One of the major turnoffs of camping is the idea of never quite getting clean. But as camp showers grow in popularity and prices fall, being outside no longer equates to being dirty.
Camp showers are portable systems that range from basic, pocket-sized contraptions to free-standing, continuously flowing units.
They can not only be used as a traditional shower but double as a handy item to keep dogs, dishes, bikes and hiking gear sparkly clean.
There are plenty of benefits of owning your own camp shower. First and foremost, you don’t have wait until you get home to enjoy that refreshing feeling.
On top of that, there’s no need to worry about finding campsites with specific facilities, meaning that you can have a shower in even the remotest of camping grounds.
With Covid closing down communal facilities at short notice, owning your own shower is becoming a necessary backup option.
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From showers that can be mounted on your car to ones that you can stow in your backpack, we’ve pulled together some of the best options on the market right now to suit your needs and your wallet.
A high level of versatility, coupled with lightweight designs and improved water pressure means that these showers are no longer a frivolous luxury but a camping staple.
Portable camping showers can heat their water using solar, battery or even propane – so no more shivering the morning away in a nearby river!
Kiss goodbye to the wet wipes and pack away your body sprays, these showers will leave you feeling fresh day after day.
- Weight: 58g
- Capacity: Bottle dependent (500ml – 2000ml)
- Heating method: Manual
- Time until empty: 30 seconds
If you’re looking for something that will keep you relatively comfortable and clean for very little monetary investment then look no further.
The name of this camping shower is fitting, given its simple concept and design. That said, it actually performs very well, providing a quick way to refresh without the hassle of carrying a lot of gear or setting up.
The Simple Shower is an attachment showerhead for a one- or two-litre bottle and also fits Platypus collapsible bottles and bladders.
Weighing in at under 60 grams, you’ll hardly notice it in your backpack – making it perfect for anyone who is trying to slim down their hiking gear.
It was awarded the title of Amazon’s Choice and is popular with hikers, climbers and campers alike thanks to its no-frills functionality.
You’ll certainly have to lower your expectations around a long, hot shower though. This is about a quick rinse at ambient temperature.
It does however provide the best flow rate of any non-pressurised shower out there and the four-centimetre wide spray is pretty good for its size.
Simply turn it upside down, hold overhead (or create your own suspension) and a steady stream of water is unleashed.
And for anyone that is eco-conscious, the Simple Shower is made in the USA from all recycled materials with the aim of making any plastic bottle a reusable item.
With such a small capacity and no pressure system, don’t expect a full-body, shampoo-your-hair kind of shower.
Total shower time will be around 30 seconds or slightly more for larger bottles. This is is definitely the main downside, as well as the fact that water can only be warmed up by leaving your bottle in the sun for a while.
This mechanism is a back-to-basics approach that won’t suit everyone, but for the price and portability of it, we think it’s a winner.
- Weight: 680 grams
- Capacity: Dependent on bucket capacity used
- Heating method: Battery
- Time until empty: 60 minutes continuous battery life
The RISEPRO portable shower head is perfect for camping, hiking or even taking to the beach. It is lightweight and easy to set up, with no fiddly parts or need for taps.
The flow rate is around two litres per minute, meaning that a 10-litre bucket will give you a five-minute shower.
Just be sure to leave the bucket out in the sun for as long as possible or add some boiling water beforehand to get a warm shower.
The rechargeable battery works for up to 60 minutes when fully charged, giving you enough time to get the whole family through and enough left over for dishes.
The battery can then be charged up via a car output, a laptop or USB charger. For anyone heading into the wilderness, just plug it into a solar bank and wait a couple of hours.
The powerful shower spray means that you can afford to use soap or shampoo and be able to clean it all off.
Because the battery creates water pressure, there is no need to lift any heavy bags or buckets overhead. Simply drop the pump into a bucket of water, turn on and you’re ready to go.
At this price point you’d expect the shower head to be cheap and flimsy, but it is surprisingly easy to assemble, charge up and use, with no signs of slowing down after repeated use.
The main snag with this shower is that there is no heating option, so you’ve got to plan ahead if you want a warm shower.
The head comes with a hook, holder and suction cup, so that you can suspend it from a roof rack or tent pole, or stick it to a car window for easy use.
So whether you’re heading out on a camping expedition, hanging out poolside or cleaning your car – the RISEPRO portable shower head has you covered.
If you’re looking to combine the shower head and bag then RISEPRO also make this shower bag option. This model has a jumbo-king size capacity of 40 litres, making it ideal for families.
Water is warmed up using solar energy and the temperature indicator removes any guesswork involved in deciding when it’s warm enough to bathe.
However, it has had some bad reviews around durability and most people would struggle to lift 40 litres (i.e. 40 kilograms) overhead.
- Weight: 550 grams
- Capacity: Dependent on bucket capacity used
- Heating method: Battery
- Time until empty: 60 minutes continuous battery life
Simplistic in its design, the Laserbeak Portable Shower doesn’t boast any bells and whistles but it does offer easy disassembly, charging and cleaning.
The fact that it is compact, lightweight and easy to carry makes it the perfect companion on camping or hiking trips.
Fill a bucket, drop the motor and pump in, turn the shower on and in a flash it’s ready to use. If you have access to a warm tap or kettle, the shower works well in temperatures from a few degrees right up to 50℃.
On full power, the electric shower will work for around 60 minutes. With a 50-litre bucket of water, the flow rate on high stall will allow for a 12-minute shower.
On a low stall setting you’re looking at over 16 minutes of use. With a couple of refills, the battery will hold up for three or four decent showers, allowing enough time to wash hair and rinse off suds. Turn off whilst lathering up to make the water and battery go even further.
The shower has a built-in 4800mAh rechargeable battery and low battery indicator light so you know when your time is almost up. The battery can be recharged from any USB port or plug.
One press of the power button switches the unit on and seconds later the water comes streaming from the shower head.
The second button changes the mode and reduces the pressure to conserve water if you are being economical. The hand-held portable head also features a built-in water filtration system.
With no heating ability it is a device of necessity rather than luxury but will tick enough boxes for hardy outdoor enthusiasts.
The mesh bag is perfect for storing and carrying and the suction grip sticks to any window to hold the shower head in place.
As with the RISEPRO option above, the water source is the main issue. Without access to a kettle or a hot tap you’ll be reliant on heating a bucket of water up using solar.
- Weight: 1kg
- Capacity: 11 litres
- Heating method: Solar
- Time until empty: 3 minutes
This camping shower from Wadeo is a mid-capacity, easy to use pressure shower with head and a 200-centimetre long hose.
Incorporating a water bag makes this option a step up from the above showers that require a separate bucket or bottle, and its dark colour utilises solar to warm the water within.
The best thing about this camping shower is that the flexible fabric water tank doesn’t need to be hung up.
Simply fill with water, place on the floor, pump a few times and enjoy the shower.
The recently updated foot pump contains a highly elastic sponge that rebounds itself to maintain water pressure throughout.
That said, elevating the reservoir slightly increases the water pressure for anyone who likes a bit more power in their shower.
A pressure nozzle allows the user to control the water flow, allowing you to save resources if needed.
The bag is made from environmentally friendly and leak-proof materials. Wadeo’s construction feels sturdy and the fact that it doesn’t need to be hung up will definitely improve its longevity, but it doesn’t feel as durable as some of its more expensive competitors.
Its compact size and zippered pocket make this outdoor shower easy to fold up and stow – just make sure it is completely empty before doing so.
Weighing in at one kilogram, it is still portable but not for those who are looking to travel light and fast.
If you’re in a hurry or want the water to warm up faster, filling it up to just under half way still provides one decent shower.
Overall the Wadeo shower is a well-designed product that is perfect for those who don’t have a tree or roof rack to hang their shower from.
- Weight: 1.1kg
- Capacity: 20 litres
- Heating method: Solar
- Time until empty: 6 minutes
Luckily this shower is easier to put together and use than it is to pronounce. A straightforward shower bag and head, this system from Zakjj is a sturdy, affordable option for camping enthusiasts.
Black PVC soaks up the sun’s rays to warm the water inside and the thick coating retains heat. The bag is able to heat water to 45°C in three hours under direct sunlight.
On the back there is a temperature gauge as well as a transparent panel to keep an eye on water levels.
Built from high-strength rubber cloth and environmentally-friendly PVC, with an anti-wear and corrosion-resistant design, it certainly feels like it will last well.
The shoulder straps are affixed at reinforced points to reduce any chance of tearing and can be used instead of the handle for hanging up.
The S type cover opening is ergonomic, making it easy to undo and screw tight again and the opening is large enough to hold under any tap or submerge in a lake or river.
It is compact and relatively easy to fold down for portability, though at just over a kilogram it isn’t the lightest on our list.
Although Zakjj claim that it can be used continuously for about eight minutes after being filled with water, it is a little less than that.
However, the water pressure is decent for a non-powered model and the small air pump improves this if required.
20 litres is the perfect mid-sized capacity – enough for a couple of decent showers without being so large that it is bulky and oversized.
As with most shower bags, the main flaw is that you have to lift it up overhead to get any sort of water pressure, and this is no easy task once full.
However, there is a small three-litre bag that comes with it if you need a more portable option to take with you from camp on a day hike.
- Weight: 420 grams
- Capacity: 11 litres
- Heating method: Manual or solar
- Time until empty: 3 minutes 30 seconds
If we had to pick just one camping shower, it would probably be this one. Offering great value for money is the mid-sized Advanced Elements Summer Premium Quality Shower.
This is a gravity-powered camping shower that will stand the test of time.
Durable construction materials including a tough handle, thick hose and well-finished seams make it feel like it won’t rip or tear any time soon.
The handle has a rubberised grip for comfort and added strength and the branch clips are plenty solid.
The bag itself is constructed from four-ply and features an insulator panel alongside a reflector panel to achieve maximum solar energy and heat retention.
There’s even a handy side pocket for shampoo and body wash, which helps solve packing issues and keep things off the floor in muddy environments.
Handy features like a mirror and easy-hang clip are a bonus and the water pressure stays consistent regardless of water level.
That said, the low rate of flow (of just 2.3 litres/minute) is somewhat disappointing.
The design is intuitive, with simple on/off controls and a large mouth to make it easy to fill from a campsite tap, though folding it up can be a bit of a challenge.
Although it’s not very heavy, the bonus features make it more difficult to roll/fold into your backpack.
The back side is transparent (to be set facing the sun) and the temperature guage gives you an idea of when the water is warm enough to use.
However, if the bag moves around at all the water seems to take a lot longer to warm and it starts to drop quickly once the sun goes away.
The materials used in the bag are able to withstand high temperatures though, so if you have access to a kettle it can be topped up with boiling water to ensure a warm shower.
It is the water “head” that provides pressure, meaning the greater the height difference between the bag and the end of the hose, the higher the water pressure.
Placing the bag at the exact same height as the tap end of the hose will provide little more than a trickle, so look for a high branch for a more satisfying shower.
The shower head is curved, increasing the area of spray but not doing any favours for the already fairly low pressure.
Note that this Advanced Elements camp shower also comes in nine- and 19-litre models – the latter of which is relatively tricky to hang high up.
- Weight: 3.8 kg
- Capacity: 6.6 litres
- Heating method: Battery powered
- Time until empty: 1 minute 45 seconds
If you want a bit of power, the RinseKit Pod shower could be for you. Slick-looking, easy to use and compatible with pump and heater accessories, you might find yourself willing to overlook the price tag.
The RinseKit Pod is a battery-free, pressurised shower with a garden hose-like nozzle. It is compact and requires no setting up or breaking down.
Just fill it up and it’s ready to roll. A bonus is the easy set up and portability factor, with a handle that folds away and a short but effective six-foot hose.
The Pod can reach a pressure of 60-65 PSI, similar to the average outdoor faucet, which is by far the best of any on our list.
However, though this pressure is useful for cleaning and refreshing for a wash, it rapidly deteriorates to a mere trickle as water levels fall.
The unfortunate part is that with a limited capacity, you’re unlikely to be able to get a decent shower in before you need a refill and due to pressure drop off it won’t fully empty.
Unless you splash out on an additional kit, the only way to repressurise the unit is by filling it up again from your chosen water source.
There is also a larger (less portable) version that has a three-minute shower time capacity – better suited to those who are camping in one spot for the entire trip.
- Weight: 7.5kg
- Capacity: 8-litre tank plus continuous feed from inlet/hose
- Heating method: Solar
- Time until empty: 2 minutes on tank alone or unlimited with continuous feed from inlet/hose
For those who want something a bit more luxurious, this premium solar shower from G.F. is the best option on the market.
The Sunny Style model is a portable and personal camp shower that, unlike its competitors, can offer a variety of different temperatures.
The practical mixer allows campers to adjust the temperature of the water and the detachable hand shower and adjustable height make it suitable for everyone.
The base reservoir is designed to sit horizontally, with better exposure to sunlight meaning that it heats up faster.
The water within can reach temperatures of up to 60°C after two hours of exposure to strong sunlight.
The number of hot showers available will vary according to the temperature of the outgoing water and user preference.
For continuous flow, the shower must be connected to a water supply. This allows the base tank to constantly fill up and heat incoming water, then mixing them to obtain the desired temperature.
Once packed down the Sunny Style shower is easy to transport, but there’s no denying it’s kind of fiddly to set up.
However, once it’s up it is safe and stable to be left constructed for the duration of the excursion – come rain, wind or shine.
Due to its size and weight, this camping shower is less versatile and suited best to staying in one place throughout the trip.
For those who are a camping in a new location every night or showering on the go, this is a non-starter.
Overall this is the closest you can get to a real shower when away from home, and for anyone that is willing to trade off reduced portability for a bit of luxury then this is just the ticket.
What to look for when buying a camp shower
Decide what you want it for
In addition to providing a way of staying clean, camp showers are useful in other ways too.
From cleaning your kit, rinsing dishes, hosing down your car or scrubbing your pets, bear in mind whether you want your shower to be multi-purpose and factor that into your decision.
On top of this it’s important to define your specific needs (if there are any), including where you’ll be able to hang it, what the availability of water will be like, whether you’ll be able to boil water to add to it, etc.
Method of heating and operation
Portable showers usually rely on an external source for heating rather than being able to do it themselves.
The most common type is the solar variety – either gravity or pump-powered. These use the sun’s rays to heat up water stored in a dark-coloured (and often thermally-insulated) reservoir.
The main drawback is that on cloudy days or after the sun goes down your shower will be as cold as the ambient air temperature.
Battery powered showers use electricity to draw water (either hot or cold) from a container and push it through the hose and shower head at a reasonably high pressure, without the need for a manual pump.
The downside is that you need to have replacement batteries or the ability to recharge from a car or power pack.
Pump showers usually work off a combination of gravity and a foot or hand pump to maximise water pressure.
Pumping a small sponge-like mechanism increases the speed and power with which the water comes out of the head for a more authentic-feeling shower.
Vehicle-fitted showers are harder to come by and much more expensive, as well as requiring specialised installation skills.
These showers produce pressurised hot water through the shower head, using a heat exchange and water pump.
There are even propane camp showers that use coils and burners to heat up the water – ideal for anyone that wants a hot shower – but they tend to be bulky and require carrying a small propane tank.
The size of your new camping shower not only influences the amount of water it will hold, but will directly impact its weight – both empty and full.
Showers that have a large reservoir included in the design are bulkier and less portable. For backpackers, a light, compact option should be your first port of call.
For anyone camping in a caravan or car, particularly if you need to carry your own water, then a high capacity reservoir (20-40 litres) is a great option.
Camping showers vary massively in terms of their design.
Large bags with wide shower heads will provide a greater rate of flow, whilst shower heads with pumps/motors will provide the best pressure but often require a bucket or external water source.
If you need something durable that can be rolled up and thrown in a bag, look for a thicker hose and shower bag with reinforced PVC.
Be sure to invest in a high-quality reservoir if it is over 10 litres as hanging it up can put extreme pressure on the seams and joining points and the last thing you want is a shower with a hole in!
And a final note…
When camping, you should only use biodegradable or eco-friendly soap for washing yourself and your dishes.
These soaps are designed to break down in the soil without causing harm to the environment or animals but should never be used in a lake or river.
Always set up your camp shower at least 50 metres away from any water sources to minimise runoff.
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Last update on 2020-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API