Man is taking a bath at the nature while on camping
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The 8 Best Camping Showers to Get Clean in the Backcountry

From battery-operated heated to cheap gravity-powered solar options, find the camping shower that suits your outdoor needs.

Nobody claimed that exploring the great outdoors wasn't a dirty endeavor. But if you're heading out for an extended camping trip or are planning some sweat-inducing activities such as hiking or climbing, you may want to consider how best to keep your body clean and maintain personal hygiene. For many, finding the best camping shower solution can feel like an essential creature comfort while overnighting in the backcountry.

As an avid adventurer and van-lifer living an active lifestyle, I've experimented with various bathing methods over the years. I've endured frigid rivers and resorted to sponge baths and baby wipes for quick cleanups. However, in my experience, nothing beats a proper shower—and I've tried out many portable shower options in my quest to find the perfect one.

The best camping showers blend functionality, convenience, and portability. Durability is also key for those in rugged environments. Weight and packability are also important, and they're essential if you're heading out on a backpacking trip. Luckily, I've made shower picks for all your outdoor adventure needs.

Best Camping Showers of 2023

Best Overall Camping Shower (and Best Pressurized)

Nemo Helio Pressure Shower

Top Pick: NEMO Helio Pressure Shower ($130)

Prioritizing high-pressure flow, the NEMO Helio Pressure Shower is an excellent solar-heated option for campers who want a traditional-style shower experience. Utilizing a foot pump, this setup is free of complicated batteries or propane heaters—it just occasionally requires a few foot pumps to re-pressurize every five to seven minutes while showering.

The reservoir is durable, and the attached feet keep the tank off the ground and out of the mud. The included 7-foot hose and sprayer are great for a traditional shower but work equally well for dishwashing, cleaning gear, or spraying the dog off.

When empty, the reservoir and shower system are compact and easily stored away. However, if you fill it before leaving home, the 2.9-gallon reservoir can take up a bit of storage space in your car.

If you like the foot pump option but need something bigger, NEMO also sells a 5.8-gallon version, the NEMO Helio LX.

  • Strong water pressure makes this system great for those looking for a more traditional-style shower. 
  • The user-friendly design makes setting this up a breeze; the reservoir rests on the ground, and the long 7-foot hose and nozzle can easily hang from anywhere. 
  • The tank cannot be over-inflated, so there is no risk of popping. 

  • A foot pump allows for easy pressurization but may not be suitable for differently-abled campers.
  • The reservoir is a little small, especially if multiple people want showers.
  • The shower relies on solar heat and can take a long time to warm up.

NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

Best Budget Camp Shower

Coleman Portable Camping Shower

Top Pick: Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower ($17)

The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower offers simplicity and easy functionality at a budget-friendly price. Like all solar showers, you'll need to plan ahead and place this out in the sun several hours before you'll need it, but the black PVC material efficiently absorbs heat. The on/off valve on the nozzle is convenient and easy to use, so you don't waste water while soaping up.

As a gravity-powered shower, the water flow will be less than ideal for those looking for a more traditional pressurized shower. The hose is also quite short, which some reviewers complain about. However, it's an affordable option, and the 5-gallon capacity is enough for multiple quick showers.

  • It's one of the most affordable camp showers out there.
  • The black bag efficiently absorbs solar energy and may heat quicker than other options.
  • The 5-gallon reservoir provides enough water for several showers.

  • Solar showers only work well in warm, sunny areas and may not provide a warm shower in colder regions. 
  • The handle isn't great for hanging.
  • The hose is a bit short and the nozzle a bit small for an ideal experience. 

Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower

Best Battery-Powered Camping Shower

Geyser System Portable Shower

Top Pick: Geyser System Portable Shower Plus Heater ($350)

Designed with adventurous car campers in mind, the Geyser System Camping Shower Plus Heater is portable and plugs into a 12V system to power a water heater. The shower uses less water than any other system we looked at and is as versatile as your activities. The integrated (and interchangeable) two-sided sponges work to clean the dirt off your skin, to use as a dish sponge post-dinner, or to scrub grit off your bike.

To use the heating mode, it's best to have your car running so as not to drain your starter battery. However, if you don't want to bother with the car but still want a hot shower, you can mix cold and boiling water in a ratio of 2-to-1 in the tank.

One drawback is that the spray option is lacking: You can use it in spray mode for a quick hair rinse or to get sand off your feet, but it quickly runs through the 0.8-gallon tank of water.

  • An integrated heating system with a built-in rechargeable battery makes for a warm and luxurious shower. 
  • The compact design is lightweight, making this very portable for car campers. 
  • Its handy add-ons are useful for showers, pet baths, cleaning camp dishes, or even scrubbing gear.

  • Limited battery life means that you will likely have to recharge on longer trips. 
  • Sponge-bath style showering isn't for everyone; it may feel a little less satisfying and harder to wash hair than a traditional shower.
  • You need to run your car to power this in heat mode to avoid it running out of juice.
  • It's more expensive than other camping shower options.

Geyser System Portable Shower Plus Heater

Best Solar Shower

Advanced Elements Summer Shower

Top Pick: Advanced Elements Summer Shower ($27)

By using the sun's energy, the Advanced Elements Summer Shower delivers suitably warm water for post-adventure rinses. The reservoir is made with a durable and insulating four-layer construction that quickly warms the water and keeps it warm longer. Best of all, Advanced Elements makes four capacities ranging from 2.5 gallons to 10 gallons, so you can pick the size that best suits your needs. The shower offers an easy-to-use on/off valve and an adjustable showerhead so you can control water flow and turn it off to conserve water.

Unfortunately, like most solar showers, the heating is weather-dependent and works best in summer temperatures. The shower nozzle isn't the best in terms of pressure, but it gets the job done. Overall, this is an energy-efficient choice for campers with limited storage who still want a warm shower.

  • Solar-powered heating is simple and energy-efficient.
  • It has various sizes of reservoirs so you can pick the one that works best for your needs.
  • With user-friendly construction, the solar shower bag is straightforward to fill, puncture-resistant, and simple to use.

  • It's weather-dependent and can require a long heating time, as it uses only the sun's power. 
  • The larger sizes can take up a bit of room in your camping gear when full. 
  • The sub-par shower nozzle leaves a lot to be desired in terms of pressure.

Advanced Elements Summer Shower

Best Portable Camping Shower

Seat to Summit Pocket Shower

Top Pick: Sea to Summit Pocket Shower ($37)

Highly compact, portable, and lightweight, the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower is a great choice when saving space is key but showers are necessary.

Made from black 70D nylon, this solar shower heats up from the energy of the sun. The attached D-rings and supplied cording make it easy to hang anywhere, and the lightweight material packs down into a small case when not in use, making it an excellent option for backpackers and boat trips.

The Pocket Shower has an easy-to-use on/off twist valve so you can adjust the shower's flow or turn it off in between rinses. As an added bonus, this pocket shower doubles as a dry bag when not in use.

The only quibbles: The 2.6-gallon reservoir is limited for multiple showers and, like any shower that uses solar heating, the water temperature is dependent on the sun and ambient air temperature.

  • The portable and small pack size makes this ideal for backpackers and minimalist travelers.
  • Filling, hanging, and using the shower are easy and quick.

  • The limited water capacity of the 2.6-gallon reservoir means you may need to refill between showers.
  • Solar heating is weather-dependent.

Best Car-Mounted Camping Shower

Yakima RoadShower

Top Pick: Yakima RoadShower

Save your vehicle's storage space with the solar-heated Yakima RoadShower. Available in 4-, 7-, or 10-gallon options, the RoadShower is a go-to for many car campers, van-lifers, and off-grid boondockers. Because the shower mounts to your roof racks or trailer, it's in the sun and heating as long as your car is, making this an especially good option for desert adventurers. Car roof-mounted options were once only gravity-powered, but the RoadShower has a Schrader valve (like a bike tube) to allow you to pressurize the flow for a true shower experience. The nozzle allows for adjustable water flow, so it's just as good for cleaning dishes or spraying off your SUP. It even has a temperature gauge so you can see if the water is warm enough for your comfort.

Unfortunately, the roof-mounted design makes this a little harder to refill while on the go, and you may want to bring a garden hose to top off at a water station.

  • This mounts on a vehicle's roof rack to save storage space inside the car and provide maximum solar exposure to warm water. 
  • An integrated pressurized system makes this a nice option if you're looking for a more traditional-style shower. 
  • Its durable design can withstand harsh environments.
  • A reservoir up to 10 gallons is available to suit longer trips or families.

  • The shower mount isn't universally compatible, so this option is vehicle- and roof rack-dependent.
  • It's difficult to refill while on the go; and because of the valve placements, it's difficult to completely empty without removing it from your car. 
  • It's expensive; this option is pricier than anything else on the list.

Best Reservoir-less Camping Shower

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower

Top Pick: Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower ($60)

This Ivation shower system might fill the bill for those OK with a cold shower and who don't want to carry a reservoir. Designed to be a convenient and portable size, the battery-operated, USB-rechargeable submersible pump draws water from any local reservoir, whether a lake, river, or bucket. Although most folks will likely use this with ambient-temperature water, you could also heat water in a pot for a warm shower. The water flow nozzle is adjustable and has multiple spray patterns, and it should run for up to an hour on a single charge. The showerhead easily hangs from a hook, with almost 6 feet of flexible hose to make showering a breeze.

The company claims the pump has an integrated water filtration system but doesn't offer further details, so I'd be skeptical of drinking water directly from the head.

  • It's portable and compact due to the lack of a reservoir, making it a lightweight travel option. 
  • You can shower from almost anywhere; just be careful when considering lakes or rivers, as some lands require you to bathe a certain distance from water sources.
  •  Its USB-rechargeable, battery-powered operation gives up to 60 minutes of run time per charge. 

  • A reservoir-less shower means you depend on an external water source, such as a lake, river, or bucket filled from those.
  • With no heating option, your showers will be the same temperature as your water source.
  • The submersible pump is a little noisy while operating. 

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower

Best Camping Shower Tent

NEMO Heliopolis Privacy Shelter and Shower Tent

Top Pick: NEMO Heliopolis Privacy Shelter & Shower Tent ($250)

If you want to shower in privacy, look no further than the NEMO Heliopolis Privacy Shelter and Shower Tent. What's more, if it's windy, having a shelter to shower in will help you stay warmer and cleaner—which is, after all, the goal. The 84-inch roof accommodates the tallest of campers and, with thoughtful features, offers solutions to routine problems of showering while camping. The door lock prevents unexpected intrusions; the roof storage keeps dry the clothing you take off or plan to put on; the rugged floor has mesh sides for drainage; and the side pockets hold your shower supplies. Lastly, the floor is removable if you want to use the shelter as a toilet enclosure or changing room.

While it may take a little longer to set up than other pop-up-style tents, it's also more sturdily built for routine use. It's compatible with our best overall camping shower from NEMO, but it doesn't come with that unit; you'll have to purchase your shower separately.

  • With a spacious and versatile design, the tent accommodates campers of almost any height and can be used as a toilet shelter or changing room. 
  • The door has a locking mechanism, the zippered mesh window allows for ventilation, and the mesh floor provides drainage, all while maintaining privacy. 
  • Design features such as overhead storage and side pockets to hold soap offer thoughtful solutions to camping shower woes.

  • It's heavier and bigger than some other designs, so you'll need to consider your storage availability. 
  • It's pricer than other camp shower tents.
  • The shower unit is sold separately.

NEMO Heliopolis Privacy Shelter & Shower Tent

What to Consider When Buying a Camping Shower

A lot goes into choosing a camping shower, but it comes down to what you value and your camping situation or style.

To start, it's imperative to pick an intuitive and easy-to-use setup. If it's a snap to set up, you'll likely use it more and, therefore, feel more comfortable throughout your trip. Look for features that you care about—such as nozzle type, which impacts flow; how it operates (foot pump, gravity, or battery); and mounting styles (hang, ground, or car mount). Overall, you want a model made of durable and leak-proof materials and a with large enough capacity for your needs.

While we all like to save money, it can be tricky to prioritize cost and still get a worthwhile product. Water capacity may be smaller on cheaper showers, and they may lack features such as adjustable spray patterns or water-heating capabilities.

Some specific factors to consider:

A pressurized setup typically uses air pressure to create water pressure, whether foot-pump operated (not always great for differently-abled people) or via a bike pump. Pressurized showers can be heavier and bulkier than other options, so they aren't ideal for backpackers or those with limited storage space. On the other hand, gravity-fed showers flow slowly, so some may find these showers unsatisfying.

Look for solar designs made from durable and UV-resistant materials that can withstand prolonged sun exposure for maximum heat absorption, but also consider models with insulation to keep the water warmer longer, particularly in cooler ambient temperatures. Solar showers depend on sunlight for heating so they aren't as effective on cloudy days, in forested environments, or in colder climates—in which case, you'll want to spring for a model that heats the water for you, or heat your own water over the campfire before you bathe.

Portable outdoor showers are lightweight, compact, and easy to pack or fold for convenient storage. The showerheads on these models can be small and sub-par, so be sure to check the spray options. Also, look for one with an easy on/off valve so you're not wasting your limited gallons of water. As a gravity shower, you'll want to find an option with a good handle or hook to hang the bag from to get the best flow possible. 

Some portable camp showers are also reservoir-less, which is convenient for those who don't want to carry or refill water containers but pretty much guarantees a cold shower. Look for models that directly connect to a water source, such as a hose or a faucet, or models with a long hose to reach water sources farther away. Keep in mind that reservoir-less showers will offer limited options in areas where water is scarce or bathing in or near a body of water is prohibited.

Before buying a car-mounted shower, ensure the unit is compatible with your vehicle's roof racks and is simple to install. Look for sturdy mounting systems and a long hose for versatile use. Consider the water capacity and the pump's power to ensure sufficient water flow. Roof-mounted showers can be challenging to refill on the go or to access if they need maintenance.

Shower tents offer privacy and space for comfortable outdoor showering. Look for durable materials and a rugged frame to withstand the elements. Zippered ventilation is key for adjusting the airflow and warmth in the tent. Look for helpful details like shower item pockets, hooks to hang a hose from, and a draining floor. Shower tents can be bulky and heavy, so ensure your camping system is ready to accommodate the extra space and assembly time.

Your Questions, Answered

Camp showers are a personal preference and depend on your camping situation. You'll probably want to grab a small, solar-powered, packable option for a backpacking trip. For car camping trips where space and weight are less of an issue, perhaps a battery-powered, heated, portable shower and a shower tent will suit your needs. 

The simplest quick clean-up method is to jump into a nearby lake or river. Pro tip: Waterfalls make a great natural shower option. Certain land agencies require bathing a certain distance from water bodies, so this may not be a great solution everywhere. Another easy and fast option is a sponge bath using wet wipes, which require little to no water. They aren't perfect and don't clean your hair, but can be a quick way to feel fresher and cut the stink. The most effective solution is a portable camping shower like those listed here. When showering outdoors, you'll want to use biodegradable camping soap and practice Leave No Trace ethics.

A camping shower is worth it if you prioritize hygiene and comfort during your outdoor adventures. They offer a refreshing experience that can make you feel comfortable at the end of a long day before tucking into bed. 

One option is to hang a water-filled bag, such as a large water bladder or a durable plastic bag with punctured holes, from a sturdy tree branch or improvised structure. Alternatively, you could repurpose a large plastic jug or bucket with a spout attachment and pour water over yourself. 

Who We Are

Wide Open Spaces has been providing honest and thorough advice on getting outdoors for nearly 15 years. Our team of writers and editors are out in the field (and streams, and mountains) putting the gear new and old to the test.

As an avid adventurer and van-lifer for many years, Liz Dengler has tried and tested a variety of bathing options in the great outdoors. Liz has jumped in alpine lakes; used wet wipes after mountain bike rides; used gravity-powered solar showers; packed a foot-pump pressurized portable option; and even, for a short time, had an inside-the-van shower heated with a propane hot water tank.

Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Spaces are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.