How Do RV Portable Waste Tanks Work?
Did you know you can empty your black and grey tank without moving your RV or travel trailer?
RV portable waste tanks are basically a black/grey tank on wheels that you can fill up, transport to an RV dump, and empty like you would an RV or trailer.
They are easy to use, clean, store, and come in handy when dry camping or staying at a campground that offers water but no sewer hook up.
RV portable waste tanks come in lots of different sizes and you want to make sure you get one that is right for you.
In this article, I’m going to be reviewing the largest each company has to offer because if you are going to be making a trip to the dump station you may as well have the ability to empty the entire black or grey tank.
Here are my reviews of the best RV portable waste tanks available today.
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Best RV Portable Waste Tank Reviews & Info
The Camco Rhino is the most heavy-duty option available when it comes to portable septic tanks for RV use. There are 4 size options available: 15, 21, 28, and 36 gallons. Every size has wheels and is easy to transport.
I’m going to be reviewing the basic two wheeled 36 gallon version because many RV and trailer holding tanks are around 35 gallons. You will most likely be able to fit an entire black or grey tank in the 36 gallon Camco Rhino portable waste tank.
It’s made with blow-molded UV stabilized high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that will not deteriorate in the sun or leak over time.
There is an integrated ladder hook on the top so you can easily hang it on your RV or trailer ladder when it’s empty and there are molded grooves for straps making it easy to get a tight secure fit.
The wheels on RV portable storage tanks are something you should really look at when shopping for a portable RV dump tank. It’s what separates a quality sewer tank from a cheap one.
See Also: Best RV Sewer Hose Kits Reviewed & Rated
The Camco Rhino has the biggest, highest quality wheels you will find on any portable waste tank. There are two located on the back so you can tow it like a suitcase. They are made with durable rubber and use bearings for a smooth roll and they won’t break easily.
There is a large plastic handle located on the other end so you can pick it up and start pulling it easily. There is also a tow bracket included to either lengthen the handle when you are pulling the tank or you can use it to connect to a ball hitch and tow it with your vehicle.
Note that you should never tow any portable RV dump tank faster than walking speed and going fast may damage the wheels or the tank.
There is also a 4 wheeled version of the 36 gallon Camco Rhino tote tank (click to view on Amazon). It’s definitely the more premium option but if it’s within your budget it’s the easier to transport option since you don’t have to lift half of the tank.
One of the best parts about the Camco RV waste tank is the sewer outlet options and the rinse valves. There is a standard sewer connection on the bottom of the tank by the wheels. You can use this connection to fill the tank and also empty it by standing it up.
There is also a gated sewer connection on the bottom side of the tank as well so you can empty it without having to stand it up. This is feature is only found on 1 other RV portable waste tank and it comes in handy when emptying it.
It’s especially nice because you can hook up and dump the tank without having to stare into an open hole filled with sewer water.
Perhaps the fanciest feature of this waste tank is the spray rinse connection. Every RV waste tank should have a vent to release air when filling and emptying but Camco has also included a female hose connection you can connect a water hose to. Once secured you turn on the water and a sprayer inside of the tank will rinse it out.
It’s like a black tank flush system which you can find on high-end RVs and trailers. This is a unique feature only found on the Camco Rhino and it’s what pushes it ahead of the other RV waste tanks.
The only downside is it’s very tall when on its side which can be an issue if your sewer outlet sits very low to the ground. The waste from your black or grey tank should be able to dump into the tank even if it’s a little taller because of the force of gravity but some people don’t like the portable waste tank to be higher up.
The 36 gallon tote tank weighs 34 lbs when empty and measures 46 inches long, 25 inches wide, and 15.5 inches tall.
Included with the purchase is a 15″ water hose rinse adapter, a clear elbow with a 4 in 1 adapter, a clear double bayonet elbow, caps, a steel tow adaptor, and last but not least a heavy-duty 3 foot Rhino sewer hose with bayonet and lug fittings for filling and emptying.
The Camco Rhino Heavy Duty Portable Waste Tank is unmatched when it comes to accessories, features, and a heavy-duty design and build. This is one of the best RV portable waste tanks on the market today.
- Gated Side Sewer Valve
- Spray Rinse With Hose Connection
- Large Heavy Duty Rubber Wheels With Bearings
- Lots Of Included Accessories
- Integrated Ladder Mount
- May Not Fit Under RV Sewer Pipe Outlet For Easy Filling
- Heavy To Drag By Hand (36 Gallon Option)
The Barker RV portable waste tank is a close second to the Camco Rhino because of its excellent construction and features. It’s also got the bigger size option of 42 gallons. If you have huge holding tanks on your RV, travel trailer, or 5th-wheel the larger options may work better for you.
If you like the style but don’t need 42 gallons there is also a 32 and a 25 gallon option available. One thing to note about the bigger RV sewer tanks like the 42 gallon Barker is it’s very heavy when full. 42 gallons of water weighs around 336 lbs.
If you are planning on manually transporting your RV waste tank you may want to consider getting something that’s smaller and more manageable or remember to only fill it with as much waste water as you can manage.
I’m going to talk about the 42 gallon option because more space is better when it comes to RV waste tanks.
It’s made with blow-molded polyethylene with zinc plated steel parts and an aluminum tow handle. There are 4 wheels which means you don’t have to lift the tank to drag or tow it around.
The wheels are filled with air (50 psi on the back 10″ wheels and 30 psi on the 6″ front wheels). The wheels have axle bearings and grease fittings for easy maintenance.
The front-mounted wheels are on a center swivel that is connected to a long removable aluminum handle you can drag by hand or connect to a ball hitch and tow with your vehicle.
Much like the other waste tanks, the Barker should never be towed faster than walking speed as this can damage the wheels or the plastic tank.
Because the portable septic tank is on 4 wheels there is a gated sewer hose connection on the side so you can dump the entire thing without having to lift it. The is also a sewer hose connection on the top which will be used when filling.
You can also use this opening to rinse out the waste tank when it’s empty. On the top front, there is a bobber gauge which will indicate when the tank is full. This is also where the air vent is located.
The 42 gallon RV waste tank weighs 47 lbs when empty and measures 45 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 14 inches tall.
Included with purchase is a 5 foot standard sewer hose, 2 bayonet sewer hose adapters, sewer hose caps, 2 stainless steel sewer hose clamps, and the bobble tank level indicator.
The Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank is a fantastic option if you need a larger RV portable waste tank that also sits a little lower to the ground than the Camco Rhino.
It’s great for pulling around on the paved ground but the 4-wheel option can be difficult to use on rough dirt roads and trails.
All-in-all this is another awesome RV sewer tank and has the highest capacity of any other tank available.
- Don’t Have To Lift Entire Tank To Transport
- Aluminum Handle/Tow Bracket
- Gated Side Sewer Valve
- Bobble Indicator
- Wheels Aren’t Super Durable
- Heavy To Tow Around (42 Gallon Model Only)
The Tote-N-Store 2 wheel 32 gallon tank is the simple more affordable option for a large RV portable waste tank. It’s nothing fancy but it will get the job of transporting grey or black water from your RV or trailer to a dump station.
There are also 6, 11, 15, and 25 gallon options available. I’m going to review the 32 gallon option because it has the most features and is the most useful when it comes to RV and trailer applications.
One unique thing about this RV portable waste tank is it has a built-in storage compartment for all the necessary included items. The tank is made with heavy-duty plastic with two rubber wheels for easy transport.
When I call this a simple portable RV holding tank I mean it. There is only one sewer hose opening and a small air hole.
To dump you connect the sewer hose first then lift the tank to let all the black or grey water drain out.
To rinse it out you have to disconnect the sewer hose first, then spray it out through the same opening.
There is a large built-in plastic handle on the top for lifting and dragging the tank by hand. There is a tow bracket included which connects to the plastic handle and then to a ball hitch. Never tow the tank faster than walking speed.
Included with the tank is a standard 36 inch sewer hose, a bayonet fitting with the stainless steel clamp included, a sewer cap with a hose inlet for rinsing, and a 15 inch garden hose adapter.
All of these included parts fit in the compartment located on the side of the sewer tank.
The empty 32 gallon RV waste tank is 27 lbs and measures 45.75 inches long, 24 inches wide, and 11.6 inches tall. This is a fantastic option if the sewer outlet on your trailer or RV is lower than average.
The Tote-N-Store Portable Waste Transport is a fantastic budget option because it’s still large enough to fit most of an average black and grey tank without all the frills.
It’s heavy-duty enough to last and the only downside is the flimsy wheels and difficulty spraying it out since there’s only one large hole.
- Storage Compartment For Necessities
- Hard To Clean
- Must Lift To Empty
- Wheels Aren’t Super Durable
Thetford is a common name found in the camping world and its RV portable waste tank is built with the RVer in mind. With its easy to tow 4 wheel system, built-in storage compartment, and large 35 gallon capacity the SmartTote2 LX is a fantastic option for RV owners.
There is also an 18 gallon 4-wheel model available as well as a 35 gallon 2 wheel model if you prefer that style.
I’m going to review the 35 gallon 4-wheel model because it’s the easiest to use and the most useful for RV and travel trailer owners.
Remember that the larger tanks that are 35 gallons and up are very heavy when full. If you plan on pulling it around by hand you may want to consider only filling it halfway or getting a smaller size.
The tank sits on 4 wheels and looks a lot like a wagon with a long telescopic handle that is used to tow it around by hand or with a vehicle. The wheels are small and made of plastic but the front wheels are set on a wide axle base that fully rotates on a single center swivel.
Having wide front wheels is better than the kind with 2 close together because it’s more stable when turning and also rolls over uneven ground easier.
The set up on this RV portable waste tank is easier than most because the main sewer hose is permanently attached to the bottom of the tank. It is stored in a built-in compartment. To fill just open the bottom compartment and attached the bayonet end of the sewer hose to your trailer.
When you need to dump the tank you use the same hose, just attach the included plastic 90-degree elbow or use your own. On the top, there is a tab that lifts to reveal a bobber that pops up when the tank is full.
There is also a cap that lifts to reveal a small open hole wide enough to easily fit a garden hose through to rinse out the tank. This is also an air vent to allow airflow when emptying the sewer tank.
The 35 gallon RV waste tank weighs 25 lbs when empty and measures 51.4 inches long, 21.7 inches wide, and 15.4 tall.
The Thetford SmartTote2 LX RV Portable Waste Tank is easy to use and doesn’t require a lot of extra parts. It’s not as easy to pack down as other models but this is an excellent option if you spend lots of time in campgrounds with water hooks ups but no sewer.
The only other downside is the sewer hose doesn’t have a gate valve so if it’s full you may have black or grey water sloshing in and out of the hose.
- Only 1 Extra Part Needed
- Can Be Towed With Vehicle
- Opening For Rinsing With Hose
- No Gate Valve To Stop Waste Water From Going Into Hose
- Heavy When Full (35 Gallon Option)
- Connected RV Sewer Hose Is Hard To Replace
We’ve seen the Tote-N-Store basic RV portable waste tank earlier in this review. This is the premium version with all the bells and whistles. And that’s no exaggeration.
The Tote-N-Store 38 gallon 4-wheeler RV waste tank has two large rubber back wheels and two smaller metal rubber-coated wheels on the front. Each front wheel sits on its own swivel so it can move in any direction easily but it also has a wide wheelbase for stability.
There’s a small built-in plastic handle for dragging it around on 2 wheels if you want but also a long metal handle for towing it behind a vehicle or dragging it on all 4 wheels.
There’s a sewer connection on the top for easy filling with the necessary vents. The bottom has a clear plastic tube that can fold up or down. This is the part you empty the RV waste holding tank from.
Just connect the sewer hose while the tube is facing up, secure it to the sewer opening then lower the tube to start the flow of grey or black water. You can use the opening on the top to rinse out the tank while it is still connected to the sewer.
This style of sewer hose connection is easy to use and doesn’t require you to stand the tank up on one end to dump it.
There is a built-in storage compartment that houses all of the extra accessories which include a 36 inch standard sewer hose with the proper bayonet connections and a 15 inch garden hose adapter.
The 38 gallon tank weighs 45.5 lbs when empty and measures 54.5 inches long, 27.7 inches wide, and 15.4 inches tall.
Note this is another high capacity portable RV waste water tank that will be very heavy when full. If you need to pull it into a truck bed or drag it by hand a long way you may want to consider only filling half way or getting a smaller size. There are 25 and 18 gallon options available.
The Tote-N-Store 4-Wheeler Portable Waste Tank has a fantastic design and is one of the more stable 4 wheel RV waste tanks out there.
You can tow it on 4 or 2 wheels depending on your preference and the ground which is a great idea. The only downside is it’s a little heavy and it may be more difficult to find a storage spot for it.
- Can Be Towed On 2 Or 4 Wheels
- Built-In Storage Compartment
- Drain Tube Can Be Opened While Connected To Sewer Hose
- Large Opening To Rinse Out With Hose
- Heavy When Full (38 Gallon Version)
- Wheels Aren’t Super Durable
What To Look For In An RV Portable Waste Tank
The wheels are one of the top issues people have with portable sewer tanks. When put to the test under the weight of a full tank sometimes flimsy plastic wheels will crack or break off completely. Look for a tote tank with metal parts and thick durable rubber wheels.
Also, look at the connection the wheels have to the tank. One common problem people have with 4 wheel sewer tanks that have small front wheels is that the plastic part of the tank they are attached to can weaken over time.
If it tears you will suddenly have black or grey water leaking out which isn’t something anyone wants.
Most manufacturers of RV dump tanks know that you need to have a vent or air hole at the top to stop the vacuum effect but there are a few out there that don’t have this feature.
If you don’t have a decent sized vent on your RV portable waste tank it is going to take a long time to fully dump it.
This review focuses on large RV portable waste tanks but the large sizes do have a downside which is how heavy they get when full of black or grey water.
If you decide on getting a large sewer tank expect to have to do some very heavy pulling if you want to fill it all the way up and drag it by hand.
Normally the 4 wheel design is the easiest to manage since you don’t have to lift it but the tiny front wheels can be difficult to use on dirt or gravel roads.
The best way to manage large waste tanks is to have your vehicle nearby so you can do most of the pulling with that.
If you are planning on putting the tank in your truck bed and taking it to a distant RV dump station make sure you only fill the sewer tank to a manageable level or get a smaller one.
You have to clean out your RV portable waste tank when you are done using it. If you don’t the leftover black and grey water will really start to smell and can even start to damage the insides of the tank.
Most of the sewer tanks on this list have a drain hole on the bottom or side and a larger fill hole on the top. This makes it easier to spray out the inside with a hose although it can get messy.
The easiest to clean portable septic tank is the Camco Rhino Heavy Duty Portable Waste Tank since it has a sprayer you connect a hose to.
There is no risk for waste water to splash back onto you and the strong spray really cleans all the nooks and crannies.
Storage in RVs and trailers is very limited. Most people will hang their RV portable waste tanks from the ladder but not everyone has one of those.
Make sure you find a decent place to store your sewer tank before you purchase. Outside is preferable.
Conclusion & My Recommendations For RV Portable Waste Tanks
RV dump tanks are awesome for dry camping without any kind of sewer connection. They can come in handy when visiting someones home with your RV and you want to be able to dump the holding tanks without having to move.
The high capacity versions like the ones in this review are best for when you are camping with an RV dump station nearby. They can all be towed behind a vehicle and even though they are very heavy when full your vehicle should be able to do most of the work.
If you are going to have to drive a long distance to get to an RV dump station you may want to consider getting a smaller RV portable waste tank that two people can lift or drag onto a truck bed using a ramp.
Luckily all of the sewer tanks in this review also come with smaller more manageable options. You can also just fill the large tank halfway so it’s lighter.
Last but not least, here are my recommendations.
Best Overall – Camco Rhino Heavy Duty Portable Waste Tank
There are a lot of great RV portable waste tanks on this list and each one is a little different and some options are better than others depending on how big your RV or trailers holding tanks are and even how high up off the ground the sewer outlet is.
But taking all the features and design into account the Camco Rhino has my vote for the best RV portable waste tank.
The first reason is the integrated ladder mount. I would say at least 80% of people with an RV waste tank store it on their ladder and having a built-in ladder mount makes it easy to just hook it onto your ladder, put a strap around it and go.
The gate valve and the ability to empty it while laying down are also two very important features that shouldn’t be overlooked.
You may be wondering why I didn’t choose a 4 wheeled option as my best overall pick because it seems like it would be easier to move that kind around. My answer to that is while the 4 wheeled versions are nice on a smooth paved surface they do not work very well when being dragged over rocks or uneven ground.
And for the most part, the sewer outlet on your RV is going to be located over rough terrain. That’s why I think the 2 wheeled versions are more versitle than the 4 wheeled kinds.
But if you really love the 4 wheel style there is also a 36 gallon Camco Rhino tote tank (click to view on Amazon) with 4 wheels.
The wheels on the Camco Rhino are also a huge reason they are at the top of the list. Even though there are just two they are large, durable, and much easier to pull across rocks and bumps than tiny plastic ones.
It’s going to be a longer lasting and easier to pull sewer tank than any of the others.
Highest Capacity – Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank
If size is what you are looking for in an RV portable waste water tank then the Barker is going to be the best choice for you.
Most of the other sewer tanks on this list cap out at around 35 gallons but the 4 wheel Barker has the largest fluid capacity of 42 gallons.
Just remember that if you fill the Barker up all the way with RV black or grey water it’s going to be really heavy and you will want to be able to tow it with a vehicle.
Most Basic – Tote-N-Store Portable Waste Transport
Sometimes simplicity is the right way to go and the Tote-N-Store is the most basic RV sewer tank in this review. It has one large hole at the base and a small vent hole at the top.
There is a built in storage compartment which is pretty fancy but for the most part, this is basically a large plastic container on two small wheels.
Some things the Tote-N-Store does have going for it is the handle is very durable and won’t break off and there are fewer valves and caps that can fail.
It’s basic but functional and it will get the job done.
Frequently Asked Questions About RV Portable Waste Tanks
Where do I store my RV portable waste tank?
You can store your RV waste tank in several places but the most common place people store theirs is on the ladder of the RV or trailer, or a cargo rack. You can also keep them in a truck bed. Just make sure you put them somewhere with good ventilation because they can be smelly.
Do RV portable waste tanks work with black water?
Yes, they do. Many people use their RV waste tanks for grey water because that’s normally what fills up first but you can also use them for black water.
If you are a boondocker like me the ultimate set up is to have a compostable toilet and a large portable waste tank. You can use it to store grey water and dry camp comfortably for weeks.
Is it hard to empty an RV portable waste tank?
The most difficult part about RV portable waste tanks is they are very heavy when full especially if you have one over 25 gallons.
Remember that a full 30 gallon waste tank will weigh more than 250 lbs. If you are planning on transporting it in the bed of a truck to a distant dump station you will need a good way to lift it or a ramp to drag it on.
Once you get the waste tank to the dump station the process for dumping is easy and almost exactly like dumping a trailer or RV.
A lot of RV waste tanks even have an extra opening so you can spray it out with a hose while connected to the sewer.
How do you find the nearest dump station?
For detailed information on finding a nearby dump station check out this post here.
How to transport a full RV portable waste tank in an RV.
If you boondock on BLM land or don’t camp in a campground with your RV and you want to use a portable RV waste tank to extend the life of your holding tanks then the big issue is figuring out how to get the full waste tank to a dump.
The best and perhaps the only way to transport a full black water tank is with a heavy-duty cargo rack that can take at least 500 lbs and is wide enough to fit the tank on.
Most hitch mount cargo racks are only 24″ wide and you need at least 25 for most of the RV holding tanks on this list.
I think the very best option you can go with is a heavy-duty wheelchair rack. They can hold up to 500 lbs and they have a ramp. That means you can drag the tank onto the carrier easily and don’t need to try and lift 300 lbs.
The wheelchair racks are also very wide the only thing you have to make sure of is that the waste tank isn’t too long.
The Silver Spring Ramp Carrier is a really good one just make sure your hitch receiver is rated to take the weight of the ramp and the RV portable waste tank.
Have any more questions about RV portable waste tanks? Leave a comment below.