The Best Camping Showers of 2018: Say Hi to Field Hygiene

When you are out in the field for an extended period of time, the need to maintain proper hygiene becomes a necessity. All too often, when we are out camping, we tend to put bathing by the wayside mostly because it’s just inconvenient. But when we are doing that, we are putting ourselves at risk of infections and getting sick from bacteria and other microorganisms that we could otherwise easily keep off of us.

I am of course not talking about the weekend camper—if you are only going out for a day or two then, generally speaking, you will be just fine going without a full shower. But if you are going to be out in the field for longer than a few days, you are going to want to have an option to get clean—not only for the psychological factor or the physical factor, but because being clean in the field essentially means you are safer.

If you are out in the field for a long period of time in a tropical climate or a swampy region, that also means you are going to sweat more, providing an ideal environment for bacteria. And while small cuts are normally not a big deal, when you have all sorts of dirt and bacteria already on your skin, a tiny little scrape is enough to get those into your wound and, eventually, in your bloodstream. Even though they are mostly invisible, at any given time you might be flirting with disaster unless you can get clean.

With a lot of options out there for best camping showers, I have comprised a go-to list of the ones that could help you stay ahead of the game. After all, you’re going out there to spend some quality time outdoors and that least thing you need is getting get sick or getting an infection.

Best Camping Showers - Comparisons

5 Best Camping Showers - Comparisons

1. Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower

For many years, Coleman has been a name we could rely on when it comes to camping. Their products have maintained the same quality over the years—they are not the most top-of-the-line, but they do the job, and they generally come at an affordable price. So if you are looking for a light, simple, and easy-to-use solar shower, then you should grab one of Coleman’s 5-gallon solar showers.

This portable shower is not built to last, and should really be used as an emergency shower or something for a quick rinse-off after a long day—that’s what it is designed for, so if you are thinking of getting a lot of use out of a product, don't get this one. It is, however, perfect for car camping on short weekend trips or throwing it in your pack when you are going on a hike.

What we liked

  • Inexpensive 
  • Lightweight
  • Simple to use 

What we didn't like

  • Not as durable 
  • Not made for extended backcountry use

2. Sportneer 5-gallon Solar Shower

Simple, effective, and reliable, this 5-gallon solar shower from Sportneer is perfect to get you fresh and clean when you need it most. Its easy-to-use on/off handle gives you the ability to control the flow of water so you do not waste any fumbling around with a hose. The idea with field showers is to use as little water as possible, so being able to rinse off, shut off the water, lather up, and turn the water back on to rinse again is truly a great feature.

The skin and solar panel are designed to let the sun do the work even on cooler days—as long as the sun is out, the water inside the bag will become warmer than the air temperature. The back is transparent and has a temperature gauge to tell the water temps. On the front is a small storage compartment that can hold soap and small bottles of shampoo. This portable shower comes complete with a mesh bag that it can be folded into so it will take up very little room in your backpack.

While it is lightweight, durable, and has a lot of functions, it is still not perfect. The lid at the top sometimes has a hard time sealing and leaks a bit, which is not a problem when it’s hanging, but it can be a problem if you are filling the bag up before you leave. Another issue, one you are going to have with most portable showers, is that it’s hard to get all the water out of it, and it needs to be kept dry so it doesn’t mold on the inside.

What we liked

  • Lightweight
  • Portable 
  • Durable 
  • Solar heat with clear back and thermometer to read water temps

What we didn't like

  • Lid sometimes leaks 
  • Hard to get all the water out of the bag 

3. Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Solar Shower

Like the Sportneer, the Advanced Elements 5-gallon solar shower is lightweight, durable, and simple to use. It also has a fully integrated on/off switch that helps cut down on water wastage. However, what really sets this one apart is its construction—the reason this one costs a little more is that this solar shower is built to last and will hold up to a lot of use and abuse. The design also allows for the solar panels to heat up the water in the shower better than other models. It is, of course, not meant for extreme cold, but it will warm up cool water to make you feel less like you are having a heart attack each time you turn on the water. It boasts a lot of the same features as the Sportneer with having a pocket up front, a clear back with thermometer, but this one also has a more robust handle and Velcro attachments so it can hold wash cloths, which comes in handy outdoors.

Now, I said it works better at getting water warm, but it’s still a solar shower so the water is not actually going to get very warm. Consider all bag showers and solar showers to be used in warm temperatures or maybe with water you have heated up before— after all, it’s called camping, not glamping.

What we liked

  • Durable 
  • Lightweight
  • Portable 

What we didn't like

  • Water does not get that warm

4. Anglink Battery-powered Outdoor Shower

This is a nifty little design that allows you to dip a small pump into a bucket and have the water pumped out in a steady stream, much like a shower at home. So with this shower, instead of suspending water over your head and having gravity do the work, you get battery-operated motor to pump the water for you. This will allow you to use a much larger water source if you like, or even a heated water source. This is great for many other applications as well, such was washing the dog, cleaning harder-to-reach spots on the RV/Camper (e.g. the roof).

You could even use this shower to help clean fish after a day out on the water, or to water plants when you get home. Needless to say, this shower is more costly and less portable, but it’s a great option for long road trips if you are car-camping the entire time. You will be able to run this shower for a full hour on ONE charge, so you can take those long showers in the wee hours of the morning. I only say it is less portable because it’s not as portable as the solar showers, but you make up for it in innovation and use.

It does have some drawbacks, namely that it is not that durable. This portable shower is meant for car camping, it needs to be cared for, and it is not built to take a lot of abuse. Another issue is that the battery does work well when it’s fully charged, but it does not hold a full charge for more than 12 hours, which means you are going to need to charge it often in order to get extended use out of it in the field. It’s a neat addition to your car camping gear, but this is not meant for long range and long-term field use.

What we liked

  • Battery-operated
  • Good flow from pump
  • 1 hour of run time on a full charge

What we didn't like

  • Does not hold a full charge for more than 12 hours
  • Not meant for long-term or everyday use 

5. Zodi Outback Gear Extreme SC Hot Shower

Zodi Outback Gear Extreme SC Hot Shower

Sometimes you just want a hot shower, but there are times you seriously need one. For extreme backcountry camping and hunting for extended periods of time, the Zodi Outback Gear Extreme Hot Shower has you covered. Now this is not a portable shower, so unless you are trekking out in a vehicle, or have some sort of pack animal, this is not for you. This also will cost you more, but this is the price you pay for modern comforts in the field. Complete with its own propane burner that doubles as a cooking stove, this unit has everything you need but the water and gas for a hot shower in the field.

The tank is sturdy and made from reliable materials, and both the stove and tank come with a bag for packing. The hose is long enough to set up a comfortable shower and has an on/off switch so you do not waste that precious hot water. This is the cream of the crop for field showering, and should satisfy most people’s needs for warm water in the field for showering.

The pump is a bit of a struggle though—it’s a hand pump and you are going to need to pump it quite a bit to get a good flow, but it does work. It would almost be better to have someone pump it for you, but that is not always ideal. Still, it will let you take a hot shower in the field and that’s much better than nothing.

What we liked

  • HOT water in the field 
  • Durable tank 
  • Simple and effective design 

What we didn't like

  • Not easy to carry 
  • Requires a lot of support and set up (stove, propane tanks etc.)

Final Verdict

So being clean in the field is important, not only because it keeps you being less of a pest to your friends, family and fellow campers...it will also keep you from getting sick or getting infections from bacteria. Being able to shower in the field is essential, and it’s good to know what options you have out there for you so you can get the most out of your experience.

There are a myriad of best camping showers, from gravity-fed bag solar showers, to pumps, and even hot water. From this list you should be able to find something that works well for you and will make sure you are taking care of yourself while out in the bush.

Anything that can cut down on the risks associated with spending extended periods out in the elements is something you should consider—be it a simple solar shower or a more complex heated unit, make sure that you are taking care of yourself. So be safe out there and stay clean—we want happy campers out there!

David Valle
 

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!

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