Solar Camp Showers Reviewed
One item in my camping gear collection that really surprised me with its effectiveness was the Solar Camp Shower that I purchased. I bought it thinking it would be nice to have a way to rinse off on some of my camping trips, and I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it has performed.
There are a lot of benefits to buying a solar camp shower. You may be camping in a camp ground that doesn’t have shower facilities – this happens to me a lot on my trout fishing trips. Having a five gallon solar camp shower makes it easy to get back to the camp site and wash off all the grime of a day of fishing.
For those of you with campers, you may be looking for a way to save propane – and this is a perfect way to do that. You don’t have to waste water or propane in your camper when you can fill up a bag, and let the power of the sun warm it up for you.
These are also perfect for anyone that just wants to save energy at home. You can use these bags in a non-camping setting to wash off. Below are some tips and reviews of the best solar camp showers, which should help you decide if solar powered camp showers will be a valuable addition to your outdoor gear collection.
How does a Solar Camp Shower Work?
This is one of the simplest products we have ever reviewed. A Solar Camp Shower is literally a bag that you fill up with water, which has a hose running off of it, and a valve that you turn that controls the water flow rate.
A good solar shower bag is going to be constructed with heat locking materials that help store the sun’s energy – warming up the water even on cooler days. The water is gravity fed, so it needs to be hanging high to work well.
The gravity fed water tube will actually give you a surprisingly strong water flow – making showers very pleasant.
Coleman Solar Camp Showers
Coleman makes a very affordable, but very effective solar shower. The most common one they produce is a five gallon bag, which will provide you with 1 or 2 relatively long showers based on how well you do conserving the water.
You fill up the bag from the top – normally from a faucet or a hose – but you could even drag it into a lake and fill it up with water from there. Once filled, you want to place the clear side towards the sun to warm up the water. Depending on how sunny and is and the temperature outside – it normally takes about 1 to 3 hours to really warm up the water. I’ve seen the water in these bags warm up over 20 degrees in an hour, so it can be very effective.
Once warmed up you can attach the handle of the bag to anything that up high, because you must keep the bag higher than the nozzle for it to work. The nozzle does have a neat shower head attached to it that controls turning the water on and off.
The biggest complaint with this brand is the cap has some leakage too it. The cap is also on the “downside” of the bag once you have the heating trapping side facing towards the sun, so you might lose a little bit of water during the warming up process.
The plus side to this option is the shower nozzle, which is really effective, and the price. Normally ranging from $10 to $20 dollars, it is very affordable.
Advanced Elements Summer Shower
This option is a little more expensive than Coleman (normally between $30 to $40), but it also has higher user reviews online. This is our #1 recommended solar camp shower, and we consider it the best solar shower for the price.
The concept behind this option is similar to all the other solar camp shower bags, but it is just a little bit more functional. The cap is an actual screw on cap, so it does not have the leakage that you get with some of the other models. The handle on the top actually snaps shut, making it much easier to attach to a large branch or anything overhead that can handle the weight. I have attached it to the travel rack on my jeep for example.
I also love the little details like the pocket that can hold a mirror, or soap, or whatever you need. It also has an actual gauge attached to it that tells you the temperature of the water – eliminating the guessing game of you wondering if the water is warm enough to be comfortably showering in.
The construction is also really good with the Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower – making it durable enough to last numerous camping trips.
Texsport Portable Deluxe Camp Shower Shelter
For those who don’t want to just hang up a bag on a tree to shower, but would like a little extra privacy – there are some options that include a solar shower bag and a shower shelter.
One of those options is the TexSport Portable Deluxe Camp Shower Shelter. This unit includes a fabric shelter that is 87 inches high and 4’6” in length and width. This provides plenty of private space for you to shower in, and the unit sets up very similarly to a tent!
It is a very durable shelter, with the poles being rust resistant and made from steel, and the clips secure the fabric to the frame in no time at all.
It does have two skylights that let a little sun in to increase visibility, and it even has a mesh shower rack and removable hanging towel bar. Stakes and a storage bag are also included.
When you buy this version, it also comes with the actual solar shower bag. The bag itself is 5 gallons in size and is very similar to the bags reviewed above.
The big pluses with buying this shelter is you get some extra privacy, but you also make it very easy to secure the actual shower bag to something – making the entire shower process easier. There are a few reviews about the unit breaking down on people online, but the vast majority of people seem to have a good experience with this product.
If you go shopping online you are going to see numerous different solar camping showers that you can pick from. They are all very similar in how they are setup and work – and Coleman and Advanced Elements make the most popular versions.
Outmate solar camp shower, Seattle Sports solar camp shower, OUSpots solar camp shower, KingCamp solar shower, and the RISEPRO solar shower bag are popular alternatives.
They range in price from $6 or $8 to $15 or $20 – so doing a little bit of research is a good idea.
They do have some different looks to them, so if you see something that really catches your eye, that would be a good reason to purchase these alternatives.
General Solar Camping Shower Tips
1.) To make the water smell better, make sure to rinse out the bag with baking soda and warm water the first few times you use it – otherwise it may have that fake plastic smell to it. The cheaper the version you buy, the more likely you are to have that fake smell.
2.) A gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds – so if you are using a 5 gallon water bag, it is going to weigh over 40 pounds. You need to hang it from something that can support that amount of weight, and depending on how strong you are, you might need someone to help you attach it to something overhead.
3.) Most water bags will need to be in the sun for 1 – 4 hours to be very warm. You can over heat the water making it almost too hot to shower in. If this happens, place the solar water bag into a shady area or drain a little bit of the hot water and add some cold water to it.
Final Thoughts on Solar Powered Camping Showers
I have been pleasantly surprised with how effective and useful this product has been while I’ve been camping. If you are looking for a cheap and environmentally friendly way to rinse off during a camping trip – this is a great option for you.
I have also heard of people using these bags to just hold water in emergency situations. I think that makes a lot more sense for people using smaller sizes than the 5 gallon versions. I have also heard of people using these showers when electricity has been lost for long periods of time. Sometimes we forget just how nice it is to have a warm shower.
If you are interested in other solar powered camping products, you should check out this review of solar powered fire starters!
If you are really interested in having the most environmentally friendly camping gear possible, check out this list of incredible solar outdoor gear!
Below is a nice video showing our #1 recommended solar shower in action!