Sure, there’s a rugged charm to that all-natural, musky scent after a long day’s hike. More power to you if that’s your thing, but take it from a seasoned outdoorsman – you’ll have a much more comfortable time out in nature with one of the best camp showers of 2023.
Life can get a little itchy after spending a few days or weeks off the grid, and you can’t always rely on wet wipes and river water to fix it. I had to learn that the hard way, so a portable shower is one of my essential accessories for any extended outdoor trip.
These puppies come in so many shapes and sizes it’ll make your head spin, so I’ve put together a list of personal favorites to make life outdoors a little easier for you. If only I’d known about some of these as a rookie camper, I’d have saved a fortune on skin cream…
There’s a product for everyone here, from solar and pump to propane and battery-powered. Also, I imagine some of you are iffy about outdoor nudity (even if you’re in the middle of nowhere). If that sounds like you, I’ve recommended a few privacy tents as well.
We’re not the type to leave our readers high and dry (pun intended), so this list features nothing but top-shelf camp showers. With trusted brands like NEMO, Mr. Heater, and Sea to Summit, you’ll be the finest-smelling camper on either side of the Atlantic.
Weight: 1.3 or 1.9 lb | 690 or 870 g
Capacity: 2.9 or 5.8 gal | 11 or 22 l
Pros: Powerful stream of water and a long hose
Cons: The positioning on the fill snout is a little clunky
Here’s a tried-and-true pressure shower by NEMO that makes a camper van feel like a five-star resort. For a very reasonable price, this bad boy offers five to ten minutes of high-pressure spraying, depending on which size you go for.
You can set this thing up in no time at all; just unfold it, stomp on the foot pump a couple dozen times, give the sun some time to heat the water, and enjoy a solar shower set to the sounds of nature.
Since it’s so lightweight and compact, you can always find space for the NEMO Helio, no matter how full your trunk is. Bonus points for the sturdy polyester exterior too, since it guarantees you won’t be ripping it anytime soon.
High-End Propane-Powered Option
Mr. Heater BaseCamp Boss
Weight: 26.3 lb | 11.9 kg
Capacity: 5.3 gal | 20 l
Pros: Battery-powered pump, propane heater cranks out hot water like a champ
Cons: Quite the heavyweight
If you can’t go a day without a piping hot shower — hey, I wouldn’t blame you — Mr. Heater’s BaseCamp Boss has your name written all over it. Hard to say no to 20 liters of consistently hot water after working up a good sweat.
Whether you’re sleeping in the middle of the forest or out on a beach, Mr. Heater’s battery-and-propane-powered hot water generator has you covered. Just plug it into an outlet or your camping rig for a quick charge, screw on a propane tank, and enjoy the waterworks.
Speaking of which, it’s definitely on the heavier side, so it’s not the most convenient piece of equipment to be carrying around. But hey, that also means it’s pretty darn sturdy, so you’ll be relying on it for a good long while.
Best on a Budget
Weight: 12.1 oz | 340 g
Capacity: 5 gal | 18.9 l
Pros: Extremely light, affordable, and can carry quite a bit of water
Cons: Not great for rinsing off hard-to-reach places
If there’s another solar shower that’s this efficient at such a low price, I haven’t found it yet. Weighing in at a mere 12 ounces, the Coghlan’s Solar Shower will stash away into any hiker’s pack, ready to whip out for a quick wash at a moment’s notice.
Despite its lightweight profile, it can carry a respectable five gallons of water, which should get you through a few bathing sessions if you’re out by yourself. The hose itself is only about two feet long, so you may want to hang it about a foot above your head for maximum precision.
Overall, this is a fantastic pick for traveling families and people looking to save a few bucks. It’s also pretty nifty for smaller uses, like washing dishes or just rinsing your feet a little before calling it a night.
Compact & Portable
Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
Weight: 3.5 oz | 99 g
Capacity: 2.6 gal | 10 l
Pros: Extremely portable, practically weightless, and lets you adjust the water flow
Cons: Could fit a bit more water (but for $35, who’s counting?)
You thought the Coghlan’s option was compact and portable? At the expense of a few liters of water capacity, Sea to Summit provides a 3.5-ounce alternative with more possible uses than you can count. Oh, and it’s quite affordable, too.
Thanks to its small size, the aptly named Pocket Shower is great for hiking, backpacking, bikepacking, and so much more. Dying to get that saltwater out of your hair at the beach ASAP? You got it. You can even stash your clothes or pocket-sized possessions inside of it.
It’s also surprisingly sturdy for such a dinky little gadget, and you can thank its 100% nylon build for that. And by the way, feel free to twist the nozzle to adjust the water flow ‘til the cows come home – that thing isn’t coming off.
Ultra-Popular & Affordable Solar Option
Weight: 1.06 / 1 / 1.3 / 3.3 lb | 0.5 / 0.5 / 0.6 / 1.5 kg
Capacity: 2.5 / 3 / 5 / 10 gal | 9.5 / 11.4 / 18.9 / 18.9 l
Pros: Cheap as chips, extremely efficient, and comes in different sizes
Cons: I’ll get back to you on that
You can think of the Advanced Elements Summer Shower as the Pocket Shower’s swankier older brother, and let me tell you, it’s a top-seller for a reason. It may not be as light or compact, but it comes in a few different sizes to choose from and rings in at a pretty low price.
It works great under pressure; on a sweltering July afternoon, it’ll heat your water up to 110 degrees in less than three hours. There’s even a convenient little temperature meter to let you know when your water’s ready.
Each of its four sizes brings something a little different to the mix. The three and five-pound options have a handy little pocket to hold a small mirror, and the 10-pound whopper comes with grommets so you can easily hang it above your head.
Weight: 8 lb | 3.6 kg
Capacity: 0.79 gal | 3 l
Pros: Unparalleled water pressure and a very fast heating system
Cons: Runs out of steam right when things start getting good
It’s like the old saying goes, “The candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.” That’s the perfect adage to describe this little gizmo, the best choice for quick, blink-and-you-miss-them rinse-offs.
The water pressure on this beast really puts the ‘Geyser’ in ‘Geyser Systems.’ No pumping required here; just crank the control valve up to max, and you’ll wash off layers of grime you never even knew existed. It’ll take about half an hour to heat your water up to 95 degrees.
For me, it’s the side features that really make this appealing. It comes with a sponge attached for a more thorough scrubbing and a sensor to let you know when you’re running out of hot water.
Easy-to-Use & Battery-Powered
Weight: 1.4 lb | 630 g | With holder: 1.9 lb | 860 g
Pros: Incredibly lightweight and works great for babies and animals
Cons: Relies on external water tanks which you’ll have to heat yourself
To make your campsite feel more like home, why not buy a classic shower head that submerges into your water container? For maximum immersion, it’ll also give you something to sing into (and possibly scare off any lurking bears).
This compact, battery-powered doohickey does exactly what it says on the box: stick it onto a bucket or whatever else, and it’ll release a gentle stream of water. Its relatively low pressure makes it perfect for your kids or fuzzy companions.
It’s a USB-rechargeable device, so make sure you always have someplace to charge it… the problem is, it does occasionally come with a wall plug instead. The only question is, do you feel lucky?
No-Frills High-Capacity Option for Families
Weight: 1.0 lb | 460 g
Capacity: 10 gal | 37.9 l
Pros: Large capacity, low weight, and even lower price
Cons: Not the most durable thing in the world (again though, twenty bucks)
It can be difficult to get your kids to bathe sometimes, but you’d best believe they’ll be begging for one after a few days of outdoor living. That’s where this RISEPRO comes into play.
10 gallons is quite a lot of storage, especially when you pair it with a solar system that can heat water up to 113 degrees. If you plan your time carefully, you could definitely rinse off a family of four with a single charge.
The nozzle is pretty standard, and there’s a little indicator that displays how much hot water you have left on its side. The RISEPRO is as straightforward as it gets; it’ll do what it’s supposed to do and it’ll do it well, all for right around 20 bucks.
As Minimalist (& Affordable) as They Come
Weight: 2 oz | 56 g
Pros: Cheapest option on the list, the epitome of minimalism in hygiene
Cons: Less than 40 seconds of wash time from a 2-liter bottle
Would you consider yourself a minimalist? Besides jumping in a river and using moss and herbs instead of soap, bathing doesn’t get much more minimal than this. I mean, just look at the name of this thing: Simple Shower.
You can attach this little device to just about any one or two-liter bottle and quickly wash off before continuing your adventure. In fact, its head is so light (lighter than your average bottle even) that you could even carry your bottle in hand and rinse off as you go.
Two liters at a time can only get you so far, but assuming you have enough water stashed up, this is by far the most economical option out there.
For Camper Vans & Rigs (With Tank)
Weight: 19.5 / 25.5 / 37 lb | 8.8 / 11.6 / 16.8 kg
Capacity: 4 / 7 / 10 gal | 15.1 / 26.5 / 37.9 l
Pros: Pressurized, extremely durable, and easy to use
Cons: Might be too pricey for some
To turn a camper van into a home away from home, you’ll definitely need a steady supply of hot water. The solar-powered Yakima RoadShower mounts to the roof of your van, and lets you enjoy what you’d call a “proper cleaning” on the regular.
Obviously, the hotter the sun shines, the hotter your water will get. Its pressurized tank is extremely easy to fill, and its quality aluminum build means the RoadShower is every bit as sturdy as the van itself.
This hoss comes in three different sizes, although if you ask me, you might as well go for the 10-gallon option if you can afford it. After all, you can never have too much hot water on hand.
For Camper Vans & Rigs (Tankless)
Camplux Pro Series
Weight: 10 lb | 4.5 kg
Capacity: 1.3 gal | 5 l
Pros: Highly efficient, can be mounted or used freely
Cons: Pray you never have to do repairs on it yourself
If you don’t get much sun in your neck of the woods, you can always go for a tankless propane-powered solution that can be turned on or off at will. You might need some guidance setting it up and learning how it works, but once you do, you’re set for a good long while.
The Camplux Pro can produce around 1.3 gallons of hot water per minute, which is about as good as it gets for a portable heater at this price range. Not to mention, it’s also quite fairly priced for how efficient it is.
High-End Privacy Tent
Weight: 9.4 lb | 4.3 kg
Pros: Spacious, well-ventilated, and sturdy as a tank
Cons: Arguably expensive, but tell me it’s not worth it
Can you imagine cleaning off in a dingy public toilet? I’m all for trying new things, but there’s a limit; if you feel the same way, you may want to fork over some Benjamins for NEMO’s Heliopolis privacy tent.
All jokes aside, this thing is top-notch. Whether you’re looking to bathe or just change your clothes, you can sneak away to escape the prying eyes of campers, festival-goers, and curious forest critters. Plenty of wiggle room in there, too.
It’s also a great place to duck for cover if the weather starts to get rowdy. Its ventilation is every bit as good as your bathroom back home, so you can hide away inside and enjoy the sounds of the rain until the storm passes.
No-Frills Privacy Tent on a Budget
Weight: 4.3 lb | 2.0 kg
Pros: Extremely affordable, easy to fold, and surprisingly light
Cons: The Big Bad Wolf could blow your doors (err, flaps?) off
If you found the NEMO privacy tent a little steep, here’s another option that’s not quite as well built but every bit as private. Besides being easy on the wallet, at under two kilograms, it’s also pretty easy on your back, so there’s no real reason not to bring one along.
You won’t get the type of top-tier protection from the elements we discussed above, but it will protect you from UV rays, and it’s pretty good at airing itself out. Also, with a height of over 6-foot-2, it should fit anyone not trying out for the NBA.
One thing’s for sure, bringing any kind of camp shower along for the ride is better than having no way to rinse off at all. Still, there are a few main factors that separate the wheat from the chaff. Here are some criteria you should consider before whipping out your credit card:
I get it, turtling a massive space hog sucks big time. Still, you probably wouldn’t want to head out empty-handed, either, especially with a group. With that in mind, the exact size and weight of the product you buy should depend on the kind of trip you’re taking.
If you’re planning a super-short campout or you prefer to pack light, there are plenty of good options weighing in at under a pound. On the other hand, if you’ve got a camper van you can fall back on, you might as well invest in a robust 25-pound heater instead.
Similar to size and weight, the optimal water capacity of your pick can vary wildly. The more time and people you add to the equation, the more likely it is you’ll need something bigger.
One thing to remember is that camp showers aren’t the same as the ones back home. Americans use more than 16 gallons of water during an average bathing session, a lot for portable standards. The most you can hope to get without sacrificing quality is right around 10 gallons.
Much like yourself, your portable washing buddy must be able to handle a few bangs and bruises in the great outdoors. If you’re looking at rough terrain, a DIY solution or a dollar-store water container just won’t do the trick.
Keep an eye out for the weather while planning your trip and supplies. The last thing you need is to hang your baggie up on a branch and have it split open once a strong wind picks up. Besides, it can be tougher to aim if you’re working with a rickety hose.
Water pressure is a little harder to analyze since manufacturers aren’t always super-transparent about it. In short, pounds per square inch (or PSI) is the conventional unit of measurement for water pressure.
Ideally, you’ll want a shower with a PSI of 60 at most. This is the sweet spot between “strong enough to get the gunk off of you” and “gentle enough for your clothes or dishes”. For reference, be sure to compare your pressure to your water flow back home.
Ability to Heat Water
Hot water isn’t an absolute necessity while camping, but it sure makes life a lot more luxurious. You can use it for things like cooking, making coffee, and getting rid of stubborn stains, among others.
As far as hygiene goes, heated water might be the best disinfectant there is. Trekking through bushes and muddy roads means making contact with creepy crawlies, a lot of which are invisible to the naked eye. A splash of hot water is good for neutralizing them.
Also, if you’re the type of person who travels with pets, good luck getting them to sit still as you dip them in cold water. A lukewarm rinse-off is great for keeping your furballs clean and in high spirits while camping.
If you’re light on cash, the most basic options start as low as $10. For a more long-term investment, you can set up a rig on your van for about $700 to $800. Generally, the most popular choices tend to range from around $30 to $130, so keep your budget in mind and use your best judgment when making a purchase.
So there you have it, 2023’s best camp showers arranged for your convenience and reading pleasure.
At the end of the day, the point of camping is to relax and have yourself some fun. Whichever way you spin it, there’s nothing fun about constantly having sand in your shoes and muck all over your clothes. Trust the guy who’s been there before, and spare yourself the hassle.
I just did the hard part for you, so all that’s left for you is to decide: will you grab the classic NEMO Helio? The portable propane-powered water heater? A mount to stick on top of your van? Or maybe just a tent and a showerhead that connects to your water bottles?
Whatever you go for, you can rest assured you’re choosing from the absolute best products on the market. Most importantly, the list covers all conceivable budgets and price ranges. After all, camping can be a good way to save a few bucks if that’s what you’re after.
Camp showers are a wandering nomad’s best friend; they’ll help keep you fresh, healthy, and energized throughout your outdoor adventures. Cleanliness is next to godliness, my nature-loving friends, no matter how many miles you are from the nearest person.
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Last Updated on July 18, 2023