Portable Showers for camping; what’s your options?

There is truly nothing better than a hot shower in the middle of the bush. Today, there are plenty of ways you can do that, and there are lots of different Portable Shower options on the market.

A lot of people are put off camping because of the lack of facilities, and because you are dirty and uncomfortable at times. The reality though is with the right equipment camping anywhere can comfortable. 

Showering in the bush
Enjoying a nice hot shower in Kakadu National Park

A portable shower doesn’t cost that much for something basic either, although you can spend a lot more if you want to! The cheaper showers just have a small 12v pump which you put into a bucket of hot water.

If you can, grab yourself a stainless bucket; they are hugely versatile, and perfect for showers. Alternatively, we have a pretty nifty DIY hot water setup.

The pump runs off the cigarette lighter plug in your car, or you can run it on batteries as well. I would highly recommend getting a Portable Shower as they are cheap and they seem to last very well.

All you need to do then to have a nice shower is to heat up some water in a pot, and put the pump into the water. Hang the shower rose above you and you can then use the shower as a normal one. Sure, the water flow isn’t usually as good as a normal shower back home, but it sure beats nothing when you are dirty in the bush!

12V shower
Heat some water, drop the pump in and away you go!

What is even better is that they aren’t too hard to set up and they are cheap too. Of course, if you want something a little more luxurious and easier to use, then you can get a Portable Shower that has the water heated by your engine in the car.

The photo above was taken at Lucky Bay Kalbarri. Having a Shower to wash the salt water off was very nice, and we also purchased a Portable Toilet which also transforms your camping comfort level by a long shot.

What about privacy with a Portable Shower?

Privacy is always an issue when showering, and to solve it we purchased a little Shower Tent, which springs open when you get it out of the packaging. You can get ones that are held up with poles, but these take longer to set up. The ones that spring open still have poles to support them, and you peg the corners down to ensure it doesn’t move.

These offer all of the privacy that you need, meaning you can get changed in the shower cubicle, and you always have somewhere to hang the shower rose from. These are not very expensive either, which means you can camp in luxury without breaking the piggy bank too much! Its not too hard to get a shower/toilet tent; these give all of the privacy that you need!

A small tent is all you need for some privacy
A small tent is all you need for some privacy

Can you use your car to heat up water for the Portable Shower?

Some of the more advanced Portable Shower setups run directly through your 4wd Vehicles engine. You can easily add the components to your engine to do this as well, by putting in a heat exchanger and some extra pipe work.

Basically water flows through the engine whilst it is running, and is heated up. These require less work to set up (once installed) but tend to cost more.

The cheaper showers run off the cigarette lighter
The cheaper showers run off the cigarette lighter

It all comes down to where you go camping, when you go and how often you go. Obviously if you live out of your vehicle then spending the extra money to get a shower setup in your engine bay is going to be worth it. However, if you only manage to get away a few times a year then perhaps you can get away with a simpler setup, and manually heat up the water on the burners.

How much water do you need for a shower?

A Portable Shower doesn’t have to use a huge amount of water. When you are in a remote area you won’t have water to waste anyway, so you need to limit it. However, if you are next to a lake or stream where the water is of good quality, you can shower for as long as you want!

I have found that in between 5 and 10 litres of water is more than enough, assuming you don’t have the shower on full and you turn it off when you don’t need it. We use a big crab pot to heat the water up in, and you can also use it for cooking crayfish and crabs too (if you get any!). When you are camping even a two minute shower is well worth it!

A pot of warm water and the shower pump
A pot of warm water and the shower pump

Make your own Portable Shower

Those who have some sort of plumbing experience will be able to make up your own Portable Shower system. I have seen set ups that pump water out of a stream into a drum and then heats it up.

If you know what you are doing and you have plenty of water you can easily get a shower which is as good as the one at home! It’s not too hard to install the heat exchanger and other components in your engine bay too, which is a good option for those who are camping regularly.

The Portable Shower unit
The Portable Shower unit

At the end of the day though, camping doesn’t have to be uncomfortable. If you take the time to get the products which make your life more enjoyable and functional when you are out bush, camping becomes a whole lot more fun. I know that having a portable shower along with us makes a number of people more willing to get out and about and enjoy Australia!

Ready to use!
Ready to use!

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