Braving the wilderness and getting some respite from the hubbub of city life is a great way to spend your time. One of the biggest setbacks during a lengthy camping trip though, is the minimal or complete lack of hygienic facilities. Luckily for camping enthusiasts with a penchant for personal hygiene, the solar market has conceived yet another awesome product. We’re talking about portable solar showers.
Camping is all about sustainability and being at one with nature, which is why solar-powered products are such a mainstay of the camping market. Alongside portable solar showers, you can kit out your next camping trip with any amount of renewable-energy equipment, including: solar watches, solar backpacks, solar camping lights, solar powerbanks, or even portable camping solar panels.
Transportable lightweight showers are known to experienced campers as they can provide a precious element (hot water) not only for showering but for washing food utensils and camping gear for example. Many of them are powered by traditional methods such as batteries or propane making them less versatile, less environmentally sound and more fitting for a camper or campsite as opposed to a full-immersion camping trip.
That’s where solar powered portable showers come in. Relying only on solar energy to heat up, they are a tactical, eco-friendly and cost-effective way to maintain a steady supply of warm water on the go.
Let’s have a quick gander at some of the most popular brands of portable solar showers for your next camping trip.
The best 5 gallon solar shower around (the perfect amount for a soloist or duo). Our top choice thanks to its ultra-resistant build, extremely efficient heating capabilities, transport versatility and useful extra features.
At a hefty 10 gallons, this entry has highest water capacity on our list, making it ideal for large groups or a whole family. Extra points due to its shower head with multiple settings and affordable price.
How Do Solar Showers Work?
The way solar showers work is quite simple as they rely on three main factors: Gravity, pressure and solar energy. All you have to do is fill the portable shower big with water and leave it in the sun, direct sunlight obviously works the best. These are the portable versions of the static solar water heaters you can install at home.
The materials that coat the shower bag absorb the suns heat and transfer it to the water inside. Some models also have a temperature gauge, heating stripe or integrated thermometer to tell you how hot or cold it is. The water can get to scalding temperatures if left too long in the sun so always be careful. By utilizing solar power in this way (without the aid of solar panels), these portable camping showers work in a similar fashion to another handy bit of camping kit: the solar oven.
Solar showers come in two types. The far more common type is the gravity-fed shower, that has to be hung over your head (a tree branch, wall or high stoop will do just fine). The water and pressure can then be regulated by the shower nozzle.
The second type is the pressure shower. These showers do not have to be held overhead and instead use a stepping mechanism to control water pressure to a tee. Pressure showers are more versatile and functional but are usually more expensive and have to be pressurized before each use.
Solar Showers Pros And Cons
Solar energy carries an incredible range of advantages, though it’s worth noting the downsides, too.
- Solar showers are an environmentally sound way of cleaning yourself or your equipment on the go without resorting to gas or electricity powered portable showers
- Many modern models are made of sturdy and durable materials that are perfect for even intense and long lasting outdoor activity such as hiking, climbing, camping, windsurfing and boating
- Showers with adaptable nozzles can be used to control pressure and water flow with high precision. This is important as it means multiple people can have quick showers without having to refill the bag each time
- A 10 gallon solar shower for example can easily meet the showering requirements of up to 5 people
- Most importantly solar showers work! The best models can reach a temperature of up to 110°degrees Fahrenheit with only 3 hours of heating. Sometimes you might have to actually mix some cold water in the shower bag if temperatures get too high
- Gravity-fed solar showers can be a hassle to use and transport, especially larger models (in the range of 10-20 gallons). If no overhead support is available they become very difficult to use effectively
- One of the most vulnerable components of the solar shower is the nozzle. Any damage to it will severely affect pressurization and lead to water wastage and an overall subpar showering experience
- Although durable, if damaged or punctured a solar shower is very difficult to repair, so be very careful around pointy objects
How Long Does A Solar Shower Last?
How long a solar shower lasts depends on the pressure and how much water is continually used. On average a 5 gallon gravity-fed shower will last around 2.5 minutes at maximum level water stream, that’s enough for about enough for two people to have a quick rinse.
Pressurized solar showers fare better as the water flow is more controllable. A 5 gallon pressurized shower can be last at a moderate stream for around 7 minutes. That is enough for 4-5 people to have a brief but refreshing shower.
Larger portable showers that can be integrated with a water pump system can add up to 10 minutes of lasting capacity. In this case a 10 gallon shower could hypothetically last a full 20 minutes, or equivalent to a two minute shower for 10 people!
How Should You Hang A Solar Shower Bag?
Hanging a gravity-fed solar shower bag is an extremely straightforward affair though you do need some sort of structure to hang it on. Almost all modern showers come with added hooks, stands or annex poles that can be hung ideally on tree branches (portable solar showers were originally invented for long camping trips) or simply placed on even man-made structures such as walls, stoops or ladders.
The Best Solar Showers Reviewed
With the top three models on our article picked out, let’s review some other top solar showers currently on the market.
Sportneer 20L/5 Gallon Solar Shower Bag
- Brand: Sportneer
- Color: Army Green
- Water Inlet with Sealed Cap
- Temperature Indicator
- Hand-free showering
An excellent alternative to a communal camp shower. This popular model is intended for use during hardcore camping, hunting and hiking trips. With its army green exterior made of highly resistant non-toxic PVC material, the Sportneer Solar Shower Bag boasts a heat increment of up to 115°F in only 3 hours. This is an upgraded model from the last entry of this brand that boasts an incredibly intuitive shower head, tap and longer hose that make for relaxing and controlled showers far away from civilization. A temperature indicator is also included as a final accessory.
- One of the most durable solar showers on the market
- Exceptional heat conversion and retention
- Integrated temperature indicator
- Shower head cap can be easily lost or misplaced so be careful
Stearns Sun Shower Camping Shower
- Brand: Stearns
- Holds 4 gallons
- Strong handle for reliable hanging and carrying
- Handy on/off valve connected to shower head
- Uses solar energy to heat water
A 4 gallon model (meaning up to three quick showers) that is renowned as one of the best portable solar showers for cooler seasons. This solar shower is made of highly resilient PVC material that will capture the suns rays and heat up contained water even on more chilly days, making it a valuable piece of equipment during spring or autumn camping escapades.
It measures 20 x 6 x 1.5 inches and weighs approximately 1.34 pounds when empty putting it in between a lightweight and average model. The built-in thermometer is one of the defining features of this model, telling you the exact temperature before usage which can mean avoiding surprise freezing showers.
The hanging handle is also extremely resistant and the shower head has an effective on/off switch vital for limiting water waste.
- A leading model for use during cooler seasons
- Highly effective PVC coating that offers quick water heating
- Very handy built-in thermometer
- Can present problems if heated in direct summer sunlight for too long
- Shower head is less durable than other models
Advanced Elements Solar Shower/Summer Shower
- Brand: Advanced Elements
- Pocket with reflective mirror
- On/Off Shower Head
- 5-gallon outdoor shower powered by solar technology
The winner of today’s review due to its ultra-resistant 4 ply fabric and high-level heat retention. This product includes both a reflector panel and an insulator panel that both work great. Heating the filled water sack for around 2-3 hours in the sun will ensure multiple hot showers for you and your camping companions.
The water bag has super useful pockets for soap and shampoo and a mirror for grooming, meaning you could potentially be preparing for a date while in the woods! A Velcro strap so your towel doesn’t touch the ground is also included and very handy. The extra large filling valve, temperature gauge and practical shower head are the icing on the cake.
Let’s get into size and weight. The entire shower kit measures 20 x 6 x 2 inches and weighs 1.32 pounds when empty, making it very lightweight for a 5 gallon capacity shower.
In short, Advanced Elements’ model wins because of its durability, super useful extra features and let’s face it, affordability. At 34.99$ it still is slightly more expensive than other products reviewed on our list, but it more than makes up for it.
- Extremely durable and compact materials and composition
- Highly useful extra features
- Highly efficient heating capabilities
- Very advantageous price considering all the positives
- Our only complaint is a lack of water flow adjustment
Coleman Solar Shower
- Brand: Coleman
- 5 gallon solar shower holds
- Heat-locking material
- Strong handle
- On/off shower head valve
An affordable and durable solar shower from Coleman. This model is renowned for its portability (one of the lightest models on our list at only 8.8 oz) and reliability. With a reservoir of 5 gallons and a sleek build and composition that maximizes sun absorption, this solar shower is ideal not only for camping but for any outdoor activity. From a prolonged beach stay to a camper trip or even a music festival that lasts multiple days. The shower head also gets extra points as it is case-hardened and designed to last.
- Improved portability, especially for a 5 gallon model
- Very compact and intuitive shower head
- Straightforward and easy to use
- Very affordable price-wise
- Can get bulky when completely filled
- Water drainage is a lengthy process that could be improved
NEMO Helio Portable Pressure Camp Shower
- Brand: NEMO
- Style: 11 Liter – Dark Verglas
- 2.9-gallon tank with a foot pump
- Refill anywhere, even without a hose
Our premium pick of the day, this product has somewhat revolutionized the solar portable shower game for good. The vast majority of portable showers are gravity-based, meaning they have to be place on some kind of extremity, for example a sturdy tree branch. Not only is the process difficult when a water bag is completely full, the water pressure from these models can be quite lackluster.
This portable shower instead uses a foot pump and 7 inch neoprene hose to fully pressurize the water contained in its 2.9 gallon tank and weighs just 1.5 pounds when empty. The tank itself is made of a highly resistant and heat retaining mixture of black polyurethane-coated polyester and thermoplastic urethane.
An awesome combination of compactness and functionality, it is light weight and incredibly easy to operate and the sustained and powerful water stream can be used for a variety of otherwise impossible uses. Apart from treating yourself to a wash down that could rival an indoor shower, the fully pressurized water stream can be used to wash dishes, camping gear, boots, bikes or even your dog.
The sleek and simple build is designed for long term usage, no unnecessary flaps or opening make it difficult to damage or dirty up. In short, this an extremely dependable and durable product that’ll serve you well for years of camping.
- Extremely effective pressurizing system
- Compact, lightweight and very resistant
- Comes with a very useful carrying case
- Can be difficult to completely dry up the water bag
- On the expensive side compared to other models on our list
RISEPRO 10 gallons/40L Solar Shower
- Brand: RISEPRO
- The Smart black PVC material
- Carry up to 10 GALLONS (40Liters) water for showering
- Temperature indicator
- On/Off switch with Low to High water flow
The best entry on our list for high capacity portable showers. From the outside, the RISEPRO Solar Shower looks like a trendy over-sized shopping bag. In reality, it is a highly technical piece of equipment with a water capacity of 10 gallons making it ideal for larger camping groups.
Made of highly resistant heat absorbing materials (black pvc layers) the tank boasts a heat conversion of up to 113°F if left in the sun for at least 3 hours (though as the water capacity is so much it can be difficult to totally heat up).
The shower head is also very user-friendly, effective and robust, equipped not only with the standard on/off switch but also two settings for high or low water pressure. Like other models, the RISEPRO Solar Shower also features a temperature indicator in both Celsius and Fahrenheit.
- Very high capacity
- Resistant build and material composition
- Built-in temperature gauge
- Obviously gets quite cumbersome when completely full
- Its heat absorption rate isn’t up to par with other models
PGYFIS Camping Solar Shower
- Brand: PGYFIS
- Material: PVC
- 5-Gallon/20 Liters water capacity
- Durable & portable
Our best budget pick due to its extreme affordability. Do not think a low cost means lesser quality materials, because this solar shower is quite durable and effective a fact that is shown through its sheer popularity.
Main features include a leak proof and durable multilayered exterior (made with environmentally friendly materials. This black PVC material boasts a water heating capacity of up to 113°F (45°C) in 3 hours with direct sunlight. The upgraded shower head is also great providing and easy-to-open/close switch with low to high water flow and easy rotation for up to 4 quick showers from its 5 gallon sack.
- Extremely affordable
- Good heat retention
- Effective shower head
- Some customer complaints point to lower durability than advertised in some faulty models
Outdoor Portable Solar Showers Buyer’s Guide
What are the main features to look out for in a portable solar shower?
Before buying the perfect portable solar shower you should take into consideration a few key aspects. We’ve broken down the main features to look out for in six categories: Size, Portability, Heating, Durability, Effectiveness and Value.
This aspect relates both to the actual size of the shower kit and its water capacity and is closely related to portability. Size is obviously a cardinal aspect for a portable solar shower intended for use during an outing. Consider that a larger shower will guarantee multiple washing sessions for you and your party but will also be a much bigger hassle to transport and effectively use when full.
The portability and compactness of a portable show is a key issue especially for experienced campers who know that every inch of space is vital. The size of a rolled up water bag should fit in snugly in your backpack until next use. Versatility is also a related issue as we’ve seen some models when non in use can be used in secondary ways, such as an extra carry bag or even a sleeping bag.
A key issue concerning solar showers, the heating efficiency depends on the material used to make the actual water bag. Obviously your not going to have full control on your waters temperature as you would at home or in a camp shower but the difference in bag composition can make the difference between a reasonably hot, lukewarm or even cold shower the latter being a pretty big inconvenience if your out in the sticks. Most solar showers reviewed here have a minimum heating time of around 2-3 hours depending on sun intensity and initial temperature of the water.
Probably the most important single aspect of any piece of camping equipment is its durability and resistance in the face of adverse conditions. Faulty gear is the number one enemy of any serious camper, this also extends to solar showers. All products reviewed here are top of the line and built to last, but you should always check the resistance of the material. Buying a cheaper solar shower is always an option, but investing in well-known brand of solar shower guarantees a lasting product that won’t start leaking at the your third usage and in time may come to be as essential as your boots, backpack or even tent.
The actual efficacy of a solar shower is also paramount, this relates in a way to all the above categories but with a specific mention of the effectiveness of the shower head. An extremely important and sometimes overlooked component of a solar shower. A faulty, counter intuitive or flimsy shower head can completely ruin your outdoor solar showering experience, even if all the other features of the product are working fine. Has we’ve seen solar showers mostly utilize gravity to work, meaning they have to be slunk over some kind of overhead surface, typically a branch or tall rock if your in the wilderness. The resistance of the hanging hook, hose and effectiveness of the showers water pressure are all key elements to look out for.
A summary of the features, value does not necessarily just mean price, it is more a benchmark used to rate a products overall worth, especially in the long run. Affordability is also taken into consideration as although these are quite niche products it would be wise to buy the most suitable product for your needs instead of going straight for a premium model.
Outdoor portable solar showers are revolutionizing the way we camp. An environmentally friendly, versatile and cost effective item that guarantees warm water for multiple uses. Taking into account the categories listed above (with a focus on durability and overall value) we choose the Advanced Elements Solar Shower/Summer Shower as our best pick. A resilient, compact and super effective solar shower that should be on every experienced campers bucket list.
Check out our updated Pinterest board with the best solar shower:
Though this depends on multiple factors (sunlight intensity, shade, temperature and quantity of water, bag material) a standard 5 gallon water bag of effective pvc material will take about 3 hours of direct summer sunlight to heat up enough to qualify as a hot shower.
The portable solar showers on our list all range in the 15-40$ price range with our winner being chosen also for affordability. Premium models (that may not be solar powered) can cost upwards of 200 or even 300$.
If the spigot is turned all the way and the water is let out continuously the bag will be empty in around six minutes. If a reasonable amount of water is used per person, 5 gallons can easily offer 3 quick showers.
Yes, but this should only be used as a last resort, as a solar showers primary use is obviously for showering. Check the material of the bags resistance beforehand and avoid placing sharp objects (such as tent poles) if possible.
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