2 Best Portable RV Waste Tanks: What You Need To Know
(Camp Addict does NOT accept payment from any company to review or endorse their products.)
By Marshall Wendler
Last Updated: April 26, 2022
Camco Rhino RV Waste Tank
Barker Tote Along RV Dump Tank
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 holding tank allows you to dump your camper waste tanks without moving your entire travel trailer or motorhome.
Is this 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 you need to know, including the two brands we feel are the best.
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 on a camping trip at a state park that doesn't have sewer hookups at each site. Instead, it has a nearby 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, your camper is full.
Because there is no way to empty 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 external container to transport the waste from your rig to the dump station.
It's an easy way to empty your camper without moving your rig at all!
Benefits Of An RV Waste Tote Tank
One primary benefit of using portable waste water tanks is that your travel trailer or motorhome can remain longer at a campsite without a sewer drain.
There are two different situations when having an RV dump cart might come in handy:
- You stay at campgrounds that require you to move your rig to dump the tanks.
- You boondock a lot and routinely remain at one spot longer than your camper's tanks will last before they get full.
If you would like not to pack up your entire rig and break down camp to dump, consider purchasing an RV sewer tote.
Are Portable Dump Tanks Necessary?
An RV portable dump tank isn't necessary for a lot of RVers. Still, it is a convenient tool that makes certain aspects of the camping lifestyle easier in some circumstances.
After almost seven years of full-time RV living (most of it boondocking without utility connections), I never thought I should buy a portable RV dump 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 recreational vehicle owners who would benefit from having one.
Here are some scenarios where a portable tote tank could be of benefit, and others where it doesn't make sense:
Features To Look For In An RV Tote Tank
If you are in the market for an RV waste tote, there are certain features to be aware of (and be looking for):
Storage Capacity: One of the most important considerations when shopping is this: How many gallons of wastewater can the tote hold?
You want large enough gallon capacity so that you don't have to make too many dump station runs, but the unit has to be small and light enough for you to handle and store easily.
2 or 4 Wheels: Portable RV dump tanks have two or four durable wheels.
All tanks have two rubber wheels in the rear, while some have two smaller front wheels used for steering. This front-mounted double wheel assembly is on a swivel assembly for easy maneuverability.
Rear oversized wheels are larger than the front ones (10-12 inches for the rear and 6 inches for the front on the RV totes we review).
I think you should opt for four heavy-duty wheels on all but the smallest tank capacities.
Wheel Construction: The actual portable blackwater tank wheels are something to consider.
Are they cheap plastic rear wheels or better quality quiet rubber wheel assemblies? Skinny or wide?
Skinny plastic wheels are OK on hard surfaces (asphalt or concrete) but sink into loose surfaces (dirt or gravel) and uneven ground.
In comparison, wider air-filled rubber wheels perform well on even the most uneven terrains and are considered a more heavy-duty option.
Some wheels are a hybrid of plastic centers with outer rubber treads.
Overall Build Quality: Not only is the quality of the wheels essential, but so are all the other parts of the assembly.
Is it a rugged design that will stand up to years of use, being towed (slowly) from a campsite to a dumping station?
Are the individual components high enough quality to withstand years of service?
The use of quality, heavy-duty materials is essential when hauling around sewage. You don't want an axle to break when you tow 300 pounds of waste.
Blow-molded polyethylene waste tank construction makes for a very durable design that is UV stabilized, limiting sun damage.
The portable grey water tanks that we review all have excellent, durable construction 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 it to the nearest dumping station.
A two-wheeled RV dump tote uses a zinc-plated steel tow adapter that connects to the handle.
The four-wheeled version has an integrated heavy-duty tow handle that also serves to maneuver it on the ground.
Remember that since this is generally not an extendable handle, it can be long and can get in the way while storing. However, it may be able to 'tuck' under the unit when not in use.
Grab-Handle: All two-wheeled portable RV holding tanks have a built-in handle at the front that you lift to move it 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) it around this way.
Ways To Drain The Tank: There is a 3-inch standard-sized drain hole on the top of all portable sewage tanks, and you use this hole to fill it with the RV's wastewater.
On some portable tanks, this is how you empty it, which requires lifting the front vertically so that the waste will drain out of this top opening. Lifting a container 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 them while remaining in the horizontal (normal) position.
No lifting of the front of a heavy tank is 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 it out but is nothing more than just a port to accept water.
Some mobile RV waste holding tanks have a built-in tank flush that sprays water in multiple directions, and this makes for better cleaning.
Tank Fill Indicator: There are a couple of ways to monitor how full the tank is.
You can use a liquid level indicator (included with some brands, optional with others) that screws into the top vent hole.
This indicator is simply a float-style gauge 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 it is getting full.
Some RV black water tote tanks come with this elbow, and others require you to buy this optional accessory.
Storage: Where will you 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 device with a capacity of upwards of 40+ gallons, and that amount of liquid requires a relatively large amount of space!
No sweat if you have a monster motorhome with plenty of basement storage! 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 RV ladder (if your rig has one). Otherwise, there are back bumper mount storage options for travel trailers.
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 extra accessory kit, whereas the Barker tanks come with a cheap drain hose some caps to close off the openings, and that's about it.
You may have some existing separate accessories such as an RV sewer hose (and probably do, since all RVs need some way to drain their waste at a dump station).
But having ones specifically for your portable RV gray water tank is handy to have.
Some brands come with a built-in storage compartment where you can store these items, but unfortunately, neither brand we feature here does. So you will need a special storage compartment in your rig or tow vehicle to place these sewage-covered parts (rinse, rinse, rinse!).
Why 4 Wheels Are Superior To 2 Wheels
An RV portable sewer tank comes in either a 2 or 4-wheel version, and 2-wheeled tanks have wheels only in the back.
What is wrong with a 2-wheel version, you might ask? Several things!
To move a 2-wheeled tank from your RV to a dump site, you have to pick up the front. 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 there is no 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 I mention a full RV portable black water tank is VERY heavy? It is! This is why 4-wheel versions are superior.
A 4-wheel version 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 container 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, but raising and supporting the front of the tank can take a toll on your body with these kinds of weights.
A 4-wheeler tote 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 version? Dolla' bills, y'all!! They are a bit cheaper than a 4-wheeled version.
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 wastewater.
So, go ahead and spend the extra money for a quality 4-wheeled portable black waste 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 2-Wheel RV Portable Holding Tanks
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 camper's holding tanks into them.
For example, if your rig has a 25-gallon capacity, purchase an RV black water transfer tank of more than 25 gallons.
Having enough capacity lets you empty your rig's full black and gray 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 is 42 gallons. This size will be very heavy when full, and 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 each one we review at the bottom of the individual RV portable waste tank reviews.
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 offer:
- The best combination of quality materials
- Heavy-duty construction
- Features you need
- An overwhelmingly positive experience by RV owners
Both Camco and Barker make 2 and 4-wheeled versions of their products.
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, and they redefined what the best portable waste tanks offer.
Sure, there are other brands out there. But this is a case of you getting 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 portable RV waste tote tank 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 similarly priced, so cost shouldn't sway you one way or the other. The reasonable price is well worth it if you have a need for extended trips away from a wastewater facility.
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, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a better option than the Rhino.
There is one reason why the Camco product 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
No one will fault you if you choose a Barker tote tank over the Camco Rhino. The Barker was our #1 choice before the Camco became available, and 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 profile, then the Barker is the right choice for you.
4-Wheel (Choose Your Size)
2-Wheel (Choose Your Size)
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Do You Empty A Portable RV Waste Tank?
To empty a portable waste tank for RV use, 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 sewer drain connection of your portable waste container.
The dump outlet will either be on the top or the side of the tank.
If your RV waste water tote has an outlet on the top, you must lift the front entirely vertical to empty it. Lifting isn't fun if the container is large, as it will be very heavy.
With a side-mounted dump valve, the emptying process is much more manageable. You open the valve and empty the contents while the container 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 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 included tow bracket 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.
The wheels are designed for towing very slowly. We're talking walking or slow jogging speed. Barker recommends a maximum of 5 miles per hour for their product.
Otherwise, you must have the ability to put the portable black tank in your vehicle. Then, drive it to the nearest dump station.
Keep in mind that these are VERY HEAVY when full. One gallon of water weighs around 8.3 lbs, and 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! One with a larger capacity 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 portable RV sewer 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 RV portable 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.
(I haven't used this product, but friends have and love it. I don't have 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 tank and the camper's sewer outlet pipe.
Open either the gray or the black tank valve on the RV and monitor the wastewater flow to avoid overfilling the portable container.
Once the gray and black water tote is filled (or the rig's tanks are emptied), close the rig's valve, disconnect the drain hose, put a cap on the 3-inch sewer outlet, and take the portable tank to a dump site.
You can view the video below to learn more about properly using 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.
How Do You Clean A Portable Black Water Tank?
Cleaning a camper dump tank is a pretty straightforward matter. Just keep in mind that human waste is often inside these containers, so dispose of the rinse water appropriately (typically down the same dump receptacle that you just finished draining the tote into).
Rinsing (flushing) the inside after every use is an excellent idea to clean the interior. The RV sewer tote tank will have an integrated interior rinse nozzle, or it will also have a port that you can attach a garden hose to get water inside. Or you can use either the fill or drain 3-inch port that you hook a sewer hose to.
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 and otherwise make sure the valve operates smoothly and doesn't have debris in the mechanism.
It's pretty straightforward when it comes to cleaning an RV poop tank. Just remember that there is poop involved and act accordingly.
What Is An RV Blue Boy?
An RV blue boy sewer tote is another name for a portable camper sewage 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, and 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 an RV portable holding 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 extend their camping experience with the aid of a portable camper holding tank, especially if your rig has smaller wastewater capacities.
RVers who enjoy state or local parks that require you to empty your camper at a dump station don't have to move their motorhome, fifth wheel, or travel trailer if the tanks get full when they use a portable gray water tank.
I've personally never needed to use an RV external holding tank as I can manage my water consumption very well as I am dry camping. Yet, I know many people who find their RVing experience enhanced through an auxiliary 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.
Like this article? Read more RV beginner articles!
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.