Pontoon boats are pretty complete when you think about all the stuff they can do for recreation and fun. But when you look at things from the angle of comfort and convenience, there’s the glaring issue of bathroom provision. It’s true - pontoons aren’t usually designed to have bathrooms straight from the showroom. And once you experience what it’s like to share a communal toilet at the local marina, then you’ve probably already daydreamed about having a bathroom on your boat.
Fortunately, there are ways you can achieve just that without having to exceed your budget. Pontoon boat bathrooms aren’t quite as complicated as they seem, and most of the stuff you’ll need are relatively accessible. So if you were hoping to set up your own private bathroom on board, here’s what you need.
How to Set Up a Bathroom on a Pontoon
There are two basic elements for a pontoon boat bathroom: an enclosure and a portable toilet. Once you have these two items down, you basically have a rudimentary private toilet space that you can use on board. Keep in mind though that the quality of the bathroom experience depends on how well you took the time to consider the qualities of your portable toilet and enclosure.
The Best Portable Toilets for Pontoon Boat Bathrooms
The Camco Portable Travel Toilet is perhaps one of the best on the market, featuring a full-sized seat for maximum comfort. The sleek exterior has as little nooks and crannies as possible, allowing easier maintenance and cleaning. It also comes with a convenient push-button flush that lets you wash away waste material with little effort and maximum efficiency.
The water reservoir holds up to two gallons of water, while its holding tank - set underneath the seat - features a 5.3-gallon capacity. The tank comes equipped with a valve seal that works to prevent foul odors from leaking out and from the tank’s contents from spilling over. To empty the tank, there are latches that release the tank from the seat for easy removal.
Lightweight and simplified, this travel toilet features a sleek silhouette and a full-sized seat. Unlike other toilets that feature a locked holding tank, this pick touts a basic waste pail fixture just beneath the seat, catching and collecting waste material into a small bucket. To clean out the toilet, just take the bucket out and get rid of the contents.
While it doesn’t come with a flush feature, the design does help streamline the cleaning process by letting you use waste bags. Lining the waste pail with a biodegradable bag makes maintenance a breeze, and eliminates the need for constant rinsing, cleaning, and washing of the toilets parts. Oh, and did we mention it comes with a toilet paper roll holder?
The Best Toilet Enclosures for Boat Bathrooms
The Alvantor Shower Tent Changing Room is a spacious pop-up tent that can comfortably accommodate even your larger pontoon guests. It uses galvanized steel that’s covered with Teflon-coated fabric for maximum durability against the elements. These materials come together to create a sturdy frame and structure, and even work to protect the user against harsh UV rays.
This particular changing room comes with a base panel that prevents spills and residue from staining your decking. Up top, it features mesh panels that improve ventilation and odor control to keep the inside clean and fresh. Other than all of that, the tent also touts a number of straps, pockets, and compartments on the inside that hold your clothes, smartphone, and other essentials.
Unlike the typical changing room design, this choice hangs from your bimini top. These portable boat toilet curtains have some heft to them, so they dangle straight down and don’t risk being blown up by strong winds. The heavy duty material Is particularly durable, and because it doesn’t come with a top or bottom panel, it’s a lot cooler and more ventilated than the average pop-up tent.
Up front, the design features a large zipper that gives you access to the space inside. But what really sets it apart is how easy it is to set up and take down, letting you prep your bathroom and pack it away in record time. Velcro straps along the top secure easily to your bimini top, while the weight of the curtain itself ensures that the design stays down even when there’s wind.
Accessories for Your Pontoon Bathroom
With a portable toilet and a privacy tent, you have the basics for a standard, functional bathroom. But you don’t really need to end the effort there. If you want something a little more complete, there are a bunch of bathroom accessories you can get for your boat to make it feel a little closer to home.
1. Toilet Paper Roll Holder
Although it’s absolutely acceptable to just hold on to a roll of toilet paper while you get the job done, a toilet paper roll holder means you never have to forget bringing it with you. There are lots of portable toilet paper roll stands that you can set inside your pop-up tent, right beside the toilet. And some even feature impressive aesthetics for a cozier look.
Check out the TomCare Toilet Paper Holder.
2. Portable Travel Sink
Bathrooms are made up of more than just toilets. A functional sink gives you and your guests a place to wash your hands and disinfect after an appointment with the toilet. There’s a limited selection of portable sinks, but those that are really worth the money come equipped with sizeable water reservoirs and flexible drain spouts for effortless maintenance.
We recommend the SereneLife Portable Camping Sink.
3. Trash Can
And once the deed is done, where does the toilet paper go? Unless you’ve got compostable toilet paper, then you’re going to need a trashcan. Setting up a collapsible garbage bag holder right outside your pop-up tent, or even inside, can provide convenient temporary holding space for trash while you’re still out on the water.
We highly suggest you try the Stormate Collapsible Garbage Bag Holder.
Cleaning Essentials for Pontoon Boat Bathrooms
Routine cleaning should help keep your pontoon’s bathroom fresh and inviting. But because it isn’t like your usual bathroom, it’s important that you look into cleaning essentials that are specifically formulated for maintaining portable toilets, pop-up tents, and pontoons.
1. Compostable Toilet Paper
If you want to be able to dunk your toilet paper straight into the bowl, then you best make sure you’re using compostable toilet paper. This stuff degrades after time, so it’s legal to toss into the same waste management receptacle as human waste. This lets you throw the toilet paper directly into the bowl for an easier bathroom experience.
Check out the Coleman Camper's Toilet Paper Pack.
2. Deodorizer Drop-Ins
Even the best travel toilet designs risk the chance of letting foul smells leak through their locks and valves. So if you want to make sure your pontoon bathroom stays smelling fresh and clean, you might do well to buy a few deodorizer drop ins. These go directly into the holding tank and neutralize foul smells to keep your bathroom fresh.
We like the Deodorizer Drop-Ins by Walex.
3. Waste Pail Bags
If you’re using a travel toilet that comes with a waste pail, then you might want to consider waste pail bags. These line the inside of the pail for easier clean up, letting you collect the waste by simply taking out the bag and replacing it with a new one. They should be biodegradable so you can throw them away where your waste goes.
Always handy to have the Portable Toilet Bags by Green Elephant.
4. Toilet Seat Liners
Ideal for when you’ve got guests on-board, toilet seat liners prevent contact with the toilet seat itself and make sure that your loo stays presentable and clean for the next user. If you can find a biodegradable or compostable option, then you can toss them into the toilet as well.
We recommend getting some Flushable Toilet Seat Covers by Relyo.
5. Portable Toilet Cleaner
Portable toilets use completely different material from your everyday toilet. So those harsh chemical cleaners might abrade the material, cause discoloration, or weaken the toilet all together. Use a cleaner that’s formulated specifically for portable toilets to extend the life of your travel throne.
We suggest getting some Toilet Liquid Deodorizer & Cleaner by Coleman.
6. Disposable Toilet Wands
Cleaning your portable toilet with a reusable toilet wand can be a bit of a logistics problem, since you probably don’t want to keep the soiled brush on board. Fortunately, there are disposable toilet wands that you can use and throw away for easier cleaning.
7. Portable Toilet Storage Bag
Remember that your portable toilet can’t be set up while your boat is underway. So as you travel to and from your destination, you have to have a safe space to keep your toilet. A storage bag designed for portable toilets can work well to protect your bathroom piece and keep it out of sight while it isn’t in use or set up.
We recommend the Camco Portable Toilet Storage Bag to keep your portable toilet in a safe place.
Do Most Pontoons Have Bathrooms?
The quick answer is no, most pontoons do not have bathrooms. In fact, even the most experienced pontoon enthusiasts will tell you that they’ve probably never seen a pontoon with a built-in bathroom before. Sure, they exist, but they’re so rare that they’re hard to come by.
Most of the people with bathrooms in their pontoons go through the entire DIY process - similar to what we’ve outlined above. If you ever do come across a pontoon that has a bathroom right from the get-go, it’s probably a luxury vessel that comes from a top-of-the-line manufacturer.
Some pontoon boats with cabins go the extra mile to include a toilet and a shower, along with its own plumbing and holding tank that sits with the rest of the boat’s internal workings. That said, it’s worth noting that these boats also come with eye popping price tags, significantly higher than the average price for a typical pontoon.
Do Most Pontoons Have Toilets?
Again, no. Most pontoon boats don’t have toilets simply because of the cost of having one installed on board. Adding an entire plumbing system to a pontoon can be expensive - not only in the installation itself, but also maintenance. Pipes and a running water supply, together with a freshwater reservoir can significantly weigh down the boat and compound the entire process of care and repairs.
Then there’s the problem of storage. Even the slightest moisture on board over extended periods of time can cause significant damage to a vessel. Which is why pontoon boats with built-in toilets are pretty hard to come by.
Why Pontoons Should Have a Bathroom
Although bathrooms on pontoon boats are pretty much like unicorns in that they’re impossibly rare, there are very good reasons why you might want to consider setting up a DIY private bathroom on your vessel.
Go When You Need To
It can be tough to hold it in when you’re set for a long trip, especially if you’ve got kids on board. Even when your docked, lining up for your turn at the communal toilet can be time consuming. Having a portable toilet on board just improves the overall experience for you and your guests.
It’s no fun to use a public bathroom, and the sounds and smells of doing your business can make it even more uncomfortable. With your own portable pontoon bathroom on board, you can take as much time as you want without having to worry about people on the outside and what they might think (or smell.)
You never know when the water’s waves might induce a feeling of sea sickness, or when a picnic might upset your stomach. Having a bathroom on board is perfect for those moments when things just don’t go according to plan and one of your guests needs quick relief that’s within reach.
Home on The ‘Toon
Sure, you might not have the budget to buy a luxury pontoon with a built-in bathroom, but who says you can’t set one up for a fraction of the cost? There are tons of portable toilets, enclosures, and travel bathroom accessories available to boat owners who want to set up pontoon boat bathrooms. And with this brand new convenience, you can say goodbye waiting in long lines and holding in your urges until you get to the dock.