Employing a portable tank eliminates the need to break camp while staying in parks without sewer hookups
Taking a rig to an RV park that has a dump station but no sewer hookups requires additional planning, especially for a family, as the gray and black tanks can fill up fast. Having to break camp every time the holding tanks need emptying is downright inconvenient, making the purchase of a portable waste tank money well spent.
Portable tanks come in a variety of sizes, with varying features, depending on the size and price point. The problem, in many cases, is where to store the tank in an RV. A 35-gallon tank is quite large and can displace needed stored items that tend to fill up compartments. However, using a portable tank that’s smaller than the onboard holding tank entails an attentive transfer process to avoid an overflowing mess. A portable model that’s equal
in size or larger than the onboard tanks is preferred.
One of the best-designed portable tanks on the market is the Thetford SmartTote2.
Thetford started from ground level and developed the SmartTote2, a portable tank that is light, strong and easy to use. The tank is made of a durable plastic that’s relatively lightweight but can handle the stress of carrying heavy contents, being pulled around and then dumped.
The SmartTote2 is available in four two-wheel models in capacities from 12 to 35 gallons. The more elaborate four-wheel models come in 18-, 27- and 35-gallon sizes with an extendable towing handle, an AutoStop level gauge so the fill level can be determined, a vent for fast emptying, and a rinsing port. There is also a built-in hose with connectors mounted inside a closable PermaStore compartment. The four-wheel SmartTote2 LX we tested is the company’s deluxe tank.
The LX comes with almost everything needed, but to dump the tank cleanly and safely requires a few more things. First, a donut for the sewer-hose elbow attachment helps ensure that the hose remains sealed to the sewer connection. Second is a rinsing hose dedicated to black and gray water; never use a potable-water hose for sewage purposes. Short hoses are available in black and gray colors to differentiate them from freshwater hoses. Lastly, rubber or latex gloves and safety goggles should be used to protect against sewage spills and splashes.
The tank requires no assembly and is ready to use out of the box. The included attachments make the process as clean and easy as possible.
Transporting a portable tank in an RV can be a challenge because of the size, and — let’s face it — we don’t want a sewage tank near anything we touch regularly. Thetford has come up with the Tote Storage System ladder mount that is designed to support an empty portable tank, no matter the size, on the RV’s roof-access ladder.
The lightweight aluminum ladder mount has swiveling arms that are wrapped in a rubber sleeve on the bottom to cradle the tank, which is held in place with a pull-strap. The mount permanently attaches to the ladder via swivel brackets that allow the arms to swing out of the way. It took about 20 minutes to install the mount on a travel trailer ladder. SmartTote2 LX tanks sell for $225 to $325 and come with a one-year warranty. The Tote Storage System ladder mount has an MSRP of $74.99.
Chris Dougherty is technical editor of Trailer Life and MotorHome. Chris is an RVDA/RVIA certified technician and lifelong RVer, including 10 years as a full-timer. He and his wife make their home in Massachusetts and hit the road with their travel trailer every chance they get.