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Advanced Elements 3-Gallon Review

A durable take on an old design, this is a gravity shower you can take just about anywhere
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Price:  $25 List
Pros:  Efficient solar heating, easy to use temperature gauge, quality construction, lightweight
Cons:  Low pressure, heavy when full, doesn't fold up intuitively
Manufacturer:   Advanced Elements
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 8, 2020
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56
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 10
  • Comfort - 30% 5
  • Functionality - 25% 5
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Portability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

A classic design, the Advanced Elements 3-Gallon summer shower is a gravity-powered camping shower with just enough upgrades to go the distance. With more durable construction materials, and some handy features (like a mirror and easy-hang clip), this device is a step up from the competition. Though it's not as luxurious as some of the other types of camping showers we tested, for a gravity shower, it's pretty great. It's light enough to bring on a short backpacking trip without sacrificing some of those creature comforts like a truly hot, consistent water flow.

Compare to Similar Products

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.

Updated Design
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.

Performance Comparison


Wash the sweat away at the end of a long day with the Advanced Elements summer shower.
Wash the sweat away at the end of a long day with the Advanced Elements summer shower.

Comfort


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 temperature gauge makes it easy to see when your water is the perfect temperature.
A temperature gauge makes it easy to see when your water is the perfect temperature.

Functionality


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.

The Coghlan's (left) and older version of the Advanced Elements shower (right): both are 5-gallon gravity showers  but where the Coghlan's is basic  the Advanced Elements is full of helpful features.
The Coghlan's (left) and older version of the Advanced Elements shower (right): both are 5-gallon gravity showers, but where the Coghlan's is basic, the Advanced Elements is full of helpful features.

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.

With a small opening  it's more than a bit challenging to fill this shower from a lake.
With a small opening, it's more than a bit challenging to fill this shower from a lake.

Durability


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.

A thick clip in the reinforced handle helps to get the right height by tying your cord first and hanging up the shower second.
A thick clip in the reinforced handle helps to get the right height by tying your cord first and hanging up the shower second.

Portability


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.

Though a bit awkward  the Advanced Elements folds down into a pretty thin package.
Though a bit awkward, the Advanced Elements folds down into a pretty thin package.

Value


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.

The outward angle of this shower head adds coverage to an otherwise fairly narrow shower head.
The outward angle of this shower head adds coverage to an otherwise fairly narrow shower head.

Conclusion


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.

A shower with a view! (But not soap unless you're 200 feet from water.)
A shower with a view! (But not soap unless you're 200 feet from water.)

Maggie Brandenburg