Just because you are in the wilderness doesn't mean you want to let your hygiene slip. Washing in a cold mountain stream may be a refreshing wake up call, but most people enjoy a warm shower to sluice away the dirt and ease those aching muscles. A portable camping shower bag gives you that soothing, cleansing experience in the most primitive of camping spots. Plus, it gives you personal space you don't have to share with strangers.
1.How Does a Portable Camping Shower Bag Work?
You can go with the DIY version of filling a watering can with warm water and hanging it in a tree, or you can go with a powered camping shower that delivers close to an at home shower experience.
The typical features of a powered portable camping shower are:
· Showerhead - because you need the gentle spray.
· Tubing – to get the water to the showerhead.
· Water tank – for the water supply.
· Water pump to move the water from the tank to the showerhead, battery-operated although you can get hand pump arrangements and solar showers are gravity fed.
· Propane gas tank – if you want hot water. Alternative solutions for heating water includes solar power and car engines.
Vehicle Mounted Shower System
You need to shower close to your car – you immerse the water pump in an open body of water. The water pumps through the heat exchanger in the car engine and then to the showerhead. You get plenty of hot water and reasonable shower pressure. You need to avoid pumping water up a slope (takes more energy), and you shower where you can park your vehicle (may be less private).
Propane Gas and Battery-Operated Pump
You can site these standalone portable camping showers at a convenient and private spot near your sleeping tent. The propane gas heats the water, and the pump takes it to where it needs to be. Most models give you around ten minutes of showering time before you need to replace or recharge the batteries.
The advantage of this type of portable shower is that you can put it anywhere -but you do have bulky equipment to pack, and it isn't a backpacking showering solution. You need access to water to fill the water tank or bring your washing water with you.
Solar Powered Shower
A solar power shower is close to the DIY solution of filling up a watering can. The water goes into a solar bag – the bag's material absorbs heat from the sun and transfers it into the water. To get warm water, you need to let the sun heat it, and this means putting the bag out to sunbathe – the roof of a car, on a table, or hanging from a tree branch. Avoid putting it on the ground because the ground acts as a cooling sink.
When the water is warm, you attach the bag to the hose and showerhead and hang it high above your head to let gravity move the water. It's a cheap, eco-friendly portable camping shower bag that you can take backpacking.
The disadvantages include:
· No morning showers – you need the day's sun to heat the water.
· You need access to sunlight – not easy if you are spending the day backpacking from one location to another.
· Low water pressure unless you can hang the bag high up in a tree.
· No temperature control – you get the water warm at best.
· Limited shower time - when the water is gone, you are done.
2. Camping Shower Tips:
There are a couple of points to consider when using a portable shower:
2.1 Water Supply
A vehicle operated shower needs access to open water, so you need a campsite that gives you that facility. The other solutions require you to fill up a tank with either naturally sourced or tap water.
Using water from a lake or a river means the water may contain debris, animal life, and microorganisms. You need to filter the water through something like a cotton tea towel or shirt to remove any debris. Heating the water kills off any microorganisms.
2.2 Waste Water
Your campsite may allow you to allow your shower water to drain away, or it may require you to collect your waste water and dispose of it in a designated waste water area.
If you need to collect your waste water, your best approach is to use a drain capture floor to collect the runoff. This method has the advantage of giving you a clean space to stand while having your shower.
If you are going to let the water runoff or drain away into the ground, then pay attention to the following:
· Site your shower downhill from your sleeping tent because water runs downhill.
· Avoid draining waste water polluting any open water – especially if you use shower chemicals like soap and gel.
2.3 Shower Floor
When you are looking at siting your portable camping shower bag, look at the ground – unless you are using a shower floor, the ground material will impact your enjoyment of your shower. Dirt and water make mud – look for sand or stone surfaces.
2.4 Biodegradable Supplies
When you are camping in wilderness areas, it's best to opt for biodegradable soaps and other products if you can because this has less impact on the environment. It's still not a good idea to let your shower water runoff into a lake or river because these chemicals always take time to break down. If you need your shower water to drain into a lake, avoid using any shower products, so the waste water is just water and dirt.