Advanced Elements 3-Gallon Review
Cons: Low pressure, heavy when full, doesn't fold up intuitively
Manufacturer: Advanced Elements
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Advanced Elements 3-Gallon is a gravity-powered shower with four-layer construction and a clear window side to let in the solar rays. It has a 3-gallon capacity and features an attached mirror and soap pocket for your convenience.
The latest version of this shower is very similar to the previous version, with the major upgrades including a color change (silver instead of black) and a shape change (taller and thinner than before). We found these two versions to be quite similar in function. This review is of the newest version.
You're unlikely to have high expectations from a simple gravity shower, but the Advanced Elements is pretty nice to use, as gravity showers go. The 3-gallon version we tested provides over 3.5 minutes of continual water flow. Not enough? Advanced Elements also sells a 5-gallon version, which we previously tested and measured a full 6 minutes of uninterrupted water stream. The showerhead is curved, increasing the area of spray for more complete coverage, though it doesn't do any favors for the already fairly low pressure. Turning the water on and off is as simple as pushing in the nozzle when you want the flow to stop and pulling it back out to start again. This model also includes some nice additional features to aid in your shower experience, including a small mirror attached to a string (to make sure all that dirt is off your face!), an additional pocket for a small bar of soap, and two velcro loops that can hold a washcloth and your towel to keep everything handy and out of the dirt.
A relatively low rate of flow (just 2.3 L/min) with a showerhead width of just 1 inch isn't something to brag about but isn't bad for a gravity shower when you're deep in the forest. Importantly, this pressure stays relatively consistent regardless of the water level as the hose helps funnel and regulate where some competitors struggle. As a solar-heated model, a few hours in the midday sun will heat things up nicely. If you don't have time for that, you can also add a liter or two of boiling water to a mostly full bag of cold water to speed things up. Again, going the extra distance compared to the competition, this unit has a temperature gauge on the outside that shows you when your shower is a perfect temperature.
Ease of Set Up
Just to make sure you can never lose them, this item has directions printed right on the bag. With a relatively narrow opening, it can be rather challenging to fill this shower up by dunking it in the lake, making it nearly impossible to fill completely without a nearby faucet. The new, elongated shape, tall handle, and long hose also make carrying this full shower a bit unpleasant as it easily drags along the ground. But when you go to string it up, you'll find the handle helpfully clips, making attaching this shower to a branch or a perfectly placed cord fairly simple.
Another area where the Advanced Elements camping shower stands out as being better than average! Whereas the competition tends to be made of thinner, less durable material, this unit has a four-layer construction of much thicker material. The hose is also fairly thick and much harder to kink or crimp. The handle features a thick rubberized grip for comfort during carrying, offering added strength for hanging. The clip to wrap around a branch is also quite solid, and we experienced no issues using it all summer on repeat.
To Advanced Elements' credit, we never had any issues with the durability of this shower, even when we dropped the whole thing and threw it on the ground from seven feet up to see what would happen. The only durability issue we noticed was a slight crease forming on the output of the hose, as you have to lay the whole thing on its face in the sun to heat up. Other than that, we were pleasantly surprised by the apparent durability of this simple gravity shower.
This is one area where gravity showers in general excel. Their simplistic designs make them fairly light and compact. This Advanced Elements model is somewhat heavier than the competition, due to the design and durability features that we appreciate. Those features also make it more difficult to roll/fold/stuff it into your backpack than some — though not impossible! If the extra comforts are worth a few extra ounces for you, this might become your new favorite backpacking companion.
While you can spend less than $10 on a gravity shower, the marginally higher cost of this oner is well worth the extra money in comfort and performance. If you're interested in saving money, you might just be better hopping in the lake instead! But really, we think the value of this shower is pretty great for what you get.
It's easy to be less than excited about a gravity shower — same old, same old, right? Not with the Advanced Elements summer shower. We are impressed with the number of comfortable features and solid performance this thing puts forward. And as a gravity shower, it's portable while still being quite affordable. If you're looking for something to stay clean and sane on your next weekend trip off the grid, we think you'll find a good use for this gravity shower from Advanced Elements.
— Maggie Brandenburg