Top 5 Solar Camp Showers
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If you have never heard of a solar shower before and you love going camping, you might want to take a closer look at these fantastic inventions. Just in case you are unclear on the matter, a solar shower is an item that can be used for camping, hiking, other outdoor activities, and for power outages too.
As the name of it implies, it is a shower where the water is heated by solar energy. More or less, it is a bag of light and heat absorbing material that holds water. The bag is left out in the sun, which absorbs UV rays, thus heating the water on the inside. Solar showers usually come with some kind of nozzle to turn it into a shower spray, and a loop or strap to hang it up above you. If you are tired of being dirty and stinky on your camping trips, solar showers are a great way to go.
They heat up water for you to shower with, and we all know that bathing in a cold lake or river is no fun. It is a really fast, easy, and affordable way to get a warm shower when you are camping for a few nights out in the woods. Let’s get right into it and talk about everything there is to know about solar showers, including some reviews of the best ones out there right now.
Solar Shower Buyer’s Guide
Before you go out and buy the first solar shower you see, there are some important considerations to keep in mind. You don’t want to buy just any solar shower, at least not without keeping some points in mind, or else you might end up wasting your money on something you don’t need, don’t want, or can’t use. Let’s talk about everything you need to know to make an informed purchasing decision regarding solar showers, including the materials, purchasing considerations, making one yourself, and more, right now.
Different solar showers come with different capacities for holding water. Some solar showers can hold 5 liters of water, some 8, some 11, and some even more. You need to figure out how much water you need at the minimum to take a decent shower in order to decide what kind of capacity is enough for you. It all really depends on what you need and how many people will be using the solar shower in question. Some can even hold up to 5 gallons, which is about 25 liters.
Portability and Versatility
The next thing to pay attention to is portability. After all, these showers are meant to be used out in the woods when camping, which means that you need to be able to bring it with you. A solar shower that is small, compact, lightweight, and easy to use is the way to go. A solar shower that is not portable is not going to be of much use to you.
You do need to look for a solar shower with a good design. What we mean here is that it should be easy to fill, it should be easy to hang up, easy to make water start and stop flowing, and durable too. The most important point to keep in mind here is that the solar shower in question needs to be functional. There is no point in getting a solar shower that is just going to give you a headache because you don’t know what’s going on with it.
Some solar showers are easier to hang up than others, while some are downright difficult to mount. The larger and heavier solar showers can take 2 people to install and you will need a good branch or hanging area to do so. On the other hand, smaller versions might not take 2 people to mount it, but they also don’t have the same capacity for water. This is a tradeoff that you need to keep in mind.
Yet another thing to keep in mind is how expensive the solar shower in question is. Simply put, the bigger, more durable, more versatile, and more user friendly the item is, the more expensive it will be. Of course, this is another tradeoff that you need to keep in mind. The more features the product has and the bigger and better it is, the more it is going to cost. Are you going to be using this thing all of the time, or just once per year?
The Material and Heating Capacity
Next, you want to get a solar shower that is made out of really tough, durable, and quick-heating materials. The bag that holds the water is generally pretty thin, so it does need to be tough. You don’t want the bag ripping and spilling the water if it gets snagged on a branch, or even just from the weight of the water. At the same time, the material used should be easily able to absorb sunlight, which is how all solar showers heat up the water. Before we get into that, make sure that the one you get has a bag thick enough to withstand the water weight it will be carrying. Some materials are not as tough as others.
Most portable shower bags are made of some kind of clear plastic on one side, with a black backing. This allows the sunlight to penetrate through the clear side into the water, and then gets absorbed by the black backing, thus allowing for maximum heating efficiency. There are solar showers made with special aluminum water bags, ones made of PVC, and other materials with a high rate of heat absorption. As long as you get a model with good heat absorption, you will be just fine. Keep in mind that some materials work better than others to absorb UV rays and heat up the water.
Can I Make My Own Solar Shower?
Yes, indeed you can make your own solar shower, but honestly, real ones that you buy are not all that expensive, and you don’t have to be a master builder to purchase one either. Yes, as long as you have a bag made out of heat absorbing materials (also waterproof), a way and place to hang it up, an on/off valve for the water, and a hose-type shower head contraption, making your own is not that hard.
You do need to be knowledge in how you are going to attach the materials to one another, plus you need to find a good place to hang it, so it is doable, but honestly, we would recommend checking out one of the options that we have reviewed below.
While it is totally possible to construct your own homemade portable solar shower, it’s probably not worth the time, effort, and potential headache. It’s a project that only experienced builders should take on, especially if friends and family will be relying on it. We would recommend taking a look at the 5 different solar showers we have reviewed below before you get any bright ideas about constructing a homemade version.
Here is a look at some of the best solar camp showers
ADVANCED ELEMENTS 5 Gallon Summer Shower/Solar Shower
This first option, the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower is one of our personal favorites to go with, which is true for many different reasons. All in all, this is one of the most user-friendly, durable, and high-capacity solar showers for camping on the market today.
First off, it comes with a whopping 5-gallon capacity, which is a lot of water for a camping shower. It’s more than enough for one person to take a luxurious shower and definitely enough for a few people to quickly clean themselves.
The bag itself is made using a 4-layer construction for the ultimate in durability. Breaking or ripping this bag is much easier said than done. At the same time, it features a clear front to let heat in, with the interior featuring both an insulation panel and a reflector panel for maximum heating.
No, the water won’t be boiling hot like a home shower, but more than warm enough to be comfortable. What is pretty cool indeed is that this shower comes with a water temperature gauge, so you actually know how warm the water is.
The filling valve is nice and large, so you don’t need any funnels to fill it up. Moreover, the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower comes with an easy to use on/off valve. Hang it up using the plastic loop on the top, turn the valve on, and there you have it. It really does not get any easier than that.
This shower even comes with a side pocket to hold soap, shampoo, razors, and other such toiletries. It also has Velcro straps for washcloths, loofas, and your other needed accessories. In the grand scheme of things, we think that the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower is the best portable solar shower you can get your hands on.
Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Dry Bag
Another really neat option to go with, the Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Dry Bag has some really neat functions that we need to talk about. First and foremost, this particular portable solar shower can of course be used as a shower, it can be used to wash your feet, and it can be used as a dry bag too. Simply turn it inside out when empty, and thus it turns into a waterproof storage bag for all of your essential items; that is very cool as far as we are concerned.
The Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Dry Bag has a 5-gallon capacity, which can provide you with up to 5 minutes of continuous water flow, making it ideal for 1 or 2 people to use, depending on how long of showers are taken.
This particular solar shower is made of very high-quality PVC. It is waterproof, and it is extremely durable too. The front is clear to let light in, while the rear is blacked out in order to retain and build heat.
The top opening is fairly large, which makes filling it up easy, plus the bottom is flat, so it won’t tip over during filling. The shower head that the Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Dry Bag comes with delivers quite a bit of water pressure, and you just have to turn it in order to start and stop the flow. The solid handle it comes with makes this thing easy to hang up and easy to carry as well. This thing is very durable, has a high capacity, and is about as easy to use as can be.
Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower
The next option, the Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower is also really nice. Now, it does not have quite the same capacity as the other ones we have looked at so far; while they have all been 5-gallon models, this one can only hold 4 gallons.
Now, it is not quite as much as the other models, but then again, 4 gallons is still a lot of water. It will be more than enough so that 2 people can take a fairly comfortable shower lasting a total of 4 minutes.
The Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower is constructed of special heat-locking materials. It does not have a see-through side like the other models, but the material used is specially made to let light in, to absorb light energy/heat, and keep it on the inside of the bag. It actually heats water up to an astounding temperature. It even comes with a built-in thermometer so you can actually see how warm the water in the bag is.
Just as durable and useful as the bag itself, the Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower features a really strong handle that won’t rip. It can hold the weight of this portable camping shower with ease, plus it is built fairly large for easy hanging on most branches, and for easy carrying too.
In terms of ease of use, the Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower comes with a screw valve so you can easily fill it up while also keeping water where it is supposed to be, plus it also features an easy to use on/off valve for the shower head. It might not be the fanciest looking solar shower bag, but it gets the job done without question.
RISEPRO Solar Shower Bag, 5 Gallons
Going back in the other direction, the Solar Shower Bag, RISEPRO 5 gallons is another 5-gallon model, as opposed to the previous one that is only 4 gallons. It is more than enough water for 2 or 3 people to take quick showers, or for one person to take a luxurious 5-minute shower. Yes, smaller portable showers for camping might be better for transportation, but they don’t provide a very long shower like this one does.
The Solar Shower Bag, RISEPRO 5 gallons features so called smart PVC technology. The bag itself is very durable and tear resistant, plus it has a really high weight capacity. At the same time, one side of the bag is clear to let light in, while the back interior panel is made of special heat-absorbing materials.
About 3 hours in the direct sunlight will heat the water inside this bag up to about 113°F. When it comes to being able to take a really warm, or even a hot shower, the Solar Shower Bag, RISEPRO 5 gallons is one of the best options on the market right now.
So you know exactly how warm the water is, the Solar Shower Bag, RISEPRO 5 gallons comes with a built-in thermometer. What is really cool here is that this portable solar shower has a flow control valve, so not only can you turn it off and on with ease, but you can actually control how much water comes out. Moreover, the handle on the top makes this model of portable shower easy to carry and easy to hang too.
Coleman 5 Gallons Solar Shower
This is the final solar shower on the list today, but just because it is last doesn’t mean that it’s not a great option to go with. Just like the majority of the other items on our review list, the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower is a 5-gallon model. It can hold around 25 liters of water, making it more than ideal for 1 or 2 people to take a shower with; you could probably use it for 3 people if everyone takes a short shower.
The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower is made with ultra-durable materials that have a high weight capacity and are tear resistant too. No, you can’t be too rough with it, but as long as you are careful, it should be just fine. Just like most other solar showers, this one features a clear front to let the light and heat it, with a blacked-out back to absorb and retain the heat. This shower can actually heat the water up to a surprising temperature for some nice warm showers.
In terms of functionality, the Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower features a really strong and durable handle for ease in hanging up and carrying it. It also comes with a nice on/off shower head. It might be a really simple and not-so-fancy solar camping shower, but it does get the job done without question. It’s easy to fill, easy to use, and provides you with up to 5 minutes of continuous warm showering time.
All in all, all 5 of the outdoor solar showers are great options to go with. In reality, they are all pretty similar, but they do have some key differences. In terms of the reviews above, if you need a really good solar shower for camping, we would recommend either the Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower or the Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Dry Bag as the top options.
Just keep in mind the various considerations and purchasing factors that go into buying the best outdoor solar shower and all should be just fine. As long as it has enough capacity for you to shower, it gets nice and warm, is durable, and easy to use, you really cannot go wrong with any purchasing decision that you make.