How Do Portable RV Waste Tanks Work?
Did you know you can empty your black and grey tank without moving your RV or travel trailer?
An RV portable waste tank is basically a holding tank on wheels that you can fill up, transport to an RV dump, and empty like you would an RV or trailer.
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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 portable RV waste tanks and ranking them by how easy they are to move around.
See Also: How To Find Nearby RV Dump Stations & Fresh Water Fill-Up
Summary (links to Amazon)
- Best Overall & Easiest to Move – Camco Rhino Portable RV Tote Tank
- Lightest Dry Weight – Thetford SmartTote2 RV Portable Waste Tank
- Highest Capacity – Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank
- Unique Wheel Layout – Tote-N-Store 4-Wheeler Portable Waste Tank
Lightest Dry Weight
Unique Wheel Layout
Last update on 2023-05-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Best RV Waste Tank Reviewed & Ranked By Portability
You want to empty as much of your RV holding tanks as possible, but if you can’t move the portable tank when it’s full, they how can you get the job done?
The common 2 wheel portable RV waste tanks are by far the hardest to move. You have to lift one end, which takes some strength and mobility.
4 wheel portable waste tanks are a lot easier to move. You just have to pull it, no lifting required.
If you have a vehicle with a hitch, you can even back it up to the tank and hook it up without having to lift or move anything.
Because of how much easier they are to move, I’ve included only 4 wheel RV portable waste tanks in this review.
I’ve started with the most portable and best overall option, the Camco Rhino, and then move on to the second best, and so on.
The capacity of each tank is different. Some of these portable waste tanks will be lighter when full than others, which makes them easier to move around.
If you get one of the larger options one way you can keep it portable is to only fill it as much as you can handle.
1. Camco Rhino Portable RV Tote Tank
The Camco Rhino 4 wheel RV tote tank is the most heavy-duty and portable option available.
It has a high 36 gallon capacity, which is enough to dump an average RV’s entire black or grey tank.
It’s made with blow-molded UV stabilized high-density polyethylene (HDPE) that will not deteriorate in the sun or get leaks easily.
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 secure fit.
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The Camco Rhino has the biggest, highest quality wheels you will find on any portable RV waste tank.
All four wheels are made with durable rubber and thick plastic. You cannot get a flat tire with this type of wheel.
Every wheel uses bearings for a smooth roll that makes moving around easy.
The back wheels are 12 inches in diameter and the front wheels 6.
To make steering easier the small front wheels are on a rotating mount and are on a short axle, meaning they are close together.
Connected to the front wheels is a 24 inch metal bar that’s used as a handle and a way to connect the Camco to a hitch so it can be towed.
The handle folds down, so it’s out of the way when the portable tank is packed.
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.
One of the best parts about the Camco Rhino RV waste tank is the sewer outlet options and the rinse valves.
There is a standard sewer connection on the bottom of the tank. You can use this connection to fill the tank and also empty it by standing it up.
Camco also included a gated sewer connection on the side of the tank so you can empty it without having to stand it up.
The second sewer hose connection feature is only found on 1 other RV portable waste tank. It really comes in handy when emptying.
It’s especially nice because you can hook up and dump the portable 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 an inner tank sprayer.
Just connect a garden hose to the sprayer, turn on the water, and watch as it rinses out the waste tank.
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, it’s very tall, 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 around 40 lbs when empty. When completely full, it will be around 340 lbs.
It measures 46 inches long, 25 inches wide, and 15.5 inches tall.
Included with the purchase is a 15 inch water hose rinse adapter, a clear elbow with a 4 in 1 adapter, a clear double bayonet elbow, sewer hose caps, 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, toughness, and portability.
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
- Steel Tow Bar
- Easy Turn Design
- May Not Fit Under RV Sewer Pipe Outlet For Easy Filling
2. Thetford SmartTote2 RV Portable Waste Tank
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.
The tank sits on 4 wheels and looks a lot like a wagon with a plastic telescopic handle for pulling around by hand or towing 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.
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Wide set front wheels are more stable than the close together version. It’s a better design for rocky and uneven surfaces. But it can be harder to turn, especially when it’s fully loaded and heavy.
The drain 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 rises with the water level.
There is also a cap that lifts to reveal a small open hole wide enough to fit a garden hose through to rinse out the tank.
This is also an air vent to allow airflow when filling and 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 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.
Don’t worry, there’s a heavy duty cap included to seal off the hose, so nothing comes out during transport.
- Can Be Towed With Vehicle
- Opening For Rinsing With Hose
- Lightweight (When Empty)
- Stable Wheel Layout
- No Gate Valve To Stop Waste Water From Going Into Hose
- Connected RV Sewer Hose Is Hard To Replace
- Hard To Maneuver
- Lower Quality Parts (Plastic)
3. Barker 4-Wheeler Tote Tank
The Barker RV portable waste tank is a close second to the Camco Rhino because of its excellent construction and features.
It’s the biggest portable RV waste tank in this review with a 42 gallon capacity.
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 bigger RV sewer tanks like the 42 gallon Barker is they’re very heavy when full. 42 gallons of water weighs around 336 lbs.
If you are planning on manually transporting your RV waste tank, you should to consider getting something that’s smaller and more manageable or only partially fill it.
But because of the long metal tow handle, it’s pretty easy to hook the Barker to a vehicle.
The tank part is made with blow-molded polyethylene with zinc plated steel wheel 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 use air (50 psi on the back 10″ wheels and 30 psi on the 6″ front wheels) and 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 use to pull 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.
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There is a gated sewer hose connection on the side. So you can dump the entire thing without having to lift it.
On the top, there’s another sewer hose connection for filling the portable tank. You can also use this opening to rinse out the waste tank when it’s empty.
Near the front, there is a bobber gauge that shows the amount of waste in the tank. 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.
- Aluminum Handle/Tow Bracket
- Gated Side Sewer Valve
- Bobble Indicator
- High Quality Tires
- Wheel Bearings & Grease Fittings
- Easy To Maneuver
- Can Get Flat Tires
- Small Tires Aren’t Great For Uneven Surfaces
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 on 2 wheels and a thin metal handle for towing it behind a vehicle or pulling on all 4 wheels.
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There’s a vented sewer connection on the top for easy filling.
On the bottom there’s a clear plastic sewer outlet 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 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.
The Tote-N-Store 4-Wheeler Portable Waste Tank has an interesting 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.
The wide wheel design can also be a little hard to maneuver on uneven ground.
- 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
- Wheels Aren’t Super Durable
- Not Great For Rocky Ground
- Small Front Wheels Make Turning More Difficult
What To Look For In A Portable RV 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 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.
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 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 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 have a downside which is how heavy they get when full of black or grey water.
If you decide on getting a large portable 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 pulley system and ramp.
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 smell and can even damage the insides of the tank.
Most of the sewer tanks in this review 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 (click to view on Amazon) because 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 every camper has one of those.
Make sure you find a decent place to store your sewer tank before you purchase. Outside is preferable.
Conclusion About Portable RV Waste Tanks
Portable RV dump tanks are awesome for dry camping without any kind of sewer connection.
They can come in handy when visiting someone’s home with your RV, and you want 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. Even though they are very heavy when full, your vehicle should be able to do most of the work.
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If you need to drive a long distance to get to an RV dump station, you might get a smaller RV portable waste tank that two people can lift or drag into the bed of a truck.
Luckily, all the portable RV waste tanks in this review also come with smaller, more manageable options. You can also just fill the large tank halfway so it’s lighter.
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 setup 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 over 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.
Many 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 inches 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 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 (click to view on Amazon) 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.