Are you seeking the best camping shower for everyday adventures? We researched more than 50 models available in 2020 and tested them side-by-side. It doesn’t matter if you are hiking 5 miles out to your favorite lake, or a 40 mile trek around the mountain, there is nothing quite like a good refreshing shower after a day (or days) of rigorous adventure. Unfortunately, the last time we checked there weren’t that many shower houses out in the wilderness, where the best adventures tend to happen.
According to the World Panel, Americans average 7 showers per week, so why wouldn’t we want one when we were away from home, too? Portable Camping Showers make this a possibility, because last time we checked, there weren’t a whole lot of shower houses out in the great wilderness.
While the best camping showers feature things like internal heating elements and rechargeable pumps, the most simplistically designed camping showers can still provide you with something that is all too rare in the wild: a downward falling stream of clean, cleansing water.
We’re taking a peek at the 8 Best Camping Showers of the 2020 season, and if you stick around after that, you might learn a thing or two about how exactly these things work and how you might go about finding one for yourself.
Best All-Around Value Camping Shower
BIG KAHUNA Portable Shower
H20 capacity: 4.7g, 8g, or 13g
Hose length: 8 feet
Power source: 12 volt plug
Heat time: 4.7g = 20 min, 8g = 30 min13g = 50 min
Best feature: good pressure
The consensus among portable shower user reviews is that the BIG KAHUNA is one of the most reliable and simplistically designed portable camping shower that you can find anywhere. The internal pump provides an impressive amount of water pressure, especially for a 12V power source. In addition, heating times are pretty quick, and there is the option of upgrading the heating element for an additional charge if you are interested in heating the water even faster.
We took a hands-on look at the Big Kahuna ourselves to see how it stacked up against our famously rigorous review standards, and the result was that just about everything we had read was confirmed. This is a great little shower with multiple reservoir sizes, and each one of them is on the less expensive side of its product class. We can truly see why this has become one of the most popular camping showers of 2020.
However the principal drawback is one that many customers do not realizing when they are making their purchase, and that is the fact that the heating element itself is actually not included with the base unit, but itself requires an additional purchase. This means that it is possible to run the Big Kahuna without a heating element at all, relying on radiant outdoor heat to raise the H20 temperature. One other small thing … there is no way to “lock” the valve open. This means that if you want a continuous stream of water, you have to keep holding the button down.
Best Camping Shower for Backpacking
ZODI Outback Gear Extreme SC Hot Shower
H20 capacity: 3 gallons
Hose length: 8 feet
Weight: 11.8 pounds
Power source: camping gas
Heat time: 5 mins
Best feature: built in thermometer
We don’t think it would be exaggerating to say that there is simply nothing in the whole world that is better than climbing into a long, hot shower after a solid 10 mile hike. Unfortunately, there isn’t much chance that you are going to find a shower-house way out in the backcountry. While most long distance hikers either use the cold river or forego bathing altogether, a select few have adopted this clever new piece of technology from ZODI, a small gear manufacturer that is changing the way we think of portable showers.
A basic overview: The ZODI camping shower is a bit different from the others on our list in that it is specifically designed to be lightweight and compact to make it a good option for backpacking and long distance hiking. This is why the 3 Gallon capacity is somewhat reduced compared to other camp showers. However, at 11.8 LBS, it is not exactly meant for the ultralight hikers.
We love the build in thermometer. This is something that we have only seen once or twice on a camping shower before, though it seems like one of the first things you would add if you were building your own. After all, wouldn’t you want to know the temperature of the water before you pump it directly to your skin?
While the initial iterations of ZODI’s camping shower featured a 20 minute heating time, this new model gets it down to a brisk 5 minutes, which is perhaps the very fastest heating time on the entire review. Kudos to that, Zodi!
Best Portable Shower for Camping
Nemo HELIO LX Pressure Shower
H20 capacity: 5.8 gallons
Hose length: 7 feet
Weight: 2.05 lbs
Power source: ambient solar
Heat time: varies
Best feature: super lightweight
Here is a portable camping shower for the ultralight inclined. The Nemo HELIO LX Pressure shower is just over 2 pounds, which means that your water bottle is likely putting more weight into your pack than this shower is. How does Nemo make their product so light? Well, they’ve decided to scrap two of the most popular on-board features in camping showers: 1.) The Heating Element, and 2.) The electric H20 pump.
So there are two basic deficiencies with this shower that you will have to get over right off the bat. Number one, there is no way to heat up the water with electricity, so you will have to rely on the units natural ability to use ambient warmth and sunlight in order to heat the water up. Fortunately, this is probably what the HELIO LX is best at.
It also means that you have to use the included foot pump to get the water to come out. This however we are not going to mark down as a fault, because it was so obviously in service of the overall packability of this product that we don’t think an electric pump will make this any better.
Here’s the bottom line: the HELIO LX is one of the best portable showers out there because of its light weight and supreme packability. It does not concern itself with luxuries like a pump or electric heat, which allows you to take it further into the wilderness. Though personally, we think this shower is a great option for the beach, where the sun will heat it up quickly and it might be nice to have a freshwater hose-off before getting back into the car.
A fairly big problem though: the seals used on the top of the unit around the water outlet valve are poorly set; we got about 4 good uses of the HELIO LX before these seams started to come undone. We imagine another 2 to 3 uses before those seams will have to be replaced.
Best Handheld Camping Shower
PURE CLEAN Portable Camping Shower
H20 capacity: n/a
Hose length: 6 feet
Weight: 1 lbs
Power source: 12 v / usb rechargeable battery
Heat time: n/a
Best feature: simplistic design
The PURE CLEAN portable camping shower is a little bit different from the other camping showers on our list, and we think that’s a very good thing. Here’s the rundown:
They’ve completely ditched the water reservoir, meaning that the product is actually intended to draw from an existing source of water, such as a filled bucket or even a lake or river. The unit includes a built in pump that pulls the water from that source and channels it through the six foot hose. The pump is small but effective, especially considering that its main power source is a small 3.7V lithium rechargeable battery. Usually those can’t put out that much power, but this one seems to do the trick.
The rechargeable battery is USB ready, meaning that you can charge this indoors or on your car; anywhere you can find an outlet or a 12V power source such as a cigarette lighter. This is a wonderful feature for travelers who won’t always have access to electricity, but could very well have one of those portable USB power packs on them. That could probably charge this battery 2 to 3 times.
Not having any kind of heat source is of course limiting. It means that you won’t be having a hot shower unless you go and stand right next to a hot spring, or fill a bucket from a boiling kettle. Neither are very practical options. Instead, the PURE CLEAN offers that simple rinse off that you may be looking for in a number of different outdoor situations. Personally, I use this very model to rinse all the mud off my dog before we head back towards the car.
Best Portable Camping Shower for Car Trips
ON TRACK Outdoor Portable Electric Camping Shower Kit
H20 capacity: 2 gallons
Hose length: 6 feet
Weight: 6.2 lbs
Power source: 110v rechargeable battery
Heat time: n/a
Best feature: great battery life
There’s nothing like having the immediate ability to hose something (or someone) off before getting back into the adventure-mobile with clean shoes on. Whether it’s your favorite muddy hiking shoes or man’s best friend that just rolled in something extra fragrant, the ON TRACK Portable Electric Shower is without question the best thing to have with you in the back of the car.
First off, there is a massive battery on this thing. This isn’t one of those small 3.7V L-Ion battery, like the ones you see on all those smaller appliances. This one is much larger, and utilizes a full-sized 110V on-board transformer to hold all its power. This means that it can hold its charge for up to 3 weeks or 30 showers, which is precisely what you would need for week long drive cross country.
There is no internal heating element in this unit, and that’s kind of a bummer. If there were, it would perhaps be the best portable camping shower on the market, but for now, it looks like we are just going to have to settle for lukewarm showers.
Best Portable Pressure Shower for Camping
Nemo HELIO Portable Pressure Shower with Foot Pump
H20 capacity: 3
Hose length: 7 feet
Weight: 1 lbs, 6 oz
Power source: manual pump
Heat time: n/a
Best feature: easy pack & carry
If you scroll back up a few paragraphs, you will find that we already took a look at the NEMO HELIO LX Camping Shower. The LX could be thought of as the “big brother” to the classic HELIO, which we are going to go into here.
The only significant difference between the HELIO CLASSIC and the HELIO LX is the storage capacity (3 GAL vs 5.8 GAL) and the color availability, which actually varies from release to release. The H20 storage capacity is kind of a big deal because it could very well mean the difference between ten showers and twenty showers, and when you are on a cross-country tour with no job to get back to, you are going to want every shower you can get.
Similar to the LX, the HELIO features no heating mechanism. It also lacks a mechanical pump, utilizing the very same type of foot pump that the LX has. All in all, both models are virtually identical except for the storage capacity, so choosing between the two is only a matter of deciding how much water you are going to need.
The foot pump is a good way to reduce overall weight, but we’ve got to say, it doesn’t provide a whole lot of pressure. For a continuous shower you need to be jamming down on that thing pretty good, and that can be exhausting for someone who needs two rounds of conditioning like I do. Rinse & repeat, but always repeat, as the old adage goes.
One more minor complaint is that it can be difficult to fill this thing from the tap without spilling; the water inlet is too narrow to use without a funnel or some type of hose filling device, the likes of which we cannot even imagine.
Best Pressurized Portable Shower for Music Festivals
RINSE KIT Pressurized Portable Shower
H20 capacity: 2.0 gallon
Hose length: 6 feet
Weight: 8.8 lbs
Power source: n/a
Heat time: n/a (heater available seperately)
Best feature: multiple spray settings
Okay, here’s a product that really had our head spinning for a minute there. When we heard that the RINSE KIT was able to deliver water with all the pressure of a water hose without batteries or a pump of any kind, we were more than a little bit skeptical. How could that possibly work? Where is the energy coming from to push the water out of the tank? The answer was pretty wild.
Using their specially designed adaptor, the RINSE KIT is designed to be filled from your hose or kitchen faucet, and the water pressure from the source is “captured” inside the Rinse Kit tank. Then when you are ready to use the water, that same pressure which has been expertly maintained is used to pump the water back out of the tank. Pretty crazy, right? We thought so at least.
This is yet another portable shower that does not come standard with a heating element, although one is available through the manufacturer that we understand can create a significant amount of heat in a small amount of time. Unfortunately, our team was unable to get our hands on that particular heating element to see just how well it worked.
There is one significant drawback to the design, however, that we regret that we have to point out. But there is simply not enough pressure preserved in the unit to access all the water inside the tank. That means that no matter what you do, you aren’t going to get a full 2 Gallons of water flow from one charge. There will always be ~.5 Gallons in the tank by the time the pressure runs out.
Best Portable Camping Shower for #VANLIFE
Reliance Products’ FLOW PRO Portable Shower
H20 capacity: 2 gallons
Hose length: 6 feet
Weight: 3.8 lbs
Power source: hand pump
Heat time: n/a
Best feature: mesh storage pocket
Last on our list but certainly not least is the FLOW PRO Portable Shower from Reliance Products. The real aim of this product is to provide easy hand-pump portable showering to the masses at an incredibly good price compared to the closest competitors. It certainly isn’t the biggest, lightest, or most feature-packed item that we reviewed, but it does a good job of fulfilling its base promise (portable showers) without costing too much.
One of the first things we noticed when unboxing the FLOW PRO was just how sturdy everything felt to us. Even the spray nozzle was made from heavy duty plastic. Although we had already written this shower off as the “value” model, we immediately had to rethink our expectations.
However, not everything worked so well. Even with vigorous pumping, it is close to impossible to get a decent water pressure from the FLOW PRO. That means that getting a full shower in might take a while.
But to us,showering isn’t really the best use for this particular device. Rather, the great price and sturdy construction of this camping shower make it an ideal candidate for a simple camping or back-of-the-car rinsing station. Because you’re not spending too much and you don’t have to worry about it falling apart, it makes the great companion for your next camping excursion or road trip.
Full disclosure: we’re the kind of folks who appreciate a good, long shower. Like, maybe a little too much. So we might be a little bit overly-passionate when it comes to selecting one camping shower above another.
On the one hand, who can beat the simplistic versatility of the RINSE KIT? We weren’t even aware that handheld camping showers even existed, much less ones that could by charged with the same equipment that it takes to charge an iPhone. We might as well mention that we are pretty keen on the idea of such a small, sturdy unit with very few things that would break.
But, like we said, we are partial to a good shower, and that means heat. While only a few of the camping showers on our list featured a built-in heating element, our choice was pretty clear. The ZODI OUTBACK can not only whip up a mess of hot water in a hurry, but it doubles as a camp stove, and that’s precisely the kind of convenience that we are looking for in our outdoor gear.
How to Evaluate a Portable Camping Shower: A Quick Guide
Between the 8 different portable camping stoves on our list, there were at least four distinct styles, and even amongst those groups there were significant differences in how the shower actually performed in the field.
Here’s how we broke down our review, as well as a few things to keep a keen eye on when trying to choose your own portable camping shower.
H20 STORAGE & CAPACITY
Depending on the style of camp shower, your own model may not even have an H20 tank. If it does, chances are that it is somewhere in the 2 gallon to 5 gallon range. It is rare to find camping showers with storage tanks larger than this, though there are plenty of examples of homemade camping showers being much, much larger.
So how much water do you need for a shower? According to Phila.Gov, the average American shower uses about 2 Gallons Per Minute. Yikes! That means that even the largest portable camp showers are not going to provide you the same experience as your home setup. But of course, that’s to be expected.
While only a few of the products on out 2020 camping shower review guide feature built-in heating elements, a good number more have the ability of being upgraded with an add-on heating element purchased by the product manufacturer. Of course the immediate advantage of having an internal heating mechanism is being able to have a hot shower, especially when you’re out camping and you wake up to a cold and chilly morning.
The reason many of these products lack heaters is because it adds a significant cost to the purchase price as well as additional weight on the product, making it less portable and more of a hassle to get out to the campsite.
The pump is the mechanism that allows the water to be pulled out of the storage tank (or drawn from its source, i.e., a lake) and pushed out of the shower head on the other end. There are a couple different kinds of pumps that are used for portable camping showers, each with a bit of good and a bit of bad:
Electric pumps usually run off a battery and provide a good amount of water pressure. More and more, these batteries are rechargeable via a 12V connector, making it easy to plug directly into your vehicles cigarette lighter.
Advantage: Hot water
Disadvantage: Heavy, Expensive
Hand pumps usually feature some kind of lever that is pumped up and down in order to create the pressure needed to draw water from the storage tank. Hand pumps are lighter than electric pumps, and more sturdy than foot pumps.
Advantage: Sturdy, lightweight
Disadvantage: Lower H20 pressure
Some camp showers get their pressure from small plastic or rubber chambers called foot pumps, which use the pressure of your own foot to push the water up the hose and out the showerhead. This allows you to continue to pump hands free while you shower, however, it can be somewhat exhausting.
Advantage: Can pump hands-free while showering
Disadvantage: Not as sturdy, can be somewhat exhausting
Frequently Asked Questions
If the portable camping shower you are looking at has a water reservoir, (some, like the PURE CLEAN PORTABLE CAMPING SHOWER, do not) then you should be able to put warm or hot water in it no problem. However, if your camping shower lacks an internal heating element, then the water is unlikely to stay that warm for long.
This depends greatly on the model you are looking at. For instance, the BIG KAHUNA can do a few gallons in about 20 minutes, while the rapid-heating action of the ZODI EXTREME SC SHOWER, you can have water close to 100 F within 5 minutes! Sometimes it takes longer for my shower at home to get that hot!
If you are looking for replacement parts for your portable camping shower, the first thing you should do is contact the product manufacturer to see if those parts are available directly. If they are not, then you might have to resort to installing other store-bought replacements.
Please Note: swapping out any of the components of your portable camping shower could possibly void the manufacturer’s warranty, so be sure to read all the accompanying materials before making your purchase.
While the majority of the portable showers on our review do have filters, they are not the kind of filters that would remove harmful bacteria or chemicals from the water supply. Rather, they are more open-slotted particulate filters that remove things like sticks, rocks, and bugs from a potentially dirty water supply. Camping showers do not filter your water and make it safe to drink.