Best Camping Shower

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Written By Jay Clatworthy

Off Grid Camping contributor.

Best Camping Shower

A camping shower is a must-have if you are heading off-grid for more than a few days, and this post will explore the best camping shower for you in your situation.

Though you won’t bathe in the same way you would at home, or with the same level of comfort, there are many ways to generate a stream of hot water for cleaning yourself and any other household members.

When we are away overnight, we find it adequate to just heat up some hot water for a quick wipe down of ourselves and the kids.

But when you are away for two or more nights, the need for a more serious shower setup tends to grow. 

Choosing the Best Camping Shower For You

There are three main types of camping showers (Solar Shower, 12V Camping Shower, and Portable Hot Water Systems), and they vary in whether they heat the water directly, how they heat the water, and what type of power they use to push the water out of the showerhead.

The best camping shower for you will depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, available power source, and how much space you have to carry additional gear. 

Each of the different types of camping showers will be discussed in more detail, along with some product recommendations. 

There is a product table that gives a quick overview of all the different types of showers available, followed by more in-depth coverage of each type, and the models associate with each type, and you read through the article.

Camping Shower Comparison Table

ImageShower DetailsPrice
OzTrail Pioneer Solar Shower
Check Price
Companion Solar Shower
Check Price
Companion 12V Handheld Shower
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Companion High Volumne 12V Shower
Check Price
Smarttek Black
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Companion Acquaheat
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Gasmate WaterTech
Check Price
Companion Acquacube
Check Price

Benefits of a Camping Shower

Aside from the obvious benefit of keeping clean, camping showers have a range of other benefits.

Not only do you always feel great after a warm shower, but they open up many doors to where and how far you might be able to travel.

If you don’t need to stay close to caravan parks, you open up your options for places to go and stay. You could also save a lot of money as you can start utilizing a lot more of the free camping places available, and rely less on paid locations.

Your Shower Needs

Before you start learning about the different shower types, it helps to get clear on what your shower needs are.

Access to Water

One of the biggest influences on the shower options you will have will be the ready supply of water.

Are you going to have to carry all your water with you? Or will you have access to rivers and streams that you can pump into your campsite?

Where Are You Going

For example, if you regularly stay in caravan parks, then they usually have shower amenities included, and you don’t need to bring your own. But if you are going bush or desert, then you will need to be self-sufficient.

Powering a Camping Shower

Think through the power source you will have available.

Will you have ample power to run the pump? Will you have gas to fuel a burner? If not, are you able to adapt your setup to include these things?

Who Will Be Camping and How Often

How many people are at your travelling party? How often would each person like or need to shower?

Your Budget

Lastly, are you wanting to invest in something substantial, or just spend as little as possible to be able to keep clean in between more substantial shower facilities.

There is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions. They are just designed to help you get a clearer idea of what your requirements are and will help you find the best option that will meet your needs.

Solar Camping Showers

If you are looking for a simple, cheap, and space-saving camp shower option, then a solar-powered portable shower may be just what you need.

While many other cheap camping showers simply pump water that needs to be preheated in some other way, a solar shower can actually heat the water as well (if the weather conditions are right!). 

How To Use a Solar Shower?

Solar camping showers work by being filled with water in the morning, and then placing them somewhere they will receive maximum sunlight throughout the day.

This exposure to sunlight heats the surface area of the shower bag, and this heat transfers to the water.

At the end of the day, before the sun goes down, the water will be at its peak temperature, so it is good to shower in the late afternoon to get the warmest shower. 

Solar camping shower relies on gravity to get the water out of the shower rose, so you will need to find where to hang the shower that is high enough that the water will come out at the desired height.

Most solar showers include either a strong or hanging handle on the top of the shower bag to help with this. 

Once the solar shower bag is raised at an appropriate height, the water should flow through the hose and associated shower head.

Different portable camping showers differ in how you control the flow of water, but for most solar shows, you twist the rose head in one direction to open the water flow, and then twist the shower back in the opposite direction, to stop the water from flowing. 

How long does it take to heat a solar shower?

The length of time it takes to heat a solar shower varies significantly based on a number of factors. Things that can influence the heating of a solar shower include the temperature of the water, to begin with, air temperature, and level of direct sunlight.

In general, the warmer all these three ingredients are, the quicker your solar shower will be at a warm temperature. 

As a general rule of thumb, you should get your shower out in the sun as quickly as possible.

If you are travelling, this means as soon as you stop, this should be one of your first tasks. If you are stationary, this should be one of your morning tasks. 

If it is mid-summer, and temperatures are quite high, then it will be quite easy to heat the water, and it could get to a reasonable temperature within a few hours.

However, in colder conditions, you will need every minute of sun you can get. If the temperature is less than 20 degrees, you are likely to struggle to get your water to a pleasant temperature. 

Do They Work?

Absolutely. There are hundreds of thousands of solar showers in existence because they are such a simple and effective solution.

Weather conditions and the quality of your shower will play a big part in how effective they are, and how warm the water gets. But the overall concept and design are solid.

solar camping shower

OzTrail Pioneer Solar Shower

  • 20L capacity
  • Hygienic easy clean materials
  • Long hose
  • Convenient push/pull tap to control water flow
  • Black in colour to absorb the heat from the sun

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companion solar shower

Companion Solar Shower

  • 20 litre capacity equals approximately 8 minutes of shower time
  • Made from 600D Ripstop Polyester and clear PVC
  • Fully heat welded construction
  • Large 38mm filling valve
  • Easy to use on/off shower head
  • Large front pocket for soap and shampoo
  • Convenient velcro straps to adjust show head height
  • Water temperature gauge
  • Mesh bag included for easy storage

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12v Camp Showers

12V Showers are an affordable and convenient way to wash yourself and your family while camping. Whether you need a quick clean of the hand’s faces of your kids or plan a full body wash yourself, a 12V camping shower is a great way to do that. 

The 12v showers do not heat the water. They only pump the water from your water container, out of the showerhead.

As a result, you will need to have another way to heat your water (warm it on your fire or stove), or be happy to have a cold shower! 

Most 12V portable showers can be used as a handheld shower, but also include fittings that you can use to hold it up with a suction cap (on your car or other shiny surfaces), or hook onto an overhead branch.

These items usually draw about 1.5 Amps of power, and given most car cigarette lighters can handle at least 5 Amps, you should definitely be able to use it with your car. 

Though most units have the same core characteristics, they can differ in the rate of flow of water, whether you can adjust the flow, the different accessories they include for hanging the shower, type of carrying bag, and length and quality of hoses.

If you have a 12V power source, and a way to heat your water, a 12V shower is a great, space-friendly option for consideration.

Just make sure you have a way to be close enough to both your 12V power source and your water source at the same time. Entry-level 12V showers are priced from $20, and other ‘high flow’ options can be priced at close to $80.

We always recommend starting with the cheapest possible product, then use it. If you like it and use it a lot, then consider investing in a more expensive one.

12V Camping Shower Review and Recommendations 

12V camping shower

Companion 12V Handheld Shower

  • Adjustable flow camp shower
  • 1.5A Draw, Cigarette lighter connection
  • Water Resistant Inline Switch
  • 2.1M Long Hose
  • Carry Bag
  • Suction cap design

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12V camping shower

Companion High Volumne 12V Shower

  • Twice the power of most 12V camp showers
  • 12V DC operation
  • Silicone hose
  • Flow shut off at shower head
  • Storage Box
  • Three settings: massage, spray and shower

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Portable Hot Water System

Of all the options discussed in this article, Portable Hot Water Systems give you the best hot shower, for the longest time, at the highest pressure.

They are bigger units, and much more expensive, but they can provide a very high-quality shower experience with a water flow of up to six liters per minute, and they can heat water up to 30 degrees from its original temperature.

In terms of power, they tend to use a combination of gas and electricity to work. Most require 12v power to power the unit and water pump, and then some form of gas to heat fuel the heating element.

Some of the smaller units (though not that small!) use propane gas bottles to do the heating, while others require an LPG gas bottle. 

The advantage of these is the quality and quantity of warm water they can produce, and many can be used to provide general-purpose hot water for washing dishes as well.

But the downside is the price and equipment required to make them work. A really cheap entry-level unit will be between $300-$400 dollars, and the prices go up from there.

Similar to 12V showers, portable camp showers do not hold any water, and just pump it from your water source through the unit as required. 

Joolca Hottap Portable Hot Water System

Buy Joolca products direct from the manufacturer to get first-class customer service.

The Joolca Hottap V2 portable hot water system has just recently been released, superseding the original (and very popular!) Joolca Hottap.

The Hottap has quickly become one of the most popular portable hot water systems in Australia, even though it’s only been around for a few years.

It prides itself on its heating performance and ease of use and has been designed with the user in mind every step of the way.

The Joolca Hottap is a no tank water heater, meaning the water needs to be pumped into the unit in some other way.

If you are connecting to mains water (i.e. Garden hose), this is easy, but if you are camping off-grid, then you will need an external pump.

Joolca provides an optional submersible pump accessory you can purchase if this is needed.

The Joolca Hottap is very safe and includes multiple failsafe mechanisms. Firstly the temperature is barred from going higher than 50 degrees, so you cant burn yourself, and the pilot light only comes on when upright.

The Hottap unit is powered by D-cell batteries, which control the pilot light and LCD display. The water is heating using LPG gas, so you need a gas bottle nearby to connect it to.

A 9 kg gas bottle should give you about 15 hours of hot water. If you need the external pump, then this will need additional 12v power, from a cigarette lighter or battery bor or similar.

Customer Support and Warranty

The Joolca supports the Hottap, a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty, which includes a very generous and supportive shipping and returns policy.

You can return it within 30 days if you are unhappy with it for a full refund, and shipping costs are covered by Joolca, both sending and returning if any warranty work or attention is needed.

Summary

The Joolca is my personal favorite for portable hot water systems. Though it does not include a pump by default, the other benefits, plus the explanation kits available, still make it the best choice for me.

Smarttek Black

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The Smarttek Black is the larger of two portable hot water systems sold by Smarttek. Retailing at around $349, these systems provide a high-quality shower experience no matter where you are, or how far you are from modern conveniences.

Smarttrek is passionate about providing quality and has its products tested to successfully complete over 12,000 sets up/use/pack up cycles. 

Smarttek put a lot of work into the design process to make the Smartek Black is as easy to set up. In five simple steps, from hanging the unit to connecting the hoses and shower head, the Smarttek is ready to provide you with high-temperature hot water.

Though the Smarttek kit provides everything you need to get your unit operational, the unit itself is not an ‘all-in-one’ unit.

The primary job of the Smarttek unit is to control how the water comes out of the shower (in terms of how hot, and how fast), but the unit has no pumping capacity.

It does not have the ability to draw water into the unit and push it out through the shower handle. The external pump is included in the package to provide this function.

I like it when products are designed to focus on a core task, and do that well, as opposed to trying to do everything, so for me, this is a positive. 

Water flow is controlled by a switch on the shower handle. When you turn the switch on, the pump senses that the water pressure has decreased and switches on immediately to push water up into the unit.

Likewise, when the Smarttek unit senses water moving inside, it ignites the pilot light to start heating the water.

All these processes are fully automatic and do not require any intervention from you when operating the unit. You just need to select the desired temperate and water flow and turn the handle on. 

An additional setting on the unit is the Summer/Winter setting. When the ‘Summer’ setting is selected, the unit will use less gas to heat the water.

The presumption is that the water temperature may not be as cold, to begin with thus, requiring less gas to get it to the required temperature.

For those living and travelling in northern Australia, you may find that you can leave your unit in the Summer setting all year round.

By using the Summer setting, you should be able to get 50 hours of continuous hot water from your gas bottle, whereas when using the Winter setting, you should only expect to get around 16 hours of hot water.

The Smarttek is not a standalone unit, so you will need some way to hang it, or set it up.

Smarttek sells an optional tripod accessory which is perfect for this, but it also includes a handle on the top of the unit you can use to hang it off of your car, or a tree, or some other structure. 

How Hot Does The Water Get?

The Smarttek Black can heat water up to 55 degrees Celcius and cuts off at that temperature for safety reasons.

If your water source is close to zero, it will not be able to reach the maximum temperature. The unit has the capacity to raise the temperature of ambient water by 42 degrees.

What Is The Water Flow Rate?

The Smartek Black has a water flow of up to 6 liters per minute, depending on your pump size.

The default package includes a pump that provides up to 4.3 liters per minute, but you can purchase a larger pump as an additional accessory. Some retailers even offer it off the shelf with the larger pump. 

How Do You Power A Smarttek Black?

The Smarttek unit itself is powered by two D size batteries which power the interface and gas ignition.

To power the heating process, you need to connect an LPG gas bottle, the same type you would use for a BBQ or outdoor gas heater.

The 12v pump requires some form of 12v power to operate, and this can be provided in multiple forms.

By default, the kit includes two alligator clips that could be connected to your car battery or other heavy-duty battery, but Smarttek also sells other power adapters so you could connect to a 12v cigarette lighter plug, for example. 

Smarttek Customer Support and Warranty

Smarttek has one of the best guarantees available for a portable hot water system and offers a three-year manufacturing warranty.

Where a valid claim is established, they will pay for any required parts and repairs to get your unit operational for the first 12 months.

For the remaining 24 months, they will still provide parts, but not the labor cost of repairs.

A cost that you may incur, regardless of how long you have had your unit are freight costs for your unit to and from an authorized repair center.

More detail on their warranty and return policy can be found on the Smarttek website.

Summary

Overall, the Smarttek Black is one of the premium portable water systems on the market. Designed to be super simple to use, you can set these up and have a shower running in a couple of minutes.

The generous warranty and range of handy accessories make this unit a strong candidate for anyone looking for a high-quality portable shower experience. 

Companion Acquaheat

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The Companion Acquaheat is a new product to the camping shower market, and it has become very popular very quickly.

The high-quality onboard lithium battery means you aren’t dependent on a 12v power source for your hot water/ As long as you have access to a water source (tank/river/lake etc.), just put the hoses on, and you are good to go.


The new Companion range of camping products with lithium batteries onboard has become really popular due to the minimization of extra gear needed (battery box etc.).

The Companion Acquaheat Portable Shower should definitely be on your shortlist for a new camping shower.

gasmate watertech

Gasmate WaterTech

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The Gasmate WaterTech has an inbuilt handle you can use to carry it around and then hang for use. Gasmate also has a custom tripod stand for the Gasmate available, which can be purchased separately. 

When you buy the WaterTech, you have everything you need to get out into nature and have a shower.

The package includes the WaterTech unit, intake pump and hose, shower head and hose, 12V power cord, and gas regulator with quick connect cord. The only optional accessory that is not included in the unit is the tripod stand mentioned previously. 

The WaterTech includes control knobs that adjust the water temperature, water flow speed, and a summer/winter setting.

If you are in a warmer climate, or in one of the warmer months of the year, you can select the summer setting, and the unit will reduce the amount of gas that is supplied to the unit.

This is because during the summer, the water source you are using is likely to be at a higher temperature, so it will require less heating. Using the summer setting will help you get a longer life from your gas bottle.  

The water hoses click on and click off the WaterTech using the same fittings found on garden hoses. To set up is really quick and easy. 

The WaterTech is not designed to be used indoors, so please only set it up in open areas or undercover areas with significant air circulation.

This is due to the potential for gas leaks from your bottle and other emissions from the unit.

The Gasmate WaterTech has an automatic ignition. This means that when it senses the water flowing through the pipes, the pilot light automatically lights and starts heating the water. Then once the water flow stops, the gas burner turns off. 

How Hot Does The Water Get? 

The Gasmate WaterTech heats water to a maximum of 52 degrees. Temperature is limited at 52 degrees for safety reasons.

However, there are some external factors that will determine whether this temperature can be reached. The WaterTech has the ability to heat water up to 25 degrees above ambient temperature.

This means that the beginning temperature of your water source will determine how hot it can get.

For example, if your water source temperature is 10 degrees, then the Gasmate WaterTech will be able to provide a shower at 35 degrees celsius.

To reach the maximum temperature of 52 degrees celsius, your water source would need to be at 27 degrees to start with. 

What Is The Water Flow Rate? 

The Gasmate WaterTech provides heated water at 3 liters per minute. The included pump can actually push water at a faster rate (8 liters per minute).

The unit can’t heat the water that quickly, so shower head flow is at the reduced rate of 3 liters per minute. 

How Do You Power the Gasmate WaterTech? 

The Gasmate WaterTech has three different inputs to power three different aspects of the machine. The LED display, internal mechanisms, and pilot light are powered by two D-cell batteries (not included). 

The heating process within the unit is fuelled by LPG gas. This means you can connect it to your BBQ gas bottle or similar. 

The water pump is powered by 12V DC power, as discussed above, and this cord can be plugged into your car cigarette lighter. 

Gasmate WaterTech Safety Features

The WaterTech is equipped with three significant safety features that will minimize potential accidents.

The ‘Over Temperature Sensor’ monitors the heat of the water and cuts out the pilot light to avoid the water reaching a temperature where it could damage the skin.

The ‘Water Flow Sensor’ prohibits the gas igniting unless the water is flowing through the unit. This reduces exposure to naked flame and reduces associated risks.

The final safety feature is the ‘Tilt Sensor’ monitors whether the unit is upright, and if it senses the unit tip over, or leans on a significant angle, it cuts off the gas burner, to minimize potential fire spreading. 

Customer Support and Warranty

The Gasmate WaterTech comes with a 12-month warranty. Keep your proof of purchase and return the item to the place of purchase if you have any technical difficulties within the first 12 months. 

Summary 

Overall, the Gasmate WaterTech is a solid product, but there is nothing that really sets it apart from its competitors. It’s a very simple unit that is easy to use and set up.

There is a big lack of available accessories, slow water flow, and the warranty is minimal, which leads me to lean towards other products (Smarttek Lite…) if I’m looking to spend $300 on a portable hot water system.

companion aquacube diital

Companion Acquacube

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The Companion Aquacube Digital is a recently released update to the original Aquacube.

Setting itself apart with its compact, easy to carry, all-in-one design, the Aquacube is a great option for those looking for a camp shower on a budget.

Of the other entry-level portable hot water systems, the Aquacube is by far the simplest and most convenient, and the easiest to set up, making it a very popular item.

The option of using a hot water tap straight out of the unit, without having to use the shower hose is also another standout feature of this machine. 

The Aquacube Digital is an all-in-one, easy to use, entry-level portable hot water service.

Everything you need to make the unit work is incorporated into the design, so you simply hook up your power and water, and it is ready. 

What Type Of Power Does The Aquacube Digital Require?

The Aquacube Digital requires 12v power to support the unit’s LED display, internal workings, and pumping of the water.

Unlike some other portable hot water units, the Aquacube Digital doesn’t require additional batteries to run the unit. It only requires the 12V power source, and the required power adapter is included with the unit. 

Water is heated via gas, and the unit is designed to run on propane cylinders (sold separately) and has an onboard gas regulator to achieve this.

These are compact, easy to fit, and easy to transport, and mean you don’t need to carry a gas bottle.

If you would like to connect an LPG gas bottle, you can buy fittings to make it work, but the propane cylinder option and the ease of use are one of the core benefits of this product. 

Water Temperature

The Aquacube Digital can heat water to a maximum of 52 degrees celsius. However, this does not guarantee a water temperature of 52 degrees.

The ability of the unit to get water up to this temperature is heavily influenced by the starting temperature of the water source. 

The Aquacube Digital has the ability to raise the temperature of water by 30 degrees celsius. So if your water source is 10 degrees, then the Aquacube could raise the water to 40 degrees.

In order to achieve the maximum temperature, your water source would already need to be at 22 degrees. 

If you have a cold water source and you want/need to get your water up to 52 degrees, then you could cycle your water through the unit once or twice before showering.

To do this, you start the unit and turn on the showerhead, and have the water spraying back into your water tube/source.

By doing this, you will slowly warm the water source as the warmer water will be sucked back into the Aquacube, which will then be able to take the heat up to the next level. 

Water Flow

As an ‘all in one unit, the Aqua cube has its water pump built-in. That means less setup and fewer components to transport. 

The Aquacube built-in pump has the capacity to deliver water at 2.5L – 4.5L per minute. The warmer you want your water, the slower you will need the flow rate to be, to ensure the unit can heat the water sufficiently before it exiting the shower handle.

Overall you can safely expect a flow of 3 litres per minute. 

Accessories

There are few separate accessories available for purchase for Aquacube Digital. However, the standard pack does include a carry bag.

Many other portable hot water systems offer optional stands, but this is not required for the Aquacube as it can easily sit on your camping table, or any other flat surface.

Included in the package are a 2-meter shower hose, 2.5-meter pump hose, and 5-meter cable.

The Aquacube incorporates a handy tap that folds in and out of the unit body.

This tap gives you an alternative way to draw water from the unit, without always having to rely on the showerhead.

When you do want to use the shower, you attach the end of the shower hose to this tap, using the inbuilt quick connect fitting for a secure connection.

There are two external accessories you might want to consider for the Aquacube, though. The first accessory you might want to consider is the Companion water hose adaptor.

This allows you to quickly connect your Aquacube Digital to a pressurized water source, such as a garden tap.  The other accessory that may come in useful is the gas hose to connect an LPG gas bottle directly to the Aquacube.

Given it has an inbuilt regulator, the normal regular most gas appliances have connected (e.g., BBQ) won’t be appropriate. But the Coleman BOM/UNEF to POL High-Pressure Gas Hose will connect an LPG bottle to the Aquacube seamlessly. 

Warranty

Companion offers a 12 months manufacturer’s warranty for the Aquacube Digital. If you have any issues in that first year, take it back to your place of purchase with a purchase confirmation, and they will manage the process from there. 

Conclusion

In summary, for a simple set of features, and ease of use, the Aquacube is well designed and very affordable. The fold-out tap is a great addition that really helps with other uses (e.g., kitchen) when a shower head is less appropriate.

If you like a bit more water flow, and the ability to add extra accessories, then you might outgrow the Aquacube pretty quickly.

But if you just want something simple for the dishes and wash down, then the Aquacube is worth keeping in mind. 

Acquacube Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use it for cold water as well?

No. The Aquacube is only designed to pump and distribute warm/hot water.

Can the tilt switch be removed?

No, the tilt switch is a really important safety feature, so though it can be annoying if it shuts down the unit unexpectedly, or limits your positioning, it cannot be removed for safety reasons.

Does it come with a water tank?

The Aqacube does not come with a water tank. You just place the end of the pump hose in the water source you would like to pump from.  

Can I use the Aquacube Digital indoors?

No. The Aquacube Digital is designed to be used outdoors. There is a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning if used in a poorly ventilated area.

Portable Shower Tent

If you want some privacy when showering off-grid you might want to equip yourself with a camping shower tent.

There is a range of different shower accessories and shower tent options available from a single room, the double ensuite designs.

Some people use the toilet tent-style shelters, but I think these are a bit flimsy for a camping shower, and you need something with a bit more structural support.

I particularly like the Joolca Double Ensuite shower tent, so I recommend you have a look at that to get ideas.

Best Camping Shower – Summary

There are many different camping showers available and the best one in your case will depend on many factors including the water, power and space you will have availability. If you can support a Joolca Hottap or similar you will be camping in luxury, but if your set up suggests a 12v shower or solar shower is a better option, then they will do just fine.