Three Things to Know Before You Buy a Portable Shower

A portable shower can make an outdoor trip much more pleasant, for you and for everyone involved. Here’s how to choose the right one for you.

A couple of days outdoors does a tremendous job of refreshing your soul. But your body may not feel so refreshed if there’s no indoor plumbing around while you’re out there. That grimy feeling you get when you don’t shower after getting sweated up or muddy or covered with sand and salt, can make the whole experience much less satisfying. And then there’s the proximity of everyone else who hasn’t bathed in a while.

A portable shower can make everything right. Here are three kinds to consider if you’re in the market for staying clean when you’re camping.

1. A battery-operated pump shower

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
This conveniently portable unit charges by USB and will run for one hour on a single charge.Ivation

You place the pump end in a bucket or tub full of water, turn it on, and water comes out of the shower head. It's that simple. These are convenient if you'll be on the move all day and can access water and heat it, if necessary, where you'll be showering. Plus, they're lightweight and inexpensive.

2. A Solar Gravity Shower

Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower
This simple solar shower comes with pockets for holding soap and shampoo and even has velcro patches designed to hold your washcloth off the ground.Advanced Elements

A good solar shower will heat up water in a couple of hours if the conditions are right. If the shower has a temperature gauge, you'll be able to tell when the water is warm enough for use. Solar showers are perfect for beach trips or if you'll be staying at one campsite in a sunny location. These are also inexpensive. You'll need to hang the bag to operate the shower because these are gravity-operated.

3. A tankless propane-fired shower

Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Water Heater
If there's a hose hookup at your destination, it's a simple matter of attaching the water supply and hanging the unit.Camp Chef

You will need to bring a tank of propane, but as long as you have a water source, you and your companions will be able to take warm showers for as long as the water and propane lasts.

Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater & Shower Pump
If there's no pressurized water hose at your destination, be sure to get a propane shower that has its own water pump, so the unit can draw water from a bucket or tub, heat it, and send it out of the showerhead.Hike Crew

These cost more than battery-operated and solar showers, but they’re well worth the cost if you’ll be in close quarters with lots of other stinky people.