Top Best Solar Camp Shower You Loved it

November 8, 2022
camp shower

If you don’t have running water, camp shower and a hot shower after a hard day on the trail is just wishful thinking. The Advanced Elements 5-Gallon summer shower can be a great option for campers who live in sunny areas. We tested seven models and found it to provide a longer shower duration without sacrificing water pressure. It’s also easy to fill and lift.

Our pick

Camp shower : Camp showers at their best

camp shower

The shower is more hot than it is warm, but the showerhead has good water pressure and a functional function. The Summer Shower, when folded up, takes up approximately the same area as a light hoody.

The Advanced Elements 5-Gallon summer shower is built to last and features a threaded inlet cover that won’t pop open when you fill it with water. The only model that we tested had a quick-release plastic buckle on the handle. This makes it easy to hang the bag high enough for adequate flow.

The Summer Shower, like most hanging bag-style showers has a thermal strip that reacts with heat to determine the temperature of the water inside. However, it is not as accurate as what you would feel if your hand was against the bag. A pre-attached shaving razor is included as an added bonus.


The shower comes with a foot pump that adds pressure to the water. You don’t have to hang it. The shower can be folded up to the same size as a Folgers coffee can for easy portability.

The Nemo Helio Pressure shower is a favorite of our beach-going testers. It’s a great choice for anyone looking for a solar shower you can lift and hang to use. The “tank” for the solar shower rests on four feet that run lengthwise.

These feet help to keep it stable as the bag fills or is empty. The Helio can hold 3 gallons water, which is pressurized using a foot pump. This makes it quick and simple to rinse sand from things like sandals, surfboards, and beach toys with the included sprayernozzle.

Everything we recommend

The shower is more hot than it is warm, but the showerhead has good water pressure and a functional function. The Summer Shower, when folded up, takes up approximately the same area as a light hoody.

The shower comes with a foot pump that adds pressure to the water. You don’t have to hang it. The shower can be folded up to the same size as a Folgers coffee can for easy portability.

The research

Kit Dillon, our senior staff writer, has tested our picks as well as some new competition at the beaches of Hawaii in 2021. Seamus Bellamy has been reviewing professionally for many years. He has used camp showers numerous times after long, wet days in Nova Scotia and Spain. Chris Dixon contributed additional research. He compared sprayers and camp showers in our surf gear guide, and is also the founder of Surfer magazine’s online editor.

How we selected and tested

To get an idea of what is out there, we scanned Amazon, Bass Pro Shops and REI. We also reviewed this Florida Solar Energy Center study, which looked at several factors that affect how hot and fast solar showers can become.

After 12 hours of research, it was clear that spending more than $40 will net you features that weekend campers may not need. However, $20 is not a bad price. You’ll almost certainly get equipment that smells and feels like an old raincoat.

We initially selected six camp showers with different features. They were made of different materials and promised strong water pressure. It was also easy to transport when full. We tested them in various locations, with different temperatures and sun exposure levels, including Canada, South Carolina, Los Angeles, and Canada. We tested all of our models and the competition in 2021 to see if there were any improvements to them.

We evaluated how easy it was to fill them, how sturdy they were and how comfortable they felt to hold once they were filled with water. Each one was filled to its full capacity. We measured how long it took for each to drain and also checked whether the water pressure was sufficient to allow bathing. We also paid attention to how easy each shower turned on and off, as well as how easily extras such pockets and Velcro worked.

Also, we paid attention to its size. The camp shower should have enough water to wash yourself, but not so much that you can’t carry it up on a rope or throw it on your car.

5-gallon bladder,

A 5-gallon bladder, which is 40 pounds worth of water, weighs in at just 8 pounds. The 5-gallon size, when combined with a decent-sized showerhead will provide enough water to allow you enough time to rinse off your soap after washing it.

We also tested how hot a solar-powered shower could get. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, we filled the bladders to their maximum capacity and placed them in direct sunlight on a sunny 80 degree day in Los Angeles.

Tap water at 77 degrees Fahrenheit was used as our starting point. We then tested the thermometer with ThermoWorks, which can be used to measure liquids and meat.

Except for the Coleman, all solar showers that we tested had clear plastic sides. The Coleman’s heating side is dark, which could theoretically allow it to collect more heat. All solar showers tested, except for the Coleman, had temperature gauges built in that gave a rough idea of their accuracy.


Our testing revealed that solar showers all heated in a similar way. This is thermodynamics. The secondary conclusion was that although the thermometers themselves were not accurate enough to determine water temperature, they did provide a rough idea.

The results of our test were very similar to the 2004 Florida Solar Energy Center outdoor shower test. The researchers published their findings in a paper. It will make you a great solar shower geek.

Another thing to be aware of is that solar showers quickly lose heat. After placing them in the shade for half an hour, all of the models that we tested showed a drop of at least 5 degrees.

This is a major deal for those who enjoy a hot shower in the morning. These bags will lose a lot of heat over night. Camping is best if you get your solar shower in the sun as soon after you wake up. Then, take your shower when the water temperature reaches 100° or slightly higher than your hand.

Camp showers at their best

The shower is more hot than it is warm, but the shower has good water pressure and a functioning showerhead. The Summer Shower, when folded up, takes up approximately the same area as a light hoody.

Advanced Elements 5-Gallon summer shower is easy to use, durable, and has the ability to deliver a long-lasting, powerful shower in a compact, portable package.

It can be folded up to the size of a sweatshirt. You can fill the Advanced Elements shower with water from any source that you have. The bladder can be left out in the sun for several hours to heat the water, provided it is warm. Most showers have a warning on the label.

The water can heat up to the point of scalding you, depending on the temperature outside. Although this warning is reasonable, it is not a great idea. In practice, however, we discovered that the larger danger is that the water doesn’t heat up enough.

The Advanced Elements version contains PVC. There is also a non-PVC version. We stopped recommending it because of reports of durability problems.

While a solar shower can heat while suspended from a branch or tree, we found that it warms up faster when placed on the ground with the sun’s full attention. Although the Summer Shower comes with a temperature gauge, we found that simply touching the bag’s side gave us an accurate reading of how hot the water was.

Attach the bag to your shower head when you are ready to use it. The water will flow easily into the hose. Give the shower head a pull to turn on the water. Pushing in the opposite direction will turn it off. Simple.

The Summer Shower’s

  • The Summer Shower’s run time is adequate for showering. It takes approximately 7 minutes. This allows you to rinse off from a swim in the ocean, or to hose your children down before letting them go into your tent for a rest.
  • Although it provides enough water to wash off dirt from hiking boots, it isn’t pressurized like other camp showers. To make the water flow, gravity is required. Maximum pressure can be achieved by hanging it up high enough that the 2-foot-long pipe hangs over your head.
  • The shower comes with a few extra features such as a mesh pocket in the front for toiletries, and an attached mirror. These aren’t essential, but they’re nice to have, especially for those who will be out on the trail overnight.
  • The whole purpose of a camp shower, however, is to take a hot shower. However, your outdoor conditions will affect how hot you can get. Camp showers heat in the same way. You fill them with water, and then you place them in the sunlight. You need sunlight, so it helps to have a sunny day.
  • After three hours of direct sunlight and an 80-degree afternoon, almost all the showers reached temperatures between 100 and 105 degrees. This is warm but not hot and much less than the 112 degree temperature experts recommend for coziness and cleaning.
  • Advanced Elements offers a variety of sizes for its solar showers, but 5 gallons seems to be the best. The Advanced Elements 2.5-Gallon summer shower was half the size. Although it is lighter and heats up faster, the Advanced Elements 2.5-Gallon Summer Shower provides running water for just 2 minutes 45 seconds. This is not a long run time.

Upgrade pick: Nemo Helio Pressure Shower

  1. The shower comes with a foot pump that adds pressure to the water. You don’t have to hang it. The shower can be folded up to the same size as a Folgers coffee can for easy portability.
  2. Although it may seem more expensive than our top pick, the Nemo Helio Pressure shower is a great choice for anyone who isn’t able to lift the weight of a water-laden gravity bath like our main pick or who travels to areas where a 6 foot high shower is not possible, such as public beaches. It is recommended as part of our guide on the best surf and beach gear. The Helio is our top pick. It’s compact and portable, roughly the same size as a canister supermarket coffee.
  3. The Helio, which is on the ground, can hold 3 gallons. Although it doesn’t have the same capacity as our top choice, we found enough water to wash two people. It is simple to fill it. Just open the bladder, and then run the water in. However, the older Helio upright model was easier to fill.
  4. The new Helio’s bladder is horizontally oriented, parallel to ground. The bladder rests on four straight feet that provide clearance for the attachments of the sprayerhose and foot bellows.

pressurize the pump,

  • To pressurize the pump, turn on the intake airflow valve at the foot pump. Then pump the pump a few times using the built-in foot bellows.
  • This means that you cannot stand directly under the shower without using your hands, unlike our other picks. Although you won’t have the same water pressure as at home, the flow is stronger than any gravity-fed models that we tested.
  •  You will need to pump the water continuously to maintain the water flow, unlike gravity-fed models.
  • The Helio’s water temperature reached 90 degrees after a few hours of sun exposure, which is a little warmer than a heated swimming pool.
  • The Helio does not have a temperature gauge, unlike the Advanced Elements Summer Shower. We measured it ourselves.
  • If you tend to travel solo: Consider the Scrubba Stealth Pack, which is a portable backpack-shower-washing machine in one. This pack is not suitable for everyone but it’s a great option for solo travelers who want to travel light.
  • Although it was adequate for showering, its multi-purpose capabilities make it a worthy addition to our review. It can be used as a backpack, washing machine, or shower.
  • The Sea to Summit Pocket shower is a great option for ultra-light backpackers and thru-hikers. It’s simple and lightweight. This is the perfect choice if you are looking for a solar shower that takes up very little space.
  • The Pocket Shower does not have pressurization or a hose, so it isn’t as versatile as our other options.

Your guides

Kit Dillon works as a senior writer for Wirecutter. His previous roles included app developer, inspector of oil derricks, public-radio archiveist, sandwich shop owner, and app developer. He’s written for Popular Science and The Awl as well as the New York Observer. He can still make a great sandwich when he is called upon.

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