Despite what soap companies want us to think, going outside and getting dirty isn’t going to kill us. Even eating dirt every once in a while can be good for us. But if you’re trying to stay well-groomed and hygienic, you’re still going to have to clean off eventually — even in the great outdoors.
Whether you’re on the go, at a dispersed campsite in the middle of nowhere, or in the beach parking lot on the way to work after a morning surf session, a portable camping shower can get you clean with little effort. We’ve tracked down some of the best showers in five categories.
Keep in mind that these aren’t just for showering yourself off either. Spraying down dirty kids, a muddy dog, or dirty dishes while in the front country are all easy with a portable hot water shower for camping.
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A bag of water hanging from a tree is the simplest way to shower. You’ll just need to choose what size and kind of nozzle you want.
Advanced Elements 3-Gallon Summer Shower
Don’t be fooled by the silver appearance of the 3-Gallon Summer Shower from Advanced Elements. Four layers and a reflective surface on the inside heat up the water to well over 110 degrees Fahrenheit after a couple of hours in the sun. The Summer Shower has an easy-on nozzle and a small pocket for soap or the included mirror. The 3-gallon size is manageable when it’s full of water but there are 2.5- and 5-gallon versions available, too.
Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower
The 5-Gallon Solar Shower from Coleman is a simple take on the shower bag idea. Just fill the bag, hang it in a tree, and let gravity handle the water pressure. A strong handle lets you carry and hang the bag. A quick twist of the nozzle releases up to five gallons of water — more than enough for up to three showers if you’re practicing good water management. For around $20, you could have a few up around the cabin or campsite.
FeChiX Portable Solar Camping Shower
For budget campers looking for an inexpensive portable shower for camping, this solar-heated model from FeChiX is ideal. Just hang it in direct sunlight for around three hours, and the five-gallon capacity delivers a hot (up to 113°F) shower or two — no battery required. The best part? It’s less than $10.
Out in the woods, hanging bags of water that weigh over 40 pounds can be tough. Just hoisting a bag shower into a tree can prove to be a workout. By contrast, pump-style camp showers pressurize the water in a container, and then squeeze it out via a nozzle. Don’t expect a “Super Soaker” kind of pressure, but it’s often more than enough to clean off salt, mud, and whatever else you like rolling around in.
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower
The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower features a foot pump, a collapsible water container, and a spray hose. Fill the bag from any water source, pump it up, and you’re ready to go. Hold the button on the nozzle for on, let it go for off. When you’re done, the whole thing collapses down to a compact 17 inches by nine inches. If you haven’t tried the latest cold shower trend, then you’ll probably want to heat the water first by leaving it in the sun for a few hours.
For ultimate ease of use, the RinseKit POD connects to a hose tap which fills the tank with water and pressurizes the system at the same time. The 1.75-gallon tank gives you three minutes and 30 seconds of spray time via five settings on a six-foot hose. A port on the side attaches to an air pump if you don’t have a hose tap nearby. An optional car-powered heater can also plug into the port, taking your backcountry shower to spa level.
Yakima’s clever RoadShower is the best portable camp shower for road-trippers. It easily mounts to most automotive roof racks for heated, pressurized hose-downs anywhere the dirt road takes you. The base version holds up to four gallons of water under constant pressure, heated by the sun during the day. An integrated thermometer lets you know just how hot the water is before you decide to rinse off yourself, your dog, or your camp dishes. Just attach a portable shower stall to your vehicle for camping, and you’re ready to get wet in relative privacy. For serious off-roaders and overlanders, seven- and 10-gallon models are also available.
Reliance Products Flow Pro Pressurized Portable Shower
At just two gallons, Reliance Outdoors’ Flow Pro Pressurized Portable Shower is one of the smallest camping showers on this list. But its myriad features, including a neoprene sleeve, trigger-action shower head, and mesh storage pouch (for stashing your camp toiletries), make it a great buy. Plus, at around $30, it’s affordable to boot.
From bicycles to surfboards, everything has a battery now, so it’s no surprise that showers are getting electrified, too.
Geyser Systems Portable Hot Shower
Compared to its competition, the $325 Geyser Systems Portable Hot Shower seems outrageously expensive. It stands out among the other portable showers on this list, however, for its clever design that maximizes your hot shower with minimal water usage. It delivers a hot (95-degree), seven-minute shower using less than a gallon of water without pressurization. Just plug it into your vehicle’s 12V socket or a backup battery and scrub away.
Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
The Portable Outdoor Shower from Ivation is a simple battery-powered pump attached to a hose and showerhead. It comes with a hook and suction cup to hang the nozzle so you have both hands to attend to your beauty regimen. The source hose goes straight into the water, be it a bucket or stream. While no heater is built-in, a filter keeps the dirt and grime out. The USB-rechargeable battery lasts for an hour.
Sometimes cold showers are great. But, nothing makes you feel human again in the woods like a long hot shower. Propane is the perfect way to achieve that.
Mr. Heater BOSS-XB13 Basecamp Shower System
Mr. Heater’s Boss line of portable camping showers uses a propane burner (fueled by standard, one-pound canisters) to heat your shower water and a D-cell-powered to pump it. The XB-13 is the smallest model in the lineup but delivers 0.6 gallons per minute with up to 40 minutes of runtime. The 12,000 BTUs of power fires up with electric ignition, heating the water up to 35 degrees Fahrenheit over the source water temperature. Pair it with a portable shower tent for
These clever attachments turn ordinary water containers or jugs into legit portable camp showers.
Simple Shower Portable Camping Shower
True to its name, Simple Shower’s Portable Camping Shower is hands-down the most straightforward option on this list. The kit turns most 1- and 2-liter plastic bottles (including collapsible water bottles and bladders) into a go-anywhere shower. The lightweight design is easy to use. Simply attach it to your bottle, invert it, and enjoy a steady stream of water.
LifeSaver Jerrycan Shower Attachment
Jerrycans have become something of a symbol of overlanding. Anyone serious about venturing far off-grid likely has a jerrycan (or three) attached to their rig with backup fuel or water. This simple attachment from LifeSaver turns any water-containing jerrycan into a portable camping shower. Beyond washing yourself, it’s also a great option for cleaning dishes, outdoor gear, or dirty pets, too.
Whether setting up camp in the front- or backcountry, space is at a premium for most campers. Having gear that pulls double- or even triple-duty is a great way to keep your loadout to a bare minimum. If you’d rather not carry a separate camping shower (which really only serves one purpose), the best way to build a portable
If you’re a hardcore, no-frills sort of camper, your Nalgene bottle and a bit of biodegradable camp soap are all you’ll need to scrub down. But, if you’re looking for a solution that feels a bit more like your shower at home, it’s not hard to build your own portable camping shower for backcountry use. From our list above, the simplest solution is to use something like the Simple Shower Portable
Most modern household showers deliver around two to three gallons of water per minute. That means a 10-minute shower uses up to 30 gallons of water. Common portable showers, however, are designed for far more modest water usage. The showerheads are typically much smaller with pin-sized holes, so showering with a portable shower for camping might feel more like a trickle than the refreshing blast of water you’re used to at home.
Even the largest portable showers hold a maximum of five gallons of water. For amateur campers, this is typically enough for one person to take a relatively decent shower with enough time to soap up and rinse off. More experienced campers might be able to stretch those same five gallons to two or even three showers. The key is to be ruthless about turning the showerhead on and off. Never let it freeflow. By using the “navy shower” method, you can cut your water consumption — both in the wild and at home — by up to 95%.
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