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Hannah Singleton is a freelance writer based in Salt Lake City who focuses on the outdoors, travel, and public lands.
If you're like me, you love being outdoors, camping, hiking, backpacking, and all that. But you also love a good hot shower. Well, we’ve got good news for you. The rise of portable camp showers has resulted in some seriously impressive products that can hold gallons of water and keep you fresh on camping trips, surf trips, bike trips, you name it. Sure, these clever camp showers may not replicate a super hot, steamy shower at home, but the best of the lot can get you pretty darn close, and should be considered as a key piece of your car camping gear kit. Because really, who doesn’t love an outdoors shower?
For our guide, these camp showers all provide decent water pressure and heat water efficiently—yep, hot water is on tap, even while off-grid. While a cold summer shower can be nice at times, they don’t always hit the spot when the sun is setting and chilly temps set in. Before you pull the trigger on your next camping shower, here are some key considerations when choosing the best option for you. Continue reading for our top camp showers picks.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Camp Shower
Type of Shower
From battery-powered, to gravity-fed, to electrically-pumped, camping shower systems come with different “power” sources. Obviously, some options—like an electric pump—are more convenient than others, but may not be as practical for all camping setups. If you have a camping rig with a generator or power bank, an electric pump is the way to go so you don’t have to work for your shower. But if you take a more simple approach to car camping or are backpacking, a gravity bag or battery-powered shower will be your best bet. You might also consider whether or not you want to use a shower tent—like this Kelty model—and whether the shower you're looking at is compatible with it or needs some sort of adapter.
Most showers are solar heated, but one notable exception on this list is heated with propane. Solar heated showers are best for most campers and will provide sufficiently warm water, but if you live out of your vehicle (looking at you #vanlifers) and need a semi-permanent solution, you should consider a propane-heated shower for greater control over your shower temperature.
Different camping showers hold different amounts of water, which will be designated by their capacity. If you camp solo, you can opt for a smaller shower. But if you’re traveling with the family, you may want a larger capacity shower—solar showers can take hours to heat up, so if you want enough water for all, go big. Although the water flow rate will also affect how far the water goes, a good rule of thumb is that a five-gallon shower bag will provide roughly seven minutes of showering.
Field Mag’s Top Picks
- Best Camp Shower Overall: NEMO Helio LX Pressure Shower 22L
- Best for Serious Car Campers: Yakima Roadshower
- Best Camp Shower for Road Life: Camplux Outdoor Pro Series Propane Water Heater
- Best Lightweight Camp Shower: Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
- Best Battery-Powered: Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
- Best 2-in-1 Shower System: Geyser Systems Portable Shower with Heater
- Best Budget Shower: Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower
The 7 Best Camping Showers for Keeping Clean in Nature
Best Camp Shower Overall: NEMO Helio LX Pressure Shower 22L
Nemo's Helio Pressure Shower is a collapsible, pump-operated shower that ranks at the top of our list because it’s versatile enough for any type of camper—whether you live in your van or are car camping at a state park for the weekend. Unlike a gravity shower, the Helio's water tank sits on the ground so you can use it in any environment, even fragile desert ecosystems like Joshua Tree National Park where you should avoid using tree branches as a shower hanger. All you have to do is pressurize the shower system with a foot pump and then you're ready to go with the hand-held sprayer, which supplies decent water pressure. For those that don’t need the large 22L capacity, NEMO offers a smaller 11L version, too. Both come with a carrying case for convenient packing.
- Volume: 22 liters
- Size:: 23 x 10 inches
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Key features: Tank sits on ground, foot pump, compact carrying case, 7 ft. neoprene hose
Best for Serious Car Campers: Yakima Roadshower
Maximize space with this portable shower that attaches directly to your roof rack. If you have a Yakima rack, that’s great, but it comes with a universal mounting hardware kit so you can use it with any rack with similar crossbar specs—just check your setup before purchasing. From a day at the beach with the family to a weeklong getaway, this camp shower will keep the whole crew clean. You can pressurize the tank with either a hand or electric shower pump, and slap on the temperature sticker so you always know when it’s ready to go—no cold showers required. Choose between a 4, 7, or 10-gallon tank.
- Volume: 15 liters
- Size: 55 x 6 x 5 inches
- Weight: 20 pounds
- Key features: Attaches to car rack, aluminum construction, pressurized with hand or electric pump, included garden hose adapter
Best Camp Shower for Road Life: Camplux Outdoor Pro Series Propane Water Heater
A semi-permanent option for van, truck, and RV dwellers, the battery powered Camplux Pro provides instant hot water with very comfortable and surprisingly adjustable water pressure and temperature controls. The water heater connects to a propane tank and water source of your choosing to provide 1.58 gallons per minute of instant, high pressure hot water (after an initial five minute heating process), and from there you'll have a real, hot shower experience. Now, the setup process is reportedly a bit of a process, but once it's rigged up, it's good to go for good. Though it’s worth noting required power are D non-rechargeable batteries. (For rig-based adventurers, the similar Joolca HOTTAP V2 Essentials is also worth checking out.)
- Volume: 6 liters
- Size: 17 x 12 x 4 inches
- Weight: 14 pounds
- Key features: Semi-permanent installation for vehicles, battery powered, high pressure hot water
Best Lightweight Camp Shower: Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
For when you need a shower on the go, this highly collapsible, simple solar shower bag from Sea to Summit packs down to pocket size and weighs less than six ounces so you can bring it on virtually any outdoor camping trip, even if you're headed deep into the backcountry. The twist-top shower head allows you to go hands-free, and the 10-liter capacity provides seven minutes of showering time. Bonus points: it’s leakproof and has a roll-top closure, so you can use it as a dry bag to store your goods when you’re on the trail.
- Volume: 10 liters
- Size: (open) 21 x 8 / (packed)6 x 3 x 3 inches
- Weight: 5.25 ounces
- Key features: Collapsible, lightweight, doubles as a drybag, solar-heated
Best Battery-Powered: Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
One of our top picks for functionality and ease of use, this battery-powered shower is versatile, compact, and a good bang for your buck. You can move about freely with the nearly 6-foot hose, so it’s great to spray down fidgety kids or pets. This shower is a bit wasteful because you can’t control how fast the water comes out, but it provides comfortable, consistent water pressure. The only caveat is you’ll need access to a bucket or water source.
- Volume: Water-source
- Size: 4 x 3 inches
- Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Key features: Battery-powered, rechargable via USB or car adapter, 6-foot hose, compact, affordable
Best 2-in-1 Shower System: Geyser Systems Portable Shower with Heater
Unlike the more common solar-heated camping shower options, Geyser Systems uses a unique ABS/PVC container to house an efficient, plug-in water pump shower that can get you clean on a single gallon. Instead of using a spray nozzle, this shower system uses a sponge-like scrub. It also has an LED dashboard that acts as a temperature gauge to let you know when the water is hot and when you're running low. It comes with multiple scrubbers, so you can use one for showering and another for doing dishes, or cleaning your rig. Speaking of rigs, this shower does require a plug and is heavy at eight pounds, so this is an option primarily for car camping and overlanding.
- Volume: 3 liters
- Size: 16 x 9 x 6 inches
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Key features: Built-in heating system, control valve allows 15 minutes of usage, multiple scrubbers for dishes, etc, 12V plug included for car
Best Budget Shower: Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower
A great option for both the budgeter and minimalist, this simple camping shower bag will cover all your basic needs. The five-gallon capacity will be more than enough for your shower, and the black plastic material heats up in the sun, even if there is cloud coverage. Just be sure to leave it out for a few hours beforehand if you want a warm shower. You'll have to DIY the setup, but that's easy with a sturdy piece of cord.
- Volume: 19 liters
- Size: 9 x 7 x 2 inches
- Weight: 9 ounces
- Key features: Solar-heated, 5-gallon capacity, affordable, easy set-up