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An Exhaustive Guide on How to Choose a Portable Camping Shower 

 August 5, 2021

By  Mike Millerson

They say that cleanliness is next to godliness, but there are plenty more reasons to have one of these portable camping showers as a part of your outdoor gear. Hygiene may very well be one of the most overlooked facets of camping and survival situations. You may have thought about everything from cookware right down to the last piece of electrical tape and still have forgotten about ways to stay clean in such a situation.

It is not a secret that spending time out of your house’s comfort zone will bring restrictions to the amenities you will use. Also, your survival skills may become a real asset in such situations. A simple toilet or a soothing shower is one of the first ones you will think of out in nature, especially in the summer camping period, as the amount of sweat and dirt you will carry on yourself is much higher than in other times. Well, that’s what camping means.

Of course, hygiene staves off dirt and grime, but it also gets rid of bacteria, viruses, and allergens, and let’s not forget factors like poison ivy or poison sumac and other plants like them that can cause horrible breakouts. Of course, washing those oils off in a timely fashion can keep a bad breakout from occurring at all, but if you only have a small washcloth or towel, you might wind up spreading it around instead of removing it.

Unfortunately, we cannot bring the home shower to the wilderness. And we need to deal with cold water somehow, too. So, what is the best portable shower for you? Should it have a built-in water pump or an air pump, can it use solar energy to heat water with a simple shower during my outdoor adventures? Let’s find out.

Best Portable Showers: your modern dream or a reality?

You might think that using a simple shower out in the wilderness is impossible. However, the current world’s technologies provide survivalists with various off-grid options, and camping hacks are expanding, too. The ability to very easily wash with warm water is one of them, as most portable camping showers use heat in their work.

But as our free-market economy creates many different portable showers every year or even more often, it might be hard for a first-time survivalist to know what to look for when buying one.

With this information in mind, we created an article on different portable camp showers. You will find the criteria needed for choosing camping showers and examples of some decent ones.

Various methods of portable camping showers’ work

All portable showers provide you with the same function, but the way they do it can differ. Almost any portable camping shower will fall into the following categories:

1. Gravity portable shower

The first type of portable camping shower is a gravity-based one. The way it works is quite simple, as it is just a bag with water in it that gets hang onto something and lets gravity do its thing and circulate water at a permanent pace.

These portable showers are perfect for those with a minimum amount of money who want something simple and compact, as they do not need any additional stuff for getting clean water to you.

2. Electrical shower

As you have probably already guessed, this type is using electrical power for pumping your water reservoir. When you put this device into your water, it then helps you distribute enough water to create a decent water pressure shower with pressure like that of a powerful garden hose.

However, some recharge is needed with this type of portable camping shower, be it the batteries or the socket. Battery-charged ones are mostly used by foot-traveling survivalists, and socket ones by those who use a car in their adventure.

3. Foot pump portable shower

In comparison with gravity portable showers, this type is using a foot pump, for one,  that puts pressure on the water.

A pump water pressure shower brings one big advantage to the person, which is a spraying method of water distribution, not just a pouring one, as with gravity types of showers. Pump portable shower can also be adjusted to the size of your backpack or to the environmental conditions around you, as it can be bought both in a soft and hard structure.

The former one is better for going on your foot, as it does not take much place, but it might be more fragile. The latter one is respectively better for going in a car, as the weight and the size of a shower are not important.

Different ways of getting your water warmed up: sunlight, electricity, and gas

Of course, there are many types of the best portable showers that do not heat the water, but we do not think that you want that.

With this in mind, please look at the following list of different methods that can provide you with a hot shower.

1. The solar-heated water shower method

According to the name above, this type of water heating is using direct sunlight to make your water source warmed up to the ninety-degree temperature, or even more.

The obvious advantage of a solar-heated portable camping shower is that it does not need any additional fuel to be able to provide you with a hot shower, only the help of the sun’s rays.

However, because of that, you can only use them during the day or few hours after sundown. This simple shower also takes a long time to heat up to a good enough temperature, and of course, it is not suitable for the cold weather camp site conditions.

2. The gas-powered method

Gas can be used for various actions in the wilderness, such as for:

  • camp stoves,
  • gas grills,
  • heaters,
  • and boiling of the water for further needs.

What you might not know is that gas is also a great method of heating your portable shower water.

This method is much faster in comparison with the previous one. However, it also means that you will need an additional thing in your survival gear, which is gas. If this is not a problem for you or your weather conditions, do not allow you to use the sun for heating, choose a gas-powered product.

3. Electricity-based method

The way that an electricity-powered portable shower works are similar to a gas-powered one, only instead of propane tanks, electricity is needed for creating a nice hot shower for you.

However, that implies an additional item for you to carry, which is a quite heavy battery. But the advantage of this battery is that it can be solar charged. Also, not all of these types of showers need a battery, and some might be connected to a car adapter.

Important features of any portable shower

Now that all of the types of portable camp showers were described by us above let us talk a bit more about the aspects that every outdoor shower should have.

1. Think about your own needs

As every off-grid adventure or survival situation is different, you firstly need to think about your own specifics that are required.

To give you an idea, think about the places where you would want to use a shower, as it might not have enough sunlight for solar-heated water, the time period that you plan to be away from your home off-grid, and the number of people that will need to use your shower.

If there are any more specifics that your situation requires, do not forget about them when choosing your own best camp shower.

Hint: if you are buying a portable shower for your need in future survival gear, choose the most general and popular ones. No one wants to spend money on an item that will not be of use later.

2. The reservoir’s holding capacity

When choosing a camp shower, do not forget to think about the number of people that are going to use it, as it will affect the size of a tank needed. With this in mind, the capacity can differ from little to nothing for a pocket shower to a multi-gallon water source for a bigger outdoor shower.

3. The size of a portable shower

By that, we mean the actual size and weight of a portable camp shower, as various outdoor and off-grid conditions, can require different characteristics. These mobile road essentials can be in the size of a pocket shower as well as of bigger cooler ones.

When hicking or going by your feet, the former type is for you, but when traveling in the car, this is not a feature worth considering, as it will not make a big difference for you.

4. Do not forget about the composition of camp showers

The type of material used for creating a portable shower is significant, as this feature decides whether or not your portable camp shower will be able to constantly provide you with hot water and do not easily break in a campsite environment.

5. The general rule of thumb

The bigger the shower and the longer is the period of its use, the more solid and thick materials must be used for creating a hard-sided product, which is quite logical, as bigger sizes have a greater possibility of getting ripped.

No matter what is the size of your traveling gear, choosing rigid compositions for showers is always a good idea.

6. Consider heating possibilities of camp showers

Various climate conditions require different heating possibilities: for tropical surroundings, this feature is not as important as others might be, but for colder climates, it is vital to have a decent heating device for creating a warm shower.

Also, this characteristic might be important if you are planning to boil your water for some necessities.

7. Will your portable camping shower be used for any additional functions?

If so, then you will need to look for the highest water pressure, as it will let you use your camp showers for cleaning gear or any other objects, such as:

Some might care for the environment and will only use recycled products, and others will need a mesh storage pouch. Think about all of the possible details.

Moreover, solar showers are not fitted for a vast number of functions, as they are heated longer than other types of devices.

Also, the water capacity for such showers should be bigger than the usual one.

Here are our Top Picks

1. Texsport Portable Deluxe Camp Simple Pressure Shower Shelter Review

Our first model is the Texsport Portable Deluxe Camp Shower Shelter. At 87 inches high and nearly five feet wide and thick, you will have plenty of room to get the job done. A mesh shower rack and removable hanging towel bar make keeping the necessities at arm’s length for ease of access. There is a large, zippered D-style door with heavy-duty polyurethane coated taffeta walls as well as a detachable floor. The 3/4-inch diameter steel poles are rust-resistant and have speed clips that make securing the shelter to the frame quick and easy. There is a rainfly skylight for better visibility, and this unit includes the stakes for securing it in place as well as a convenient carry case.

Also included with this outdoor portable shower unit is the five-gallon Texsport Sun Shower. It is black in color and, when placed in the sun for the day, heats the water to the perfect temperature for showering. Water drains easily, thanks to four separate drain ports, so water accumulation in the bottom of the unit simply does not happen.

  • Dimensions: 87” x 4’6” x 4’6”
  • Weight: 20 pounds

2. Advanced Elements Summer Shower 5 Gallon Review

Next, we have the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower. Note that this is not the complete shower with a tent enclosure; this is only the shower reservoir water bag.

Powered solely by solar power, this reflective silver shower features four-ply construction with a reflector panel as well as an insulator panel. It has an easy-to-use shower head and an extra-large filling valve. Side pockets hold soap, shampoo, and other toiletries and keep them in easy reach while the water temperature gauge lets you know the temperature is perfect. It also has handy Velcro straps to hold your washcloths.

The handheld portable shower bag is easy to hang from a variety of locations. Just make sure that whatever you hang it on can support the weight. Wherever you feel comfortable showering off is exactly where you can use this bag.

  • Dimensions: 2.1 x 6.1 x 17.9 inches
  • Weight: 1.49 pounds

3. Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater and Outdoor Pressurized Shower Review

 

The Eccotemp L5 Portable Tankless Water Heater and Outdoor Shower is the next unit we are going to take a look at. Liquid propane fuel and 2 D-sized batteries for the ignition process power this unit, and it has a maximum flow rate of .3 liters of water per minute. It needs a total of 20-80 psi of water pressure to function.

All of this provides for an endless instant hot camp shower wherever you are. Perfect for campsites, cabins, or even just around the house, you can take a shower, wash the car or boat, and wash the dog or even the horse.

This unit requires a 2-inch clearance from the wall, 1 inch on either side, 18 inches from the floor, and 3 inches from a window or an overhang of any sort.

Compact and incredibly energy efficient, having this unit in your possession is sure to make any outdoor experience much more enjoyable for you and your family.

If you are tired of taking cold showers while camping, this battery-powered shower can provide you are your site with as much hot water as needed.

  • Dimensions: 14.5 x 11.5 x 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 13.8 pounds

4. Ivation Portable Battery-Powered Handheld Shower Review

 

The Ivation Battery-Powered Handheld Portable Shower is a little different from the others we have talked about so far. With a shower head on one end, and a submersible filtration ball on the other, this little unit turns water from any bucket, sink, or faucet into a gentle streaming shower instantly.

It comes with a built-in 2200-mAh rechargeable battery that charges directly from any USB plug. It is equipped with a suction cup and S-hook for easy portable hanging that can be affixed to nearly any surface the suction cup will stick to. With an inline water-resistant on and off switch, it is easy to stop the flow of water to conserve it or for any other cause.

The Ivation portable shower can last up to 60 minutes on a single charge so that you can take your time—or even a few people. The hook can also be used to hang the Ivation portable shower as well, giving you even more freedom in where to use it.

This is a great portable shower for camping. The pocket shower can turn any bucket of water into a shower, so you don’t need to take a bunch of extra things with you.

  • Dimensions: 2.8 x 8.3 x 11 inches
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds

5. Coleman 5 Gallon Solar Shower Review

The Coleman 5 Gallon Solar Shower is another reservoir-only camping shower bag system. This black bag holds a full five gallons of water and is black in color.

When hung outdoors, the sun will heat the water inside to the perfect temperature for showering, while the volume of water allows for more than one shower. The handle, which is made into the shower bag itself, is strong and durable and is reliable for both hanging and carrying. The solar shower head itself is a handy on and off valve, which can be used to conserve water usage during your shower.

As far as a shower in a bag goes, this unit is absolutely wonderful for camping trips and is especially useful in emergency situations when electricity is not available.

This solar shower unit is not only great for showing but can also be used for washing dishes. Simply hang it and wash your dishes underneath. It is by far the lightest of our five bags, so it is easy to transport.

  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.5 x 2.2 inches
  • Weight: 8.8 ounces

My Vote for Best Camping Shower

My pick of these five is going to be the Coleman Solar Shower. First, because Coleman is one of the most trusted names in camping gear, with a long history of quality products and customer satisfaction. I have no doubt that this shower will be around long after the warranty runs out and still heating water effectively.

I love the fact that it is black, which allows for the maximum warmth from the sun to be absorbed. Even on overcast days, it will draw in whatever heat is available to maintain a comfortable temperature for showering. The handle is good for carrying as well as hanging, and since it is a part of the unit itself, it can be much more reliable than handles that are simply add-on’s. The flexible hose (akin to a garden hose) and shower head that can be turned on and off make this unit easy to use and easy to maneuver and adjust water pressure, which is another likable feature.

Also, it has a hanging hook to attach the device to the roof rack. Of course, there are other showers worth mentioning that have a steady stream, four-layer construction, or are made from polyurethane coated polyester, and those with the most beneficial water consumption features for the great outdoors (at times, there isn’t enough water around, though.)

Main Takeaway

In addition to being a great device for showing and washing dishes, this unit can also be used to store water for emergency situations. While I would not readily use it for drinking after being stored for a long while, there are other things it could be used for, such as washing, cooking, pets, and other uses.

This is my personal preference, but if you are looking for a more private showering experience, you should look into the Texsport shower.

Also, if you are going to be camping with a few people, all of whom will want to take showers, the EcoTemp is best for larger groups or campsites.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How much does it cost to buy a portable shower?

As our survivalist market is full of different options, it is totally up to you to decide what amount of money to spend.

Think about the conditions in which you are going to use your portable shower, as it will help you to understand what feature you need and what amount of money is needed.

In general, your best portable shower’s price can vary from 15 dollars to 500 and more.

What is the best portable camping shower?

And again, here you need to understand your needs, as various demands will give you very different options.

In general, look for solar-heated shower devices when your destination has hot weather, and you are going by foot, and for electricity and gas-based when more space is available and you are traveling in the car.

For the first situation, Sea to Summit Pocket Summer Shower might be the best device for you, as it can shred to a tiny size and is not very pricy.

For the second case, Ivation Outdoor Shower with an electric pump or Hottap V2 with propane gas in usage is the best solution.

How many gallons for a camp shower are needed?

We would say that in outdoor conditions, approximately one or two gallons are needed for a decent shower. And of course, this number is increased depending on the amount of dirt you need to wash off or on the number of people more than just one.

It is always better to have a bigger water capacity, such as four gallons or more, but if not, two are still enough for one shower.

How long does a portable shower last?

Well, it depends on the capacity of your water reservoir: a three-liter one might be enough only for one or two ten-minutes showers, while a fifteen-liter tank can probably give you five long or ten quick ones.

The water capacity can vary according to your situation: when going in the car, you can let yourself have a heavier portable shower with a bigger water tank, but when going on foot, smaller sizes and weights are a must.

Our general advice for any other question that might pop up in your head is to think about your necessities and the surroundings in which you will use your shower. In almost any case finding answers to these features will let you understand what type of portable shower is needed.

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A former USA Army sergeant and a highly educated survivalist and prepper with a degree and interest in Engineering and Electronics, Mike Millerson applies his extensive expertise in survivalism, homesteading, backpacking, hiking and hunting, spreading his deep knowledge about handling emergencies and prepping for them reasonably and effectively.

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