Vaulted Toilet Vs. Pit Toilet

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You can expect to install a fully plumbed toilet in your home's bathroom, connecting it to the sewer or septic system. For waste facilities at a campground or remote park, a traditional toilet isn't a viable option. You instead need to consider choices like a vaulted toilet or a pit toilet.

Toilet Types

Vaulted toilets and pit toilets are types of waste systems usually found at campgrounds, parks and other nonresidential areas of the U.S. They are still found in urbanized areas of other countries with still-developing waste management systems. Pit toilets can be as simple as a trench dug in the ground, with users standing or squatting over it. More elaborate forms include benches with holes and occasionally roofed structures. Vaulted toilets are self-contained units, usually meant for one person's use at a time. They have doors and a ceiling. Waste is deposited into a vault that must be periodically emptied and cleaned.


Pit toilets are cheap to construct and require little maintenance. Campers can create their own when no waste facilities are available. If the pit is large enough, it won't need to be emptied. Waste will break down quickly enough on its own. Vault toilets offer advantages, including privacy and comfort. Depending on how elaborately they are constructed, they might contain battery-powered lights or dispensers for hand-sanitizing gel. Plastic vaulted toilets are portables, so they can be moved where they are needed, such as festivals or events taking place in parks.


Flies will be attracted if pit toilets are not properly ventilated. A heavily-used pit toilet can fill. The area needs to be covered with a layer of dirt and then a new pit dug in a new location. If a bench or building has been constructed over the pit, they also need to be moved. Because a vault toilet is self contained, it needs to be emptied, cleaned and sanitized on a regular basis. If the ventilation system on a vaulted toilet is blocked or dirty, it too can develop issues with odors.


Choosing between a pit toilet and a vaulted toilet comes down to use and available funds. If little money is available, a pit toilet is the cheapest option. It is also a good option for an area that receives very little use and no maintenance, like an isolated campsite. For portability and increased privacy and sanitation, a vaulted toilet is a better option. They also appeal more to people accustomed to in-home, modernized bathroom facilities.

Kay Wagers

Kay Wagers is a copywriter in Arizona and has worked for over five years for clients in a wide variety of industries. Wagers has contributed pieces to several fiction magazines and holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and in history from the University of Arizona.