Advanced Elements Summer Review
Cons: Low pressure, heavy when full, doesn't fold up intuitively
Manufacturer: Advanced Elements
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Advanced Elements Summer
$34.99 at Amazon
$34.99 at Amazon
|$34.95 at REI|
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$14.99 at Amazon
|Pros||Efficient solar heating, easy to use temperature gauge, quality construction, lightweight||Great coverage, comfortable and consistent pressure, decent battery life, easy to use||Lightweight and packable, easy to use, heats up well, comes with everything you need||Straightforward use, easy to carry, simple design, inexpensive||High rate of flow, lightweight, inexpensive|
|Cons||Low pressure, heavy when full, doesn't fold up intuitively||Short hose, can't empty its container, durability concerns||Low pressure, can be difficult to hang high enough, roll-top is leaky||Narrow spray, doesn't heat well in the sun, not the most durable||Very small capacity, easy to lose pieces|
|Bottom Line||A durable take on an old design, this is a gravity shower you can take just about anywhere||By adding a bucket and a battery, this shower brings you all the comforts of home in the outdoors||An affordable, easy to use, and super packable shower that can come with you anywhere||A portable sprayer that's straightforward to use and doesn't cost a ton||For a quick rinse, this small, inexpensive shower will do the trick|
|Rating Categories||Advanced Elements S...||Ivation Portable||Sea to Summit Pocke...||Reliance Products F...||Simple Shower|
|Ease Of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Advanced Elements S...||Ivation Portable||Sea to Summit Pocke...||Reliance Products F...||Simple Shower|
|Heating Method||Manual or Solar||Manual||Manual or Solar||Manual or Solar||Manual or Solar|
|Shower Head Usable Width (inches)||1"||2.1"||1"||0.5"||1.5"|
|Weight (shower only, ounces)||13 oz
|Packed Size (L x W in inches)||14.5" x 4.5"||72" x 3.25"||5.5" x 3.25"||17" x 9.5"||13" x 2"|
|Filled Size (inches)||19" x 14.5"||Same plus a bucket||20" x 8.5"||Same||Same plus a 2 liter bottle|
|Hose Length (feet/inches)||1' 3.5"||5' 9.5"||N/A||6' 7"||N/A|
|Shower Head Diameter (inches)||1.4"||2.5"||1.4"||1.4"||2.0"|
|Capacity||3 gal||(bucket)||2.6 gal||2 gal||1 or 2 L|
|Rate of Flow (gallons per minute)||0.6 gal/min||1.2 gal/min||Extremely variable||1 gal/min||2 gal/min|
|Construction||4-layer construction||2200 mAh lithium battery||70D nylon dry sack, plastic components||Plastic (unspecified ) with neoprene sleeve||Recycled material|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Advanced Elements Summer is a gravity-powered shower with four-layer construction and a clear window side to let in the solar rays. It's available in 2.5, 3, 5, and 10-gallon capacities. We tested both the 3 and 5-gallon versions, which feature an attached mirror and soap pocket for your convenience.
We've tested several versions and volumes of this shower over the years and have found the different sizes to offer nearly identical performance when it comes to water heating, durability, and the showering experience.
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, while the 5-gallon version produces a full 6 minutes of continuous flow. Still not enough? Advanced Elements also sells a 10-gallon version for when you have serious showering needs. 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 inherent to gravity showers.
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 — no flow rate adjustments required. To make you feel more at home no matter where you shower, the AE Summer 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 and out of your teeth), 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 flow rate (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 to funnel and regulate flow even as the bag empties. In contrast, some gravity-powered competitors struggle to provide consistent pressure as the bladder empties, resulting in the last 40% or more dribbling out as a nearly unusable trickle.
As a solar-heated model, a few hours in the midday sun will heat things up nicely, even when you started with the frigid waters of a high alpine lake (we sure did!). If you don't have a few hours to spare, 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, so there are no surprises when you finally step under its stream.
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. With this in mind, we prefer to bring along a slightly larger model than we actually need to compensate for the amount of the water reservoir that isn't easily fillable from a backcountry watering hole.
The elongated shape, tall handle, and long hose also make carrying this full shower a bit less than ideal as it easily drags along the ground. If completely full of water, which weighs around 8lbs per gallon, the AE Summer can be rather cumbersome to lift overhead and hang high enough. But when you do go to string it up, you'll find the handle helpfully clips, making attaching this shower to a branch or a perfectly placed length of cord fairly simple.
Bringing a sturdy, long piece of 550 parachute cord with you wherever you roam really comes in handy for stringing up your shower with minimal effort. By tossing the cord over a sturdy, high tree branch, you can tie a loop in one end to attach your shower, then hoist it up to the perfect height by pulling the opposite end of the cord and tying it off to the trunk of the tree — just be careful your cord doesn't damage the bark of the tree! Bonus pro tip: learn your knots.
This is another area where the Advanced Elements camping shower stands out as being better than average, even for a glorified bag. Whereas similar models made by competitors are often made of thinner, less durable material, this unit has a four-layer construction of much thicker material. The hose is also stocky and thick, making it much more difficult to kink or crimp. The handle features a thick rubberized grip for carrying comfort as well as7u] added strength for hanging. The clip to secure around a branch or length of cord is also quite solid, and we had 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 full of water 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 are 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 some of the other gravity models we tested, but this appears to be due to the design and durability of the numerous features that we truly appreciate.
Those extra features do make it a bit 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 one is well worth the extra money for better comfort and performance. If that's still too much for you, you might just be better hopping in the lake instead! But really, we think the value of this shower is very high and well worth it for what you get in performance.
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 great use for this gravity shower from Advanced Elements.
— Maggie Brandenburg
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