Best Camping Shower: Keep It Clean at Camp!

If a good hot shower is a non-negotiable on your camping trips, we’re here to help! We’ve tested and reviewed a selection of this year’s top models and have chosen for you our favorite portable showers for your campground needs.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Brian Conghalie
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Keeping things clean and hygienic on camping trips isn’t easy. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of 7 awesome, portable showers that will let you fight those funky odors and keep yourself (and your gear) scrubbed up well.

Our list has something for everyone. We’ve included everything from ultralight solar showers for backpacking to home-like heated showers for campers who aren’t willing to compromise on their creature comforts. Below our list, you’ll also find helpful buying advice to assist you in choosing the perfect option for you.

Top Choices by Category

Budget: Ivation Portable, Coleman Solar, and Advanced Elements Summer 5.0
Heated: Geyser Systems with Heater
Lightweight: Sea to Summit Pocket, Coleman Solar, Advanced Elements 5.0, and NEMO Helio

Editor’s Choice

Geyser Systems with Heater

Geyser System Portable Shower & Cleaning Kit with Optional Electric Heater for Camping, Overlanding, & Outdoor Recreation - Standard + Heater

The most important things we considered when choosing a product for our Editor’s Choice award were water pressure, heating capability, runtime, portability, and value for money. In all of these, the Geyser Systems camp shower is a standout.

This electric model uses an advanced pump system and heating element to deliver hot, pressurized water for up to 15 minutes. And while it’s awesome for cleaning your body, it’s also a great tool for washing your gear and dishes.

What we love most about this unit are its non-standard bonus features. These include a water level sensor, an adjustable shower head, an LED dashboard that indicates when your water is hot and ready to use, and an extra-long power cord that saves you from creating puddles next to your vehicle.

This unit’s a little too heavy for anything other than camping in car-accessible sites but, if that’s the way you do your camping, it can’t be beaten!

Bottom Line: The closest thing you’ll get to your home shower when adventuring off-grid.

At a Glance: Quick Recommendations

Best Portable Showers for Camping: Our Top 7 Picks

Geyser Systems with Heater

Editor’s Choice

The Geyser Systems electric camp shower is the perfect pick for car campers who want the ability to have a hot shower no matter where their adventures take them.

The GS has an internal heating system that delivers toasty-hot water in 15-45 minutes. While the capacity of the reservoir is just 0.8 gallons, the sponge shower head allows you to scrub and rinse at the same time, so you don’t need as much water to enjoy a full, five-minute shower.

You need a 12v power source, electric hookup, or generator to power this device. However, if you find yourself without any of these, you can simply fill the reservoir with two liters of cold water and one liter of hot water, which will give you a lukewarm to warm ablution.

We’re big fans of this unit’s other features too. On top of an LED dashboard that lets you know when the water is ready, there’s a valve to control flow rate, a water level indicator, and a safety feature that switches the device off automatically if the water overheats.

  • PROs

    • Portable (weighs 11 lbs.)
    • Quick to heat water
    • Great water pressure
    • Control valve lets you choose your water flow rate
    • LED dashboard with temperature gauge
    • Water level sensor
    • Replaceable scrub sponge and 16ft. power cord included
  • CONs

    • Low capacity
    • Requires 12v outlet or generator

Bottom-Line: The perfect pick for campers who won’t settle for anything less than a nice hot shower.

Ivation Portable Camping Shower

Best Value

If simplicity and value for money are high on your priority list, you could do a lot worse than plump for the Ivation Portable.

This is one of the most packable rechargeable units out there and weighs a reasonable 1 lb. 12 oz. It consists of a shower head, a 6.5-foot hose, and an electric pump that saves you the hassle of using a foot or hand pump and also delivers more pressure than a gravity system.

To use it, you simply charge it up via USB, dunk the pump in a water container, then enjoy 0.66 gallons per minute of pressurized water. If you want to free up both hands for scrubbing, you can attach it to a flat surface with the included suction cup or hang it with the included S-hook.

The only real downsides to this unit are that you’ll need to carry a water container and there’s no heating element. If you’re car camping, the former shouldn’t be an issue. As for the latter, you can always heat up your water on a stove or in a solar shower bag beforehand.

  • PROs

    • 60-minute runtime
    • Lightweight
    • Durable
    • Built-in pump
    • Relatively short charge time (2-5 hours)
    • Affordable
  • CONs

    • No heating capabilities
    • Bucket/water container required

Bottom-Line: A durable, portable, pump-powered device with a 60-minute runtime and a very friendly price tag.

Advanced Elements Summer Shower 5.0 Gallon

Best Budget

If you’re looking for a low-cost, high-capacity gravity system that provides decent water flow and pressure, the Advanced Elements 5.0 is the shower for you!

This lightweight system is one of the most user-friendly we’ve ever used. It has a burly handle for transportation and hanging and comes with a simple on/off shower head.

At 1 lb. 5 oz., it isn’t the lightest option out there, but it has a far higher capacity than other backpacking models like the Sea to Summit Pocket and NEMO Helio, which cost more than twice as much. The Advanced Elements offers better pressure than the S2S Pocket and keeps pumping water through at a consistent rate even when the water reservoir is nearly empty.

Although the AE has no water heater, you’ll be able to treat yourself to a warm shower if you can leave it in direct sunlight for a few hours on hot days.

  • PROs

    • 5-gallon capacity
    • Burly hanging handle
    • Lightweight
    • Affordable
  • CONs

    • Not the most durable
    • Narrow opening makes it tricky to refill

Bottom-Line: A fairly priced gravity system that’s ideal for low-maintenance car campers or backpackers who don’t mind carrying a few extra ounces if it means saving a healthy handful of $.

Sea to Summit Pocket Shower

Best Ultralight

If you plan on taking your outdoor shower on backpacking trips, there are few options out there that can hold a candle to the ounce counter’s dream that is the S2S Pocket.

True to its name, the S2S Pocket is small enough to fit in a pants pocket and is the most compact option on our list. The entire system also weighs a piddly 5.25 ounces, which is roughly the same weight as a baseball.

While the S2S pocket has no heating system, its black fabric absorbs the sun’s rays and will help provide you with 5 or 6 minutes’ worth of warm water when skies are blue and the sun’s shining.

Understandably, the S2S Pocket doesn’t offer the same pressure or flow rate as pricier and heavier systems. If weight (and cash!) savings are your main concern, however, it’s a winner!

  • PROs

    • Lightweight
    • Leak-proof
    • Works well as a storage bag
    • Large enough capacity for a full shower
    • Heats water reasonably well
    • Adjustable flow rate
  • CONs

    • Not great water pressure

Bottom-Line: An ultralight, compact, simple model that’s ideal for personal hygiene and cleaning gear on backcountry trips in the great outdoors.

NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

Best Pump-Powered

Heading on a backpacking trip but want a little more power and pressure than your average gravity-powered system can deliver? If so, the NEMO Helio is well worth a place on your shortlist.

Most of the lightweight showers geared towards backpacking out there rely on gravity to provide water pressure. Not so the Helio. This tidy, 3-gallon system comes with a foot pump that lets you manually pressurize the water tank, thus providing you with a consistent flow of water for up to 7 minutes.

The Helio doesn’t have any heating system but its thermoplastic urethane reservoir can either be filled with water heated on your stove or you can leave it to warm up in the sun.

At 1.5 oz, this is one of the heavier “backpacking” showers on our list, and it’s also the priciest by far. Is it worth the added expense? This depends on how much you value good water pressure. If it’s high on your list, the answer is a resounding “yes”. If not, we’d recommend saving yourself some cash by plumping for the Advanced Elements 5.0.

If portability isn’t a huge issue, then the Ivation Portable is also a better choice. It’s around 5 ounces heavier and far bulkier but provides pressure and heated water at a far friendlier price point.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight and compact
    • Great water pressure
    • Carry bag/case included
    • Powered by a user-friendly foot pump
    • Larger version available
  • CONs

    • Pricey compared to other lightweight models

Bottom-Line: Pricey, but a great option for car campers and backpackers alike nonetheless.

Yakima Road Shower

Premium Pick

If you plan on doing a lot of RV camping or hit the road in the van frequently, the Yakima is the ideal option to upgrade your hygiene game… if that is, you’re happy to splurge.

This is the priciest option on our list, but for those who want a system they can rely on to provide a long, pressurized shower every day, it will be worth every penny.

The Yakima is available in three sizes – 4, 7, and 10 gallons. If you’re only using it for showering, the 4-gallon version should do the trick. If you will be using it to clean bikes or other outdoor gear, then the 7 or 10-gallon version is a safer bet.

The Yakima is made with tough aluminum with a powder-coated finish and attaches to your vehicle via brass fittings. The benefit of this is you’ll never forget it. The downside? You’ll only be able to use it when camping right next to your vehicle.

Performance-wise, the Yakima is kinda sweet and sour. The sweetness comes courtesy of its ability to provide consistently solid water pressure for long periods. The sourness is that, despite its lofty price tag, there’s no heating mechanism, so you have to rely on solar power only to avoid cold showers.

  • PROs

    • Easy to attach to your vehicle or roof rack
    • Great water pressure
    • 7-gallon capacity
    • Durable
    • Stick-on thermometer strip tells you when water temp is right
  • CONs

    • Heavy!
    • Expensive
    • Nozzle not included
    • Hot shower not guaranteed (it’s solar-powered)

Bottom-Line: Makes up for its lack of a heating element with garden-hose-like water pressure and a high enough capacity for an extra-large camping crew.

Coleman Solar Shower

Bargain Buy

Coleman is the go-to brand of countless campers who want quality, low-cost kit, and this solar-powered shower is a prime example of just that.

This device retails for around the same price as a 6-pack of craft beer but does everything far pricier competitors do. At 8.8 ounces, it’s one of the lightest models we tested. It also has a 5-gallon capacity, comes with an easy on/off shower head, has a burly handle, and is made with durable, heat-locking material that warms the water when left out in the sun.

This option isn’t going to bathe you in 100-degree water, but if you can settle for around 75-85 degrees (depending on the weather), it’s a great choice.

  • PROs

    • 5-gallon capacity
    • Compact and lightweight
    • Cheap
    • Easy to use
  • CONs

    • No flow adjustment

Bottom-Line: The definition of “cheap and cheerful”!

How to Choose a Camp Shower

Weight & Portability

This isn’t such a big issue if you’re camping in a car-accessible campsite, but can be one of the most important considerations if you’re heading further afield on a backpacking or dispersed camping trip.

For backpacking, we recommend a packable, lightweight gravity shower like the Sea to Summit Pocket or Coleman Solar, both of which weigh not much more than an inflatable sleeping pad. With lightweight models like these, however, you’ll have to accept the trade-off with power, capacity, and heat. 

If you’re car camping and weight is no issue, heavier electric models like the Yakima and Geyser Systems unit become viable options.

Tank Capacity

The shower systems on our list have tank capacities ranging from 0.8 to 7 gallons. In simple terms, tanks at the lower end of this scale will give you enough water for a quick, 1-minute scrub while those at the upper end will deliver a more satisfying 5 to 6 minutes of shower time.

Bucket shower bag and shower head
The length of your shower will be dependent on the capacity of your showers water container.

Naturally, the optimal option for you will come down to personal preference. Even if you’re traveling in a larger group, you can simply refill smaller models multiple times to allow every camper to perform their ablutions. Smaller models, moreover, will be easier to transport back to your camping site from any water source.

Portable showers that use a pump flow system don’t have a set capacity but instead rely on the use of a bucket or water container from which they draw your cleansing H2O. When buying, remember to factor in the weight of the water container, particularly if you plan on taking your showering system backpacking. 

Flow System: Gravity, Pump, or Electric?

Each style has its advantages and disadvantages.

  • Gravity: These systems are typically the cheapest and most basic, and in most cases take the form of a bag that you fill with water and then hang onto a sturdy tree branch. From there, gravity forces water out of the sack and onto the showerer, though the flow rate and pressure are usually far weaker than with pump or electric-powered systems. 

Examples: Advanced Elements 5.0, Sea to Summit Pocket, and Coleman Solar

  • Pump: With pump-powered systems, you use a manual hand or foot pump that pressurizes the water chamber and then sprays water out through the shower head. These systems aren’t as lightweight as gravity systems but provide far superior water pressure. 

Examples: Nemo Helio

Person pumping a foot pump in the grass
Flow rate and pressure can be enhanced using a foot pump to pressurize the water.
  • Electric: The luxury option. These work by using an electric-powered shower pump that is placed in a bucket or water container and automatically pumps water up a hose and through the shower head. While these models offer the greatest water pressure and frequently have a heating system, they’re the heaviest and priciest option by far. 

Examples: Geyser Systems, Ivation Portable, and Yakima Road

Heated or Not?

Unless you happen to be a follower of the Wim Hof Method, there can be no denying the value of a good hot shower when camping. 

To get hot water, you have three options: solar, gas, or electric-powered systems. 

  • Solar: Solar-powered camp showers are the cheapest and most portable option. The downside? You’ll need sun… and lots of it! Even on hot, blue-sky days, you can expect to wait around an hour for a lukewarm wash with the most efficient systems, and around two to three hours for something approaching ‘hot’. You’ll also, of course, be limited to daytime showering. On the plus side, solar-powered models’ light weight makes them a viable option for backpacking trips.
Solar panel outside a tent used to run a generator
Whilst free, solar power may limit the temperature of your water and the time of day for showering.
  • Gas: These systems run on propane tanks and are by far the most convenient and time-efficient option. The downside? They’re pricey, and those canisters ain’t light! 
  • Battery/Electric: While highly efficient and convenient, these models require a power source and are usually pretty heavy.

Best Camping Shower: The Verdict

Still undecided? Just in case you are, let’s have a quick recap of our top picks.

Our standout favorite outdoor shower is the Geyser Systems electric, which ticks every box that needs ticking for car campers. It provides piping hot water, plenty of pressure, and has a wealth of convenient features.

If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can’t go wrong with the Ivation Portable. This electric unit is as user-friendly as they come, durable, and provides a continuous spray of pressurized water for up to one hour on a single charge.

If you enjoyed this article or have any questions, drop us a line in the comments box below. And if you’d like to share it with your friends, go ahead!

Last update on 2023-05-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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