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What is a Camping Shower?

Ron Marr
Ron Marr

For many people, communing with the great outdoors would be a lot more enjoyable if it just wasn’t so dirty. A camping trip to the woods entails not just bugs and things that go bump in the night, but also a fair amount of grime. While little can be done about forest creatures that slither, bite, sting, and wander uninvited into campsites, the cleanliness factor is easily achieved. All one requires is a good camping shower.

Camping showers can be purchased in a variety of styles, with prices ranging between ten and several hundred US Dollars (USD). The options include versions that provide hot water and pressure, or primitive contraptions that offer a simple, cold-water rinse. Camping showers can be open-air models, or they may integrate a full enclosure with a shower curtain.

Man with a backpack
Man with a backpack

The most rudimentary camping shower can be created from a plastic garden sprayers available at any hardware store. A new, unused sprayer, which is normally used to mist flowers or plants with insecticides or herbicides, can just as easily be filled with water. Pump the handle a few times, and the water is under pressure. Also, the nozzle can be adjusted for either a wide spray or a tight stream. It is not elegant, but at an average of $5 US Dollars (USD), it is inexpensive.

Probably the most popular camping shower, both in terms of affordability and the fact that it takes up little packing space, is the solar shower. A solar shower is a three to five gallon (11.4 to 18.9 liter) plastic or Mylar® bag that is filled with water and left to sit in the sun. On one end of the bag is a tube for filling it, and a hook that allows it to be hung or tied to a tree limb. On the other end is a shower nozzle. The bag is filled with water, allowed to heat up for a few hours, and then attached overhead.

Solar camping showers will provide a lukewarm, low-pressure rinse. A more pleasurable option is a propane camping shower. These devices include a tank that holds water, a small propane canister and burner, a hose of six feet (1.8 meters) or greater length, and a hand-operated plunger with which to pressurize the water in the tank. When the propane burner is lit, the water in the tank will heat to 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) in less than 10 minutes. Propane showers are an excellent choice when one is on a trip with multiple campers who wish to stay clean.

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Discussion Comments


When you say "a hand-operated plunger with which to pressurize the water in the tank" I'm assuming you are talking about the "Zodi Extreme SC Hot Shower" model. It's indeed a very useful propane camping shower as it doesn't need any batteries to pressurize the water as opposed to some of the others models on the market. On the down side, it does take about 10 minutes to heat up the water before it can be used for showering.

I'd just like to point out that for people who want instant hot water they have the option of going for a model that heats the water instantly by allowing the water to be heated as it’s flowing through the coil such as with the “Zodi Hot Tap On-Demand.”

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