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Solar Shower For Camping: A Hot Shower Without Plumbing

Solar Shower For Camping: A Hot Shower Without Plumbing

There’s nothing like a shower after a day of activity or during muggy weather. For many campers, an outdoor solar shower is a great way to take a nice summer shower in nature.

Today we’re looking at solar camping showers that are popular with car campers, van campers, RVers, and even backpackers. A solar outdoor shower lets you take your shower with you wherever you go.

What Is a Solar Shower?

A solar shower (not to be confused with a sun shower) is a surprisingly simple device consisting of a solar shower bag, a tube, and a shower head. Some operate using just the force of gravity, while others include a pump to provide the water pressure showers normally require.

The solar shower bag that holds the water is usually black or another dark color so that it better absorbs the heat of the sun. This direct exposure to sunlight is what raises the water temperature inside the bag as it sits in the sun.

With solar showers that work on gravity, you hang the bag in a reasonably high location above your head. Releasing a clasp on the nozzle of the shower head allows gravity to provide a shower of water through the openings on the shower head with no power or moving parts needed.

Other solar showers use a small battery-operated pump to draw water that’s been warmed by the sun up through a tube and up through the shower head.

Although these solar showers are primarily intended for use in warm, sunny weather, you can also warm water on a camp stove, then pour it (carefully) into the shower bag for use during overcast and/or colder weather.

In this post, we’ll be taking a look at both types of solar camping showers. But there’s also a DIY option.

That third type of solar camping shower has become popular with van campers. It involves using black PVC pipe to create a roof-mounted solar camping shower.

Here’s a video showing how to build and use a rooftop outdoor solar shower for your RV:

Popular Solar Showers

Outdoor showers that use solar shower bags are widely available these days. Though some are more durable and useful than others, we’re featuring five solar showers at various price points to match all budgets.

The first three use gravity to feed the water through the shower head, while the last two use a pump mechanism to draw the water up through the tube and shower head.

Coghlan’s Solar Heated Camp Shower

This is a very inexpensive option for outdoor solar showering while you’re camping. Coughlin’s Super Solar Shower is a simple bag with a tube and a small shower head for a light gravity-drawn shower.

Made of non-toxic PVC, the black shower bag holds up to 5 gallons of water. When laid out in the sun, the sun heats the water and keeps it warm in the black bag.

Bear in mind that 5 gallons of water weighs just under 42 pounds and that’s a lot of weight to hang, so some users may want to consider only filling it part way. And, of course, 5 gallons is probably a lot more water than most experienced boondockers need. But it’s nice to know it’s available!

The bag needs to be hung from a tree, the roof of a van, the interior “roof” of a shower tent, or any spot that puts it up over your head, so that gravity can do its thing. (We’ll provide a link to a pop-up shower tent below so you can see how many campers choose to use their solar showers.)

As always, we recommend reading reviews. But for such a low price point, this one seems to have lots of satisfied users.

Coghlan's Camp Shower - Portable, Solar-Heated, 5 Gallon/20 Liter Capacity, Outdoor Shower Bag with Tangle Free Hose, Flow Control Clip, for Tent Camping, Backpacking, Car Camping, Beach Swimming
  • Solar-Powered Convenience: Utilizes solar energy to heat 4.2 gallons of water in just 3 hours, offering a ready-to-use hot shower at your campsite,...
  • Multiple Showers: Holds enough water for 3-4 showers, ensuring you and your companions can freshen up after a day of hiking or camping

Here’s one example of a pop-up shower tent:

WolfWise Portable Pop Up Privacy Shower Tent Spacious Changing Room for Camping Hiking Beach Toilet Shower Bathroom Green
  • Spacious Space: The tent is 47.2" L x 47.2" W x 74.8" H providing a spacious interior shelter that comfortably fits a tall man without touching your...
  • UPF 30+ & Good Ventilation: The polyester fibric with taped seams blocks 60% harmful UV rays. Zipper window with large entrance deliver 360-degree...

Advanced Elements Summer Shower

The Advanced Elements Summer Shower is a popular solar shower option. Available in 2.5-gallon, 3-gallon, 5-gallon, and 10-gallon capacities, this is also a gravity shower. This bag is made of 4-ply construction and has a reflector panel and an insulator panel for heat retention.

The manufacturer suggests that the shower can heat up to 110 degrees in under 3 hours in direct sunlight. The bag has an integrated temperature gauge, so you’ll know how hot the water is before using the shower.

There’s also a small pouch and a velcro strap on the bag for holding items such as a razor, soap, shampoo, wash cloth, etc. We’re linking here to the 5-gallon bag, but the other sizes can be ordered through the same link:

Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower / Solar Shower,Silver/Black
  • Construction - 4-ply construction with reflector panel and insulator panel for optimized heat retention and performance
  • Capacity - This summer shower has a large 5-gallon capacity and is designed to heat water fast in the warm sun

Sea to Summit Pocket Shower

This outdoor shower is particularly popular with the backpacking crowd due to its small size and lightweight design at only 4.3 oz. Made of 100% 70D waterproof nylon with fully taped seams, this 10-liter pocket shower provides about a 7-minute shower after the black fabric has soaked up the heat of the sun to warm the water.

The shower head twists to turn the water flow on and off, and it can be hung using the two provided D rings attached to 20 feet of nylon cord. The Sea to Summit Pocket Shower can also be used as a dry sack for transporting clothes, sleeping bags, etc., and includes a carrying pouch.

Sea to Summit Lightweight Pocket Shower for Camping and Travel
  • 10-liter pocket shower provides a 7-minute shower; ideal for backpacking, camping, bike touring, and travel
  • Made from lightweight 70D nylon with fully taped seams; black fabric soaks up the sun to heat water for a warm shower

Ridgewinder Portable Shower

The Ridgewinder Portable Shower is a complete camping shower in a 2.5-gallon dry bag.

All of the included components are stored in the dry bag. To prepare the solar shower for use, simply remove the components and fill the internal bag with water. You can set it in the sun and allow the water to heat, or you can add warm water to the bag after heating it on a camp stove. (Careful not get scalded if you choose to do this!)

Next, lower the battery-powered camping shower pump into the dry bag and turn it on. Open the rain shower head and enjoy your shower.

The Ridgewinder shower includes a sprayer head for washing dishes or muddy gear with a stronger stream of water. The rechargeable 2200mAH battery offers up to 60 minutes of shower time before it requires recharging.

Ridgewinder Portable Shower for Camping with Dry Bag - Camp Shower with Rechargeable Battery and Included 10L Dry Bag for Water Storage. Complete Camping Shower in a Bag (+Sprayer Attachment).
  • KEEP FRESH IN THE WILDERNESS: After a day of Hiking and Camping, nothing beats the sensation of a fresh shower amongst nature. Complete with a...
  • COMPLETE CAMPING SHOWER IN A BAG: Our Portable Camping Shower is the perfect, stress-free, all-in-one solution. Store and carry all the components in...

Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Camp Shower

The Nemo Hello solar shower comes in 2.9-gallon and 5.8-gallon options. The tank of water is pressurized using a foot pump. Pumping it occasionally gives you about 7-10 minutes of spray with the 5.8-gallon model and 5-7 minutes with the 2.9-gallon model.

As with other models, you can fill the tank and set it in the sun for a warm shower at the end of the day, or fill it directly with warm water for immediate use.

A 7-foot neoprene hose carries the water to the shower head, and a nozzle sleeve holds the trigger in the spray position giving you hands-free water pressure. The ventilated carrying case stores the tank, hose, nozzle, and pump compactly.

NEMO Helio LX Pressure Shower (Black/Apple Green) 2020
  • A REVOLUTION IN CAMP CLEANLINESS - Unlike gravity camp showers that need to be hung overhead and produce dismal water pressure, the award-winning...
  • PUMP IT UP - You can quickly and easily pressurize the 5.8-gallon tank with a foot pump – and with occasional pumps you can keep it fully...

Have You Used a Solar Shower?

If you’ve used a solar camping shower, what brand and model is/was it, and how did it work out for you? Did you love or hate it… or something in between? Leave a comment below and consider including details on everyone’s favorite shower-related topic… water pressure!

If a solar shower isn’t something you’re interested in, maybe the The Geyser Portable Shower is more your speed?

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