not exactly a design statement in the looks department, but it has a real wooden seat (enamel coated) and a standard vitreous china bowl.
This model is very quiet and the handle is shaped in such away to make it easier than most manuals to use the self-priming pump. Although it’s perfectly fine with raw water, the low water usage (2 – 2.5 L per flush) makes it viable for those who prefer fresh water for short trips or fancy guests.
Automatic backflow protection should give you a little extra peace of mind, not to mention helping keep your head from smelling like, well, a toilet.
Best Portable Marine toilet or Heads Reviews
Camco 41541 Portable Toilet – 5.3 gallon
The benefits of a portable toilet start with the most obvious: the low price. Also, the modern port-a-potty is not the nightmare it once was. To begin with, the Camco 41541 is about the same height as a regular toilet.
Molded plastic construction and tight seals are what make the Camco a good choice for a boat. Not until you undo the side latches will the 5.3-gallon holding tank even be accessible and users have said it doesn’t even leak when tipped over.
Make no mistake, you still have to go empty the tank and you’re going to need some deodorizer, but at least you won’t be fouling the waters. The smaller 41531 Camco 2.6- gallon toilet is the same in form and function as the larger 41541 version but you’ll be nearly on the ground when you sit. And although the design is not all that bad looking, the Camco folks might think about offering their portables in some cool colors.
Marine Porta Potti Excelvan 5 Gallon 20L Flush Boat, Car, Camping Marine Portable Toilet
This clean water toilet offers up to 50 flushes from its five-gallon tank. It sprays the inside of the bowl with water from two jets to help keep the toilet clean.
The push-button flush makes it a little more convenient, but there isn’t much of a difference between this and the other portable toilets but it is generally sold at a significantly lower price and can be found in the camping sections of big box stores. Unlike most portables that have a 300-pound weight limit, the Excelvan version boasts a heavy-duty 440-pound weight limit.
The company recommends their product as a something to take on a hike, but it’s hard to figure out how you would carry it. If they were to come up with a carrying case, they would leave the competition out in the wilderness.
Best Composting marine toilet or Heads Reviews
Composting marine toilets are a wonderful solution to safe and odorless heads but you’d better be prepared to shell out some bucks – almost double that of a good electric head. The process is just about like using compost in your garden.
The more stuff you throw on the pile, the more it decomposes and it doesn’t even smell bad. However, don’t be tempted to throw your vegetable scraps in the toilet as it will slow down the decomp process. You simply toss in a little peat moss and let Mother Nature do her stuff.
Just empty the pee bottle regularly and you shouldn’t detect anything more than a slight earthy smell. The urine and solids are automatically separated when the trap door is down, so you don’t really have to do anything to help the process along.
At 20 inches tall and 19 inches at its widest point, the Nature’s Head is rather large but when you go to empty it all you have is a compact little trash can with a handle.
Actually, they’ve done a pretty good job making this look like a regular toilet with some weird attachments. Gentlemen, please be advised that the toilet seat cannot be raised. Please aim carefully.
Composting Toilet: Sun-Mar Dry Self Containing
Sun-Mar makes a variety of compost toilets of the three-chamber variety but only one is truly compact enough for a boat unless you’ve got a stateroom large enough for tango lessons.
The Sun-Mar Mobile version features electric fans and drying heaters as well as a tumbling chamber and requires the drains to be connected to a separate container or small holding tank for excess liquid.
While this method does provide for odor-free composting and eliminates the need for chemicals, the unit is very expensive (thousands instead of hundreds of dollars) and is best installed by professionals.
It is not an attractive piece of furniture, but it does have a cute little foldout footrest so when you sit down your feet aren’t dangling above the floor like a toddler.
The different types of boat toilet or marine toilet Heads
There are a number of types of marine toilet that you can opt for depending on your needs, budget and preference.
Best electric boat toilet or marine toilet
First up is the popular electrical marine toilet. There is a wide range of products available in this category, the prevailing difference being the type of pump used.
The entry level electric boat toilet (and therefore the cheapest) generally uses pumps that feature a combined chopper and impeller. The problem with these is that they are very noisy to operate, (an issue that can cause embarrassment for guests).
Because of the inbuilt electric pump system these toilets can be installed above or below the waterline.
Other advantages include the convenience of the electric operation, (you do not need to manually pump to flush the toilet) and the fact they are so simple to use.
Furthermore, if the toilet includes a macerator there is less chance of refuse clogging the lines?
From a negative perspective, electric marine toilets cost more and are more difficult to install.
Best Manual boat toilet or marine toilet
Most manual head marine toilets utilize a hand or foot pump system to dispose of the waste.
The great thing about manual toilets is the fact they are cheap, relatively easy to install, (no need for power lines) and reliable.
They generally give off more odors however, as the manual pump flushing system clears less efficiently than the electric models.
Best Portable boat toilet or marine toilet
It could be that you’re on the lookout for the best marine portable toilet.
There are a few benefits to the ‘porta potty’. The number one reason to opt for a portable toilet for your boat is affordability and convenience.
They do not need to be permanently installed as the waste is simply collected in an inbuilt tank beneath the unit. You can empty this waste at any sewage collection point once you have moored.
You do have to consider the fact that fresh water (10 or 20 liters) has to be added for flushing, (and obviously needs to be refilled as often as required). You also have to carry the necessary chemicals onboard.
Best Composting boat toilet or marine toilet
Finally there is the composting toilet. This is becoming a very popular choice for boat owners (and beyond as they suit any type of mobile convenience application).
So what goes in to making the best composting toilet for boats? Odorless operation and ecological friendliness are the two biggest considerations.
Boat owner’s love the fact composting toilets very rarely smell. There is no need for hazardous chemicals and they do not cause pollution.
This type of toilet uses two receptacles, (one for number one, and the other for number twos).
The composting toilet works by allowing oxygen to dry and compost the waste. Peat moss or sawdust is added to the waste to speed up the decomposition as well as cover any smells.
The whole system is very reliable and needs little maintenance. They are also the best waterless toilet as there is no need for water and the waste can be safely disposed of.
An issue that may put people off the composting marine toilet is the fact they are taller than other types. In fact, if space is limited you may not be able to fit one into your boat.
They are also more expensive to buy.
Best Marine Toilet Buyers Guide and tips
Aside from price, there are several other factors to consider when choosing a marine toilet. Despite what anyone says, size is really important. So is style and environmental impact. Think about your budget first, and then move on to your other considerations.
The least expensive version of an on-board toilet is the basic port-a-potty. It’s rather the same as camping gear and will do for a day trip but it really isn’t something that you consider for a long-term use on your vessel.
Why? To begin with, although you can get a pretty good unit for about a hundred bucks, you will be dealing with a tank you are going to have to take ashore to empty, or find a marine dump station.
If you are just an occasional boater, you may be able to make do with this plastic port-a-potty, sort of like an indoor outhouse. Just make sure that you empty and disinfect the unit before you leave or you will return to a really stinky boat.
As long as you aren’t dumping your waste into the body of water upon which you have chosen to float your boat, your marine toilet is already okay for the environment. That said, here are the best options for on-board eco-friendly heads:
Macerator pump toilets grind up the solid waste and flush it along with liquids into the holding tank. The size of the tank depends upon the head that you choose but you can both store more waste and make the whole pumping out business more tolerable because of the lack of solid waste.
Compost toilets, hands down, are the most eco-friendly. If you even occasionally drop your whole paycheck on organic groceries, you will easily accept the fact that a top-of-the-line version of this “dry toilet” will not be cheap.
Not only is it fine for the environment, it doesn’t build up the smell that haunts traditional marine heads. And depending upon your home and boat situation, you might even use the resulting compost
Electric toilets are the quietest in the group and they tend to be among the most expensive of the standard variety marine heads. They can be priced from around $500 to three times that amount.
As an added bonus, many of the high-end electric toilet manufacturers have come up with some attractive designs – from the china bowl to the wooden seat – that make your seagoing head more like home.
The Most Odor Free
Compost toilets win in non-stinky category as well. This latest trend in marine heads uses the same method as the on-land version favored by “tiny house” enthusiasts, RV travelers, and is a long-time standby for those in situations where there is no water supply or sewer system.
They are becoming more common in national parks and roadside facilities around the world and are almost standard in rural vacation homes in Finland and Sweden.
The advantage is both the lack of odor and the fact that the resulting compost can be used as fertilizer for your home garden or perhaps that rooftop garden on your houseboat.
Vacuum flush toilets are on the top shelf of electric toilets but can also be found in a select number of manual heads.
The flush works on the principle of negative air pressure in the lines, just like in an airline bathroom. Since vacuum-flush systems use on-board fresh water (only 2 pints per flush), the system is cleaner and free of bacteria, cutting down the opportunity for odors to develop.
Along with price and style, make sure that you measure your space carefully before purchasing your marine toilet.
Also, if you’re not really the handy type, you might consider having a professional install your toilet, just to be on the safe side. There’s nothing that quite spoils a beautiful outing on your boat than a malfunctioning toilet. It’s even worse if you have nobody to blame but yourself.