All in all, adventure is fantastic… but what about the inevitable stinkiness that comes with being cooped up in a vehicle or exploring nature?
A hot shower is very relaxing and refreshing! But if you are on the road, especially if car camping in a vehicle not equipped with a full bathroom, you might wonder how to tackle staying clean much less a fantastic shower. Happily, there are lots of options available to wandering car campers from campgrounds to some really cool gear that you have to check out for yourself!
Best Places to Shower While Car Camping
The easiest approach to get a shower while auto camping is to find a location that provides showers. Private campgrounds Shower structures are often seen. While these places will cost more than sleeping in a Walmart parking lot, they will also give you access to running hot water and sometimes even a laundromat.
Besides public campgrounds, Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds There is generally a bathhouse as well. These campgrounds can be extremely reasonable, especially if you have a Golden or Access Pass, which will net you half off an already reasonable campsite fee.
If you don’t want to spend the night at a campsite, certain campgrounds and camping resorts enable you to do so. shower usage for a small fee without the need for an overnight stay. Check in at the office or lodge headquarters to pay the cost and get your access code to a relaxing hot shower. A big shoutout to Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone who has amazing showers for a small fee and made a need to wash off-road and hiking dust into a luxurious hour.
Outside of campgrounds and resorts, local gyms and chain gyms The YMCA, Planet Fitness, and many other organizations provide reasonably priced memberships that include access to shower facilities. Choose this choice if you want to work on your abs, swim, and take a shower. Even better, many memberships enable you to bring a visitor, eliminating the need for a second membership to cover your trip companion.
If you happen to be on the coast, check for showers at local beaches that have changing rooms. There is generally a bathhouse as well. If it doesn’t work, try going to the marina. Often marinas will have facilities for boaters that include showers. Cost and access should be confirmed with the harbormaster or office.
Tips for Showering at a Campground
If you do decide on a campground shower, there are a few things you should be prepared for. One of the most significant is that this is a public restroom that has been used by many individuals throughout the years. It may not be as clean or well-kept as your own private bathroom at home. But don’t let a few chipped pieces of tile or some rough edges keep you from getting a needed scrub down.
Wearing a pair of flip flops before and while bathing is often a good idea, particularly in the most run-down facilities. Look for cleanliness while choosing a shower stall. Afterwards, test the water temperature and spray length (if the shower is a push-button type). There is usually at least one stall with the hottest, highest pressure, and longest-lasting water.
Showerheads are often adjustable, so experiment with different settings to get greater pressure or spray patterns. A big tip that I learned the hard (and rather chilly way!), is if it is cold out, avoid showers under or next to vents or windows. You’ll rapidly feel the cold and find yourself not enjoying the shower as much as you might.
Be mentally prepared for no warm showers . This has occurred to me on multiple occasions. The only showers at the campsite had running water but no hot water. They allow for very rapid showers.
While in the shower, keep an eye out for critters No, I’m not talking about mice. Nonetheless, tree frogs and insects ranging from spiders to grasshoppers often congregate in toilets. Take them in stride and maybe help them find a better home.
Lastly, consider the timing of your shower Taking a shower in the early evening is less busy than in the morning and may even result in an empty bathhouse. Plus, heading to the shower while there is still light out when you are walking back to your car or campsite is best for safety.
Different Types of Portable Camping Showers
If you like to control your bathing choices, there are several portable showers on the market, and many of them will fit easily into your car. ( Some are even suitable for any form of camping. ).
If you’re handy, you can create a fairly excellent shower with of a A two-liter soda bottle. Clean it out, add warm water, put some holes in the cap with a small nail, and screw it back on. So all you have to do is locate somewhere to invert it and maintain it stable for a wonderful, warm shower.
Pick purchase a solar shower if you want an enhancement that is still reasonably priced. Since they work, these masterpieces haven’t altered much since they were first released. Fill the bag with water, lay it in the sun for a few hours, then hang it somewhere to enjoy a warm shower.
The back window of a car makes a great place to stash a solar shower bag full of water to have it nice and toasty for a late afternoon shower. If you didn’t have time to heat the water in the sun, warm it up on the stove and pour it to the bag.
If hygiene is essential to you, you may take a solar shower to isolated locations, such as when trekking.
This is a smaller version from REI that would be ideal for backpacking.
Battery Operated Showers
There are also several battery-powered pumps designed as portable showers. Often designed as emergency power out kits, these function with a motor run off a couple of batteries that power a small pump, which you drop into a bucket or container of water.
The water is forced into the shower nozzle by the pump. If you use a collapsible bucket, the whole contraption will fit into a bag so small you’ll forget where you stashed it in your car.
You can go cheap with the under $100 shower, just as you can with everything else
There are even more expensive choices, such as this one on REI (it includes a built-in heater… speak about camping in luxury!).
If you want to avoid using batteries, consider foot pump showers like the Nemo Shower System (see at REI). They are a cross between a solar shower and a pump shower, only you are the pump. You must be able to operate them.
- Fill the water reservoir with water
- Place it in the sun to heat
- When you’re ready for a relaxing shower, use the foot pump to increase the pressure in the water reservoir.
- Then switch on the water nozzle
- Add a bit more air every so often as needed
The resulting shower from one of these pump-style showers is entirely worth the small amount of labor to keep it going. I’d know since I have one!
REI’s dromedary bags are a similar solution that also serves as a water filter when not in use as a shower. You can use these bags with gravity water filters to purify water, but also the bags are also usually black, so quickly heat the water inside, and have a hose attachment with a showerhead. This is a terrific two-for-one deal for space-conscious travelers.
Outdoor Instant Hot Water Options
If you’re not afraid of components and devices, there are several wonderful outdoor and portable shower choices available today that use instant hot water producers. These will require propane and a battery, but if you have a propane stove and your car engine doesn’t frighten you, you can make your friends envious, or love you even more, when you set up an outdoor instant hot water heater.
Mr. Heater is a well-known manufacturer of indoor-rated propane heaters. They also offer a portable shower that is powered by gas (on Amazon). If you’re looking for tent heaters, I conducted a slew of safety tests and discovered one heater that stood out above the others. If you’re looking for the greatest tent warmers, be sure to read this post.
But be sure to understand the water needs since some don’t have internal pumps and require a pressured or at least raised water source to produce pressure.
Installed Hot Water Car Kits
And if you are super techy and into long-term overland travel, check out the instant hot water car kits that install in your car and use the engine heat to create steaming hot water. These may be pricy, but if you like hot baths and seeing people’s mouths drop, you’ll love them.
Roof Rack Options
Check out the road showers with water tubes that connect to your vehicle’s roof racks if you favor simplicity but want the amazing feature appeal. Fill up the water reservoir before you start driving, let the sun do its work, and when you stop for the day attach the hose for a lovely hot shower, that is pressurized by the drop in height from your SUVs roof to the shower handle. Straightforward and elegant! (although a bit pricy).
How to Use a Portable Shower While Camping
There may be lots of types of shower options, but there are a few things all of them have in common. The first consideration is where you will shower, as in what you will be standing on.
If your shower system is connected to your car, where you park is critical. Look for hard surfaces like asphalt or rock. Avoid dusty soil or sand that will turn to mud and coat your legs and feet. Otherwise, the whole purpose of the shower will be defeated.
Getting Privacy While Showering When You’re Camping
Here are several choices for bathing privately.
- Wearing a swimsuit when bathing outside is a viable option: This is a great technique to shower without having to undress completely. Two questions arise: where will you get into your swimsuit? (Dressing in a vehicle is great, but…) and then what if a swimsuit still attracts too much attention?
- Waiting until dark: If you don’t mind the occasional gaze or just have to wash naked, wait till it’s dark… and be certain that no one shines a light in your direction. One disadvantage of this is that the water in any solar shower may have cooled somewhat by then.
- Using a Privacy Shower Enclosure : These may not be the hardcore campers option, but if privacy is important for you, then the time spent setting one of these up may be worth it. Kelty produces one, which you can get at REI. One advantage of these shower/changing tents is that they often contain hooks where you can hang your portable shower. I talk more about these, down below.
Where To Hang A Portable Shower
You will also need to suspend a shower system if you are using one. consider where and how to hang it . Automobile hatchbacks may be suitable if they can withstand the weight of the water without collapsing on your head while standing underneath it. Tall cars with roof racks perform well. If you are in the forest, keep some rope handy and toss it over a tree branch before hoisting your shower bag.
Before you lather up, take a look at your soap too. If you’re bathing outdoors and the water isn’t going into a septic system, choose biodegradable and ecologically friendly soap. You don’t want to harm those adorable tree frogs! Campsuds is the go-to biodegradable soap brand at REI.
How To Shower With a Portable Shower Without Running Out Of Water
Other from that, showering at camp will be quite different from having limitless hot water at home. You can’t leave the water running . Get wet, turn off the water to soap up, and then turn the water back on to rinse off. A gallon to a gallon and a half of water per person should suffice.
While you can take longer showers and ignore this advice, just remember you will be the one securing and heating the water. Quick showers will gradually become the norm, and soaking in hot water will seem like a luxury.
After you’ve decided on a portable shower, there are some wonderful additions that will seem more like necessities while you’re out vehicle camping.
There are several enclosures available for purchase to provide you with seclusion. that bathing close to your vehicle may not provide. Keep in mind the type of shower equipment you have as you need to make sure it will support the weight of your water if it needs to go overhead, or at least has an opening for the shower head. (such as the one I described above from Kelty, which I got here at REI)
A series of pop-up tents will serve as a single shower enclosure. They range in price from extremely inexpensive to highly costly, with areas to store your soap and cloths. If you have a vehicle with a hatch, there are also shower curtains that will attach to convert the back of your car into a bathhouse.
Just make sure your sleeping bag doesn’t get wet and no one is peering in from the front. And if you are crafty, you can make your own enclosure from a hoola hoop or PVC pipe and a shower curtain. Then all you have to do is find out where to suspend it.
A floor mat of some kind is also a terrific idea to offer yourself additional showering alternatives while also keeping your feet clean. Rubber welcome mats, RV sand mats, or snap together foam or teak tiles all work to create a quick space to stand and stay out of the mud your shower will create.
Camp Towels and Soaps
A towel that absorbs sweat and dries quickly is an excellent addition to your kit. These camp towels come in a variety of sizes from large washcloths to full-sized beach towels and will not only get you dry quick, but they will also be ready to go when you take your next shower.
While traveling, we use a microfiber towel like this one, and although it’s not as soft and pleasurable as a conventional bath towel, it dries Extremely quickly, making it vital for when you’re on the road.
Most camping and outdoor businesses provide a variety of possibilities. And while you’re at it, go check out the outdoor soaps. Not only are they safe for the environment, there are numerous types from liquid to handy individual soap leaves.
How to Wash Long Hair While Camping
Long hair is stunning, but it may be a pain to manage when camping. That doesn’t have to be that way. Make plans to give your hair some time, and you’ll find it looks dazzling no matter where you travel.
Before turning off the water in the shower, completely bathe your hair from roots to tip. Massage your scalp with an ecologically friendly shampoo or conditioner. Following that, thoroughly rinse.
If you don’t have much water or only a small reservoir for your shower water, focus your hair wash showers on your hair and only take care of the essential areas on you for that session. If you don’t have a shower but need to wash your hair, ask a buddy to assist you by pouring water over your head.
Alternatives to Showering While Camping
If you don’t have access to a shower while automobile camping, you can still stay clean.
Dr. Brommers is a natural soap that was originally developed to not need rinsing with water. Watch the YouTube video for instructions on how to use the soap without water, which consists largely of rubbing it on and then washing it off with a towel. But make sure you only apply it on land since it is toxic to many aquatic organisms.
If it is warm and you are camping near water, just jump in . Bring a washcloth and enjoy a swim and bath. Even if you aren’t as clean as a great, hot shower, you will feel better. There are some concerns about any type of soap (even the bio-degradable kind) being unsafe for bodies of water. You can use sand though as a way to scrub your body–sand or dirt will scrub your body very clean, you just have to rinse it out, carefully.
There is a wide variety of pre-moistened towelettes on the market that is an excellent alternative for a complete shower. Some are branded for camping, although they may be pricey. Instead, look for pre-soaped rather than the alcohol wipes in the cosmetics aisle where they are sold as a make-up remover. More mild solutions might be found in the infant aisle. This is by far my favorite option for getting clean while camping.
If you do have a camp stove and pot, Warm some water and ladle some over a pre-soaped washcloth. Then apply it similarly to pre-moistened wipes. Once called “spit baths,” these quick shower options are the classic way of cleaning up without access to running water.
And if you have a big pot of warm water and a friend, a good dousing is always an option. I’m not suggesting you have to use a super soaker, but that may work and be entertaining. A little water thrown over your head may do wonders. to cleanliness and your psyche.
If you don’t have water or a way of heating it, refresh yourself in the bathrooms of a gas station or fast-food restaurant. . It isn’t ideal, but splashing some water on your face, hair, and even sneaking in a washcloth for a quick scrub down can get you feeling better as well as take off the dirt. Maybe look at a relatively new product known as a ” waterless washcloth “This plastic washcloth is intended to touch your skin and remove filth, but it feels like you’re using a scouring pad on yourself.
There are also waterless shampoos that can help spritz up your hair without water, but eventually, you’ll want to find a real shower to clean up. If you’re really desperate, check the radar. head toward the nearest torrential downpour . A good rainstorm is a traditional way to shower on a sailboat undertaking a long passage between freshwater stops, and it works for campers too!