Of all the luxuries that we miss from home while in the wilderness, a hot shower is sure to sit atop the list. Whether you're on a backpacking trip, camping with your friends in your favorite National Park, or parked somewhere on a dirt road deep into BLM land, there comes the point when nothing could feel quite as good as hot water washing the dirt and grime off your body.
A hot shower is like being reborn. Sometimes it's the difference between "let's go home" and "we should stay here forever."
There are an array of products on the market, with intended uses ranging from simple, no-frills rinse devices to high-tech water heaters that transform a basic camping shower into a portable spa with a view.
These products typically achieve a pressurized shower via hand/foot pumps, gravity, or electric pumps. Water gets heated by the sun, electronically, or in some cases, not even at all. Depending on your budget and your definition of luxury, some of these portable camping shower options will seem like anywhere from way-too-much to way-too-little.
As always, your experts at Captain Bob's are here to make the most informed decision possible.
Keep your head and hands clean while you enjoy the great outdoors with the Yakima RoadShower. The shower has a 4-gallon water capacity (size small), making it perfect for rinsing off during your next camping trip. You don't need anything special to install it: just a roof rack set up on top of your car to fit the 6' tall, 2-inch diameter by 16-inch wide module that connects all parts together.
It features an adjustable hose arm as well as adapters for those who drive pickup trucks without racks.
The RoadShower is made of high-strength plastics that are resistant to breaking, impact, and ultraviolet damage. This shower holds up well whether you're using it for recreation or emergency situations. It fits all vehicles regardless of year, makes, model, or type. Two brackets secure the RoadShower on top of your vehicle; no drilling is necessary.
It is comprised of 3 main components, including the 10' hose, a manual pump, and its mounting bracket to mount it onto your roof rack. It is pressurized via either an electric pump, or it can also be done by hand. Although it is quite expensive, it is consistently rated as one of the best portable showers available.
As long as you're not looking for a real shower, the Simple Shower is right for you. This camp shower utilizes a water bottle as its water tank and gravity as its driving force.
You can choose between a one or two-liter bottle, and it is incredibly lightweight and easy to use. At this price point and weight, the Simple Shower is the perfect option for the backpacker who is looking for a quick and easy rinse.
If you want the water heated, simply fill the water tank with part boiling water and part unheated water from your water source to your desired temperature and enjoy. You could also leave the water bottle out in the sun, though it does not have a heating mechanism.
While this camp shower might only be slightly better than pouring a bottle of water on your head, it actually is quite nice. The flow provided by the showerhead is impressive, though this does contribute to the short time limit. For the minimalist who gets their kicks with the little things, the Simple Shower is a great option for a portable camp shower.
The Coleman Solar Shower is a solar-powered shower that uses heat from the sun to warm water. The device has a flexible shower head with an on/off valve, and it is capable of producing 8 cups of warm water in two hours in direct sunlight.
This portable camping shower is packaged with a 4-liter storage bag and collapsible bucket, which holds up to 2 liters of water. It is ideal for weekend excursions or outdoor activities that want to be topped off with a solar-heated shower.
The Coleman Solar Shower comes in three colors: blue, purple, and green. It uses flexible tubing that can withstand temperatures over 90 degrees Fahrenheit and comes with two adapters for fitting the hose to the showerhead.
The shower bag has a zipper, allowing users to easily fill up and store their devices. It can comfortably hold 2 liters of water and folds flat when not in use, making transportation easy.
The Coleman Solar Shower is lightweight at 2 pounds and is easy to use. Simply leave the device in direct sunlight for 2 hours, allowing it to heat up 5 gallons of water.
The Coleman Solar Shower has several advantages over gas or coal-powered heaters. It does not require a power source and can be used even if there is no electricity available. This makes it ideal for use in areas without power grids or during blackouts.
The Sea to Summit Pocket Shower is cleverly designed and convenient for use during camping, traveling, or on a backpacking trip. It is an integrated shower system that can be set up in seconds anywhere from sea level to 6500 meters.
The Pocket Shower weighs only 4.3 ounces, including the handy carry case. It comes with a specially-designed hanging strap that allows it to hang directly over you, making it extremely easy to use while camping or traveling.
Its large volume makes for rich, full-body cleaning over the course of about 8 minutes, and the aerated nozzle delivers a powerful spray at multiple positions for customizable comfort; no need for extra shower attachments!
The Sea to Summit Pocket Shower is made of lightweight, flexible siliconized nylon and polypropylene materials designed specifically for outdoor use. It is top-rack dishwasher safe and flexible enough for squeezing into an already full backpack.
The Pocket Shower has a unique on/off switch that allows the user to control water flow while allowing the shower to be turned off using one hand to prevent any water from being wasted when not in use (the pocket shower is 100% leak proof). It comes with a handy carabiner that allows users to hang it anywhere they choose or place it in their pack without weighing them down.
The Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower is a portable, high-quality hot water shower you can take with you anywhere. This portable shower comes with a carrying bag, shower head, and telescoping support pole.
It has a temperature range of 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, and it holds 5 gallons of water at one time. You no longer have to worry about waiting in line for the outdoor showers when you are camping or hiking. This product will make sure that you have warm water and clean showers anywhere your travels take you.
The Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower is not only great for campers and hikers but is also a great product to have around the house when you are working outside in the hot sun. Portable showers can be used at home too!
We feel that this is one of the best camping showers because of its durable construction, intuitive temperature gauge, and affordable price. It also comes in a few different volumes depending on your personal needs. As far as gravity showers go, the Advanced Elements Summer Shower is an excellent option if you value simple temperature readings and its ability to withstand continuous use.
The Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower is a fantastic option because it is easy to use and it provides a consistent flow of water. Although you do need to utilize a bucket or a cooler as the water reservoir, the battery and the pump are housed in a single unit, making this camp shower hassle-free.
The pump on this outdoor shower is strong, so you can get constant water without spending any energy pumping.
The compact design means the Ivation Outdoor Shower fits neatly in your camping gear. It comes with a detachable showerhead and adjustable height shower hose.
If you don't have access to running water, the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower is an easy way to stay clean while camping or traveling off-road in your Jeep or RV. Simply fill a bucket (five-gallon capacity works well) with water from a garden hose or nearby river or lake, and you are good to go.
This portable battery-powered camp shower has a powerful three-way cleaning sprayer that uses low pressure for steady flow like a home shower and high pressure for maximum shampoo lather and massage. One of our favorite features is the addition of a suction cup accessory for a hands-free experience.
The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is a portable camping shower with an easy-to-use foot pump. It can be used anywhere you have access to a water source, making it perfect for camping trips, RVs, boats, and even emergencies.
The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is designed for 1-2 people with a 2.5 gallon per minute flow rate. It features an adjustable spray nozzle that allows you to choose between a wide or narrow stream of water for your desired comfort level. It's lightweight, compact, and easy to use. Just fill it with water, pump up the pressure by stepping on the foot pedal, and enjoy a refreshing shower in nature!
The Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is durable enough to withstand any adventure while still being light enough to carry around comfortably with its reinforced handle. You'll never have to worry about not having access to clean water again when you're out exploring the wilderness. It is designed with as few moving parts as possible, making it easy to clean and troubleshoot.
Water is heated via the solar panels on the top of the water bag, and after a few hours of direct sunlight, your portable shower will have legitimately hot water above 100 degrees. With one end of the reservoir being completely transparent, keeping track of your water consumption is no longer a guessing game.
Out on the trail, truck camping, or just living a relaxed life off-grid, taking a hot shower is one of those things that we could all use more of. But most traditional RV showers are small and cramped, to say the least. And when you’ve got limited space with nowhere else in your rig for a big water heater tank, it can be downright challenging to find one that will work well for mobile living.
The Camplux Pro 6L offers an innovative best-of-both-world solution. With plenty of versatility in its design as far as hoses and nozzles go, this cutting-edge shower isn’t only thoughtful about flexibility; it also boasts blazing speeds at 1.58 gallons per minute. Whatever you’re doing while off-grid, the chances are that this shower can keep up with you and be just as useful as when used at home.
From a more practical standpoint, what sold us on this system is its versatility and ability to adapt to various situations in which you may find yourself. The extension hose is one of its more impressive innovations, as it allows you to shower away from a campfire or dry sink area if they’re not available.
It also makes the system ideal for those who are living in RVs, vans, or campers because it gives your feet a bit more space and freedom to move around.
The Camplux Pro 6L is also a great option for those looking to purchase something that they can use at home and on the road, as it saves users from having to buy different products for each location. Not only does this save money, but it also eliminates the need for extra storage space.
Before we get into our list to find the best portable shower for your desired use, let's first outline the different types of camping shower options on the market today.
Camp showers are defined by the way they achieve water pressure, the way they heat the water, and their intended use.
A combination of all three categories will determine the product's effectiveness, portability, and price.
A camping shower can be pressurized in one of three ways:
It doesn't get much simpler than this. What goes up must come down, and a water reservoir is no exception.
Whether it's a bag shower or a more durable container mounted onto your van or truck, sometimes gravity is all you need. Sure, the pressure might dissipate slowly as you enjoy your gravity shower, but just like that candy bar that never tasted so good after a long day adventuring, any morsel of creature comforts is bound to amaze, regardless of water pressure.
Sometimes a pressurized shower comes from a human-powered pump. These camp showers attempt to solve that dissipating water pressure issue with a foot or hand pump, and they do this successfully.
However, as with most things, there is a trade-off. Sure, you can turn up the water pressure, but it's going to require some effort on your part. While this might seem like a small ask for some, others might feel like this negates the fantasy of a nice hot shower.
An electric pump can provide a pressurized shower through a charged battery system as well as via your propane-powered generator.
It should come as no surprise that this style of the portable camp shower usually falls on the fancier side of the spectrum, and depending on your desired level of luxury (and your budget), this style might be what is right for you.
Keep in mind, however, that sometimes with more advanced technology comes more complicated setup, operation, and troubleshooting.
Not every camp shower heats the water. Some of them are essentially just a slightly fancier garden hose. But most people think of a refreshing shower as being a hot one, so the majority of the portable camping showers available do offer technology that heats the water before it hits your body.
Now, that doesn't necessarily mean that these products can take freezing cold water from the river at your campsite and turn it into your home shower, but most of them do offer the ability to raise the temperature significantly.
For hot camp showers, these products utilize one of these three heating methods:
Ahhh, the sun. Isn't it the best? Nothing screams off-grid more than solar power. To be able to utilize the sun's rays for a hot shower is like something out of a dream.
And, well, the truth is that it's actually more of a fantasy than reality. Solar-powered camp showers can indeed heat water, but it doesn't exactly give you a hot shower, especially if your water source consists of glacier runoff.
Depending on the climate and time of year that you intend to shower at your campsite, you may need to use boiling water if your portable camp shower is powered by the sun.
If you're not too keen on waiting hours and hours for the sun to heat your shower water, one of the quickest and most efficient ways to enjoy a hot shower is with propane power.
These systems are quite similar to anything else in your outdoor gear kit that runs on gas, like your stove, and the functionality of this style of water heater is worth noting since you can use this water for hot beverages, cooking, and cleaning your gear and utensils in addition to hot showers.
Depending on your water capacity and how elaborate your setup is, this style can make the great outdoors all the greater indeed.
Electric water heaters can use rechargeable batteries as a power source, or, alternatively, they can be plugged directly into your car's 12v port or into the battery bank of your off-grid power system.
These portable outdoor shower systems can cut down on wait time significantly, so you won't find yourself waiting for a few hours to heat your shower water, or worse, scrambling to find direct sunlight as the clouds move across the sky.
Whatever style you choose in the end, whether it be solar-powered, gas or battery-powered, a camping shower is going to feel considerably more special than other showers.
The best camping showers are the ones that meet your needs. You have to think about where you are going to be, what kind of water temperature you need, what kind of shower time you are expecting, how often you are going to be using it, and how many people are going to be using it as well.
Maybe you don't need a portable camp shower in the first place. You could jump into a lake or a river (eco-friendly soaps only, please), or you could even just dump a water bottle on your head.
The important thing is, to be honest with yourself. If you're not capable of cold showers at home, chances are you won't love the experience when you're outdoors either.
Will You Be Hiking Into Camp?
If so, the size and weight of your shower system will be a much more important factor to consider before buying. Battery power might not be a consideration at that point, either. But if you have a van with solar power or a roof rack on your off-road vehicle, or you carry a propane tank with you, then you may be in the market for a more elaborate shower system.
What Kind of Tank Capacity Do You Need?
If you have a lot of plans for using hot water, or simply like the ability to use running water at your campsite, then you may want to go with an option that has a larger capacity of at least five gallons. Some people like to use the shower system for things like cleaning gear or pets and not just for showers.
Where Will You Be Camping?
Depending on the climate or season that you'll be in, the shower system's ability to heat the water may be an important factor for you. Perhaps a summer shower in a hot, humid environment doesn't need to be heated at all! But if you're camping at an alpine lake and you have propane tanks available, why not go with a portable shower that can heat the water above 120 degrees?
Have your cake. Eat it too.
When looking for the best portable shower, it's important to consider how much of a home you want to bring with you into the outdoors.
Many of the more minimalist designs on this list could be replaced with one of nature's best portable showers: rivers and lakes. And some of the more hi-tech gadgets on the market might ultimately negate the experience that you're going for in the first place. Do you really need to add a neoprene hose with a carrying case to your system? Are you teetering at capacity already?
All that being said, a gravity-fed, solar-heated portable shower is pretty darn cool. Same with a propane-powered workhorse. And you're saving gallons of water, no doubt, to shower without proper plumbing as well.
Don't let anyone tell you how you should experience the outdoors. The smallest things can become the biggest luxuries!