January 21, 2022

5 Favorite Types of Portable Showers for Camping

There are many great ways to take a shower at a campsite, but none that are ideal. You need something that’s quick if it’s cold out, something small and portable, space for the water runoff, and a way to get hot water. We’ve analyzed a few portable showers for this purpose exactly.

If you’re anything like us, taking a shower at camp is both a punishment and a reward. If it’s cold out, forget about it! There may be a big production to set up the shower area prior to the big event. A slight breeze during the act of showering will send shivers down your spine. But it’s hard to beat the feeling of putting good-smelling warm clothes on your clean body. So what is the best way to take a shower at camp?

We tested a few different portable showers for camping and found that each shower has its own time and place to shine. Here is our analysis, in order of cleanliness:

  1. Hippie Shower
  2. Spongebath
  3. Bucket and Battery-Operated Shower Head or pail
  4. Solar Shower
  5. One-day pass for the gym

#1: Hippie Shower

Example: Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes
Best for: Cold weather, crowded campsites, emergency odor control

Can this even be called a shower? According to Urban Dictionary, yes. So we’re including this in our reviews. A hippie shower is the act of wiping your body clean using wet wipes. This is great for the days when you skip a real shower, but it’s not enough to get you completely clean. It’s also not environmentally friendly. Even if you use biodegradable compostable wipes, you’re still wasting disposable materials.

Pros

  • Shower time: Not an issue
  • Setup time: No setup necessary
  • Space needed for the shower process: Just enough for you
  • Size and weight of materials during transport: Mere ounces

Cons

  • Level of cleanliness: Meh
  • Environmentally-friendly: They say it is. After all, the wipes are compostable. But in reality… nope

— CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON —

#2: Spongebath

Example: Sponge or loofah or washcloth
Best for: Arriving at a campsite and telling yourself you’ll set up a hanging shower tomorrow

Heat up water in a large pot on your camp stove. Dip the sponge in it, sprinkle some biodegradable soap on your sponge, and wipe your body. It’s quick, lightweight, economical, and environmentally friendly. However, it is a little tough to rinse yourself properly because you’re not using running water. Compared to the hippie shower, this showering style takes a little more time, but it is more economical, more environmentally friendly, and cleans better.

Pros

  • Shower time: Just a few minutes needed
  • Setup time: As long as it takes to heat up water
  • Space needed for the shower process: Not much, but it has to be outside
  • Size and weight of materials during transport: Mere ounces
  • Environmentally-friendly: Yes

Cons

  • Level of cleanliness: Just OK

— CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON —

#3: Bucket and Battery-Operated Pump/Showerhead

Example: Ivation Portable Shower and bucket
Best for: Any sort of car camping, washing your long hair

Lots of versions of this shower type exist out there. It consists of a battery-operated pump that, when submerged, delivers water from a bucket to the showerhead. The setup includes a hook to hang the showerhead so you don’t have to hold it. The bucket of water is not included.

We recommend standing in the bucket or putting a tarp under your feet because the water will splash mud onto your legs otherwise. To increase your shower time, try a navy shower. Please dispose of your soapy water responsibly.

Pros

  • Level of cleanliness: As clean as a shower at home
  • Shower time: Very long battery life – it will keep going as long as the water lasts
  • Setup time: As long as it takes water to heat up on your stove
  • Ease of setup: Simply hook the showerhead on a branch above your head. Or just hold it. It’s up to you how you want to do this
  • Size and weight of materials during transport: Lightweight and fits in a standard-sized bucket
  • Environmentally-friendly: Yes

Cons

  • Space needed for the shower process: Far enough that you don’t spray anyone or anything that shouldn’t be sprayed

— CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON —

#4: Solar Shower

Example: Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
Best for: Basecamp in sunny locations with sturdy trees

This is a great invention to minimize use of non-renewable energy! Find a place to set this portable shower high above your head and you’ve got a shower just like at home. The downside is that you need to set it in the sun for a few hours before the water gets hot enough. And of course, you need to find a place to hang it, which is not obvious if you’re camping in the desert.

We recommend standing in a bucket or putting a tarp under your feet because the water will splash mud onto your legs otherwise. To conserve water and increase your shower time, you can control the flow of water by twisting the showerhead on and off. Please dispose of your soapy water responsibly.

shower at the beach
Pocket Shower at the Beach

Pros

  • Level of cleanliness: As clean as a shower at home
  • Size and weight of materials during transport: Mere ounces
  • Environmentally-friendly: Yes

Cons

  • Shower time: 7-8 minutes maximum (enough for 1-2 people)
  • Setup time: Takes a few hours for water to heat up using solar or a few minutes to heat up water on the stove
  • Ease of setup: Not easy if you’re in the desert and can’t find any sturdy tree branches to hang it on
  • Space needed for the shower process: Far enough that you don’t spray anyone or anything that shouldn’t be sprayed

— CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON —

#5: Gym Pass

Best for: Going into the city

OK, it’s not portable. Also, depending on the type of gym you find, it may be expensive. But sometimes it’s worth it.

Pros

  • Level of cleanliness: WOW

Cons

  • Shower time: Oh this is gonna take a while
  • Setup time: A few minutes
  • Ease of setup: You need to sign all those gym waivers
  • Space needed for the shower process: Give me the entire locker room
  • Size and weight of materials during transport: Just your wallet
  • Environmentally-friendly: Um…

Items needed for any outdoor camp shower

Conclusion

As you gather from above, when judging types of portable showers for camping, we took the following into consideration:

There are lots of portable showers out there, but we think that the systems listed here are the best for certain kinds of situations. For instance, the hippie shower is great when you get to your campsite late on a cold night. The solar shower is amazing if you’re backpacking into a remote area and staying at the same campsite for a few nights. And the battery-powered pump is such a cool gadget, especially when you don’t have an ideal branch from which to hang a heavy water bag. We hope you get the point.

Click here to read about the best ways to boil water on road trips!