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Finding The Best RV Portable Waste Tank: All You Need To Know

(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)

Marshall Headshot

By Marshall Wendler

Published: March 20, 2017

Last Updated: October 20, 2021

If you camp a lot and find yourself staying for an extended amount of time in a campsite without a sewer connection, an RV portable waste tank might be the solution for you.

You see, a portable waste tank allows you to dump your camper waste tanks without moving your entire trailer or motorhome.

Is a portable waste tank something that you need? If so, how do you choose which one is best for your setup, and how do you use it properly?

Here you'll learn all about portable RV waste tanks, including the two brands we feel are the best.

Camco Rhino 2 wheel tank

What is the best portable RV holding tank?

Either of the two following brands makes the best portable RV holding tank:

  1. Camco Rhino Tote Tank
  2. Barker Tote Along

We give a slight edge to the Camco portable sewage tank. It has a couple of unique features that you don't get with the Barker. However, both are great options.

These two brands of portable waste tank for campers offer:

  • The best combination of quality materials
  • Heavy-duty construction
  •  Features you need in an RV waste tote
  • An overwhelmingly positive experience by RV owners

Both Camco and Barker make 2-wheeled and 4-wheeled versions of their RV portable waste tanks.

See the video below for a comparison between the 4-wheeled version of the Camco and the 4-wheeled Barker tanks.

Comparing 4-Wheeled Camco to 4-Wheeled Barker

Why Only Two Brands?

For years we recommended the Barker Tote Along as our top pick for portable RV tanks with another brand as a "well if you want to save a couple of bucks" option. But it wasn't one that we highly recommended.

Then Camco came out with their Rhino Tote Tanks. They redefined what the best portable waste tanks offer.

Sure, there are other brands out there. But this is a case of you get what you pay for.

Is it worth saving JUST a few bucks when you can make your life a bit easier by buying the best portable RV waste tank available?

Your future self will thank you for choosing the better quality product.

Portable RV Waste Tank Reviews

Below are summaries of the Camco and Barker RV waste tote reviews. Click through for complete, in-depth reviews.

When it comes to the best RV portable waste tank, we give the nod to the Camco Rhino. However, the Barker is also a fine choice.

They are priced similarly, so cost shouldn't sway you one way or the other.

Overall Best Portable Waste Tank

Camco Rhino Tote Tank

Camco Rhino 2 wheel tank


  • Integrated ladder hook and molded-in hold down strap grooves
  • High-quality accessory kit includes everything you need to fill and empty your Rhino septic tank
  • Smooth interior contoured towards the drain holes to allow for easy draining
  • Integrated tank rinser with multi-directional spray and backflow prevention valve
  • No-flat tires don't require you to maintain tire pressure
  • Ergonomic, durable handle
  • Made in the USA


  • Side gate dump valve only on 28 and 36-gallon models
  • 15 and 21-gallon sizes require you to lift the tank vertically to dump (doesn't come with a side-mounted 3-inch waste outlet gate valve)
  • Plastic wheels are fairly skinny, so not the greatest for gravel or dirt surfaces
  • Slightly taller than the Barker tote tank which means there may be a clearance issue on RVs with lower sewage drain pipes
  • Some assembly required

The Camco Rhino portable waste tank offers an unbeatable combination of functionality and durability. It comes with all the accessories you need. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better portable tank than the Rhino.

There is one reason why the Camco tank might not be the best choice for you. It is slightly taller than the Barker Tote-Along, which can be an issue if your RV wastewater drain pipe doesn't have much ground clearance.

Choose Capacity & 2 or 4 Wheels

Honorable Mention Portable RV Waste Tank

Barker Tote-Along

Barker 42 gallon tote tank


  • Able to move and dump while horizontal
  • Pneumatic (air-filled) wheels for all-terrain use
  • Side-mounted 3-inch sewer gate valve for dumping (all capacities)
  • Slightly less tall (shorter) than the Camco Rhino, which allows access to lower RVs
  • A little less expensive than the Camco Rhino
  • Comes completely assembled
  • Full tank indicator
  • Made in the USA


  • No integrated tank rinser
  • Included full tank indicator doesn't vent, which means the tank won't vent when using it
  • No ladder mount hook or tie-down strap grooves
  • The accessory kit is lacking

No one is going to fault you if you choose a Barker tote tank over the Camco Rhino. The Barker was our #1 choice before the Camco became available. The Barker is still a solid choice and offers a couple of advantages over the Camco.

If you want air-filled tires or need a slightly overall lower tank, then the Barker is the right choice for you.

4-Wheel (Choose Your Size)

2-Wheel (Choose Your Size)

What Is An RV Portable Waste Tank?

A portable waste tank (also called RV tote tanks) allows you to empty your camper's waste holding tanks without having to move your entire rig.

For example, you are camping at a state park that doesn't have sewer hookups at each site. Instead, it has a central dump station where RV wastewater is 'deposited.'

You booked a two-week stay here, but there is no way that your RV holding tanks are going to last for two weeks. Before you know it, you have a full waste tank.

Camco Rhino 4 wheel tank

Because there is no way to dump the tanks at your campsite, the only alternative is to get your RV ready to travel and move it to the dump station. Then come back and set up camp again.

Argh! What a pain in the butt.

If you had a portable waste holding tank, you wouldn't have to move your rig. Instead, you use your RV portable holding tank to transport the waste from your rig to the dump station.

It's an easy way to empty camper tanks without moving your rig at all!

Are Portable Dump Tanks Necessary?

An RV portable dump tank isn't necessary for most people. Still, it is a convenient tool that makes certain aspects of the RV lifestyle easier in some circumstances.

After almost seven years of full-time RV living (most of it boondocking without any utility connections), I've never thought I should buy a portable RV sewer tank.

I camp alone in my rig, have decent-sized holding tanks, and make a very conscious effort to conserve water, including taking short, infrequent showers.

So for someone like me, an auxiliary tank is not necessary. However, there are undoubtedly many, many RV owners that would benefit from having a camper portable black water tank.

Here are some scenarios where a portable tank could be of benefit, and others where it doesn't make sense:

  • If you routinely stay at campgrounds that require you to haul your recreational vehicle to one of the dump stations to empty the tanks, portable RV septic tanks make sense. Especially if you usually stay for more days than your tanks can last before filling up.
  • If you stay on public lands for longer than your rig's tanks will last before needing to be emptied, then a portable RV septic tank can help.
  • If you are a camper that likes to stay at full hookup campsites where you can empty your RVs tanks without moving, then an RV sewer tote tank isn't required.
  • You move around a lot, so you are rarely in one place long enough to have a full waste tank.
  • If you have a small camper where storage room is at a premium, regardless of your style of camping, a portable waste water tank shouldn't even be on your radar as there is no place to keep it (they take up quite a bit of space).

Benefits Of An RV Waste Tote Tank

There is one primary benefit to using portable waste water tanks. Allowing your trailer or motorhome to remain longer at a campsite without a sewer drain.

This isn't the first time I've mentioned this benefit (and most likely won't be the last), but that's because this is indeed the primary reason portable waste holding tanks exist.

If you would like not to pack up your entire rig and break down camp to dump your tanks, consider purchasing a portable RV dump tank.

Features To Look For In An RV Tote Tank

If you are in the market for a waste water tote, there are certain features to be aware of (and be looking for):

Holding Capacity: One of the most important considerations when shopping for portable waste tanks for RV use is this: How many gallons of wastewater can the tote hold?

You want a tank with large enough capacity so that you don't have to make too many dump station runs, but the tank has to be small and light enough for you to handle and store easily.

Learn more about choosing the correct tank capacity.

2 or 4 Wheels: Portable RV dump tanks come with either two or four wheels.

All tanks have two wheels in the rear, while some have two smaller front wheels used for steering.

Barker original tote tank

2-Wheeled Tote Tank

Barker 42 gallon tote tank

4-Wheeled Tote Tank

Rear wheels are larger than front wheels (10-12 inches for the rear and 6 inches for the front on the RV totes we review).

It is my opinion that you should opt for four wheels on all but the smallest tank capacities.

Read more on why four wheels are the better choice.

Wheel Construction: The actual portable blackwater tank wheels are something to consider.

Are they cheap plastic wheels or better quality rubber wheels? Skinny or wide?

Skinny plastic wheels are OK on hard surfaces (asphalt or concrete) but sink into loose surfaces (dirt or gravel).

Rhino tank rear wheel

In comparison, wider air-filled rubber wheels tend to perform well on most surfaces and are considered more heavy-duty wheels.

Some wheels are a hybrid of both types - plastic wheels with outer rubber treads.

Overall Build Quality: Not only is the quality of the wheels essential, but so are all the other parts of a portable camper sewage tank.

Will the tank last after years of use, being towed (slowly) from a campsite to a dump station?

Are the individual components high enough quality to withstand years of service?

The use of quality, heavy-duty materials is pretty essential when you are hauling around sewage. You don't want an axle to break when you are towing 300 pounds of waste.

The portable grey water tanks that we review all have an excellent build quality and give you many years of use.

Tow Bracket: Filling up your portable RV black water tank is just half the battle. You still need to get it to a dump station or other wastewater facility.

In a campground, you move the tank by connecting it to a vehicle's tow hitch (trailer hitch) and slowly tow the full tank to where you can empty it.

Rhino tank tow adapter

Tow Adapter For 2-Wheeled Tank

A two-wheeled RV dump tote uses a tow adapter that connects to the tank handle.

A four-wheeled camper portable sewer tank has an integrated heavy-duty tow handle that also serves as the handle to maneuver the tank on the ground.

Grab-Handle: All two-wheeled portable RV holding tanks have an integrated front handle that you lift to move the tank around. This grab handle should feel good to your hands when lifting a full (and heavy) camper waste tote.

Rhino tank top view

Tank with grab handle

A four-wheeled tote may or may not have this handle as it's not essential to maneuver (pull) the tank around.

Ways To Drain The Tank: There is a 3-inch standard-sized drain hole on the top of all portable sewage tanks. You use this hole to fill the tank with the RVs wastewater.

On some portable tanks, this is how you empty it, which requires lifting the front of the tank vertical so that the waste will drain out of this top opening. Lifting a tank full of a couple of hundred pounds of sewage isn't easy or a lot of fun.

Fortunately, some tanks come with a side-mounted dump valve that allows you to empty the tank while remaining in the horizontal (normal) position.

No lifting of the front of a heavy tank required! Just connect a drain hose, open the gate valve, and let gravity do its job to drain the liquid.

Rhino tank top drain hole

Top Drain Outlet

Rhino tank gate valve

Side Drain Outlet

Flushing & Cleaning: After you've carried your lovely human waste in your portable black water holding tank, you should flush it out between uses.

An RV waste caddy typically has a top vent that is threaded to accept a garden hose. This vent can be used to clean out the tank but is nothing more than just a port to accept water.

Some portable RV waste holding tanks have a built-in tank flush that sprays water in multiple directions. This makes for better cleaning.

Tank Fill Indicator: There are a couple of ways to monitor how full a portable camper holding tank is.

You can use a tank fill indicator (included with some tanks, optional with others) that screws into the top vent hole.

This indicator is simply a float that 'indicates' when the tank is getting full.

Camco tote tank gauge

Tank Fill Indicator

The other option is to use a clear RV sewer elbow at the top fill port to look into the tank and see when the tank is getting full.

Some portable waste containers come with this elbow. Others require you to buy this optional accessory.

Storage: Where are you going to store your RV sewer caddy when you are cruising the roads in your RV?

A portable waste tote can be rather large. We are talking about a tank with a capacity upwards of 40+ gallons. That amount of liquid requires a relatively large tank!

Strapping Rhino tank to ladder

Mounting To Ladder

If you have a monster motorhome with plenty of basement storage, no sweat! But many travel trailers have limited exterior storage space, with the bed of a truck being the most available space.

Some portable gray water tanks come with an integrated hook to strap them on a rear ladder (if your RV has one). Otherwise, for travel trailers, there are rear bumper mount storage options available.

Rhino tank accessories

Example Accessories

Accessories: What accessories come with an RV portable grey water tank? Will you need to buy, or already have, some missing components?

For example, the Rhino tank comes with a complete accessory kit, whereas the Barker tanks come with a cheap drain hose, some tank caps, and that's about it.

You may have some existing drain accessories such as a sewer hose (and probably do, since all RVs need some way to drain their tanks at a dump station).

But having ones specifically for your portable RV gray water tank are handy to have.

Why 4 Wheels Are Superior To 2 Wheels

An RV portable sewer tank comes in either a 2 or 4-wheel version. 2-wheel versions have wheels only in the back.

What is wrong with a 2-wheel portable grey water tank, you might ask? Several things!

To move a 2-wheeled tank from your RV to where a dump site, you have to pick up the front of the tank. Then you get to pull it.

This means you get the 'pleasure' of lifting and supporting the front of a VERY heavy portable RV wastewater tank when moving it.

Oh, let's not forget that if the tank doesn't have a side-mounted dump valve, you get to stand the tank up on end while you dump out the contents at a dump station.

Comparing 2-Wheeled and 4-Wheeled Tanks

Did we mention a full RV portable black water tank is VERY heavy? It is- this is why 4-wheel portable RV waste tanks are superior.

A 4-wheel portable RV waste tank rolls along without you holding it up.

If you think lifting the front end of a full portable sewage holding tank is easy on your back, think again if you are north of your 30's.

Considering a full tank can range in weight from 80 to over 300 pounds, we aren't talking an insignificant amount of weight.

Granted, you aren't lifting the entire weight of the tank. However, when we are talking about these kinds of weights, lifting and supporting the front of the tank can take a toll on your body.

A 4-wheel portable waste tank eliminates the need to lift the front to move it, but you also keep it level when dumping, eliminating the need to heave it up vertically.

Barker original tote tank

2-Wheeled Tote Tank

Barker 42 gallon tote tank

4-Wheeled Tote Tank

Why would one even consider a 2-wheeled RV portable waste tank? Dolla' bills, y'all!! They are a bit cheaper than their 4-wheeled counterparts.

But, speaking from experience, the 2-wheel RV portable waste tanks are a huge pain to use.

They are hard to drag across anything but a smooth surface. Your hands (and back) will be unhappy with you after you've finished dumping your rig's tanks.

So, go ahead and spend the extra money for a quality 4-wheeled portable black water tank and pat yourself on the back for years to come.

You won't miss the extra cash it takes to keep your body happy and safe.

Advantages Of 4-Wheel RV Portable Holding Tanks

  • No need to lift the front to move the tank around (tanks can be cumbersome when filled)
  • No need to raise the front to the vertical position when emptying the contents
  • Four wheels allow for reasonably easy movement over most terrain

Advantages Of 2-Wheel RV Portable Holding Tanks

  • Cost (they are a bit cheaper than 4-wheeled tanks)


What do you have to do to maintain portable dumping tanks? Fortunately, not much!

Rinsing (flushing) out the tank after every use is a good idea to keep the interior clean.

Keeping the tires inflated (if the tank has air-filled tires) and the wheel bearings greased (if the tank has this ability) should be part of your periodic maintenance routine.

The outside of the portable waste transport can be rinsed off with water if necessary. Or you can use a mild detergent and brush if it needs a more thorough cleaning.

If equipped with a side gate valve to dump waste, you may need to lubricate it periodically (though this is probably a rare occurrence).

Other than that, a typical portable dump station doesn't need much maintenance. As long as you don't physically abuse it, the tank should expect many years of life.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Size Portable Black Water Tank Do I Need?

Ideally, you should size portable black water tanks so that you can drain the entire contents of your holding tanks into them.

For example, if your holding tank has a 25-gallon capacity, purchase an RV black water transfer tank of more than 25 gallons.

Having a large enough portable tank lets you empty your rig's full black tank into your RV black water tote without fear of spilling.

Keep in mind that it's not practical to get a portable RV tank that has the holding capacity to accept all of your wastewater (gray and black tanks) at one time unless you have minimal tank capacities.

The largest of the portable sewer tanks that we feature below is 42 gallons. This size will be a heavy tank when full. Anything larger will become unwieldy to handle.

You also need to consider the physical size of the portable waste tank since you will have to store it somewhere while not in use.

You can find the dimensions and weights of the waste tote tanks at the bottom of the individual RV portable waste tank reviews.

How Do You Empty A Portable RV Waste Tank?

To empty a portable RV waste tank, you first have to move it to a place where it can be emptied (see the following FAQ). This is either a campground dump station or another wastewater facility.

Once at a place you are allowed to dump camper waste, attach a drain hose to the 3-inch outlet of your portable waste container.

The tank's dump outlet will either be on the top of the tank or the side of the tank.

Rhino tank top drain hole

Top Drain Outlet

Rhino tank gate valve

Side Drain Outlet

If your RV waste water tote has an outlet on the top, you must lift the tank's front entirely vertical to empty it. Lifting isn't fun if the tank is large, as it will be very heavy.

With a side-mounted dump valve, things are much more manageable. You open the valve and empty the tank, which remains in the normal horizontal position.

Once emptied, you can rinse the sewage tote using the top-mounted vent hole (threaded to accept a standard garden hose) or the integrated flush valve.

Remove the drain hose, place caps back on all the tank openings, and get on with your day.

How Do You Transport A Portable RV Waste Tank?

You transport a portable RV waste tank one of two ways: 

  1. If staying at a campground with a dump station, attach the tank to your vehicle's trailer hitch ball and tow it slowly to the dump.
  2. If the dump station is somewhere you have to drive at regular road speeds to get to (outside of the camp area you are staying at), you have to put the tank in the back of your vehicle.
Camco Rhino tank 4 wheel hooked to vehicle

Keep in mind that you can't drive 55 miles per hour down the road pulling a portable wastewater tank behind you.

These tanks are designed for towing very slowly. We're talking walking/jogging speed. Barker recommends a maximum of 5 miles per hour for their tank.

Otherwise, you must have the ability to put the portable RV sewage holding tank in your vehicle. Then, drive it to the nearest dump station.

Keep in mind that a portable RV waste tank is HEAVY when full. One gallon of water weighs around 8.3 lbs. Sewage weighs a little more as it has solids in it as well.

For example, a fifteen-gallon tank (and that's a small RV tote tank) weighs about 124 lbs! A larger tank can weigh upwards of 350 pounds.

Can you lift that?

Can't Lift 100+ Pounds? Problem SOLVED!

If you need to get your heavy, full RV sewer portable holding tank into the bed of your truck, and you aren't Arnold Schwarzenegger strong, a Rack Jack can help.

They come in three models. The Magnum model is capable of the heaviest loads, while the 4x4 model is the lightest.

Easily pick up your portable waste tank, portable generator, or any other heavy object using this tool.

The Rack Jack 'plugs' into the hitch receiver of your truck (or SUV) and lets you easily load heavy objects into the back of your vehicle.

(We haven't used this product, but friends we have who have all loved it. Neither of us has anything too heavy to lift to require this.)

Viking Rack Jack Magnum

Rack Jack Original

Rack Jack 4x4

Rack Jack Magnum

How Do You Use A Portable Dump Tank?

A portable dump tank is relatively easy to use.

First, you position it very close to your RVs sewer outlet pipe (your rig may have more than one of these, so do one at a time).

Then connect a drain hose between the top 3-inch sewer connector on the top of the portable waste tank and the camper's sewer drain pipe.

Open either the gray or the black tank valve on the RV and monitor the wastewater flow so that the portable tank doesn't overfill.

Once the gray and black water tote is filled (or the rig's tanks are emptied), disconnect the drain hose, put a cap on the 3-inch sewer holes, and take the portable tank to a dump site.

You can view the video below to learn more about how to properly use an RV sewage tote.

See how to transport above to learn more about actually moving the portable camper sewer tank from your campsite to where you can empty it.

What Is An RV Blue Boy?

An RV blue boy waste tank is just another name for an RV portable waste tank.

So, where does the term 'blue boy' originate?

The Barker Original Tote Tank has been around for a long time and is constructed from blue plastic. That accounts for the 'blue.'

No clue where the 'boy' comes from. If you know, drop a comment below.

Now you know what a blue boy RV tank is. And now you will sleep better at night.

Barker original tote tank

Original 'Blue Boy'


Whether or not a portable waste tank is right for you will depend on how you camp, how long you like to stay in one spot, and whether or not you usually are at a campsite with full hookups (sewer dump).

Boondockers can reach their 14-day stay limit with the aid of an RV waste tote, especially if your rig has smaller tank capacities.

RVers who enjoy state or local parks that require you to empty your holding tanks at a dump station don't have to move their motorhome or trailer if the tanks get full when they use a portable grey water holding tank.

I've personally never needed to use a portable tote waste tank as I can manage my water consumption very well as I boondock. Yet, I know plenty of people who find their RVing experience enhanced through an external tank.

Whatever your particular camping style is, you will have the option to use an RV sewage tote tank if you find you need one.

This article tells you everything you need to know about what to look for when purchasing one and provides tips on their usage.

Marshall Headshot

Camp Addict co-founder Marshall Wendler brings his technical expertise to help explain RV products in an easy to understand fashion. Full-time RVing from April 2014 - December 2020 (now RVing about 50% of the time), Marshall loves sharing his knowledge of the RV lifestyle. Marshall spends the majority of his RVing life boondocking. He is the part of Camp Addict that knows 'all the things'. He's good at sharing his technical knowledge so you can benefit. 

  • I was looking for a portable waste tank and ran across your site (glad I did, I’m learning a lot!). I have a 42 gallon black tank in the camper, I could not find a company that sells a portable tank that is that size or larger as you recommended ? My camper is at a seasonal site so the camper does not move . What do you recommend?

    • Hi Karl,

      We are glad you found Camp Addict also!

      Barker makes a 42 gallon tote tank, and Camco makes a 36 gallon one in their Rhino tote tank line (not yet reviewed here, but I like what I see).

      Keep in mind that a larger tote tank is going to be a royal pain to maneuver. It’s doable if you have a hard surface (preferably concrete or asphalt) to roll it on, but if you have to go through loose gravel or soft dirt, have fun!

      One option you can consider is getting a smaller tote tank and just emptying your tanks more often. This allows for easier handling of the waste as you try to drag/tow it around.

      Hopefully that helps!

  • I noticed that the bottom of my 3” drain on my trailer is about 12.5” from the ground. What do I need to factor in for the height of the portable tank to make sure the black and grey water can drain into the portable tank? For example, one of the Totes I saw says the height is 11.5” tall – will I be able to effectively drain from my trailer’s tanks with that Tote or do I need a portable tank that is shorter? How much shorter? Thanks!

    • Hi Annie,

      Thanks for the comment and for checking out Camp Addict! Kelly and I appreciate it!

      I was recently checking out the portable tote options out there (Camco has a new one that looks promising), but the height is no shorter on the other options. 11.5″ is as low as I’m aware of.

      If you have 12.5″ clearance at the end of your 3-inch drain, you’ll be fine. Just as long as the tank is lower than the drain, it will work.

  • First time considering RV with no grey water tank, only black water. Is it OK to accumulate both grey and black water, and then dump from the one tank (black) when ready to clean out? Just wondering. All mine have had two tanks before considering just the one.

    • Hi Margaret,

      I don’t quite understand your question. I get that the RV you are looking at has no grey water tank, but where will you “accumulate both grey and black water”?

      If you intend to use the RV’s black tank to hold the grey tank as well, that is fine. But the RV would have to be plumbed to do this.

      I suspect that currently the RV just has a hose that is supposed to dump grey water on the ground? This isn’t the best setup as it severely limits where you can camp. Most places don’t want you dumping waste water on the ground.

      So you could drain that grey water directly into a portable waste tank, and then also put your black in there when you need to dump your black tank. But that would be a less than ideal setup. I’d think that would get very tiresome after a while.

      Given the choice, I’d go with a rig that was fully self-contained (has all the necessary holding tanks onboard).

    • Hey Lynda,

      Yep, because the Rhino products didn’t exist when this page was created. As I’ve mentioned in a below comment, I’ll be taking a look at the Rhino products when I get a chance (in the middle of a major website project right now) and if I had a crystal ball, I’d be pretty sure they’ll be making an appearance on this page.

  • There must have been a serious COVID19 backlog on production! could not locate the Barker models anywhere, So i got a Tote-N-Store, and returned it after opening the box I knew this was not for me. Mad search #2 and I ordered a Camco Rhino, opened the box and said YES! This one worked great, as in No Spillage, No Mess, well thought out! Don’t think I’d want to haul this more than a a hundred feet, but overall it’s a win. Based on the design and function it’s clear Camco wants in on all the poop business.

    • Hey Paul,

      The Camco definitely looks like a great poop hauler! I’ve definitely got it on my to-do list to check it out.

      Thanks for the firsthand report!

  • Hi there!

    I recently became a full time stationary RV dweller and am seriously confused about this holding tank situation.

    If my fresh water tank holds 25 gallons, and my grey water tank holds 25 gallons, and my black water tank holds 25 gallons…

    Why does my gauge say my grey water and black water tanks are both full?

    A full grey water tank plus a full black water tank should, combined, hold 50 gallons.

    Assuming I have used the entire 25 gallons of water my fresh water tank holds, where did the other 25 gallons of waste come from???

    It’s just little old me living in this rig and I certainly have not eliminated 25 gallons worth of feces and urine in only four days of living here. Plus, I “go” elsewhere more often than I use my trailer toilet.

    What is going on?

    I am a senior on a fixed income and it is going to cost $100 to have someone (Honey Bucket) come drain my tanks. I really want them to be full when the fellow comes to empty them. How can I be sure they are?

    • Hi there, Rebecka!

      So your sensors are telling you you’re full, eh?

      This is a SUPER common problem. It’s so common, in fact, that NOBODY I know relies on their sensors to know if they are full or not. You have to learn by experience.

      When your black tank is full, the toilet will start to back up, or won’t flush anymore. With my particular setup, I can see that the waste is coming up the vertical pipe that leads down to the tank. Many toilets have a bend in the pipe, so that’s not as good of an indicator. Though no matter your setup, you will eventually not be able to flush.

      As far as your grey tank goes, you will eventually have a drain that won’t drain anymore. It will start backing up.

      Yes, it may be unpleasant to do it this way, but it should only take once to be able to get a good idea of how long it takes you to fill each tank.

      Pro Tip: If you want to make your black tank go longer, don’t flush your TP. Place it in a lined wastebasket and dispose of it in the trash.

      Hopefully the honey bucket man can come the same day you call. ????

      I haven’t checked my black/grey sensors in years. Like, 4. ???? Been on the road for 5.

  • You Claim:
    (Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)

    But all your recommendations are shown with links to Amazon, who pays you for the links.

    So you start the article with a lie. Your advice is suspect at the very least.
    Shame on you.

    • Hi Jim,

      Thanks for your comment- we are happy to clear up what it means for us to not accept payment from a company.

      We do not accept money from any manufacturer or seller for us to promote their products. Say brand X company came to us and said “Hey, promote our item Y, and we will pay you $xyz per month.” (Or any other type of reimbursement)

      We have never done that and we never will.

      We do use Amazon affiliate links, as we clearly state on every page that has them. We do not get paid to put those links on our site. We only get a small % IF someone uses the link and then buys.

      This costs the consumer nothing extra.

      They are also there for the benefit of the reader to easily find and get the products we recommend, should they choose to online purchase.

      So the products that we have chosen have nothing to do with someone swaying us to promote their product. We decide what is best, and that’s what we put on the site as our recommendations.

      We hope this clears things up for you.

    • I know these folks, and they are the most honest and thorough product reviewers out there with full transparency. However, there are many others out there that receive a product for free to “review” and they don’t disclose that. Watch for them, they are evil!

      • Thank you for your good faith in us, Paul! Even YOU disclosed that you know us, just as we disclose the fact that we don’t allow companies to ‘buy’ us in any way.

        Besides, what good is receiving some product for a mere tens or hundreds of dollars compared to the value in the trust of thousands of readers who come to our site for recommendations? The trust is our NUMBER ONE priority. It’s our reputation. No company’s free product is going to compensate us enough to make a living, lol!

        We have accepted products for review. This is always stated very clearly if we do go on to recommend it. But we never take compensation or allow companies to ‘convince’ us to recommend their product.

        Paul, thanks again for your continued support!

    • Dang Jim. You should do a better job understanding rather than shoot from the hip on things you don’t fully understand. Try better next time before spewing ugly accusations. Shame on YOU.

    • Hi Susan,

      What problem are you having with it as far as not being able to lift it?

      Can you be more specific? Which waste tank do you have? Do you have straps for it? Have you already tried to move it, and if you cannot, what’s the issue?

      More information will help us to help you out.

      Thanks, waiting for your reply.

    • I don’t know if you already have the Rack Jack, but another solution is a macerator pump. It grinds up any solids kind of like a disposal and pumps it through a hose to your portable waste tank. No need to take the waste tank out of the bed of your truck to empty your RV holding tanks.

      • Hi Billie Sue,

        Do you find that the macerator pump deals with the uphill flow from your RV to the portable waste tank in the bed of the truck with no problem?

        What do you do when it comes time to dump the waste tank into a dump station (or other appropriate sewer inlet)?

        • Due to the current campground restrictions, we are moving toward totally self contained/dispersed camping. Waste disposal is one of the issues we are planning for. We haven’t yet decided on the specific macerator pump we will purchase, but my research indicates that this is a viable approach. These pumps are rated for the distance and the amount of lift they can achieve, and having the waste tank in the bed of a pickup is pretty much what they are intended for. There is no reason to move the waste tank to empty it. It can be emptied in place using a standard waste hose. We’ve watched YouTube videos showing the entire procedure, and it seems reasonably painless. A macerator pump weighs very little and doesn’t take up much space which to me is an advantage over the hoist. I’m not saying that it is preferable for everyone; only that it is an option to consider.

          • Thanks for the further explanation, Billie Sue!

            I’m not sure macerator pumps are primarily intended for pumping into a portable waste tank in a truck bed, but that’s certainly one use case assuming the pump can handle that much ‘lift’.

            As far as dumping the waste tank while it’s still in the bed of your truck, that’s certainly possible. Just be careful, as messes have been known to happen if you aren’t super careful. And nobody wants this kind of mess in the bed of your truck. It’s also going to require a longer than normal sewer hose from the tank to the dump ‘port’, plus two people to make sure the hose stays in the ‘port’ as the waste tank is being drained.

            It sounds like you are thinking this through correctly.

            Of course the ultimate solution to this would be to have a rig with large enough holding tanks to get you through the time you can stay in one place on public lands (usually in the two weeks range). I can do this with my decently sized tanks, but it’s just me. Most rigs have inadequately sized holding tanks, unfortunately.

          • We’re happy with our trailer and don’t want to replace it. We have been happy with staying at state parks until covid-19. My husband and I are both very methodical. We’ll practice with a gray tank full of clean water until we are confident, and even then we won’t be careless. I think that this will work for us, and I presented it in your comment section because I thought it might be helpful for someone else.

  • We will have a porta-poddy outside for dry camping. But we are older and have to pee alot at night. Could we use the portable 4-wheel holding tank taken from our grey and black water, then wheel it over to the serviceable porta-poddy to dump it in there instead of taking it to a dump station miles away?

    • Hi Geri,

      We don’t see why not? Unless you are doing it so often as to cause the company to have to empty it more often than they normally would. That’s the only reasoning we can see that might make it be a negative thing.

      One thing to keep in mind is that the portable waste tank is going to become very heavy when filled with liquid. And you are going to have to lift it up in order to dump it into the porta-potti. This may make it extremely difficult, or impossible, to dump there.

  • Thanks for the candid observations and reviews of the noted portable waste tanks. My mouse was on the PURCHASE button to buy a Thetford SmartTote2, but i decided to peruse your sight about tanks in general and saw your notes on that model. Further checking (on Camping World site) of SmartTote2 reviews seemed to reflect the same conclusion. Thanks for all the good ‘poop’.

    • Hey Rick!

      We sure will! It’s on our to do list for early 2019. We wanted these new portable waste tanks to be on the market for a while before we took a look at them. The time is right to give them a look! We’ll update this page once we’ve had a chance to see what they are all about. Thanks for your patience and Camp On!

  • where were you 30 years ago when we first started full time RVing? Your awesome videos would have saved us hundreds of dollars, a bad back and countless WHOOPS at the dump station. Newbies should really pay attention. Thanks we’re buying yet another new portable tank and with your sage advice we’ll finally get it right. Got an opinion on the Camco Rhino tanks?

    • Thanks for the kind words, Roux! You just hit the nail on the head why Kelly and I wanted to create Camp Addict – because there was no comprehensive, one-stop shop for learning about RV products and accessories. Glad to hear that we are succeeding!

      The Camco Rhino Tote Tanks are relatively new to the market and didn’t exist when we created this page. They look very nice and we’ve been keeping an eye on them. Before we considered adding them to the page, we wanted to have them out there ‘in the wild’ for a bit so people could get experience using them.

      They do look like a very good option for a two-wheeled tote tank. Maybe even good enough to take the #1 two-wheeled waste tote position away from our current selection. I’ve got it on my list of things to look into (yeah, that list is growing by the day!).

      Having said that, they still are a two-wheeled tote, so they suffer from most of the negatives this style of portable waste tank has. Including needing to be lifted up at the front to haul around. Not as big of a deal if you are using the 15 gallon version, but with the larger versions, things get heavy quickly. But if you have your heart set on a two-wheeled tote, this looks like it may be a viable option.

      Thanks for the question and Camp On!

  • I have been RV’ng for several years and have a pretty good handle on the blk and gray waste tanks. But I found the wealth of information here extremely interesting, not because it reinforced most of the procedures I already do, but because it is very well written with a many ideas I haven’t thought of. I was searching for info on portable waste totes. I don’t see on any site suggestions for storing these totes while traveling. I wonder if there’s a way to secure one to the rear bumper on a TT? I would need the physical dimensions of a tote to figure this out but I don’t find those on any tote discription. Where would I find that information? Thanks for the detail in your site!

    • Hey Mo!

      Thanks for your kind words! Great to hear that even as a seasoned RVer you were able to take away something from this page.

      The dimensions (including weights) of each tank model and size can be found at the very end of each individual review – under the ‘Features and Specs’ section. Dimensions are the very last of the bullet points.

      You will need to expand each review by clicking/tapping on the bar (right below the ‘Buy on Amazon’ button) that starts with “Continue Reading…” Sorry for the confusion!

      I’ve seen a lot of people attach their portable waste tanks to the ladder on the back of their rig (assuming it has one). Obviously the bed of a pickup would be a great place. And for those of us (not me!) that are fortunate enough to have an abundance of cargo bays, you can always use one of those to store your portable waste tank. As far as I know, there is no purpose-built tank holder.

      Great question, Mo, and Camp On!

    • I cut handles and wheels off a cheap dolly from Harbor Freight. I mounted it to ear camper bumper with “U” bolts. Hold the tote in place with ratchet straps.

    • Hey James,

      Interesting question. My answer is, maybe. How’s that for being specific. ?

      In all seriousness, it’s going to depend on where you are. I’m not aware of any nationwide company that does this ‘dirty’ job. But there are definitely local companies, in certain locations, that do it. We’ve been involved in group boondocking events where a truck has been hired to come out and pump out whomever needed it. So these companies definitely exist. Again, it’s going to depend on where you are located.

      I’d do some poking around online, starting with a Google search. Maybe start with the search term “RV pump out service near me” and see if that yields any results.

      Good luck and Camp On!

  • Need help choosing brand of portable sewage tank. Mordvi read more confused I get. i travel alone so want to be able to handle alone

    • Hi Marcia,

      Sorry for the confusion. When it comes to portable black tanks you need to really consider two things – size and style.

      Style is whether it has only one set of tires or two. One set of tires means you have to physically lift the front of the tank to move it – not fun! Two sets means it rolls along by itself which requires less physical effort on your part.

      Size has two considerations – how big your holding tanks are (if you want to be able to completely dump your RV’s tank into the portable holding tank in one go) and how bulky the portable tank will be (which means you have to store it somewhere and you have to move it when it’s full). You might want to consider going with a smaller portable waste tank just to make it easier to handle. This may mean that you will have to be VERY careful when transferring waste from your RV to the portable tank so that the portable one doesn’t overfill.

      This is assuming you need a portable tank at all. If you move a lot, you can just dump your tanks frequently. But if you are stationary, without full sewer hookups, a portable tank may be what you need.

      Hope that helps. Camp On!

      • Hi, there’s more than just size and style! Consider the dimension of the wheels! Things to think about, will you be be towing in areas without paving? Non-paved areas require bigger wheels, maybe look for wheels that won’t go flat. Also consider if the small axel will come apart when towing the tank. Also consider whether you can see/tell how full the portable tank is getting? Do you really want to end up with extra blackwater in the tube? How easy is it to flush the tank after dumping. Does the portable tank easily store away or hang from your RV ladder?

        • Hey Denise,

          All GREAT information! (A lot of which is covered in the above portable holding tank guide and reviews.)

          Thanks for your valuable insight and happy dumping of your waste tanks using the portable method. 😉

  • I bought s smart tote . The connector to the trailer popped off twice while draining the gray water to the tote . Not sure I figured the gasket seals are installed correctly on The connector. It does not go on very tight .

    • Hi Dennis,

      Sorry to hear that you are having problems with your Thetford SmartTote. We actually do not recommend this brand because of the poor reputation it has. I suggest you contact Thetford to see how they can help.

      Best of luck and Camp On!

  • Quit reading at “WRONG TOILET PAPER” hard to trust your reviews when you’re wring right off the bat. There are tons of videos online that show toilet paper dissolve tests, and that it doesn’t matter which you use, that the real key to clean black tanks is plenty of WATER to dissolve everything and to flow out when dumping. “It” flows downhill as the old saying goes, but “it” needs water to flow in

    • Hi, longtime camper- thanks for your comment! Toilet paper can ABSOLUTELY contribute to tank clogging. It’s simply good measure to do everything possible to avoid a clog, as nobody in their right mind wants to have to deal with such a situation. Yes, using too little water can also contribute to tank clogging. It all adds up.

      Using a TP that dissolves better than others is just a smart preventative measure to take to keep your tanks flowing properly. I (Camp Addict Kelly) take measures one step further and I don’t put any TP down my tank. I can use whatever TP I want, and it makes me that much more confident that I will never have a clog.

      We’re sorry you don’t feel you can’t trust Camp Addict because of this, but we stand strong by our recommendation. We always happily re-review our recommendations when someone comments with a reasonable disagreement about something on Camp Addict. Why wouldn’t we? It only serves to help us stay updated and reliable.

      However, in this case, we are standing by our recommendation. Even if we WERE wrong about it, it wouldn’t hurt anything or anyone to use TP that dissolves easier than other brands.

      The brand that dissolved the best in the Fit RV’s video on our RV toilets page is a very common grocery store brand, Charmin Ultra Soft, which is easy to buy and is easy on the butt. No harm, no foul. We think it’s better to be safe than sorry.


    • Hi Paige! Yes, you can pull a portable black tank behind your vehicle by attaching it to the hitch. You can’t go very fast with it, obviously, but it’s one way to transport your, um, ‘bits’. Thanks for reading and Camp On!

  • Hello, I am very new at this! So…if I am using the portable waste tank, I leave the grey and black valves shut, until ready to empty into portable, correct? I do not leave valves open and it automatically/continously flows into portable tank….???

    • Hey girl! We were ALL “new to this” at one point, so join the club! You are correct- leave the valves shut. (SERIOUSLY, I just now typed “shut” with an I first, if you know what I mean… but had to correct it. Kinda funny. ?) You are correct though… leave the valves CLOSED, ALWAYS for the black tank. Only connect the portable tank when you are ready to empty, open the valve, and if your portable is smaller than your black or grey tank, you can LISTEN for when it’s getting full. You will get an ear for it. If you are connected to sewer, you can leave the grey open if you prefer. If you leave the black tank open, the solids drop down, and the liquids flow out, creating the infamous “poopciscle” that can clog your tank. Keep it up, the learning process is CONTINUOUS. I am blown away by how much there is to take in and know. : ) Thanks for checking us out, and have fun out there!

  • Thanks for the info. I’m gathering information and stuff getting ready to hit the boondocker road. I recently purchased a pop up for my camper and a 16×7 enclosed cargo trailer. I’m In the process of some upgrades and mods. Gonna be hauling Bud, my Harley, and the rest of my possessions. Also in the process of downsizing my belongings. Plan on living on the road full time. I’m 63 years young, single, and retired on SS. Been dreaming about doing this for years…
    Maybe I’ll cya down the road sometime

    • Wow, the cargo trailer route, very cool! They have many benefits that traditional RV’s do not. (Lightweight, not as much to seal, design how you wnat it, higher clearance sometimes, etc) CA Kelly has considered the cargo trailer route, too, but she’s not very handy. If I find one already remodeled that works perfectly for me- I’m on it! You are in for a ride, Ziggy! Have a ball, life is about to get very ‘real’. You could very well see us down the road. As long as you’re not full-time in campgrounds! ???? Camp On, Ziggy and thanks for the comment!

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