If you’ve ever tried trickling water from a drinking flask to wash the mud off your dog’s paws, get the sand off a surfboard or wash your hair while wild camping, we might have found just the answer – a portable camping shower.
Most of those sun-heated shower bags you fill and hang from a tree have left us chilly and desperate for more than a dribble of water.
However, there are now some portable camping shower options that will do a better job. And they’re good for cleaning off dogs, sandy feet, walking boots and more.
Latest update: January 2020
The good Colapz guys have developed a portable pump shower that recharges by USB. Looks smart and neat (around £40 or £50 including a collapsible bucket).
The kit has just been redesigned and now comes with a showerhead, a thumb-trigger spray attachment and a jet nozzle. There’s a charging cord, hanging thingy and instructions – all in a neat carry case.
The Colapz shower was great on this wild camp in the Lakes during Storm Gareth, though. Ask the freezing guinea pig!
The original version was great but the new one has the advantage that you can turn off the shower from an attached unit that isn’t in the water. The pump section is neater and fits through the hole in the lid of the collapsible buckets. Slightly more bits to connect, but we love it.
Rinsekit is a nine-litre coolbox-sized box with a handle. You simply fill it with water from a hose-tap. It’s then magically pressurised to 65psi (without needing electricity) to give you a pretty decent six-minute shower. It’ll hold pressure for at least a month.
If you want hot water (well, warm at least), the box is insulated and there’s a kitchen tap adaptor – you’ll probably need an adaptor too if you want to refill while camping, but there’s also a refill bag that you attach to a bike pump to pressurise the box when you don’t have a tap. And there’s a 12V heater module, too. Prices start to mount when you add all the extras.
The basic Rinsekit is around £80. The Lux at £150 is a 13.5-litre version, with an insulated bag, a tap adaptor and ports so you can use the heater and pressure booster pump accessories (sold separately) at the same time.
Did it work for us? We were impressed with how simple it was to fill and use. The shower head is a standard hose head, so it’ll be easy to get replacements as needed. We can see a use for many people, but you’d need to trade off the space it takes up with how likely you are to use it.
We saw someone using this hand-pumped 8-litre shower to wash the mud off their dog after a damp Lake District walk.
It’s a neat bit of camping or walking gear, though the pressure was not as good as with the Colapz. Its advantage, however, is that you don’t need to worry about recharging. It may suit people who find the RinseKit a little bulky. Around £50.
There are also lots of electric handheld showers that you use with a bucket of water. They all look very similar in how they work and the reviews (if they’re to be believed) are good.
If you’re really in need of a reliable shower, though, we’d choose the Colapz shower. Neater and well-designed (plus it doesn’t say “More smaler” on the box!).
The OC3 portable shower is good for dogs, people, bikes and outdoor gear, though it’s pricey at just under £100.
It’s lithium battery-powered with a low-level indicator. The 4-litre water tank is a bit small and you may need to top up part way through a wash, but the pressure is high and it’s neat. The spiral hose packs away inside. Accessories available too.
Simple solar camping showers
You can’t get much more simple and packable than a gravity-fed solar shower. These are bags of water that use the sun to heat the contents. In the UK, you won’t get much more than lukewarm, but there’s no electricity needed and the pressure is good, considering it simply uses gravity.
Of the hanging bag type of shower we’ve tested, there are some that stand out as better than the others.
This black camp shower costs around £10 and holds 20-litres (the biggest we’ve found).
For the ultimate in packability, go for the 10-litre Sea to Summit pocket shower that folds ultra-small and has the shower head built into the bag itself (around £20).
If you want the full bathroom experience, have a look at our guide to camping toilets, which also includes our recommended toilet or utility tents that could double as shower cubicles.