Looking to get a portable shower for your campervan? Great because that’s exactly what we’re talking about in this detailed review!
Van life is a lifestyle that has its ups and downs. On the one hand, you’re exploring the world, spending time in nature, and living life exactly how you want. On the other hand, long hot showers have become a luxury and wet wipes are your new best friend.
Portable outdoor showers are an integral part of van life. They’re cheap, efficient and they take up very little space in your campervan. And if that’s exactly what you are looking for, read on to find that perfect shower for your van!
Best Solar Shower Bag
|SEE ON COLEMAN →SEE ON AMAZON →|
Best Propane Water Heater
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Most Compact Shower
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Best Privacy Tent
|SEE ON AMAZON →|
Coleman is one of the most popular brands when it comes to camping gear and van life. They’re known for providing excellent quality for a reasonable amount of money, whether we’re talking about their camping stoves, coolers, or showers.
The shower bag is durable and reliable, so you can hang it and not worry it will come apart. It’s a black bag, which means it will heat water fast. Coleman estimates that it will take up to three hours to make the water hot enough for a shower on a sunny day. There’s even a diagram on the bag that estimates how long you should leave it out in the sun depending on the temperature outside.
With a five-gallon capacity, you should be able to get up to three showers from a single bag. But that’s only if you’re extremely rational with the water, and you use just 1.7 gallons per shower. Considering just how low pressure this shower is, I don’t think conserving water will be an issue.
In fact, that’s the only downside of the Coleman shower – the pressure is so low that it feels like you’re showering in light rain.
If you prefer high-pressure showers or you just want the ability to adjust the pressure, you’re better off with some of the other options. But if you want a cheap and reliable outdoor shower to improve the quality of your van life, you can’t go wrong with Coleman.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate hot showers into your van life, what you need is a propane water heater. It’s expensive, heavy, bulky and it could be lethal if used in places without any ventilation. But it also heats water instantly, it has an LCD display, and it lets you adjust water temperature with a knob.
This propane water heater automatically disables the burner when the water temperature reaches 125°F. When the water temperature drops below 113°F, the burner turns on again. This feature makes the water heater safer to use, which is particularly important if you are on the road with children.
In addition to that, the Hike Crew propane water heater plugs into either a standard outlet or a car lighter, so it’s really easy to set up. You will need a propane tank and a bucket of water to get this thing running, and it’s up to you to decide whether hot showers are worth the hassle.
The propane heater weighs 13 lbs without a propane tank, and it’s quite bulky. If you don’t have enough space in your campervan, this can only make your life harder. But if you can’t get used to cold water showers, it’s certainly worth it.
In case you decide to use this inside your van, make sure that the windows are open and there is sufficient airflow. Gas tanks are always risky because of carbon monoxide, but as long as it’s breezy in the van you’ll be fine.
The quality of your van life will be significantly upgraded with a simple item like the Kedsum portable shower. This battery-operated shower head transforms a bucket of water into a proper shower, and it’s super simple to use. You just put the pump in a bucket of water, push a button and your shower is ready!
This portable shower comes with a collapsible bucket and a pressurized sprayer, which is great. The bucket has a 15-liter capacity, which should be more than enough for a proper shower. And you can even fill it up with hot water – the Kedsum shower will work with water that’s up to 122℉, but it won’t do much in terms of heating the water.
The shower uses a rechargeable battery with a 2200mAh capacity. A full charge gets you up to 60 minutes of use, so the total battery life depends on the length of your showers. If you can do it in under five minutes, you can comfortably get 12 showers from a single charge.
The battery can be recharged with a car charger, a laptop, a power bank, or anything similar. However, you can only use 5V charging adapters with this – anything higher than that is not suitable and could make the battery explode.
Overall, if you’re looking for a campervan shower that is efficient, reliable, and affordable but doesn’t take too much space in your ride, this is easily one of the best options.
The Ivation portable shower is another great option if you need something that won’t take up a lot of space. It’s a battery-operated shower hose with shower head that draws water from buckets or basins and transforms it into a gentle shower.
However, the Ivation shower hose requires you to have a bucket, a bag or any pool of water really, so you will need to plan for that. Once you have a bucket full of water, just place the lower end of the hose in it and press the button – voila, you have a steady stream of water! You can also turn off the shower while you’re scrubbing or soaping up, in order to conserve water.
The lower pressure means you will be able to shower for longer – Ivation claims you can get up to eight minutes from a five-gallon bucket, so that’s pretty nice. Also, the shower includes a holder that lets you mount it to the side of your one, for a nice hands-free shower.
One thing to note is that the Ivation portable shower doesn’t heat up the water – the temperature that’s in the bucket is the temperature you’re showering with.
Additionally, the shower comes with a rechargeable battery that you can plug into a car adapter or a laptop, so charging shouldn’t be an issue. The 2200 mAh lithium battery lasts a while, and it lasts about an hour – that’s 12 showers if you limit them to five minutes!
The Sportneer shower bag is a good option if you want a cheap and efficient solution. It has a capacity of 5 gallons (20 liters), it comes with a removable shower hose (with head) and it even has a tiny pocket to hold your shower gel and razor.
This shower bag features a see-through back with a temperature gauge, so you’ll always know whether the water is hot enough without wasting any of it. There’s also a level indicator, which makes it really easy for you to check if the bag needs to be refilled.
The main downside of the Sportneer solar shower is that it can take hours of direct sunlight exposure to get the water hot enough. I would recommend securing this to the roof of your van, so that the water can heat up while you are on the road.
Alternatively, you could also try to paint the bag black – this could help speed up the process a little, but it won’t do wonders.
The shower bag is made from PVC and the handle is reinforced with plastic. It is very well made, and it should last you a while without any major leaks or problems.
The Helio is a portable pressurized shower that comes with a shower hose and a foot pump. The foot pump lets you control the water pressure, so you can actually have enjoyable showers. The shower bag is made from PU coated polyester so it’s very durable, and it features a see-through side allowing you to see just how much water is left in the bag.
This shower doesn’t do much in terms of heating up water but leaving it out in the sun won’t hurt. Especially because the bag is black, which will certainly help heat up the water.
One great feature of this shower is that it integrates seamlessly into the Heliopolis privacy shelter. You can hook it on the wall of the tent to enjoy a hands-free shower, and the hose is long enough you could even hang it overhead.
However, the brand’s shower tent is about five times more expensive than most other privacy shower tents, so it’s not exactly an affordable solution.
The only downside of this shower is the price – it’s around $100 for the 11-liter option and $150 for the 22-liter one. You can build your own roof rack shower for the same amount of money, so this is probably not the best option for you if you’re on a tighter budget.
A portable water heater is a great option if you’re addicted to hot water showers. This one is tankless, meaning the heater doesn’t hold water but instead just heats up water from another source. You can hook this up to a large water jugs or buckets, and you will have access to hot water as soon as you turn it on.
However, I have to point out that this is not suitable for indoor use. Propane emits carbon monoxide, which can be lethal in high doses. Use this heater only in ventilated areas, to avoid any fatal accidents.
The propane heater lets you control the temperature of the water, so you will be able to make it just right for you. And it has anti-freezing protection, which is great for campers who stick to van life in the winter. It’s easy to set up and use, so it’s great even for people who’ve never dealt with a portable water heater before.
The downsides of the propane tank are weight and price. It is more expensive than all other outdoor shower options, but at the same time, it’s the only one that guarantees hot water. Also, this propane tank weighs 11 lbs, so you’ll need to be careful where you hang it.
Plus, you need two D batteries, a gas tank, and a water tank to get this heater to work, so keep that in mind.
If you’re shy about showering outdoors, you should definitely look into getting a privacy tent. It lets you set up a place to shower anywhere you want, and you don’t have to be self-conscious about other people in the area.
The WolfWise pop-up tent is a van life necessity, especially for people who travel with partners or families. It lets you have privacy from your travel buddies, whether you’re showering or just using the toilet. And it means you can shower wherever you want, even on the side of a busy road.
Also, this privacy tent is versatile and comes with a carry bag. It’s really easy to set up – just throw it into an open area, and it will pop up on its own.
One thing to note is that this privacy tent doesn’t have a place where you can hang the shower, but there is a cut-out for the hose. Just hang the shower somewhere outside, or use one of those that are supposed to sit on the ground.
The tent does have a small pocket for your phone and an elastic rope where you can hang a towel, so you can have all the necessities close by.
If you’re still in the process of converting your van, you’re probably debating whether you should get an indoor shower. While there are countless benefits of an indoor shower in a van, there are just more cons so I don’t think it’s ultimately worth it.
Indoor showers take up precious space in your campervan, which means you will be extremely limited when it comes to the van layout. You’re giving up on something in favor of an indoor shower, be it a storage shelf or a part of the kitchen.
Also, indoor showers will only work if your van has electricity – at least that’s the only way to get hot water. You will need a water heater too, and keep in mind that the water in your tank is now split between the shower and the water tap.
If you get carried away and take too long to shower, you could be out of drinking water.
Showering in your van means you have to dump the gray water sooner, and you will have to leave your van to air dry after every shower, to avoid it getting moldy.
Finally, indoor showers are expensive. You can get an outdoor shower bag for $15-20, but a fully outfitted indoor shower will set you back hundreds, if not thousands. Really consider whether this is worth it, especially because you get used to not showering every day when you’re on the road.
The capacity of a portable shower coupled with the water pressure determines how long each of your showers can last. High capacity paired with low pressure means longer showers, but high pressure and low capacity mean military-style showering.
The average outdoor shower has a capacity of 5 gallons (20 liters). On the other hand, the average American usually spends about 17 gallons while showering, so you can forget all about the nice, long hot water showers. Conserving water will go a long way, so remember to turn off the shower while you’re soaping up or scrubbing.
Some showers let you dictate the water pressure, and that’s a great feature. Also, if you decide to make your own shower, you can easily add parts to make the water pressure adjustable, so keep that in mind.
Most of these outdoor shower bags will heat up water if you leave them out in the sun long enough. That’s why I recommend securing the shower bag (filled with water) to the roof rack of the campervan, so it can heat up while you’re on the road and you can have a nice hot shower as soon as you park.
If you don’t want to do this, keep in mind that it takes several hours for a 5-gallon bag of water to heat up enough. And this only works in really warm weather – sunlight in lower temperatures does absolutely nothing to heat up the water.
If I were you, I would look to get a black shower bag – the color attracts and absorbs heat and sunlight, meaning the water inside will warm up faster.
Also, if you absolutely must shower with hot water, it’s best to look into propane water heaters. They’re awesome at providing you with hot water, just know that you must use them in ventilated spaces. Propane appliances can emit carbon monoxide, and if you’re stuck in a tiny indoor shower with no airflow, CO can be lethal.
Get a universal gym membership. If you’re in the US, it’s a great idea to get Planet Fitness or 24 Hour Fitness membership. The chains have gyms in most US states, so you will always have a place to go shower.
Make your own shower. If you’re at all crafty, you can easily make your own shower. There are loads of DIY options and my favorite one is a roof rack solar shower. The water heats up in direct sunlight, and it’s not taking up any space in your campervan!
Stay at campsites. While it’s infinitely more exciting to stay in places that are off the beaten path, there are a lot of benefits to staying at campsites, such as unlimited hot showers. Use the All Stays Camp and RV app, to filter campsites closest to you by shower availability, just to be safe!
Not sure which of these showers is the best fit for your life on the road? Then go with one of our top picks, depending on what you’re looking for in a campervan shower!
The best budget option is the Coleman 5-gallon shower bag. It is a solar shower bag that heats water when exposed to the sun, so you can enjoy hot showers even if you have no electricity in your van. Also, this shower is one of the most affordable options, making it great for all van lifers on a tight budget.
The Kedsum portable shower is the best option if you want something that won’t take up a lot of space in your van. The shower hose is very compact and you can store it anywhere, even in a drawer. It comes with a collapsible water bucket, and it works with hot water as well as cold.
If you want proper hot water showers, you need a propane water heater. The Hike Crew water heater is one of the best propane heaters for van life because it disables the burner automatically when the water reaches the max temperature.
The best thing about this heater is that there’s no waiting – just turn it on, place the pump in the water, and you’re ready to enjoy a nice hot shower!
Head over to Amazon to buy any of these portable campervan showers. If you need ideas on other essential gear for van life, check out our related posts!