8 Best Camp Showers | April 2017

8 Best Camp Showers
Best Mid-Range
★★★★
Best High-End
★★★★
Best Inexpensive
★★★
We spent 36 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. What's the worst part about camping? Well, yes, the bugs. But next to that, it's coming back to your site all sweaty after a long hike and not being able to get clean. But enjoying the great outdoors does not mean you have to forego creature comforts or basic personal hygiene. Try one of these portable camp showers on your next adventure. Skip to the best camp shower on Amazon.
8
The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar is very affordably priced, so you don't have to be deterred from buying one for every member of the family ahead of your next outing. It's constructed of dark heat-absorbing material that warms water when it's left in the sun, even on cool days.
  • simple on-off valve
  • handle breaks easily
  • difficult to fully drain
Brand Coleman
Model 2000014865
Weight 8.8 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0
7
The Texsport Instant Portable is an amazing value for an option that is really a combination of two products: a personal, collapsible privacy stall and a basic, yet functional, shower. Proper ventilation is ensured through six no-see-um mesh panels spaced across the tent.
  • 5-gallon water reservoir
  • ripstop polyethylene floor
  • can be hard to use in gusty winds
Brand Texsport
Model 1082
Weight 20.2 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0
6
The Zodi Outback Gear Battery Powered relies on a compact, 6-volt pump to provide a light stream of water at a decent pressure to the bather, while a generous eight-foot hose offers added flexibility in deciding where to use it.
  • works with any water source
  • quietly operating motor
  • does not warm water
Brand Zodi
Model 1066
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
5
This four-gallon Stearns Sun Portable may be one of the most basic models available, but it's also one of the most reliable. Just fill it with water, leave it in the sun, and wait as it warms. A built-in thermometer lets you monitor the temperature of its contents.
  • uses passive solar power to warm
  • good for fall hunting
  • water pressure is a little weak
Brand Stearns
Model B269SSH-00-000
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
4
If you have a bucket or sink, or even just a lake or stream, you can have a full, flowing shower in seconds thanks to the Ivation Portable Handheld. The basic hose-and-head unit features a built-in filtration system that ensures you're always bathing in clean, fresh water.
  • includes suction cup and s-hook
  • charges via usb from car or home
  • ideal for cool showers on hot days
Brand Ivation
Model IVA-PSH01
Weight 1.6 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0
3
The Zodi Outback Gear Extreme SC promises a nice, hot shower anywhere you go, any time of the day or night. It relies on a powerful 10,000 BTU burner instead of the sun or batteries, and incorporates a rustproof, stainless steel tank for holding water.
  • 1-piece pressurizing hand pump
  • heats to 100 degrees f
  • burner doubles as cooking stove
Brand Zodi
Model 8170
Weight 11.8 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0
2
The 4-ply construction of the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon means it can stand up to the rigors of outdoor living while still serving its purpose well. A reflector panel helps generate warm water quickly, while a separate insulator panel keeps it hot all day long.
  • side pocket for soap and shampoo
  • weighs just over a pound
  • rolls up for compact storage
Brand ADVANCED ELEMENTS
Model SS762
Weight 1.4 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0
1
With an 11-L tank, a hose, a spray nozzle and a rugged carrying case, the Nemo Helio Pressure System is a complete solution to all your outdoor bathing needs. A simple foot pump allows you to increase water pressure easily, leaving your hands free to scrub and wash away.
  • comes in grey or blue
  • best gear award in men's journal
  • also good for washing dishes
Brand Nemo
Model NEMO Equipment Inc.
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

Buyer's Guide

How Clean Can It Get You?

If you're at a camp site and you're not getting dirty, chances are you're doing something wrong. Like eating chicken wings, camping is–at least in part–about letting your hair down and getting some dirt in it. That said, just because camping ought to get you dirty, it doesn't mean you have to stay dirty, especially not with a good camping shower on your side.

The biggest challenge presented to campers looking to get clean is not just the access to large quantities of water, it's the access to large quantities of clean, hot water. A few generations ago, you could have just hopped into whatever body of water was conveniently near to your campsite. It wouldn't have been very warm, but it would have been clean. Nowadays, it seems like the majority of natural water sources is either polluted with industrial waste or home to some pretty gnarly microbes bent on turning you intestines into Studio 54.

Some of the more built up campsites out there have their own bathrooms and even showers, but these present two distinct problems. The first is that they take you one step further out of nature and back toward the world you visit nature specifically to leave behind. The second thing is that these showers are usually pretty filthy. Dirt is one thing; filth is another. I've been in some of those grimy showers, and no matter how long you stay under that water or how much soap you use, you never feel quite clean.

With a portable camping shower, on the other hand, you can pick and choose your bathing place. A lot of these systems are designed to hang from a tree with a very easy setup, though not all of them can create hot water. The ones that do give you hot water either utilize an actual water tank that sits on top of a propane canister and works much the way your water heater at home does, or they utilize passive solar power to slowly, but surely, hear the water inside of a durable plastic bag.

In any case, your water supply is limited, so the flow won't quite resemble the kind of water pressure or quantity you're used to at home. For example, the bags on our list hold four or five gallons of water, whereas the average shower in America burns through about 20 gallons in just 10 minutes.

Your Kind Of Camping

Picking a camping shower from among the options on our list comes down to your style of camping more than anything else. There are options here that would be absolutely perfect for one type of camper, but that would become absolute nightmares for another.

If you're the type of camper who packs light and travels far, hiking many miles per day, consuming only the calories you need to keep moving, etc., you want a camping shower that will take up the least space and weight in your pack. The bag showers on our list are probably your best bet.

I know I'm not too shy about my body, particularly when there's no one around for miles, but you very well may prefer a shower with a little privacy. Some of the options on are list pack down as easily as the bags mentioned above, but also have simple, pop-up or drop-down enclosures that can provide a bit of a barrier between your body and your fellow campers.

If you end up falling in love with a tank-based shower on our list, you'd better be camping at a designated site with a truck, trailer, or RV at your disposal. There's no way anyone in their right mind would hike into the wilderness lugging that 12 lb. monster with them, along with however much gas you'd need to divert from your camping stove to heat up your shower water.

Next to a camper or a trailer, though, such a shower is ideal, since you can bring a few extra gas tanks with you, and since your vehicle will do all the heavy lifting and transporting. All you have to do is set it up, turn it on, and wait for the water to get hot.

If The Water Falls...

The first camping shower dates way back to a time long before humans roamed the Earth–probably even before the dinosaurs had their day, and maybe (likely) even before life existed on the blue planet. These, of course, were waterfalls, and once humans did show up, they–along with gushing streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds–were the primary bathing grounds for most of mankind.

The first method by which men had water run from above and down over their bodies, before the invention of the shower, was by having slaves to pour it for them. Servants in ancient Egypt often emptied jugs of clean water over their masters' bodies to clean them. The Greeks and Romans later developed communal shower rooms in their bath houses at the heights of their respective empires' water systems.

Eventually, in 1767, a stove maker in London named William Feetham (not the best last name to associate with cleanliness) patented the first shower that we might call such today. These were pumped by hand and didn't gain much popularity until advances in indoor plumbing made them more economical and efficient, leading to an adaptation of shower stalls by military and prison infrastructures, and eventually to their dominance in homes and campsites across the world.



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Last updated on April 12, 2017 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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