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An RV portable waste tank (aka blue boy or sewer tote) can be incredibly useful. After all, who wants to pack up and move the entire RV just to empty the waste tanks? Not me! Enter the portable RV waste tank!
Imagine you are camping in an awesome secluded site in a state park enjoying the peace and quiet. The only downside is, yup you guessed it, no sewer hookup. And of course, you realize, your tanks are almost full.
You have two choices:
1) Pack up your whole RV and head to the dump station.
2) Pull out your handy dandy portable RV waste tank and use it to empty your tank without moving your RV.
So, as you can see, a sewer tote is convenient.
But, the truth is, they are not for everyone.
So, do you need an RV portable waste tank? And what are the must-have features? Let’s take a look and find out how to choose the best blue boy!
- Quick Overview: What to Look For in a Portable RV Sewer Tote
- Portable RV Waste Tank – Best Choices
- Portable RV Waste Tank Guide
- Portable RV Waste Tank Features to Consider
- RV Portable Waste Tank FAQs
Quick Overview: What to Look For in a Portable RV Sewer Tote
TLDR: Here’s the short and sweet hit list of important features to consider in a portable waste tank.
- Quality of Construction: Look for a heavy duty blow molded UV stabilized tank.
- Two Wheels vs. Four: We recommend a four wheel model because they can be moved without lifting the (very heavy when full) front of the tote. However, the two wheeled models are quite a bit less expensive.
- Easy of Emptying: A gate valve on the side of the tote enables dumping without lifting. Some sewer totes have to be stood up on end to be emptied (this is much easier with a built in handle). In addition, an integrated flush system makes cleaning the tank simpler.
- Tire and Wheel Material: Rubber tires can handle a wider variety of road surfaces than hard plastic tires. In terms of longevity and strength, metal wheels should hold up better than plastic.
- Size: Optimally, a portable RV waste tank will fit the entire contents of your RV grey or black tank so there is no chance of overfilling. There are some trade offs here because the larger portable tanks are harder (and heavier) to maneuver when full and take up more room to store.
- Storage: Make sure to consider where you will carry your sewer tote during transport. Popular choices include on the RV ladder or mounted on the bumper.
- Transporting to the Dump Station: How will you tow your portable RV sewer tank to the dump station? While many RVers already have a vehicle with a hitch that can be used, some may not.
- Height of your RVs’ Tank Outlet: If your tank outlet is lower than the sewer tote inlet, it will be difficult to empty your tanks.
Portable RV Waste Tank – Best Choices
Rhino 4 Wheel Portable Waste Holding Tank – Top Pick
- Made of durable blow molded, UV stabilized HDPE.
- 4 wheel model improves maneuverability – no lifting required!
- Built in ladder hook and tie down strap channels for storage.
- Side gate valve simplifies dumping.
- Tank design enables all waste to flow out the side gate valve without the need to move the tank around.
- Integrated tank flush system.
- 24 inch sturdy metal tow bar.
- Flat proof rubber tires.
- Includes clear elbow with 4-in-1 adapter and clear double bayonet elbow.
- Available in 28 gallon or 36 gallon sizes.
Barker 4-Wheeler Sewer Tote – Runner Up
- Made of durable blow-molded polyethylene, zinc-plated steel and aluminum.
- 4 wheel model improves maneuverability – no lifting required!
- Side gate valve simplifies dumping.
- Heavy duty metal tow handle.
- Pneumatic wheels with axle bearings, a grease fitting, and premium metal wheels.
- Fill level indicator.
- Available in 25 gallon, 32 gallons and 42 gallon sizes.
Rhino 2 Wheel Portable Waste Holding Tank – Best Budget Pick
The Rhino 28 and 36 gallon two wheeled portable waste tanks are the same as the 4 wheeled version but they have a detachable tow bar and only two wheels. The best part is, if you’re on the fence between two wheels and four, there’s an upgrade kit! So you can try the two wheeler and if it’s too heavy to handle comfortably, pick up the kit to upgrade to four wheels. It’s easy to install.
Portable RV Waste Tank Guide
Now that we’ve covered our top picks and the most important considerations briefly, we’ll take a more detailed look at each feature. But first things first, do you even need one at all, and why you might not even want a portable waste tank.
Do you need a sewer tote?
If you want to do a lot of boondocking or camping at state or national parks without full hookup sites, a portable waste tank is definitely worth adding to your RV kit. Especially if you’d like to stay for a longer period of time (and not constantly worry about how full your tanks are).
On the other hand, if you camp almost exclusively at full hookup campsites, then you really don’t need one at all. Realistically, even if you spend a few days a year camping without hookups you can probably use water sparingly and just dump your tanks on the way out. After all, space is limited in an RV, why carry a big and bulky item you rarely use?
What are the drawbacks of a sewer tote?
While portable RV waste tanks are convenient and can help you extend your stay at a non-sewer campsite, they do have some potential issues.
- Portable RV waste tanks, especially the larger sizes, are big! So they take up quite a bit of room to store.
- They are kind of gross. I mean, we’re talking about grey and black water. This is why they are often stored outside the RV.
- Extremely heavy when full.
- It’s a bit of a process to empty your tanks with a sewer tote. (Not as time consuming as breaking camp and driving your RV to the dump station though!)
Portable RV Waste Tank Features to Consider
If you’re still on board and can’t wait to be able to empty your tanks without moving your RV, let’s look at the features you’ll want to consider when selecting a portable RV waste tank.
Quality of Construction
Is it well built and sturdy? It probably goes without saying that the last thing you want to break or leak is a full sewer tote. Yuck!
Ideally, you want a heavy duty blow molded tank that is UV stabilized for longevity.
In a perfect world, your sewer tote would be as big or bigger than your RV tank. That way, there is no chance of overflowing the portable waste tank. That said, if you’d prefer a smaller portable tank you can absolutely use one. Just keep a close eye on how full the sewer tote is as you empty your tanks.
Tip: A clear double bayonet elbow makes it easy to see how full the sewer tote is getting when emptying your RV tanks. (All Rhino sewer totes come with one.)
Second, the size of the portable waste tank directly impacts it’s weight when full and consequently a larger model can be difficult to maneuver.
How much does a portable RV waste tank weigh when full? Let’s look at a few common sizes. For simplicity, we’ll use the weight of water – 8.34 pounds per gallon.
|Portable RV Waste Tank Size||Weight Empty||Weight When Full|
|15 Gallon Rhino Portable Tote Tank||31.5 pounds||156.6 pounds|
|28 Gallon Rhino (4 Wheel) Portable Tote Tank||49 pounds||282.52 pounds|
|36 Gallon Rhino (4 Wheel) Portable Tote Tank||52.5 pounds||352.74 pounds|
|42 Gallon Barker 4 Wheel Tote-Along||47 pounds||397.28 pounds|
So as you can see, sewer totes get heavy fast! Which brings us to wheels.
RV portable waste tanks either have two wheels or four wheels.
We prefer the four wheel models because they can be moved while laying flat. While you may not need to move the tote very far, it’s still much easier on four wheels.
In order to move a two wheeled sewer tote, you have to lift the front. And as we discussed earlier, these guys are really heavy when full. That said, the two wheeled models are substantially cheaper.
Tire and Wheel Material
Where wheels and tires are concerned, stronger and sturdier is better. My top choice would be a pneumatic (air filled) tire with a metal wheel. A rubber flat proof tire is also a good choice.
While a hard plastic wheel may be just fine in a campground with paved roads, a rugged rubber or pneumatic tire will be able to more easily traverse bumpy or gravel roads.
Dimensions & Storage
Portable RV waste tanks take up a good amount of space and the larger ones can weigh over 50 pounds when empty! So, consider where you’ll store your sewer tote. Common options include on the RV ladder (if you have one) or on a bumper rack. Some models even have a ladder hook and indentations for tie down straps built in!
Transporting to the Dump Station
RV sewer totes are designed to be attached to a hitch and towed (slowly!) to the dump station. In other words, you’ll need a vehicle with a hitch. You may be able to tow a four wheeled tote to the dump station by hand if it’s close but don’t count on it. Did I mention these totes are really heavy when full? Also, look for a portable waste tank with a strong metal tow bracket.
Ease of Emptying and Handling
OK, the whole point of a portable RV waste tank is to make it easier to empty your tanks without moving your whole RV. So, it should be easy right?
Optimally, you want a gate valve on the side of the tank so that you can simply attach your sewer hose at the dump station to empty it. Be aware that some sewer totes need to be stood up on end for dumping – a handle is extremely helpful for this.
In addition, the tank interior should slope towards the drain hole so that you don’t have to move the tote around to empty the last bits of liquid.
A built in flushing mechanism is a great feature for keeping a blue boy clean. Yes, you can effectively clean out the sewer tote with a simple hose inlet. It’s just much easier (and less hands on) to do it with a flush inlet that sprays the inside of the tank.
Use a dedicated “dump” hose for flushing your sewer tote. Not your fresh water hose.
A fill sensor is handy to have, but you’ll still have to pay attention to how full your portable tote is because you need to ensure there is room for any liquid still in your sewer hose. Clear sewer fittings are a great way to keep an eye on what’s going on as you empty your tanks.
Height of RV Waste Tanks & Outlet Valve
It’s important to note that emptying your RV sewer system relies on gravity. So the portable sewer tote has to sit lower than the RV tanks (and preferably lower than the outlet) in order for the contents to drain. On some small RVs, the outlet valve and the black and grey tanks sit fairly close to the ground – this can be an issue for a sewer tote. The Barker sewer totes are typically slightly shorter than the Rhino tanks.
RV Portable Waste Tank FAQs
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We’ve been full-time RVers since 2012. Over 127,000 miles and 47 states later, we are still towing our home around the United States.
On TowingHome we share what we have learned along the way; what we love (and what we don’t) about the RV lifestyle, tips and tricks, our favorite campgrounds, places and gear.
We hope that it makes your journey a little bit easier.