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.)
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.
What is the best portable RV holding tank?
Either of the two following brands makes the best portable RV holding tank:
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
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
Advantages Of 2-Wheel RV Portable Holding 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
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.)
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.
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.
Author: Marshall Wendler
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.