The Best Camping Shower

Getting a little dirty is the essence of camping. Long sweaty hikes, plodding through muddy terrain, getting enveloped in campfire smoke, and when you need to wash off, you go for a swim in a lake filled with algae and little critters. 

That’s all well and good, but some of us like to crawl into our sleeping bags, not caked in a layer of mud, and what if there is no lake to splash around in? That’s where a camping shower comes in, and if you’ve never considered bringing one, you are about to have your mind changed. 

Our Top Pick
KIPIDA Solar Camping Shower Bag

This is a 5-gallon solar shower, so it doesn’t require any propane or batteries, just a few hours of sunlight will warm it up. It’s a low-maintenance and reliable camping shower solution that works.

Why Do You Need a Camping Shower?

For years you’ve taken camping trips that were a few days or maybe even a week-long, and you didn’t shower during that time. It was part of the experience – everyone smelled a little bit, and a layer of grime built up throughout the trip. Unless you stay in a relatively fancy campsite at a national park or KOA, you don’t have access to hot running water. That was just one of the things you had to go without when camping. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Personal camp showers are relatively portable and will get clean in short order. Some models have pump systems that give you home shower quality water pressure, while others rely on gravity and are, at best, a convenient way to pour water over yourself. Some models heat the water for you, while others force you to endure a cold shower or require you to heat the water over a campfire before adding it to the shower’s reservoir. It’s all about what you need, but all of them will get you clean, which is more important than most campers realize.

Sleeping bags are a pain to clean; they’re delicate, especially down-filled models, and they take forever to dry out. You need to properly fluff them to get any warmth out of them too, so it’s best to wash them as little as possible. A sleeping bag liner will help keep it clean, but it would be better to get yourself clean before climbing inside. Using a camp shower before you hit the hay will help your undoubtedly expensive sleeping bag last a lot longer. You’ll feel much better taking a shower before bed too, which can help you get to sleep faster and have a more restful night

Different Types of Camping Showers

Camp showers come in various types, and you have to find the type that best fits your camping style. Some require extra accessories like propane tanks, while others are built for off-the-grid use and are little more than a plastic bag you can hang in a tree. Each type has its pros and cons, so think about things like how much water pressure you like, how warm of water you’re hoping for, and how much space you have for packing an outdoor shower kit.

There are essentially 4 approaches you can choose from to provide your camping shower with water. In some cases, the water will be heated by the shower kit, and in some, you’ll have to do so yourself before making it available to the shower via a reservoir of your choice.  Below, we look at portable camping showers that use one of the following approaches:

Solar Camping Showers

Solar-style camping showers are the simplest of showers: a black bag that heats up in the sun that you can hang from a tree branch. They usually have no pressurizing system, relying on gravity for water flow. Their biggest advantage is their simplicity – nothing to break, no extra accessories, and a very packable design. These showers are especially great for backcountry camping.

1. KIPIDA Solar Camping Shower Bag

KIPIDA Solar Camping Shower Bag
  • Water Capacity: 5 Gallons
  • Flow System: Gravity
  • Heating Method: Solar
  • Weight: 1 lb

4.5 Stars

We’ll keep it simple to start with; the KIPIDA is just a five-gallon black PVC bag with a fill cap on one end and a hose/nozzle on the other. It’s lightweight, low maintenance, and works as well as any sun shower will. 

The KIPIDA is a solid option if you’re trekking into the backcountry and need something that won’t weigh your pack down – it comes in at around one pound. Empty, it can be rolled up and shoved into any remaining void within your backpack. 

This sun shower can be mounted by hanging it’s reinforced carrying handle on a tree branch or post. It would be useful for KIPIDA to include some other mounting hardware as it’s not that easy to find a branch strong enough to hold five gallons of water. Conveniently, the reservoir includes a small mesh pocket where you can store a toothbrush or other toiletries. 

The biggest drawback to the KIPIDA, and all solar showers, is that you need a really sunny location to mount them, and preferably a warm one. Even if you have your solar shower hanging in direct sunlight for six hours, if it’s fifty degrees outside, it’s just not going to function the way that you want it to. A temperature indicator on the outside of the reservoir lets you know when the water is heated.

Like most solar showers, this one is gravity-fed, which gives it pretty lackluster water pressure. That’s both a blessing and a curse. You can probably get a good eight minutes of shower time out of the KIPIDA’s five-gallon reservoir, which is enough for two showers if you budget your water properly. At the same time, the pressure is so low you might not feel very clean afterward.

The KIPIDA is a relatively inexpensive model as far as portable camping showers go. It’s easy enough to use, so long as there’s plenty of sunlight. It doesn’t come with very many extra features, but it’s well built and can stand up to the challenges of backcountry use.

Why should you buy the KIPIDA Camping Shower?

  • Includes a large capacity reservoir for multiple showers.
  • The reservoir’s black exterior efficiently absorbs the solar heat.
  • It is light enough to carry on backcountry camping trips.

2. Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower

advanced elements camping shower
  • Water Capacity: 2.5 Gallons
  • Flow System: Gravity
  • Heating Method: Solar
  • Weight: ½ lb

4.5 Stars

Advanced Elements is primarily known for its innovative inflatable kayak designs, but they also built some fantastic camping showers. Their 2.5-gallon model is a solar shower, but with a few extra features that help it stand out from the crowd.

The most noticeable difference between it and any other solar shower is that it’s not black. Dark colors are commonly used for the shower bag because they’re good at absorbing infrared radiation. Advanced Elements reservoir appears silver, a highly reflective color. In actuality, it’s a four-layer design with a reflective panel, an insulator panel, a solar panel, and a waterproof reservoir. The three outer layers do a better job of capturing the sun’s energy than a simple black plastic would.

One of the nagging issues with this solar shower is that it only comes with a 2.5-gallon reservoir. That’ll only provide you with one shower, and it won’t be a long one. The smaller capacity does get warmer faster, but if two campers share the shower, they’ll have to stagger their times with a couple of hours of direct sunlight between them to warm up the reservoir again. 

The Advanced Elements Summer Shower is pricey as far as solar showers go. However, it’s also one of the most effective in its class, and it’s incredibly durable. If you’re planning on taking lots of backcountry trips, the lightweight Summer Shower will be the best option to throw in your pack. 

Why should you buy the Advanced Elements Sun Shower?

  • Possibly the lightest portable shower on the market.
  • The four-layer reservoir is designed for optimal heat absorption and retention.
  • A large fill valve makes replenishing the reservoir a cinch. 

3. VIGLT Portable Camping Shower Bag

VIGLT Portable Shower Bag
  • Water Capacity: 5 Gallons
  • Flow System: Gravity
  • Heating Method: Solar
  • Weight: 1.5 lb

The VIGLT Camping Shower is similar to the KIPIDA, and most other solar showers in that’s is simply a black bag with a short hose coming off of it. What sets it apart from the pack is its price point – just over $10. It’s one of the most budget-friendly portable showers on the market. 

Like the KIPIDA, the VIGLT has a five-gallon black plastic reservoir that gets warm if left in direct sunlight. Usually, this takes a few hours and is best done around midday when the sun is at its most intense. When done properly, and when the air temperature isn’t too cold, the reservoir can heat up to 113 degrees. The sprayer on the VIGLT is nothing to write home about, and its flow resembles that of a watering can. It’s slow and light, which helps conserve water but doesn’t clean the grime off very well. 

The VIGLT weighs a bit more than most solar showers, chalked up to the lower quality and heavier materials. However, unlike some of the other solar showers, this one comes with a small length of cord with a hook, giving you more mounting options than just the reinforced handle at the top. A clear back panel section also lets you see how much water is left in your reservoir so you can better budget your water usage.

You really can’t go wrong with this inexpensive solar shower; it’s a great thing to pick up for “just in case” or to try out and see whether you enjoy camping with a portable shower. It’s versatile enough for front-country or backcountry adventures and should hold for several years.

Why should you buy the VIGLT Camping Shower?

  • A clear back panel lets you see how much water remains in the reservoir.
  • A reinforced carrying/hanging handle makes this a durable sun shower.
  • Black PVC reservoir heats to 113 degrees F in three hours of direct sunlight. 

Pump Camping Shower

Pump-style portable outdoor showers are essentially a battery-powered submersible pump connected to a hose. There is no reservoir to speak of; you drop the pump in a bucket, a sink filled with water, or even a relatively clean lake. The downside is that they lack a heating element, so you’ll be showering with whatever temperature water you have on hand. You could heat a large pot of water over a campfire and pump out of that; it all depends on how much time you have to prep your shower. While not as convenient for heating compared to solar showers, they do have much better water pressure.

4. Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
  • Water Capacity: N/A
  • Flow System: Battery-powered pump
  • Heating Method: None
  • Weight: 2 lbs

4.5 Stars

Ivation’s Portable Outdoor Shower is the epitome of what a pump shower should be: simple, relatively inexpensive, and easy to use. Just grab a bucket, drop the included pump inside, and turn it on. Now you’ve got a camp shower.

Lacking the heating abilities of a solar shower, you’ll either need to be comfortable with cold water or preheating your water before filling the pump’s reservoir. It’s an annoying extra step, but the Ivation’s pump is rated to over 120 degrees F, and you’ll probably want to make use of that for the sake of warm showers. 

As pump-style showers lack a reservoir, you must have a hose that’s long enough to reach whichever water source you’re going to use. The Ivation shower has a six-and-a-half-foot hose between the showerhead and the pump unit, so it’s fairly easy to drop the pump in a bucket and have plenty of flexibility with the head. 

A major drawback to pump showers and particularly the Ivation, is the need for a battery. The Ivation comes with just one 2200 mAh unit that charges with a wall plug or via USB. It can also be plugged into your vehicle’s 12v port, but regardless of which electrical outlet you use, it takes about five hours to get it fully charged. From there, you’ve got about an hour of showering time with the battery. An extra battery or a larger capacity one would have been a useful improvement for the Ivation. 

The Ivation is both more costly and complex than solar showers but is a good alternative for campers wanting a little more water pressure. It’s light enough it could be carried on a backpacking trip so long as you’re near a lake or you carry a collapsible bucket that could be used as a reservoir. 

Why should you buy the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower?

  • Simple design with no learning curve or instructions necessary.
  • Compact pump and hose combo fit easily in a backpack.
  • Somewhat less expensive than its competitors.  

5. KEDSUM Portable Camping Shower

KEDSUM Portable Camping Shower
  • Water Capacity: N/A
  • Flow System: Battery-powered pump
  • Heating Method: None
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

4.5 Stars

KEDSUM’s pump shower is in a similar vein as the Ivation, a battery-powered pump attached to a hose, with a few variations. It provides excellent water pressure, with a flow rate of about one gallon/minute. That’s less than your home shower but 50% better than your average solar shower. 

One of the best things about the KEDSUM Portable Shower is that it comes with two 2200 mAh lithium batteries. That’s twice the capacity of the Ivation, and you can keep one battery charging while you’re showering, so there’s always a fully charged one ready to go. 

Previous iterations of the KEDSUM had the battery mounted inside a waterproof housing next to the pump unit. This resulted in decreased longevity as the vibrations from the pump, along with the potential for water to leak through the waterproof seal, left the battery vulnerable. This version of KEDSUM has the battery mounted away from the pump, so it doesn’t need to be submerged. 

This design change increases the lifespan of the shower but comes at the cost of making the whole unit feel clunky. There’s now a battery unit, a pump unit, and a hose/nozzle unit – all in one unruly package. KEDSUM did include a hook and suction cup mount, so you don’t have to hold everything, but it’s still not a very elegant design.

KEDSUM’s pump shower is only slightly more expensive than the Ivation but has twice the battery capacity and a more durable (if slightly clunkier) design. It’s also a few ounces lighter, making it a better option for backcountry campers wanting more water pressure out of their shower.

Why should you buy the KEDSUM Portable Shower?

  • Is packaged with two 2200 mAh lithium batteries – charge one while using the other.
  • Includes an S-shaped hook or suction cup for mounting the portable shower.
  • The battery is separated from the pump for increased longevity. 

6. JAYETEC Portable Outdoor Shower Kit

JAYETEC Portable Outdoor Shower Kit
  • Water Capacity: N/A
  • Flow System: Battery-powered pump
  • Heating Method: None
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs

4.5 Stars

The lightweight JAYETEC shower is another slight variation on the pump shower concept, providing good water pressure in a relatively small package. Like every other pump model, it requires an external reservoir, like a bucket or lake, so be sure to consider your reservoir capacity before purchasing one of these.

While most pump showers put out a single continuous pressure, the JAYETEC has two pressure options, high and low. Keeping it on low will conserve battery and water levels, which is critical if you’re taking this portable shower on a backcountry camping trip. With easy access to power and water, you can crank up the pressure and get a much more enjoyable shower.

The JAYETEC has a lithium battery twice the size of those found on the Ivation and KEDSUM models, 4400 mAhs. This big battery will get you around an hour and a half of shower time, depending on the pressure setting. Since most camp shower sessions only require a few minutes of water pressure, you’re looking at a week of showers for a whole family. 

Something not many consumers think about when purchasing their camp shower is lighting. If you like to take showers just before bed, there’s a good chance it’ll be dark out, and you don’t want to wear a headlamp while sudsing up your hair. The JAYETEC has a LED light attached to the pump, providing a minimal amount of light for your shower. This would have been a much better design if the LEDs were on the showerhead, which would have allowed you to wield it like a flashlight to see if you’ve washed all the grime off your body.

The JAYETEC comes at a similar price point to the KEDSUM pump shower, so it’s really a toss-up depending on what you value most. The JAYETEC is more feature-heavy, with a longer-lasting battery, an LED light, and multiple pressure settings. However, you lose the ability to charge one battery while using the other – the biggest advantage of KEDSUM.

Why should you buy the JAYETEC Outdoor Shower Kit?

  • A 4400 mAh lithium battery provides almost an hour and a half of pressurization.
  • LED lights on the pump illuminate your shower space.
  • The pump has two settings for high and low water pressure. 

Pressurized Tanks Camping Showers

These portable camping showers are similar to the pump models but include a reservoir with them. They also have better water pressure as they can pressure the reservoir instead of pumping a continuous stream. Some models don’t even need batteries, as they can be manually pressurized via a device like a bicycle pump. The bulky plastic reservoirs make backcountry camping with one impossible, but they’re great for front country car camping if you have extra space for luxury items. 

7. OYOOQO Portable Electric Pressure Outdoor Shower

OYOOQO Electric Pressure Outdoor Shower
  • Water Capacity: 5 Gallons
  • Flow System: Tank Pressure
  • Heating Method: None
  • Weight: 9.5 lb

4.5 Stars

At first glance, the OYOOQO looks like a garden sprayer attached to a small cooler. Only a couple of ports on the bottom indicate that it’s anything more. However, it’s actually one of the better-pressurized tank systems, with a large capacity, good pressure, and fairly long battery life.

The OYOOQO’s electric pump can run off of your vehicle’s 12v plug or the included lithium-ion battery (which charges with 120v mains electricity). The battery’s capacity is 12000 mAhs, nearly three times what some of the pump models have. Yet OYOOQO claims it can only deliver thirty minutes of continuous pressure of forty-five minutes of non-continuous spraying. This is likely due to the higher water pressure involved compared to the pump models. If you’re looking for a shower that will be similar to what you have in your own bathroom, this is one of the few that will do it. 

The OYOOQO has a capacity of five gallons, which is split between two water bags inside the reservoir tank. They’re rated to 120 degrees F, so you can easily fill them with hot water heated over your campfire. The split reservoir also helps you to keep track of how much you’re using too.

One of the OYOOQO’s better features is the spray nozzle, which features several patterns, just like your home garden hose. If you need to remove some stubborn dirt, a solid jet will do it, but if you’re looking for maximum coverage, there’s also a wide spray that’s less pressurized. The nozzle provides more options for how to use the sprayer around your campsite.

The OYOOQO is a good option for campers that want a self-contained shower system (no extra heating elements or wires needed) that works well and is built to last. It’s definitely on the expensive side and only offers a cold shower if you cannot heat the water over a campfire beforehand. 

Why should you buy the OYOOQO Electric Pressure Outdoor Shower?

  • Has a large five-gallon reservoir. 
  • 12,000 mAh battery provides forty-five minutes of pressurization per charge.
  • The hose’s nozzle has a variety of spray patterns to suit your specific needs. 

8. WaterPORT Self-Pressurized Water Tank for Camp Showers

WaterPORT Camp Showers
  • Water Capacity: 3.8 Gallons
  • Flow System: Pump
  • Heating Method: None
  • Weight: 20 lbs

4.5 Stars

If all the batteries and electrical hookups on the pump and pressurized tank showers make you cringe, the WaterPORT is right up your alley. No electricity is required, give a few pumps on the fill cap, and you’ve got water pressure. It’s not as easy to use as an electric pump system, but it’s a whole lot more reliable. 

Another unique feature of the WaterPORT is its mounting system; it comes with a two-inch hitch mount so you can attach it to your vehicle for the duration of your camping trip. This raises the reservoir a couple of feet off the ground and makes pumping much less strenuous on your back. Admittedly, you’ll have to park your shower tent right next to the car to use it, but the sprayer comes in handy for tasks other than rinsing yourself off. It’s got great pressure, so you spray down boots, kayaks, or anything else that’s covered in mud and grime.

The nearly four-gallon tank will last up to fifteen minutes, which indicates that the pressure coming from the WaterPORT is quite low. Most pump systems would deplete their reservoir in half that time. This could also indicate an insufficient amount of water coming from the nozzle. The reservoir does come with an extra-wide cap, which makes filling the tank easy. WaterPORT mentions that it’s large enough to fit ice cubes, but most campers will probably appreciate not spilling the precious hot water that they’ve just heated over the campfire. 

The WaterPORT is different from most pressurized tank systems in that it has a manual pump. This will be attractive to boondocking campers far from electricity and can’t rely on batteries to keep their shower pressurized. 

Why should you buy the WaterPORT Camping Shower?

  • Includes a two-inch hitch mount for installing on your vehicle.
  • Doesn’t need electricity to pressurize.
  • Has an extra-wide cap for easy filling and fits ice cubes for cold showers. 

Water Heater Camping Showers

If you’re searching for the ultimate portable shower comfort, this is the way to go. Water heater-style systems are heated using a propane heating element, which means you can have warm water at the ready in just a few minutes. Most models also include an electrical pump for superior pressure. Unfortunately, these showers take up quite a bit of space and aren’t that easy to move around. When you need the best, there’s no other choice. 

9. Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater & Shower Pump

Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater Shower
  • Water Capacity: N/A
  • Flow System: Pressure
  • Heating Method: Propane
  • Weight: 13 lbs

4.5 Stars

Compared to the solar, pump, and pressurized tank showers, the Hike Crew Portable Water Heater and Shower is a whole different ball game. It’s propane heated, which means you’ll have hot water in under a minute. The biggest problem will be running out of water. 

The Hike Crew pumps out a solid 2.2 gallons per minute, which will feel great and very similar to your home shower, but it’ll deplete whatever reservoir you’re using fairly quickly. A five-gallon bucket will get you just over two minutes of shower time; it’d be more comfortable if you found something larger to pump from. 

The Hike Crew is actually fairly portable, at least as far as water heater systems go. It weighs just thirteen pounds, which is over twenty times the weight of some solar showers, but still fairly easy to pack around. You still won’t want to take it far from your vehicle. 

One thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is that this shower requires an electrical connection. Most of the other models, including some water heater variety, have a rechargeable battery to power the pump system. Still, the Hike Crew needs either a 120v connection from an outlet or 12v from your vehicle. This requirement severely limits its portability and means you’ll need a decent extension cord to run it – presumably, your shower tent won’t be right next to an electrical hookup. The lack of a battery does keep the weight down, coming in at around 13 pounds. 

The Hike Crew Portable Shower is an excellent option if you’re looking for front camping luxury. However, it’s the high price point it’s hard to justify when it doesn’t even include a lithium-ion battery – something found on very inexpensive pump showers.

Why should you buy the Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater & Shower Pump?

  • Can run off of 120v mains electricity or 12v from your vehicle.
  • Is relatively lightweight for a propane-powered water heater.
  • The hose nozzle has adjustable spray patterns. 

10. Coleman Hot Water on Demand H2Oasis Portable Water Heater

Coleman H2Oasis Portable Water Heater
  • Water Capacity: 5 Gallons
  • Flow System: Pressure
  • Heating Method: Propane
  • Weight: 18 lbs

Coleman is one of the biggest players in camping equipment, so it’s no surprise they’ve developed one of the best portable camping showers out there. The H2Oasis is a water heater-style shower that uses one-pound propane tanks to achieve hot water on demand. 

Some customers are going to be concerned about lighting a flammable gas like propane. Fortunately, the H2Oasis has an easy-to-use ignition system that doesn’t use any matches or lighters – you’re in no way exposed to flame. Just hit the ignition switch, and it’s ready to heat some water. 

Like many other water heater or pump-style showers, the Coleman requires an external water source. An included submersible pump will pull from a bucket, but the Coleman also comes with its own five-gallon folding container. Realize that having such warm water will make taking a longer shower a more tempting prospect. Be sure you have an adequate amount of water as the pump will go through it fairly quickly. The pump’s lithium battery can be charged using the 12v plug on your vehicle or 120v mains electricity.

One complaint from Coleman users is that the unit needs to be reignited every time you turn off the water. Most campers turn it off while lathering up with soap or shampoo to conserve the small amount of water in the reservoir. Given the quality of this product, this seems like something Coleman could have found a workaround for.

There’s no way around it; the Coleman is a pricey water heater. It’s definitely an investment for your camping kit, one that will pay off through clean sleeping bags and a warm, cozy feeling as you drift off to sleep. If you have space and the cash to get this portable shower, it’s a great value.

Why should you buy the Coleman Portable Water Heater?

  • The shower comes with a five-gallon collapsible reservoir.
  • It has an easy-to-use propane ignition system that requires no matches or lighters.
  • Includes a lithium-ion battery to power the pump. 

What to Consider When Buying a Camping Shower

Depending on the style of camping shower you purchase, it could be a rather substantial investment. You’ll want to put some thought into what you hope to get out of your shower and how you’ll use it before putting in any money. These are some of the most important considerations and how each type of camp shower stacks up. 

Where Are You Going to Use Your Outdoor Shower Kit?

Obviously, the shower is for camping, but will you be close to electrical outlets, a water source, a place to dispose of your greywater? If you’ll be using your shower near civilization and all its amenities, it only makes sense to get the shower that functions best. This would be the water heater-style showers, which run on propane, need electricity to charge the pump’s battery, and quickly go through a fair amount of water. 

The other end of the scale would be backcountry camping, several miles from your vehicle and any electrical hookups. Solar showers are the only way to go in that situation, as they only need sunlight and gravity to function. Most are super lightweight and won’t add too much to your pack weight.

In the middle are the pump showers and pressurized tank showers. Most of these need electricity, and while they come with batteries that will last an hour or so, that’s not going to be long enough for extended trips or large groups. It’s best if you can charge the battery of your vehicle, or even better, mains electricity from the campground. They offer better water pressure than solar showers, so they’ll be more comfortable to use.

How Much Space Do You Have?

It seems like no matter how much capacity your truck bed, trailer, or backpack has, it will get filled with gear. For most of us, it’s in our nature to overpack. How much space you’ll need to clear out for your camping shower depends on the type you go with. 

Solar showers take up almost no room at all; most pack down to the size of a hydration bladder. You’ll hardly notice they’re there. Pump-style showers are a little bulkier as they have a submersible pump attached to the hose. The pump weighs a pound or so, but as long as you weren’t worried about keeping it charged, these showers could be packed into the backcountry. 

Pressurized tanks are considerably larger by nature, as they have an attached reservoir with a capacity between three and five gallons. While the reservoir doesn’t weigh all that much, it’s a significant volume to contend with. Water heaters check both the weight and volume box, and you’ll need a little propane tank to go along with them. Even without water or propane, many of these models come in at close to twenty pounds.

Do You Need Hot Water for Your Shower?

Unless it’s 90 degrees or above, most of us prefer a hot shower or at least a warm one. Unfortunately, many camp showers only provide cold water. Solar showers and water heater-style showers will warm the water, with the former taking a few hours and the latter just a few minutes. These are a better option if you take showers right before bed when the temperature starts to dip.

Pump and pressurized tank showers have no native heating source. That doesn’t mean you must take a cold shower, though. You could heat a few gallons of water over a campfire or stove and then pour them into the reservoir (most camp shower reservoirs are rated 120 degrees F). This is a great camping hack if you’ve got easy access to firewood and don’t want to deal with the propane tanks needed for water heater showers.

How Do You Heat the Water for a Camp Shower?

The simplest way to heat your water is to choose a camp shower with a native heating supply. Water heater-style showers come equipped with a propane tank and ignition system that can heat your water just as your furnace system does at home. Most models can get the water up to temperature in under a minute.

Let’s say you don’t go with a water heater-style shower; you’re not completely out of luck. Solar showers absorb heat from the sun via a dark exterior that can absorb infrared rays. It takes a few hours to get warm and won’t function on a cloudy day, but you have to admire the simplicity. Another option is to heat water over a fire before transferring it to the shower. You could bring a large pot to warm up the water in, but a small pot of boiling water mixed with cold water can also do the trick. 

How Much Water Capacity Do You Need?

Camping showers are limited by the reservoir that’s connected to them. Some, like the solar showers and pressurized tank models, have a set capacity. In contrast, others, like the pump and water heater showers, can be connected to a bucket or any suitable container. Showers can go through 2.5 gallons per minute, which means you’ll need to conserve your water. Only open the valve/nozzle when you need to rinse off shampoo or soap; you can’t just let it run continuously.  

Do You Need a Privacy Tent or Camping Shower Tent?

Once you’ve settled on a shower style, you’ll need to think about where you’re going to shower. If there’s no one else around, like on a backcountry trip, it’s fine to shower naked next to a tree. But if you’re camping near other people, you’ll need some privacy in the form of a camping shower tent or a privacy tent.

The main difference between these two types of tents is the presence of a floor. Privacy tents are made for changing clothes or using the toilet, both of which do not require a tent floor. Having one can be useful, as the tent can be held down by your weight alone, but the floor will wear out over time and isn’t needed if you put some thought into where it will be placed (i.e., non-muddy ground).

Camping shower tents should absolutely have a floor, as your feet will be inundated with mud without one. The floor on a camping shower redirects the water towards the tent’s exterior or to a greywater receptacle if one is being used. When you’re not showering, a portable camping shower tent can also be used for a toilet or changing clothes. A camp shower is a better choice if you prioritize versatility.


Always Consider the Environment


What to Do with Runoff Water?

At home, the last thing you think of while taking a shower is “where does the water go.” It goes down the drain and into the sewage system, never to be thought of again. However, figuring out what to do with your greywater, soap, shampoo, and toothpaste contaminated water is paramount if you’re going to use an outdoor shower kit. 

The first thing you’ll want to pay attention to is the grade of your camp shower space – it definitely shouldn’t point downhill towards your campsite. Your sun shower might only be a few gallons of water, but it has the potential to flood your tent area or at least make it really muddy. Your camping shower shouldn’t drain towards a body of water like a creek, river, or lake. Soaps and shampoos contain harsh chemicals that aren’t very friendly to aquatic plants and wildlife.

Some places require that you leave no trace and capture 100% of your greywater and dispose of it at a designated site. This usually involves showering over a tarp that runs off into a bucket that can be transported to the disposal site. Even if this is not required, it’s best to collect your greywater and dispose of it in a proper place (vault toilet, large cat hole, or RV dump site) rather than hoping that your runoff won’t end up somewhere unintended. 

Always Use Biodegradable Soap

Greywater will never be completely environmentally safe, but you can purchase less destructive soaps than your average dish or hand soap. Most brands are a form of castile soap made from vegetable oils and contain fewer preservatives and detergents that could harm the fish and plant life in nearby streams. 

That’s not to say you can dump soap or greywater anywhere you want. Soap, even in its most natural form, is still very unnatural in nature. Soap can clog or otherwise disrupt the delicate membranes of plants and animals, so it should only be disposed of in the proper place. 


Having a portable shower can be a real game-changer for your camping experience. No longer must you go to bed caked in dust and DEET. You can smell fresh every day, which your campmates will greatly appreciate. You don’t even need to spend a lot of money to do it; there are plenty of low-cost, low-tech showers on the market. Some are even suitable for backcountry expeditions where the weight comes at a premium. Most importantly, though, these showers allow you to feel more human, even as you enjoy the wonders of Mother Nature.

Our Top Pick
KIPIDA Solar Camping Shower Bag

This is a 5-gallon solar shower, so it doesn’t require any propane or batteries, just a few hours of sunlight will warm it up. It’s a low-maintenance and reliable camping shower solution that simply works.

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Ryan is an outdoor enthusiast and gear expert originally from Montana who spent four years living in Boston, after stints in India, Rwanda, Senegal, and elsewhere. He and his wife are on a new journey to travel the world and blog about their adventures at Passions and Places.

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