Feeling clean is a luxury on any outdoor adventure, and ridding yourself of dirt and grime can be hard to achieve when facilities aren’t readily available, especially if you’re in the backcountry. Though baby wipe showers will do in a pinch, having a solar camp shower can make your adventures feel even more pleasant, especially on longer trips when you just want to rinse off after a long day on the trail.
At 200 grams, this Backcountry Solar Shower is lightweight, compact and easy to slip into a backpack without taking up much precious real estate, especially if you’re a backpacker or thru-hiker. Neatly rolled up with its accessories, it takes up as much space as a lightweight polyester hoodie. Plus, other than using this as a shower, this kit makes for a convenient washing station for your hands, gear, camp cookware, kids or pups.
What It Comes With
This camp shower boasts a simple design and requires some easy assembly. The bladder itself is made of a sturdy PVC material. One side is clear so you can easily monitor water levels, while the other side is black to effectively absorb UV rays that heat the water. With a maximum capacity of 20 litres, it holds enough water for two quick showers. The kit comes with a plastic support tube meant to be inserted at the top of the bladder where the handle is, as it weighs around 40 pounds when filled to capacity. There’s also a 65-centimetre-long hose and attachable shower head, a twist-on valve and rope to hang the bag with.
How to Use It
Before taking this on your outdoor adventure, wash the bladder with a small spoonful of baking soda and warm water. Rinse well. After assembling the solar camp shower, fill the bladder with the desired amount of water, then leave it on a flat surface like the roof of your car or on a picnic table with the black side up, allowing the water to heat by soaking in the UV rays. To maximize the heat source, place the bladder in full view of the sun. On a balmy 30-degree-day in the Pacific Northwest, the water can reach a temperature of about 37 degrees after approximately three hours in direct sunlight. There’s no temperature gauge on the camp shower, but feeling the bladder will give you a good idea of the temperature when you’re ready to use it. Because it’s gravity-fed instead of pressurized, hanging the bladder above your head will allow you to get maximum pressure and adequate water flow to rinse dirt off your body. Turn the valve to allow water to start flowing, taking care to turn it off when shampooing and lathering to conserve water. Using the shower head, the bladder takes just over nine minutes to run dry, with the last two minutes offering a gentler stream.
This simple hanging bag-style shower lends itself to much more than just a camp shower with decent water pressure. Its lightweight design and easy portability mean you can take this with you on several occasions, like a day out at the park or beach, and can be conveniently set up as a water source for a hand or gear washing station.
What to Know
When not kept in direct sunlight, the temperature of the water in the bladder can drop fairly quickly. So, if you generally shower in the morning or are planning to return to the campsite to rinse off in the evening after the bag has been in the shade, the water may have cooled by then. For warm water showers, it’s best to use this right after heating in the sun.
Keep in mind that biodegradable soap is the best choice for an eco-friendly option, whether you’re rinsing off yourself, your toys or dishes at picnic sites, campsites and beaches.