When it comes to staying clean during camping trips there are many obstacles that can make it hard to impossible to achieve. There are many camping shower products available for sale to the modern camper. From shelters and enclosures to pumps and shower bags. They come with a wide range of features and also in a wide range of qualities. We’ll review and compare a few of the options later in the article. Many campsites have public showers available to use, but these come with their own set of problems.
Top 6 Portable Water Heaters for Camping
|Name||Eccotemp L5||ZODI Outback Gear Zip||ZODI Outback Gear Hot Tap||ZODI Outback Gear Extreme SC||Camp Chef HWD5 Triton||Coleman Portable Water Heater|
|Flow rate||1.4 Gallons per minute||???||???||???||1.5 gallons per minute||1 gallon per minute|
|Tank?||no, requires water connection||no||yes, storage doubles as tank||yes, 3 gallons||no||no|
|Water Pump||no||yes||yes||no, built in tank||no, requires water connection||Yes|
|2 D's||yes, 4 D's||yes, 4 D batteries||no, hand pumped||yes, 2 d batteries||no, rechargeable|
|Shower Head?||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes||not included|
|Price Range||under $150||under $125||under $175||under $175||under $150||over $200|
|Our Rating||4.5 stars||4 stars||4.5 stars||4.5 stars||4 stars||3.5 stars|
Deciding Between The Outdoor Heated Showers
There are a few things to know when looking for heated camping showers. The most important is your water source. If the place you will be camping has water hose connections then one without a tank would be preferable. It will be much easier to transport and set up. And most of the tankless options include a shower head. We really love the Ecotemp L5. It’s head is awesome and the hose is long enough unlike some models.
As far as models with a tank, we really liked the ZODI Outback Gear Hot Tap. It uses a traditional water pump but the storage container it comes with doubles as a water tank so you wont need a bucket for water. And from the same manufacturer, the Extreme SC model is brilliant. It hold three gallons of water if I remember and uses a hand pump for pressure. These models may are good if you don’t have direct access to water. Just fill the tank and bring it to your shower site.
Privacy Shelter Comparison
|Name||Cleanwaste Portable Privacy Tent||ZODI Outback Gear I Hut, X-Large||TMS® Portable Pop Up||Stansport Cabana Privacy Shelter||GigaTent Pop Up Pod||Hilo Hutt II|
|Size||4x4x6.5 feet||4x4x5.5 feet||36x36x75 inches||48 x 48 x 84 inches||36 x 36 x 69 inches||4' x 4' x 76" h|
|Set Up Ease||simple||medium||easy||Medium||simple||Medium|
|Door Type||large, zipper||overlapped, autoshut||Hanging, Zipper||D shape, zipper||hanging, zipper||D shape, zipper|
|Ventilation?||yes, 3 windows||yes, open top||no||yes||no||yes|
|Price Range||under $150||under $120||under $50||under $50||under $50||under $75|
|Shower Support?||hook for hose, no support for water bag||no||no||hook for hose but no support for water bag.||no||no|
|Our Rating||4.5 stars||4 stars||3.5 stars||3 stars||3.5 stars||2.5 stars|
Choosing a Camping Shower/Privacy Shelter
As with anything, outdoor shower enclosures come with a multitude of options, features, and variations. You’ll want to make sure it is large enough for your needs. A good door can be a lifesaver, especially if you’re a little shy.
Some will come with floors but others are floorless. The floor are usually removable. The benefit of the floor is to keep your feet from getting muddy and most have drains. If using for a toilet, changing area, or multi-use then you may not need a floor. I always remove the floor and just put on a pair of flip flops to keep the mud off. Another tip to get less mud is to set it up in a grassy area.
Shower Bag Support
Most of the shower tents you come across have a frame strong enough to support a five gallon shower bladder. Some of the cheaper options have frames that are too weak to support the bags so you’ll have to use other options such as a tripod shower pole, a nearby tree, or some homemade contraption. The ones that are strong enough for a bag usually come equipped with holders or hooks to hang the bladder overhead.
Storage Pockets and Ventilation
Ventilation is an important but often forgotten feature that is very important if you intend to also use the shelter as a toilet area. Look for meshed closable windows. The mesh will keep the bugs out and the ability to close the enclosure’s windows will ensure privacy. Storage pockets are a common feature and are great for holding soaps, shampoos, and such.
Best Camp Soap
Always remember to use an environmentally friendly soap like Campsuds. It is probably the best camp soap you’ll find. It smells great and is biodegradable. It can be used for skin, hair, dishes, and clothes. Just make sure you dilute with water as directed and always use at least 200 feet from bodies of water. Even environmentally friendly soap is bad for aquatic ecosystems.
Outdoor Shower Stands
A stand may be necessary for the shelters and enclosures that don’t include a hook or holder for your hose and head. Some of the privacy shelters don’t even have an opening at the top to run your hose through. The ZODI Outback Gear Shower Pole and Tripod Stand is a really good option. It’s height is adjustable to both sitting and standing, but at six feet it may not be tall enough for tall people while standing. The tripod base makes for stable support. Plus it has a nice little nylon storage bag.
These are a convenient choice for many campers and some can get pretty hot in direct sunlight. They are easy to travel with. The obstacle for some folks is they do require some type of strong support to be hung from, such as a tree. Most privacy shelters poles are not strong enough and will likely break or collapse under the weight. When we’ve used these in the past we used nearby trees, but I suppose people figure out DIY solutions, but five gallons of water is pretty heavy. Also if your campsite is well shaded don’t just leave these solar showers hanging in the shade. Find it some direst sunlight so it can soak up the rays and get decently warm. The most popular model right now is made by Advanced Elements. It heats better than most and has a built-in temperature gauge so you know when it’s ready. Check all the positive reviews it has on Amazon!
Tips and Hacks for Outdoor Cleanliness
Camping Shower Alternatives
Over the years I’ve heard of many odd techniques that folks have used to keep clean in the outdoors. You’d be surprised at the number of people that just throw on some deodorant and a fresh set of clothes and call it a day. Not me though as it’s extremely humid in my part of the world (the Gulf Coast) and one becomes icky really fast.
Best tip: Baby Wipes
Yep. You read that right. While they may not be the perfect solution, a full body rub down with baby wipes makes worlds of difference. Wipes can be helpful even if you’ve bought an outdoor shower kit or have other shower options due to the low capacity of some of the shower bags and the filth of some of the publicly available campsite showers. If you are in the backwoods or have no other option the baby wipes become a necessity. I recommend a high count box like this 900 ct from Kirkland. This might be a bit much for some but of course there are lower quantity options if need be. Just be sure to dispose of them properly. Never litter!
Creeks, Streams, Rivers, and Lakes
Many campers that are near bodies of water will use the water to bathe. For me personally swimming in water such as rivers and lakes often leaves me feeling a bit icky. If you’ve somehow got yourself really dirty or sweaty I suppose this is an decent option if you follow up with some baby wipes. Just remember that no soaps, shampoos, or detergents should ever be used in bodies of water as they are harmful pollutants to the ecosystems. this goes for biodegradable and environmentally friendly camping soaps as well as many of theses contain ingredients that can damage the water systems. Even if your soap is environmentally friendly it should be used 200 ft away from any bodies of water.
A Cool Option
The Simple Shower is a cool little gadget that converts almost any two liter, one liter, or even smaller plastic soda or water bottle into a mini sprinkler. It screws onto the top of the bottle where the bottle cap would normally screw on. This has come in handy many times for me. It may not be best option for getting clean, but it is surely the most convenient for many people in many situations and can be a real lifesaver.
Less Popular but Effective DIY Cleaning: Corn Starch and Baking Soda
These may be a last resort option for some readers but they do help a lot when roughing it. Corn starch is great at absorbing bodily oils thus making it an effective dry shampoo.
Step 1: Sprinkle some corn starch in your hair. Amount varies so some experimentation is required.
Step 2: Massage it really good into your hair.
Step 3: Comb it out and shake real well.
Baking soda is a great option for brushing you teeth and maintaining dental hygiene while camping. Just mix a little bit with water and apply it to a toothbrush, then brush. It cam be more effective than many major toothpaste brands. I’ve also used baking soda in place of deodorant. One more thin it is useful for is a scouring powder for cleaning dishes and laundry.
Campgrounds with Public Showers
It is pretty common these days for popular campsites to offer public bathrooms and showers. These can be some of the nastiest and dirty places to get yourself clean. The floors can be covered with bacteria and germs so never go in a public shower without wearing flip flops, shower shoes, or some other type of foot protection to keep your feet for coming in contact with the floor. I prefer flip flops because they allow your feet to get cleaned while bathing, but many can become slippery so be careful that you don’t slip and let your whole body touch that nasty floor. The pressure and temperature in public showers can be wildly inconsistent. One of those little soap containers is a good idea. Or better yet use a gel or liquid soap so you don’t have to worry about dropping it on the dirty floor.Also consider safety because you never know who you’re sharing a campground with. Women should probably stay in pairs and children should never be alone. There are creeps out there.