There are two types of campers: those that want to shower in the outdoors, and those that don't. Like all generalizations, there are of course exceptions to this rule, but from our experience, you're either completely fine with being a dirtbag and can get by with a smoke shower, or you require a setup that allows for washing the day's grime away.
Lucky for you clean freaks, there variety in camp showers has exploded in recent years; we've got everything from little pockets showers to full-on shelters that make camping feel like a spa experience. It can be difficult to choose which will be right for you, unless you've had hands-on experience with a few types, but we put this guide together with the hope that through our research and testing, you'll be able to find what works for you.
How do camp showers work?
There are a few different types of camping showers, ranging from mounted, pressurized options for your rig, all the way to pocket-sized pouches meant for the simplest suddsing-up.
As you're shopping for camp showers, you can expect to find three main types: the pocket/ bag shower, shower system and shower tents. Pocket showers are lightweight, bags that use gravity to do the work of maintaining a steady stream of water to wash off in. Most pocket/ bag showers are made from the material used for dry bags — usually nylon, which has the optimal weight to durability ratio, finished with taped seams. Fill the bag with water and hang it from a tree branch, car or any fixture that's high enough to stand under, while supporting the weight of the water. Most pocket showers have a built-in shower head, which controls the flow of water.
Shower systems are a little more high-tech, but come with extra weight. These types of showers are ideal for car camping or for long days near the water — they're too bulky for backpacking or minimal campers, but ideal for those with a little extra space. Shower systems use multiple power methods to deliver a warm shower, including solar, battery and propane-powered.
For those that prioritize privacy, shower tents are the best option — most are made with waterproof, durable materials like like nylon or polyester, and are powered by propane or solar energy. Shower tents take the longest to set up, depending on size and design, but if you plan on camping long term in one place, it can feel like a luxury to have a designated shower area at camp.
This pressurized shower is the Goldilocks of bathing outside — not too big, not too small, just right for a shower in the outdoors. The most appealing aspect of the Helio LX is that you don't have to hang it overhead — the shower can hold 22 liters, which is almost 50 pounds you don't have to hoist in the air. Pressurize the 5.8-gallon tank with the foot pump, and enjoy 7-10 minutes of shower time.
For a warm shower, you can either fill the tank directly with hot water, or you can set it in the sun for a solar-heated experience. The Helio LX comes with a seven-foot-long hose, perfect for holding overhead for a classic shower, or spraying off dirty gear or pets.
Material: Polyurethane-coated polyester/thermoplastic urethane/neoprene tubing
Liquid Capacity: 22 liters
When it comes to convenience, quality and ease of use, nothing beats Yakima's car-mounted camp shower. Whether you're spraying off muddy boots, a dirty dog or getting cleaned up after a long day on the trail, this seven-gallon shower handles most messes with ease.
The Roadshower can hold 26.5 liters, which is enough for a 10-15 minute shower, depending on how frugal you are with your water. Because it mounts directly onto your vehicle, the Roadshower benefits from near-constant solar heating, so a warm shower is never far off. You can pressurize the system either by hand or with an electric pump, and there's an attachment for a garden hose, for easy filling.
Yakima included a stick-on thermometer, so you can always tell what temperature the water is going to be — you won't be surprised by a cold shower (or scalding water). At 84 pounds the Roadshower is far from lightweight, but once you've completed the initial mount, the weight ceases to be an issue. Available in four, seven and 10-gallon sizes, Yakima made a shower for essentially any situation.
Weight: 84 pounds
Liquid Capacity: 26.5 liters
One of the most popular camp showers on the market, Sea to Summit can be used by any kind of outdoors person, but thanks to its small size, we think it's ideal for backpackers.
Made with 70-denier nylon, the Pocket Shower is wear-and-tear resistant and waterproof, much like Sea to Summit's dry bags. The roll-top closure makes it easy to fill, although if you overfill the bag, you may find yourself spilling some water in closing it up.
The showerhead built into the bottom of the bag makes turning the water on and off and adjusting the flow as easy as turning a knob. Warmed by the sun, this bag doesn't have any complicated setup: fill it, hang it and enjoy an 8-minute warm shower at the end of the day.
Material: 70D nylon
Weight: 4.3 ounces
Liquid Capacity: 11.8 liters
Going on a surf trip in your car? Depending on where you're going, beachside showers can be few and far between, and there's not a lot worse than a sandy, sticky car and bed after you've been surfing all day.
Rinsekit was born out of the need for surfers and water enthusiasts to rinse off saltwater at the end of the day, but the portable shower can be used in any car camping situation, as well. The hardshell exterior makes it easy to pack into your truck without fear of dings or damage, and the 3.5-gallon tank ensures a high-pressure, consistent spray off after the end of a surf or swim.
The Rinsekit Pro is pressurized via an integrated battery, eliminating the need for hose adapters or pumps. The nozzle comes with five spray options, including jet, mist, center, flat and shower. Fill it at home, throw it in the car, and you're set.
Material: High-density polyethylene/nylon
Weight: ~30 pounds
Liquid Capacity: 15.9 liters
This three-gallon shower heats water quickly in the sun with a solar panel and keeps it warm with a four-layer insulated design. The reservoir includes a water temperature gauge so you know exactly how warm your rinse will be, and it features a extra-large filling valve with a twist-off cap.
To use, just hang the heated reservoir and use the on/off shower head to release water. A convenient pocket holds soap, shampoo or other items you may need when rinsing off. And when you’re done, just roll it up and pack it away.
Material: 4 layer plastic reservoir/plastic hose/plastic shower head and valve
Weight: 12 ounces
Liquid Capacity: 22 liters
If you’re in an environment where privacy is not guaranteed, this easy-setup shelter offers the coverage you need. The freestanding design — over seven feet tall — utilizes steel poles to secure polyester side panels that can be zippered to adjust ventilation and privacy. And, a roll-up floor with a built-in drain makes clean up a breeze.
The Discovery H2Go can support a hanging shower bag (up to 5 gallons), but also features an access port for use with an external shower. Inside, it has three pockets (one on the side and two on the ceiling) to keep toiletries close. When you’re done, the shelter packs into a carry bag for easy hauling.
Material: 68-denier polyester/steel tubing
Weight: 13.44 pounds
Liquid Capacity: 22 liters
If you value convenience and budget over performance and durability, these disposable showers could be the way to go. Save energy and money by solar heating your shower water, courtesy of these black five-gallon bags that harness the energy of the sun to provide a warm camp shower.
Coghlan's shower bags won't break the bank, but don't expect to hand them down to the next generation of campers — each bag can handle 3-4 showers, and then it's done. Simply fill the non-PVC plastic bag to capacity, hang it overhead and rinse off.
Material: Non-PVC plastic
Weight: 12.1 ounces
Liquid Capacity: 20 liters