This image shows the Cabela's Privy Shelter on the bank of a river on a sandy beach.
Chris Maxcer

Cabela’s Privy Shelter Review

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If you’re camping or day tripping with kids, aging adults or inexperienced campers, you need to take along a portable potty system — and a key component of your outdoor bathroom is a privy. The Cabela’s Privy Shelter is a strong and roomy privy that packs down into its own small duffle bag.

So what is a privy, exactly?

A privy is basically a tall tent-like privacy shield that lets you go to the bathroom in camping and day-trip areas that don’t have outhouses or bathrooms readily available. To use a privy properly, you’ll want to have a portable potty system — basically a portable toilet or a sanitary bucket-based toilet system.

No matter what, even if you’re an experienced outdoor camper in areas with unimproved campgrounds or no campgrounds at all, a portable privy can make the call of nature easier and more environmentally friendly.

To give us a closer look at the Cabela’s Privy Shelter, Cabela’s provided us with a review unit, which we promptly took on a day picnic trip jet boating up the Snake River between Idaho and Washington — and then took it to hunting camp, too.

Here is what we learned. . . .

Cabela’s Privy Shelter Review

The Cabela’s Privy Shelter is one of the best we’ve seen — it’s roomy but lightweight and packs down small. Because a privy is usually a vertical sort of tent, you need guy lines to stake it down so it won’t blow away in the wind. The Cabela’s Privy Shelter has plenty of easy-to-use guy lines and stakes. (If you need it for a quick emergency for a kid who can’t hold it, for example, you could get away with not staking it down immediately because it has a freestanding design overall.)

This photo shows the Cabela's Privy Shelter on the bank of a river next to a jet boat in the water.
The Cabela’s Privy Shelter is small enough to toss into a boat, which is handy because sometimes the best spots don’t have outhouses.

The material quality is excellent — a lot of other privy materials we’ve seen have been too poorly made to last, so it’s good to see quality polyester material in the shelter walls and top rain fly.

The four-corner poles are strong and made from steel while the top cross poles are fiberglass. We’d like to see aluminum, but hey, this is a privy shelter and the price is right. Frankly, we’re not sure we’d be willing to pay more for awesome ultralight aluminum poles, but if Cabela’s upgraded to aluminum in the future, we’d geek out over it.

Cabela’s Privy Shelter Review: Setup

The first time I set this up alone, I struggled and grabbed an extra set of hands to help. The second time I set it up entirely alone and it was much easier, much faster. The trick is to extend all the poles first, then place the four corner posts into the corner pins. Then connect the lighter fiberglass poles to the top of the privy in an “X” formation. Lift and hold two side poles then grab the top of the privy with the fiberglass poles. Connect one side to the top then work your way around to the other side. The point is, use a buddy if you can, but if you can’t, one person can set up the Cabela’s Privy Shelter.

Once it’s mostly up, you’ll want to connect the shelter to the poles and stake down the four bottom corners. If you want, you can put on the top “roof” fly and stake it down with the included guy lines. Once you do stake it down properly, it’s surprisingly wind resistant.

Cabela’s Privy Shelter Review: Built-In Shelf and Amenities

The Cabela’s Privy Shelter includes a built-in shelf for toiletries, which is set up with a fiberglass stabilizer rod from the inside. It works well for holding critical things like toilet paper, wet wipes or hand sanitizer.

Cabela’s also includes several mesh pockets near the top and sides, giving you additional storage for whatever you might need.

Is this shelter strong enough to shower in? Probably not with a hanging-bag solar shower from the lantern hook at the top of the privy, but you could certainly use a portable camp shower system that heats and pumps water for you. In fact, Cabela’s included a tarp floor that you can use to stand on . . . or roll back out of the way if you don’t need it.

As for the pooping and peeing part, we appreciate the flushable convenience of the Thetford Porta Potti Campa Potti XT but often prefer the instant simplicity of a Reliance Luggable Loo Toilet with some Luggable Loo Double Doodie Bags.

A lot of people forget about pooping and peeing in the woods until it’s too late — which is the whole point of us doing this review. So now you know and can plan ahead!

All-in-all, the Cabela’s Privy Shelter is roomy, durable and packs down small enough that it’s easy to toss into a car, pickup or boat for any picnic or camping trip. If you add an inexpensive Luggable Loo Toilet, you’ll be ready with a private toilet system most any adult or child can utilize in the outdoors and off the beaten path.

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