If you’ve ever been on a long camping trip with the authentic, truly outdoorsy avoidance of many usual societal comforts, then you’re probably familiar with the wonder of whether there will be a site-wide shower stall at your next camp or whether you’ll find yourself bathing in the lake again. While these two options can each have a certain charm for a while, we’ve often found ourselves wishing by the second half of a camping trip that we could take a slightly more private shower near our own camper or tent, even if we still have to keep our bathing suits on. That’s where camping showers come in.
If you’ve never tried a camping shower before then you’ve missed out on a neat little invention that really transforms any campsite. Sure, they’re still quite rudimentary and basic when compared to the comfort of your own home, but they’re all you really need in the way of personal hygiene and feeling refreshed when it comes to a trip that’s supposed to get you enjoying the great outdoors. Camping showers are like a small creature comfort that goes a long way in compromising with yourself in terms of which modern conveniences you’re willing to give up while you reconnect with nature and which ones you’d really like to hang onto. We see now harm in hanging onto a bit of extra cleanliness that might even give you a little more privacy than the edge of a lake!
Until we started our very own online search for camping showers, however, we truly weren’t aware about just how many options were out there. It took no time at all to realize that we were rather impressed indeed with the kinds of things you can get and their capabilities, but that also came with the realization that choosing the right model for our needs was going to take some research, particularly if we wanted to avoid wasting money. We decided we needed to learn a little more about camping showers before we made a final decision.
What is a camping shower?
A camping shower is a small, portable shower system that runs independently of all the usual plumbing systems that a fully installed standing shower or the shower in your bathtub require. These showers are usually lightweight, space efficient, and easy to hang and use just about anywhere. That’s part of what makes them great for camping; you can set it up and clean yourself off with it even if you’re outside of usual civilization and spending sometime in the woods, on a beach, or in the mountains.
How do camping showers work?
How your camping shower works depends a lot upon which kind you buy (which we’ll discuss a moment). While some family-sized camping showers with larger water capacities do require am electrical outlet, many of them simply work on a water pressure system that you can power with a foot pump. There are also showers that are like a compromise between these two designs, running on the power of a rechargeable battery pack. In the electric kinds, the water movement you might have otherwise created with your foot on a pump is taken over by simple automatic pumping actions usually created by air pressure from a motor and fan.
Who should buy a camping shower?
Anyone who spends a lot of time camping, at a rustic cottage or cabin, or even in a backyard might benefit from purchasing a camping shower. For the most part, they are easy to hang almost anywhere, making them suitable even for putting near backyard pools so that people can rinse off before they get in the water and then rinse the chlorine off before they go in the house. Other people hang camping showers outside vacation homes so visitors can rinse the sand off before they come in the house. Most people, however, purchase them for camping trips, particularly if they travel with a tent rather than a fancy RV or camper.
If you’re still feeling like you could use a little more guidance when it comes to choosing the camping shower that’s the best for your family, and for the best price, here are the choices we’d recommend the most highly. Keep scrolling to see the pros and cons we found in each design!
This first design from DOTSOG is a very simple piece that’s very easy indeed to use. The shower comes with a durable, waterproof five gallon bag made of lea-proof PVC and tear-proof sealing around the handle. The bag is easy to hang and supports its own weight without wear. The hose and shower head are removable for easier portability but are also well sealed at their connecting points for avoid leakage. Although the bag works on natural gravity for water slow, it can heat the water for comfort thanks to the PVC being a special “smart” type that’s made to absorb heat from the sun, increasing the temperature of the water inside.
Although the bag is durable and easy to set up, it’s also essential that you keep it away from sharp objects and really make sure you’ve attached the hose properly around the bottom anchoring point. The PVC can be punctured with carelessness and improper storage, which will cause leaks. The bag can also leak around the base of the hose if it’s not attached just right.
- Durable PVC materiality with sun heat absorbent qualities to heat water
- Super easy setup thanks to simple gravity draining based water system
- Space efficient when emptied and very portable despite five gallon capacity
- Keep away from sharp objects, as even the most durable PVC can be punctured
- Take care when attaching hose, as base might leak if it’s not affixed just right
In contrast to the design above, this next camping shower from innhom doesn’t actually involve its very own reservoir or bag at all! Instead, it comes with a waterproof pump piece that you can simply place into water, letting it suck the water up through its system, pump it down the hose, and send it out the head that way. This makes the piece smaller and more portable and very simple to use anywhere near a body of water (although some kind of bucket or tub might be necessary if using, say, the lake isn’t physically feasible. The shower comes with a rechargeable batter so that you have a fairly free range of motion during use without having to worry about plugs, but you’ll also be able to recharge it changes to the convenient USB end. It even comes with a car port so you can recharge it while you drive between campsites.
This product actually has stellar reviews over all, with essentially no critiques from previous buyers! Its batter is reported as being quick-charging and long-lasting while its pump is said to provide shockingly good water pressure for its size and the shower’s temporary nature. The only real drawback here is that you do need some kind of source water big enough to place the pump in and allow it to collect enough water from for your shower in the first place.
- Long-lasting and fast charging battery with USB connection and car port
- Good water pressure provided by durable motor pump
- Super portable and usable wherever a water source big enough to fit the pump can be found
- A water source like a lake, bucket, or tub that the pump can be inserted into is necessary for use
If you’re feeling intrigued by the placed pump design but you’re always intent on seeing more than one option of similar kinds before purchasing, check out this alternative from Jayetec. This design is slightly more expensive than the one above but it’s got the durable materiality to go with the increased price. It’s extremely put together and easy to use and it even comes with an additional section of hosing with a connector to extent the length of the shower head’s reach. The battery of the pump is quick-charge and runs up to 80 minutes at a time. It also feature LED indicators for each use even at night and an edge hook.
While the product is reviewed very well overall, be mindful of your connections when you’re using the extra hose length. Of course, any added length will naturally reduce the water pressure very slightly already, but you’ll also experience leaks if you’re not careful to attach each end of both hose pieces to each other, the head, and the battery properly and solidly.
- Long lasting battery (up to 80 minutes) and quick charging ports
- LED indicators and convenient hook for even easier use
- Comes with extender hose for longer reach
- Care required when installing extra hose length to make sure leaks don’t happen at connecting points
If you’re still most interested in a shower with its own bag but you’d prefer more water pressure than mere gravity will probably provide you, here’s a great alternative from WADEO that lets you control water output yourself with a foot pump. This bag holds up to four gallons of water per fill. The pressure provided by the pump is distributed levelly inside for an even stream rather than one that surges and wanes with each of your steps. The shower bag and pump are made from a durable plastic lined canvas and they, along with all the other pieces, fold discreetly together to fit into a portable tote. Both the tote and the shower bag itself have convenient, durable handles for hanging up off the ground.
Like many other camping showers, this bag and system really require you to take care and caution when attaching the hose. If it’s not anchored just right, it won’t create the best kind of snug seal it’s capable of and you’ll experience a lot of leakage that will cut your shower shorter than the four gallon capacity would otherwise give you.
- Durable, rubber lined canvas
- Four gallon water capacity and easy hanging bag design
- Even pumping action thanks to level water pressure distribution
- Care required when attaching hose, as it needs to be precise to create a proper seal and avoid leakage
If you’re looking for an extra durable and even more space efficient gravity shower bag than the first one you saw but you don’t want to sacrifice any water volume, you might really appreciate this design from Shengen. Like a few others you’ve seen, this shower bag can hold up for five gallons of water. It can also absorb heat from direct sunlight thanks to its rubberized canvas material but, unlike previous designs, this one comes with a temperature gauge that actually lets you keep an eye on the heat levels of the water inside. Although the gravity-based nature of this camp shower makes for consistent flow, you’re afforded control by a convenient on/off switch on the shower head, which is attached to a hose that can be retracted into the bag for easy carrying to wherever you want to do your freshening up.
This product is impressively free of very large drawbacks, but it’s worth noting that anything with this type of materiality and water involved should be dried out properly on a regular basis. When you’re done using the bag, empty it properly and set it to dry before you pack it away or you might start to notice that the water, particularly when heated, gets a musty smell.
- Sun absorbent material for water cleaning and temperature reading to monitor
- Convenient on/off switch on shower head to give gravity system more control
- Durable materials and very easy to hang nearly anywhere
- Must be fully emptied and properly dried out occasionally in order to afford musty smell
Have you actually already got a shower head and system itself in mind but you’re wondering how you might provide a little more privacy to the whole camp shower experience? Then we think you’d get along quite well with something like this pop up privacy tent from Abco Tech. This tent is a bottomless design, making it perfect for a camp shower because the water will fall right on the grass. Sure, it will get damp and need some time to dry before you pack it up in order to avoid mustiness, but the quick-drying material makes that simple. Everything involved in the making of this tent is lightweight and flexible, which is part of what helps it condense down into such a small bag and then pop up without any real installation required on your part. It’s very ideally portable and will help you shower on the road without having to keep your bathing suit on.
Although previous buyers have generally reviewed the tent as being very useful indeed, they’ve also had two primary critiques. The firs is that, despite how nice the breeze from the discreet window at the top can be, it doesn’t have a screen, which means mosquitos can enter at their will. The second drawback is that, even though its light nature is a perk in moving it, it’s not the most stable structure around on very windy days. Consider anchoring its edges with rocks or something else heavy but not damaging.
- Lightweight and flexible
- Very portable and easy to fold up small
- Pop-up design means no real assembly is required in setup
- Light weight enough to be at risk of shifting in the wind unless the edges are weighed down
- No screen on the window, which lets mosquitos in
Rather than moving your campsite frequently along a road trip route, are you actually more of a one-stop camper who likes a slightly more semi-permanent setup? Then You might get along a little better with this slightly larger but more capable system from Hike Crew. This water heater and shower pump provide you with a simple solution for more showers than a simple gravity bag can offer. The heater runs on propane, eliminating the need for outlets, but it can also be connected to a car outlet f necessary. The LED screen makes it easy to turn the tank on and off and select a safe temperature, while the shower head gives you three settings with which to enjoy surprisingly close to home water pressure. It’s also easy to refill and empty, and isn’t as heavy as it looks for moving around.
The fact that this more capable and semi-permanent camping shower system provides so many more features and points of control is reflected in the price, making it more of an investment piece. It’s also a larger consideration when packing all of your supplies, since it’s larger in size and involves a few more steps in takedown than a simple shower bag. Finally, although most people found the temperature satisfying enough for a camp shower, some found that the advertised water temperatures had cooled considerably by the time the water actually made it out of the heater, all the way down the hose, and out the head.
- More convenient semi-permanent setup for longer term campsites
- Adjustable temperatures for enjoyable, warm showers within your control
- Runs on propane for ease without outlets but can also be hooked to car ports as an alternative backup
- Easy LED screen and light-up controls for safe use
- Three adjustable settings on the shower head
- Larger size, so will take up more room in packing
- Much more expensive
- Longer takedown process
- Some found the temperatures not as hot as they’d hoped based on info provided
Are you feeling caught somewhere between purchasing a simple bag shower and investing in a shower with a pump, but you’re having trouble deciding which is best? Well, if you opt for this camp shower design from Spy Tec, then you don’t actually have to choose! This design provides you with a shower head, hose, and submerged pump system similar to what you saw above, with a long-lasting rechargeable battery that comes with a USB connector and a car port. You can simply put the pump right into the lake or into a bucket or trough of water but just in case those things aren’t very accessible, it also comes with its own quick-drying nylon canvas basket that’s collapsible and very easy to hang. You’ll even get a suction cup and hook to make a place to hang if you can find a smooth surface. Fill this, pop the pump in, and hang it up instead!
While most people who have experience with this product have reportedly been very happy with the pump, hose, and shower head system, a few have found some issues with the bag it comes with. Although the material it’s made from is durable and quick-drying, it’s not the most waterproof option out there and will start to saturate and leak if your shower is lengthy. Many buyers recommended purchasing the system anyways since the price is reasonable but getting a different bucket for the pump.
- Fast charging battery and convenient USB and car port connectors for pump, with long lasting power
- Decent water pressure and easy to use system
- Comes with folding portable water bucket and suction cup hook system for creating a place to hang the water from
- Nylon canvas of bucket is durable but does saturate, so the bucket will start to leak if your shower is too long
If you’re the kind of person that moves around a lot, more like a hiker than a settled camper, and you’d like something extra straight forward and easy to pack up, you might get the most use out of this shower from Sportneer. This design is made from a waterproof lined nylon canvas that absorbs heat itself, but is also accompanied with a solar panel as well for dual water heating. It’s run simply on a gravity system, but the shower head features and on/off mechanism to give you control and stop you from wasting water as you watch. The bag holds up to five gallons of water and has a strong translucent PVC plastic backing so you can always see how much water is left inside. The handle for hanging the bag is extremely durable and good for weight bearing.
Most complaints centre around this design were based on the size and length of the shower head and the hose. Designed to be hung up high and then merely stood under to rinse, this bag only gives you a very small head and a hose that’s only about a foot long. This makes it easy to bend up and store between showers if you’re staying in one place and it might be used again in a short time, but it does eliminate the more thorough rinsing and washing capabilities of some of the longer hose designs you’ve seen.
- Dual water heating thanks to heat absorption of lined canvas bag and solar panel
- Transparent but durable PVC back clearly shows how much water is in bag
- On/off mechanism on shower head lets you control water flow and waste less
- Extremely durable handle for hanging five gallon capacity bag from
- Very short hose makes this gravity shower more of a rinsing system to be stood under than longer hosed systems
If you’re still interested in a slightly more semi-permanent option for a solid campsite that doesn’t move often but you’d also prefer a hanging design that mimics a shower bag over a large heater that sits on the ground, look no further than this piece offered by Camp Chef. This extremely durable heated shower box is actually made of coated steel that’s rustless but very durable. The hose is long like a house shower and the head offers four different stream settings. The heating box itself is battery powered and capable of running for up to 11 hours on one charge. All heating mechanisms are safely inside the box, which doesn’t heat up on the outside, and the hanging box also features dials that let you adjust the water temperature to your liking.
Now, most previous buyers who have used this design appreciate the box for how durable, compact, and easily moved it is. Some have reported, however, that its steel materiality lends it to becoming rather heavy when it’s completely filled with water. This simply means that you’ll need to make sure you choose a strong, solid place to hang it while you shower.
- Durable materiality and efficient heating system
- Adjustable dials for selecting and controlling temperature
- Long hose and adjustable shower head
- Steel construction makes it heavy when filled with water, so a strong hanging spot is necessary
Types of camping showers
We were actually quite surprised to learn just how many different kinds of camping showers there really are. You might find:
- Electric camping showers powdered by a motor and fan and requiring an outlet or generator
- Battery powered and rechargeable camping showers that work much the same as electric ones but without an outlet
- Pump showers that are powered manually by a foot or hand pump to move the water through the shower head
- Simple gravity camping showers that automatically run the water out the head through a tube when you hang the reservoir or bag up high
- Solar powered camping showers that use much the same systems as electronic ones but run thanks to a solar panel and power reservoir
Camping shower maintenance
As with any device that involves water, it’s important to check the instructional manual that comes with your camping shower to ensure that you know how to take proper care of it. Neglecting almost anything that involves the use of water can result in mildew, so make sure that you read through the steps for and learn how to clean and dry out all the pieces of your camping shower with the recommended regularity.