How to Shower When Camping – DIY & Commercial Methods

Whenever I talk to someone new about my recent camping trips, they usually ask, “How do you shower there?”. Sometimes it’s really simple to solve this problem when it’s a hot summer month, and we got a lake near our tent. However, we are not always so lucky.

You can shower by using portable showers, or if you feel creative, follow our DIY guide and create one of your own. If you don’t have extra time, let us answer how to shower when camping as simple as possible.

  • Purchase a portable shower on Amazon. They can be solar, electric, gas, or gravity-based.
  • Make your own portable shower. There are plenty of DIY options.
  • Decide which shower method you’ll use based on the transportation method you go camping with.
  • Consider alternative methods to classic showering such as sponge bathe.
  • Take a swim in the lake. Hopefully, you go camping during summer when the water is not icy-cold.
  • Use the private campground showers for a small fee.
  • Instead of the classic shampoo and water method, try dry shampoo.

Portable showers

You can purchase a pre-made solution on Amazon called a portable shower. There are many different options depending on your needs, such as solar, battery, and gas portable showers.

If you are traveling in a car or a van, you might consider getting a portable shower that can be charged with the car adapter. Such example is Ivation portable outdoor shower. It uses a rechargeable lithium battery that you can recharge for under 60 minutes with your car adapter or even a laptop.

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower

If you are looking for something different, perhaps you are not traveling by car, there is also a solar-type portable shower. Such an example is the quite popular Advanced Elements 5 Gallon summer shower.

It’s powered by solar energy, so your water won’t be cold. There is a water temperature gauge on it which will help you decide if the water is warm enough. It’s straightforward to use and comes with a side pocket for soap or shampoo.

Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower
Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower

Portable showers are the closest you can get to a real shower. There is no need to assemble them, they can be hung on a tree or your car. Most work by using gravity, so you don’t need to worry about batteries either.

Some don’t come with a solar panel that heats your water like the one above. You need to think twice before getting one without heating if you plan on using it during winter. Solar power may not be enough during the winter months, but luckily for you, we have a solution for heated outdoor showers as well, keep reading.

Heated portable shower

Plan your showering according to your transportation method. If you are backpacking or going camping on a bike, you won’t be able to bring a lot of water with you. However, if you are traveling in a car, or even better in a van, you can carry so much more water.

Once winter comes, you won’t be able to take regular outdoor showers. The water becomes cold, and it’s almost impossible to take a shower outside. That’s where heated outdoor showers come in handy.

It’s a bit hard to carry such showers if you are backpacking. This is usually recommended for those of you that go camping in a van or a car. An example of one heated outdoor shower like this is the Hike crew portable propane water heater.

It comes with a shower pump, and it also has an auto safety shutoff. This is an ideal portable shower for all your hiking or camping trips. The manufacturer has also decided to include a carry case, but we still suggest using it if you plan on traveling with a motor vehicle.

Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater
Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater

Compared to the other products on the market, this one is a real thing. You can easily regulate the water temperature. If you want instant hot water, you can plug it into the 12V car adapter (Also known as the cigarette lighter).

You can also use it to wash your dishes, hands, or anything that you want. It’s very simple to set up and also easy to use. Watch the video below to find out more about it:

DIY Portable shower

If you got some extra time, you could build your DIY shower project. Materials are usually relatively cheap and easy to get. You can make simple stuff such as a bottle with holes or take a step further and create a great pressurized shower.

Just because you are making one on your own, it doesn’t mean something from the store is necessarily better. It can even be better than some of the stuff being sold around. Things that you’ll need for this project are these:

  • Garden sprayer
  • Garden nozzle
  • One small hose clamp
  • Adapter to attach the garden hose (Garden Hose Barbed adapter)

All of these items in the list are easily obtainable in your local hardware store. The first thing you have to do is to screw the garden hose adapter into the hose nozzle. Afterward, put the hose clamp on the hose.

Finally, fit the barbed adapter into the hose and tighten the hose clamp. Pump it up, and you are good to go!

If these explanations are too abstract for you, feel free to watch the video down below to see the whole process done in about three minutes.

Sponge bath

If you don’t have access to a lot of water, you might think about using a different method to shower. With a sponge bath, you don’t need to have water running over you. Instead, all you need is a sponge, washcloth, and a little bit of soap.

We’ll admit, it’s not ideal, it doesn’t feel like a regular shower, but the whole point is to maintain good hygiene. It’s a good method when the days are chilly since you won’t be getting all wet.

The process to do this is really simple:

  1. You want to heat some water, whether it’s by using an electric water heater or on the camp stove. Obviously, if the temperatures are crazy high, you can skip this step.
  2. Apply a couple of drops to your sponge or a washcloth. We recommend using Sierra Dawn Campsuds as a few drops will be more than enough. Also, it’s biodegradable and can be used for every body part including hair.
  3. Use that sponge or washcloth and rub one section of your body. It’s easier to go section by section so the shampoo doesn’t dry and you’ll make sure to go through each part of your body.
  4. Rinse everything, you might use another wet washcloth for this part. Use a dry towel to remove any moisture remaining on your body.
  5. Repeat the process from step three until you went through all the sections of your body.

Showering in nature

If you got a fresh water source near you, why not use it? While this method is hardly possible in the winter, it can be a double victory during the summer. You’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of a lake while also maintaining personal hygiene.

Look for water sources that look clean. The general rule is that moving waters (lakes) tend to be cleaner than lakes. Before you take a swim, make sure it’s not forbidden to enter that water.

nature lake
Image Source: Pexels

Respect nature, do not use shampoo while in the water, and avoid leaving trash behind. If you have to use a shampoo, take a bucket and take some water out. Put the shampoo over your body, pour the water from the bucket over yourself, and make sure it doesn’t come anywhere near the water source.

Campground bathhouse

While not every camping spot will have one near you, some campgrounds have shower buildings that you can use for a small reasonable fee. If you want to keep your trip as simple as possible, this is your ideal opportunity.

Make sure to wear some type of shower shoes. A lot of different people are using campground bathhouses and you want to avoid nail fungus and similar infections. Also, make sure you check the corners for any spiders or insects lurking about.

One similar way to shower are public beach showers. In a case you are camping near a beach, you can use these showers for free. It’s a great way to keep a good hygiene while not having to worry about bringing a shower with you.

Dry Shampoo showering method

If you have long hair, you’ll need a lot of water to clean it properly, and since water is scarce, you might want to consider using a dry shampoo. Sure, it’s not ideal like a classic shampoo, but hey, at least you keep clean hair.

Basically, any type of dry shampoo will do. Personally, I love the Batiste Dry Shampoo as it has a waterless formula that makes the hair clean and good-looking. This is a great way to save some time in-between showering, while also remaining fresh.

You might wonder, how do I clean my body then? Well, that’s where bathing wipes come in handy. I have found that Scrhubzz Disposable No Rinse Bathing Wipes work the best for me. These wipes are hypoallergenic and won’t break out your skin.

One more tip we can give you is to use moisture-wicking materials. Such clothes will take away the sweat, and you’ll remain warm and clean. Usually, such clothing is made out of wool or some synthetic polyester.

How to Shower During the Camping Trip – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the best way to shower when camping?

It’s hard to say which one is the best, but there are many different ways such as portable showers, DIY showers, campground bathhouse, etc.

2. Are portable showers expensive?

Not really, you can find them ranging from 10$ to 200$. Top-tier ones come with temperature adjustment, led status, and more. If you are going on a short camping trip, even a DIY shower can do wonders.

3. How to shower when camping in winter?

You should get some kind of a heated portable shower. There is also a budget-friendly version where you may use dry shampoo and bathing wipes. You can get moisture-wicking clothing that will take away the sweat which is very helpful during the winter months.

4. How to heat portable shower water?

Some of the portable showers come in with a heater, others rely on solar power. Personally, I suggest getting those that can be plug into a car charger.

5. Are there any portable shower cabins for camping?

Yes! Such an example is the WolfWise 6.6FT Portable Pop Up Shower Privacy Tent. This tent is water-resistant and lightweight. You get to keep your privacy and stay fresh.

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