Picture this: you pad barefoot along a trail of large, smooth river stones, the grass tickling your feet as the faint sound of water droplets grows louder with each step. Maybe you have a salty tang still lingering on your skin from an afternoon surf or a day at the beach, or scuffs of dirt clinging to your ankles after hard-earned miles on the trail. You pull open a wooden door and step inside a small enclosure where there’s a wide open sky above you, a small platform beneath you, and very little else to ensure total privacy (exhilarating!). A few turns of a handle brings on a crescendo of water from above that engulfs you in the sheer bliss that can only come from the singular pleasure of lathering up in an outdoor shower.
A step or two above camping showers and portable showers, this is rustic luxury at its finest—where indoor amenities meet the restorative benefits of outdoor living in the most practical ways. For many, outdoor showers conjure memories of time away at an idyllic beach house rental or a cabin by the lake, but the right materials and some DIY spirit make an at-home outdoor shower more attainable than you might think.
Here, we go over the basics of building your own outdoor bathroom and also supply a list of outdoor shower-equipped getaways to serve as shower design inspiration. Of course, you could always just book a trip to any of them and experience them for yourself, no DIY required.
Types of Outdoor Showers
As it goes for any DIY project, the best outdoor shower setup will depend on how much time and money you want to put into the project. Carrying equal weight is what you envision as a sufficient outdoor shower. Outdoor shower fixtures range from freestanding outdoor showers, portable outdoor showers that sit pretty poolside (or next to the backyard sauna) and can cost less than $100 and easily hook up to your garden hose for a great no-frills option. Or, create a permanent wall-mounted fixture within an outdoor shower enclosure that offers more privacy plus access to cold and hot water. These outdoor shower kits include building materials and can cost anywhere from $900 to over $2,000. Here are a couple shower systems we like, but the variety available is vast.
Handcrafted from sustainable and weather-resistant Eastern White Cedar and durable, stainless steel, Dundalk’s outdoor shower features a sturdy platform and back panel to prevent this outdoor shower from getting blown over, but you can also mount it to a wall. The economy hardware kit hooks up to a garden hose for a refreshing cold rinse, or upgrade to the premium hardware kit for a hot and cold water supply and a hand-held sprayer. Either way, this shower comes with a rain shower head for a refreshing rinse.
The Kantha rainfall shower plus a hand-held shower head gives you a spa-like experience outdoors in one sleek and simple form. It’s made from stainless steel to avoid corrosion and can easily be attached to a wall or a fence.
By connecting to your garden hose, this energy-saving outdoor shower is designed to absorb the heat from the sun to sustainably warm up 9.3 gallons of water. The freestanding shower has a stable, easy-to-clean base with an additional shower faucet lower down that acts as a foot shower for rinsing sand, dirt, or grass off your feet, and it all comes at a great price.
For the al fresco bathers who need privacy from their neighbors, Cape Cod Outdoor Shower crafts full enclosures from durable cedar (or PVC) that are available in a freestanding or house mount option. This doesn’t come with the shower system itself, so you’ll still need to purchase your own.
Choosing the Right Outdoor Shower Location
Whether you opt for an open air outdoor shower or a full enclosure and whether you live in a cold climate or a warm one, location will play an important role. The best location for a sturdy outdoor shower that will last will have a level surface with good drainage, plenty of ventilation to avoid mold, mildew, and mosquitoes (the worst of them all), and easy access to a water source or spigot. Those are the essentials, but there are other things to consider too, like modesty. Will your shower be built-in to the side of your house? Or do you want the thrill of traversing the yard to a garden shower among the greenery? Do you want total privacy from door to door? All valid and important details.
Considering Your Outdoor Shower Design
Then there’s the fun part: designing the shower to integrate with your outdoor space. Add-ons like shelves for toiletries, a bench, or an entire changing area can create a luxe experience, but there's nothing wrong with a simple spout. Go for a rustic look with wood slats (pressurized wood or a rot-resistant material like cedar or teak work well), or punch it up with tiles, rocks, and other natural materials and outdoor decor.
Depending on your shower's location, you can opt for a shower curtain, but keep in mind that enjoying the alfresco view is part of the fun. Take careful consideration when choosing a shower head, too.
Outdoor Shower Ideas: 5 of Our Favorite Outdoor Showers
The outdoor shower at each Inverlonan bothy is barebones to say the least. Made from nothing more than a shower head with a pull chain to release water and a small platform for keeping mud at bay, the payoff are views of Loch Nell and a perfect example of just how uncomplicated an outdoor shower can be.
Price: £480/2 nights
Simple and rustic with a luxurious waterfall showerhead, the Treetop Tent’s outdoor shower looks a lot like something you could DIY. A slanted roof constructed with wavy plexiglass panels lets in plenty of sunlight to dry things out and give you that fresh air feeling while providing coverage year-round. A curtain is a creative solution to the typical hinged shower door (or lack thereof).
Totally enclosed and hidden out of sight, this cedar-shingled outdoor shower in the Bahamas has a large window that opens up to let the sea breeze flow through for ventilation and total reinvigoration. Perhaps it’s inspiration for converting a backyard shed into an outdoor shower?
This outdoor shower is located on the wraparound porch of one seriously dreamy yurt in the Vermont countryside. The doorless, three-walled stall lets in plenty of fresh air and leaves you open to the elements as you rinse—think of it as a chance to commune with nature.
Inspirational or aspirational? The owners of this Southwest glampsite went for it and created an outdoor shower that looks and feels like you’re washing off inside one of the area’s famous slot canyons. There’s a very good chance that these won’t be the plans you use to build your own backyard outdoor shower, but it goes to show how a design can draw from the landscape. The property also has a more traditional outdoor bath and shower setup, too.