Despite what soap companies want us to think, going outside and getting dirty isn’t going to kill us. Eating dirt every once in a while can even 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, in the middle of nowhere, or in the beach parking lot on the way to work after a morning surf session, portable showers can get you clean with little effort. We’ve tracked down some of the best in each of the different types: bag, pump, electric, and propane.
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They aren’t just for showering either. Spraying down dirty kids, a muddy dog, or dirty dishes while camping are all easy with a portable shower.
A bag of water hanging from a tree is the simplest way to shower. You’ll 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 is a simple take on the shower bag idea. Fill up the bag and hang it in a tree. A strong handle lets you carry and hang the bag. With a twist of the nozzle, the water is on. Five gallons is enough for multiple showers and, for only $15, you could have a few up around the cabin or campsite.
Hanging bags of water that weight over 40 pounds can be a tough thing to do. Every shower is a workout to hoist a bag into a tree. Bo contrast, pump-style showers pressurize the water in a container then squeeze it out via a nozzle. It’s not going to be Super Soaker kind of pressure, but more than enough to clean the salt and mud off.
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower
The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower features a foot pump, collapsible water container, and spray hose. Fill the bag from any water source, pump it up, and you’re ready to go. When you’re done, the whole thing collapses to 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches. Hold the button on the nozzle for on, let it go for off. 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 4 minutes of spray time on a 6-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. A larger 3-gallon Lux shower is also available.
Watching new surfers try to extricate themselves from a rubber straight-jacket is beyond a comedy of errors. Just trying to get out of the wetsuit is difficult, never mind keeping it clean while doing it. The BeachBox gives you a leg, well, a lid to stand on while cleaning all the salt off at the same time. The BeachBox is essentially a storage box with a water tank inside. Pump the water tank to pressurize for a shower. Stand on the lid for a non-slip surface or right in the box to keep things tidy. A separate compartment inside the box keeps clothes and towels dry and mini storage pods hold surf wax and your soap.
Best Electric Showers
From bicycles to surfboards, everything has a battery now, so it’s no surprise that showers are getting electrified, too.
Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
The Portable Outdoor Shower from Ivation is a simple battery-powered pump attached to a hose and shower head. 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.
Suaoki Portable Camping Shower
The Portable Camping Shower by Suaoki, a growing battery and car accessory manufacturer, is a great option if you will have a vehicle around. Plug the 12-volt plug into the cigarette lighter of your car or solar battery, then shower away. The 9-foot cord lets you set up the shower anywhere you like near the car. Hang the nozzle easily with the included hook and suction cup. If you need hot water, heat a batch in the sun or on the stove and chuck it in the shower bucket.
Best Heated Shower
Cold showers are great and all, but what we’re really looking for is a long hot shower. Propane is the perfect way to achieve that.
Zodi Single Burner Traveler Shower
The Zodi Single Burner Traveler Shower uses a propane burner to heat the water and a D-cell-powered pump to push the water. Everything packs up in the 4-gallon case, which holds enough water for a 10-minute shower. Have a good friend refill the bucket or take another for an even longer shower. The included adapter connects to small camping propane tanks but an optional adapter connects to barbecue grill-size tanks. A piezo push-button igniter gets the heat going for luxury showers in the middle of nowhere.
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