The 8 Best Portable Showers For Your Next Camping Or Outdoor Adventures

The idea of being able to take a hot shower after spending hours in the great outdoors sounds like heaven, but it can be hard to find an appropriate setup. Fortunately, there are some great portable showers that you can take with you on your next camping trip.

If you own a camper van, truck camper, teardrop trailer, or any other rig without a built-in shower, adding a portable camping shower is the way to go. 

It is a popular choice for boondocking and tent camping too. And it especially comes in handy when you aren’t camping in the great outdoors with a clean water source nearby. 

In addition to providing campers a way to stay clean, Many camp showers also serve multiple purposes. In addition to bathing, they can also provide hot water for dishes, rinsing muddy feet, and cleaning off bikes and other recreation equipment. 

The hard part can simply be choosing a outdoor camp shower model that will fits your needs and provide the kind of shower experience you desire.

Some have built-in heaters and pressure controls while others simply rely on gravity and solar power. 

The best option for you will depend on your camping style and preferences. Fortunately for you, we have tested several unique outdoor hot water showers and compiled a list of the best portable showers that are designed for outdoor use.

We also discuss what makes these outdoor shower options unique and which one will actually suit your needs best.

The 8 Best Portable Camping Showers In 2021

Best Portable Camping Shower for outdoor trips in 2021

Here are our picks for the best portable showers for camping, whether you’re looking for a solar powered, electric portable shower, and gas-powered portable hot water shower.

1: Best Battery Powered Shower: Mr. Heater F235350 BOSS portable Shower System

If you want a shower that can provide hot water and great water pressure wherever your travels take you, this is the one.

It’ll cost a little more than some of the other options on our list, but it relies on an electric pump and a gas-powered water heater to deliver a luxury camp shower experience. 

The heater in this portable unit delivers 18,000 BTUs of heating capacity per hour and the battery lasts up to 40 minutes on a single charge.

The sealed lead-acid battery can be charged via an AC/DC adapter. 

The heater is capable of raising the water temperature by up to 45 degrees higher than the temperature at the source. 

It allows you to adjust the flow rate from a minimum of 0.66 gallons per minute to a maximum of 1.18 gallons per minute. The unit itself measures 19.5 inches long by 10.5 inches wide. 

When you purchase the Mr. Heater Basecamp, you will get the quick-connect showerhead, the pump assembly, the power adapters, and a carry bag that stores everything.

Once you set it all up, simply drop the pump into your water source and flip the switch for hot water on-demand.

Things We Like

  • Supplies on-demand hot water
  • Allows you to adjust water pressure
  • Includes a scald protection safety feature

Things We Don’t Like

  • No built-in water storage capacity
  • Relatively short battery run time

2: Best Solar-Heated Foot Pump Shower: Nemo Helio ‎ B075Y2XCRN Pressure Shower with Foot Pump

For the solar aficionados out there, check out the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower.

The included foot pump supplies the pressure to run water through the hose and the shower bag holds 11 liters of water. 

The bag is designed to sit in the sun for hours to heat the water inside.

Depending on the day and how much direct sunlight you receive, it can take anywhere from 2-6 hours to heat the bag’s contents. 

When fully pressurized, it will provide a steady stream of water for 5-7 minutes. That is enough for an eco-friendly shower or even to wash some of your dinner dishes.

Plus, it has a clip mounted on the side of the bag to keep the nozzle from falling down into the dirt until you need it again. 

This model is also nice for anyone that doesn’t have a ton of space in their vehicle.

It packs down to a small round bag that measures just 5.5 inches tall by 8.5 inches in diameter. When filled with water, the bag extends up to 17 inches tall. 

The hose is roughly seven feet long on this shower, which provides more flexibility than those with shorter hoses.

It also weighs just 23 ounces when empty, which may even make it usable for short backpacking or local camping trips.

Things We Like

  • Lightweight and super compact when not in use
  • Foot pump to control water pressure
  • 7-foot hose length stretches high enough for taller individuals

Things We Don’t Like

  • Smaller storage capacity (compared to other bag-style showers)
  • Requires an extended amount of time in direct sunlight to heat up

3: Best Solar Shower: Advanced Elements B000J2Q0T4 Solar Shower

The Advanced Elements Summer Shower is meant for weekend getaways or short boondocking trips.

When you arrive at camp, fill it with water and then set it in direct sunlight for 4-6 hours to heat up. 

It does have a built-in thermometer on the bag so that you can check the temperature throughout the day.

It also has a clip-on handle on the top that makes it easy to find a compatible tree branch to hang it on when you are ready to shower. 

The handle itself is quite durable so that it can handle the weight of up to five gallons of water when the bag is full.

Speaking of the bag, it features a built-in reflector panel to provide faster heating. 

At the bottom of the bag, there are two Velcro straps to hold the hose in place and to give you a place to attach a hand towel or other shower accessories.

There is also a small soap pouch on the side of the bag and a small mirror attached for shaving or other uses. 

The bag weighs just 20 ounces when empty and easily rolls up to store in your vehicle.

The hose that comes out of the bottom of the bag has a pull-to-open spout that makes it easy to control the flow of water even when you have your eyes closed.

Things We Like

  • Durable, clip-on handle allows you to hang it on longer branches
  • Has a built-in thermometer for temperature monitoring
  • Comes with an attached mirror for shaving or other purposes
  • Easy on the wallet

Things We Don’t Like

  • Short hose length
  • Requires an extended amount of time in direct sunlight to heat up

4: Best Battery-Powered Foot Pump Shower: Geyser Systems 167941 Portable Shower with Heater

If you like the idea of the Nemo Helio shower but would like something that heats water a little more quickly, the Geyser Systems shower includes a built-in heater that connects to either your car battery or a separate deep cycle marine battery. 

It comes with a 12-volt plug to plug into your vehicle’s cigarette lighter, but may also be compatible with some of the larger Goal Zero Yeti batteries with 12-volt outlets.

When plugged in the heater will bring the water up to 95℉ in 15 to 45 minutes.

The amount of time it takes will depend on the initial water temperature when you turn it on, but it will automatically stop when it reaches 95℉. 

The system holds up to three liters of water and weighs 8 pounds when empty.

It also features a foot pump that is designed to provide reliable and consistent water flow for the duration of your shower.

And you won’t need to pressurize it regularly like you would with some other showers. 

If you don’t want to plug it into a battery to use the built-in heater, Geyser Systems recommend adding two liters of cold water and one liter of boiling water to the reservoir.

This will allow you to take a warm shower without draining your car or deep cycle battery. 

This shower and cleaning system is unique because it also includes a scrub sponge for doing dishes.

The sponge is actually hooked up to the water tank to provide a more efficient dishwashing experience with less wasted water.

Things We Like

  • Includes an automatic shut-off when the water reaches the prescribed temperature
  • Delivers consistent water flow without pressurization
  • You can still use it without the built-in heater
  • Includes LED dashboard to signal when water is hot and when tank is almost empty

Things We Don’t Like

  • Must be plugged into your car battery (with the engine running)
  • It is one of the more expensive portable showers out there

5: Best Budget-Friendly Solar Shower: Coleman 1219458 portable 5 gallon shower

If you are looking for a budget-friendly option, the Coleman Solar Shower is a lot like the Advanced Elements model. But it is available at a slightly more affordable price. 

The five-gallon capacity provides multiple showers on a single fill. There are simple instructions printed directly on the bag and it can take up to three hours to warm up when placed in direct sunlight. 

The relatively short shower hose requires you to stand directly underneath when using it.

But it does feature a pull-to-open spout that makes it relatively simple to control the water flow. 

Aside from being an extremely affordable model, this shower also packs up really easily and will require very little room to store in your vehicle.

The handle at the top allows you to move it around when full and set it on a branch when it’s time to shower.

Things We Like

  • One of the most affordable portable showers you will find
  • Easy to fill and simple to use
  • Compact and easy to store

Things We Don’t Like

  • The handle has a relatively small opening for hanging on a branch or pole
  • Short hose length
  • Requires an extended amount of time in direct sunlight to heat up

6: Best Roof-Mounted Solar Shower: YAKIMA 8004100 Pressurized Water shower

For those of you that are interested in something that can mount to your roof rack, check out the Yakima RoadShower.

It is a pre-manufactured version of the DIY PVC showers that you see on many surf trucks and vans. 

Yakima offers three versions of the RoadShower: small (4 gallons), medium (7 gallons), and large (10 gallons).

So I’ve provided a brief chart of the sizes for each of these versions below.

Size

Weight (when empty)

Weight (when full)

Dimensions (LxWxH, in inches)

Hose Length

4 gallons

19.5 pounds

53 pounds

55 x 6.1 x 4.75

55 inches

7 gallons

25.5 pounds

84 pounds

55 x 7.4 x 5.74

55 inches

10 gallons

37 pounds

120 pounds

82 x 7.4 x 5.74

81 inches

All three models will work with a minimum crossbar spread of 24 inches and a maximum spread of 50 inches.

They also come with stainless steel universal mounting hardware that will fit all Yakima crossbars and most other roof racks (mine is installed on Thule square bars). 

The RoadShower includes several features that make showering easy and safe.

It includes a Schader air valve that allows you to pressurize the tank for better water pressure when it is getting closer to empty. It also features a pressure relief valve that prevents over-pressurization. 

It comes with a stick-on thermometer that allows you to monitor the temperature and there are hose outlets on both ends so that you can set up the included hose according to your preference. 

It also includes brass water connection fittings, a large top cap for easy filling, and a garden hose adapter that allows you to fill and pressurize the tank at the same time.

Things We Like

  • Semi-permanent installation on your roof for prolonged sun exposure while driving
  • Air valve to increase water pressure to your preference
  • Multiple connections and fittings
  • Comes with all the hardware to install it right out of the box

Things We Don’t Like

  • Longer installation time
  • Hard to know when exactly it is full

7: Best Submersible Shower: Ivation IVA-PSH01 Battery Powered Outdoor Shower

After detailing one of the more complicated showers out there, we will finish with one of the simplest and easiest to use.

The Ivation Shower is a submersible model that simply drops into a bucket of water and then hooks onto a branch or even a car door. 

It is a battery-powered unit with a simple on/off switch. The battery provides up to one hour of use on a single charge and can be recharged by plugging it into a USB port or AC wall outlet (depends on the exact model purchased). 

While it is touted as a handheld model, it also comes with an S-hook and a suction cup.

These accessories allow you to set it up for a more convenient, hands-free shower experience. 

Although it doesn’t come with any sort of heating component, you can use a similar strategy that was recommended by the folks from Helio.

Fill a bucket with a 2:1 ratio of cold water to boiling water and test before dropping the pump in. The 6.5-foot shower hose should also be plenty for taller individuals.

Things We Like

  • No frills. Simple to set up and easy to use
  • Can store in a compact space if space is limited
  • Comes with an S-hook and suction cup for hands-free showering
  • One-touch On/Off Switch

Things We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t include a heating component
  • Will require a separate bucket or water storage container

How To Choose The Best Portable Camp Shower

Hopefully, there are already one or two camping shower options that stood out as you read through our reviews.

But you can utilize these criteria to narrow down your choices even further. 

Semi-Permanent vs Truly Portable?

Technically, all of these models can be moved as needed. Some just take a little more work to relocate than others.

For example, it is going to take a lot longer to move the RoadShower to the other side of your roof rack than it will take to pack away the Advanced Elements Shower Bag

For practical purposes, start by considering whether you have a roof rack that can handle a semi-permanent shower setup.

If you already have a rooftop tent or large cargo carrier up there, space might be limited. 

If you do have space on top of your vehicle, you will also need to make sure your crossbars are properly spaced to accommodate a roof-mounted shower tube.

These models will have specifications for the maximum and minimum acceptable crossbar spacing. 

Solar, Battery, or Propane Powered?

Now we get to talk about how the heck you heat up the water in one of these portable showers.

Relying on the heat of the sun can be a realistic option if you are spending your summer in the American Southwest, but it may leave you wanting if you are frequenting places in the Pacific Northwest where full days of cloud cover are more likely. 

The alternatives to a solar-heated camping shower are models with built-in heaters.

These either run off a rechargeable battery or a propane tank. As you might imagine, these will be more reliable for full-time camping because they are less dependent on the weather. 

Showers with battery-powered heaters have the benefit of being slightly more environmentally friendly than those that burn propane.

Their downside, however, is that you will need to be able to recharge the battery frequently because most of them don’t have a run time of much more than one hour. 

Showers with propane-powered heaters are less common, but they are out there.

They are the easiest to use in almost any condition, which makes them great for winter camping or full-time off-grid living.

They will just require you to always have plenty of propane stocked up so that you don’t run out in the middle of a shower. 

To summarize, solar is best if you can reasonably rely on 6-10 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Battery-powered is best if you have a solar charging system set up on your rig so that you can easily recharge it without draining your vehicle’s battery.

And propane-powered models are best for winter campers and permanent boondockers. 

Capacity

The next consideration is how much water you want your shower to hold. A higher capacity means you will have to fill it less frequently.

But it can mean that you will have to carry around more weight (especially if you have a roof-mounted shower). 

You should also keep in mind that showers with a larger capacity will take longer to heat up.

Naturally, it requires less energy to heat up one gallon of water than it does to heat up five gallons.

So showers with larger capacities will require more preparation and long hours sitting in the direct sunlight (if it is a solar-heated shower). 

Showers with smaller capacities can be better for quick use and also won’t require you to carry an unnecessary amount of water on your vehicle when you really aren’t using it.

If you opt for an electric or gas-powered shower, a smaller holding tank can also be less energy-intensive. 

Water Pressure

Generally, there are three main types of showers when it comes to how they actually propel water through the hose.

There are gravity-fed showers, showers that rely on a hand or foot pump to create pressure, and higher-end models that come with an electric pump. 

While gravity-fed showers can provide decent pressure when they are full, the pressure will dwindle as the reservoir approaches empty.

The upside to this is that it will be easier to save water because this type of shower naturally has the least pressure of these three types. 

If you want more pressure without diving too deep into your wallet, you can look for a shower with a foot pump.

Foot pump models are better than those with a hand pump because your hands will be free for other uses. 

Pump showers allow you to control the pressure according to your preference.

The nice part about this is that you can ramp up the pressure for the initial rinse, dial it back for applying soap and scrubbing, and then increase it again for your final rinse. 

Camping showers with battery-powered pumps can actually be broken into two more categories: tankless and submersible showers.

So let’s highlight the pros and cons of each before we move on. 

Tankless Showers

These are the most expensive camping showers out there. They draw water from a larger source and into their own small reservoir. The water is then heated and pumped up and through the shower hose. 

These showers can provide very hot water, will work endlessly as long as you have enough water for them to continue pulling from, and provide the most water pressure you can get in a camp shower. 

In addition to being quite pricey, however, these shower systems can be pretty bulky.

They are really best for weekend getaways if you have extra space and want a luxury bathing experience. 

Submersible Showers

Submersible showers usually include an electric pump with a rechargeable battery.

You simply drop one end of the hose into your water source and then turn on the pump to draw water up and through the hose. They also usually have multiple different pressure adjustments. 

Most of the battery-powered submersible units are relatively lightweight and have reasonable battery life.

The best models will run for over an hour on a single charge and can be recharged via either a USB port or your vehicle’s 12-volt DC port. 

The downside of a submersible shower is that it will be useless if you run out of battery.

But some people even use them for backpacking or international travel because they will work as long as you can find a reliable water source. 

Hose Length

It is impossible to plan for absolutely every scenario in which you will be showering while camping.

More hose length will allow for more flexibility, but can also require more storage space. 

If you choose a roof-mounted option, a longer hose will allow you to shower further from your vehicle instead of rinsing half of your truck down in the process.

For shower bags, a longer hose gives you more flexibility when choosing a tree branch to hang it from. 

For our money, it is worth it to choose a shower with a longer hose as long as you have the storage space to do it. 

Budget

Keeping in mind how much you will be using your shower will help you set your budget.

For an option you may use once or twice on a few camping trips every year, there is no reason to spend more than $100 on a portable camp shower. 

For full-time campers or folks that spend months at a time living off-grid, your budget should naturally be a bit higher.

Some of the best models we’ve seen range from about $200 at the low end up to more than $600 for luxury models. 

So, Which Is Best For You?

If you are going on an extended summer camping trip and you have room on your roof rack, I’d highly recommend getting a semi-permanent setup like the Yakima RoadShower.

Having a shower tube installed on the roof of your vehicle allows you to maximize the hours of direct sunlight each day. 

That will result in warmer showers if you plan to clean up before temperatures dip in the evening.

Plus, this style of shower holds enough water for multiple showers (depending on the size you choose).

So you don’t have to fill it up 6-8 hours early every time you want to take a shower. 

Those of you that are looking for something for weekend getaways or even week-long boondocking trips should consider the Advanced Elements Summer Shower.

It can be filled and left in the sun for 4-6 hours before it is warm enough for you to shower. 

Plus, it requires very little space to store in your rig and you don’t have to worry about permanently installing it on top of your vehicle. 

For full-time campers, it doesn’t make sense to rely solely on the sun for warm showers. So you may want to look into a model like the Mr. Heater Basecamp Battery Operated Shower System.

You will need to recharge the battery on a regular basis, but that can be done via your vehicle’s cigarette lighter or an AC outlet if your rig is plugged into shore power.

It can also be recharged via a portable battery bank or an approved solar-powered generator.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of these showers may look like the perfect fit upfront. But plenty of people have been let down by their choice because they didn’t fully consider everything that you should before finalizing your selection. 

So, in the interest of providing the most complete picture possible, let’s briefly address some of the most common questions about portable camping showers.

How to clean a portable camping shower?

It really depends on the model that you purchase. But the best way to clean the water reservoir is to rinse it with fresh water and a mild detergent. Then do a second rinse with fresh water only. 

After that, the key is really to leave it in direct sunlight long enough to dry completely.

Any water that remains in the reservoir could cause mold to grow if you pack it away and don’t take it out for several days. 

Make sure to also run those two rinse cycles through the hose as well. And you may need to consider using a small rod to keep the shower bag open during the drying phase. 

The good news, however, is that you aren’t storing drinking water in your shower reservoir (never drink out of a camp shower!).

So you may even be able to recycle your “used” shower water for other purposes if you need to save water on your camping trip. 

Do I need any extra accessories to go with my shower?

Well…most of us don’t shower with just water, right? Two of the most common accessories that go along with a camp shower are a privacy tent and some sort of biodegradable soap.

You may also think about getting a waterproof mat to stand on so that you aren’t sinking into the mud halfway through your shower. 

Can I use my shower for other purposes?

Absolutely! Many people use their showers to wash dishes, clean recreation gear, rinse feet, and for a variety of other uses.

As long as you have enough hose length to get water wherever you need it to go without creating a puddle in the middle of your campsite, your shower can help. 

Conclusion

Honestly, not all campers will require a portable shower. They are really the best for boondocking and dry camping because most campgrounds will either offer free or coin-operated showers. 

That said, they can also be a useful supplement when group camping or even for cleaning off surfboards, wetsuits, bikes, and other recreation equipment. 

Whatever you need one of these showers for, we hope that you have found a model that suits your needs.

As always, we would love to hear from you if you have personal experience with any of the showers above. 

We also gladly accept recommendations for additional models that we didn’t mention here.

So drop us a comment below and let us know how you stay clean on your boondocking adventures!

Last Updated on by Aaron Richardson

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