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Camping outdoor shower options

There’s not much that trumps a nice, hot shower in the middle of the bush, miles away from any other amenities. Today, there’s a huge number of ways that you can have your shower off grid, and in this post we look at all of the different camping outdoor shower options.

Truma hot water system

Hot showers in the bush are nothing short of amazing

Solar shower bags

The cheapest, and most simple shower setup for camping is using solar shower bags. These are bags that you fill with water, and leave in the sun to warm up. If its a warm day you’ll get water that is surprisingly warm, and can have a decent shower. The more challenging part is finding somewhere suitable to hang the bags, and making the shower rose empty the water properly. 

We’ve used these in the past, and whilst they work, they are certainly not our preferred camping outdoor shower!

Solar shower bag

Solar shower bags work and are the best, cheap option, but they aren’t always great

Stainless bucket and shower head pump

If you want the most simple, guaranteed hot shower when camping, a stainless steel bucket full of water over the fire (or even a gas burner), with a portable shower pump and head dropped in and tied to something above your head is about as good as it gets. 

I still recall the first hot shower that I had using this method, and it was absolutely incredible. There’s limited failure points, its cheap to buy and set up and if you have a fire you can have a seriously good, long, hot shower with minimal effort.

We used this setup for a long time, and only gave it up when we got our Reconn R2 with an inbuilt hot water unit (and our second shower/water pump failed!).

Showering in the bush

Our first shower setup was a stainless bucket on the fire and a cheap shower pump

Instant hot water on demand

There’s a lot of hot water on demand systems today that take a supply of gas, water and power (often batteries) and spit out water at what ever temperature you like. Ultimately you can have a warm shower for as long as your water supply and gas supply allows you to, and they are quite simple and compact. 

A lot of people have these mounted in their Ute canopies, or on the back of camper trailers. They can be purchased for anywhere from $100 to $400, and usually come with all of the attachments needed to have a nice shower.

Joolca and Smarttek are the two most well known units, with plenty of much cheaper copies online as well.

Storage hot water units

Caravans have been running storage hot water units for many decades, and there’s a lot of different choices out there. We have an 14L Truma hot water system in our Reconn R2, which is gas only (but you can get gas and electric).

Alternatively, you can get pure electric ones (and even 12V electric water heaters), with most caravans running a 28L unit. These are permanently mounted, and many have an anode that needs to be removed and replaced.

Truma hot water system

Our 14L Truma Hot Water System that is permanently mounted

Sponge baths

If you are limited on water, a sponge bath is the best shower option you’ll get. Simply warm up some water in a container you are happy to get dirty, find a decent sponge or cloth, and go to town. You’ll know the areas that need most attention, and its surprising how much better you’ll feel with a wipe down. If we are really wanting to conserve water we will still do this.

Cooper in a bucket

A sponge bath is the next best thing, unless you fit in the bucket like our son

Salt water showers

If you are really in need of a shower and only have salt water, you can shower in it, using either shampoo or soap that suds up in salt water. It’s not the best wash, but anything is better than nothing!

Shower and toilet tents

What ever you buy, there’s a good chance you’ll want some privacy. You can get a heap of quick setup shower and toilet tents that are fantastic if you can work out how to fold them back up. Alternatively, the ones that have poles are much stronger.

We run a Quickpitch Ensuite tent that works well, and is permanently mounted to our Reconn R2.

Self sufficient camping

Our shower tent in use, attached to the Reconn R2 Hybrid Camper

At the end of the day, whatever you get is better than nothing. Having a shower or wash in the bush is hugely appreciated, and we always feel much nicer after a good wash. Our current setup isn’t perfect, and we often get annoyed at the Truma hot water unit (or the weather if its windy or cold), but its still greatly appreciated.

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