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Advanced Elements Summer Review

A durable take on an old design, this is a gravity shower you can take just about anywhere
Advanced Elements Summer
Photo: Amazon
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Price:  $44 List | $39.99 at Amazon
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  ⋅  Nov 5, 2020
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59
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 8
  • Comfort - 30% 5
  • Functionality - 25% 6
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 5
  • Durability - 15% 7
  • Portability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

A classic design, the Advanced Elements Summer shower is a gravity-powered camping shower with just enough volume options and upgrades to go the distance. With durable construction materials, exceptionally handy features, and a surprisingly low price, this high-value item is a great choice. Though it's not as luxurious as some of the other types of camping showers we tested, it's pretty great for a gravity shower and comes in several volumes to suit your needs. 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

 
Awards  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award 
Price $39.99 at Amazon$39.99 at Amazon$99.95 at REI
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$110 ListCheck Price at Backcountry
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Pros Efficient solar heating, easy to use temperature gauge, quality construction, lightweightGreat coverage, comfortable and consistent pressure, decent battery life, easy to useHighly versatile, packable, good pressure, durable, water lasts a long timeMultiple spray settings, easy to fill, durable, simple to useLightweight and packable, easy to use, heats up well, comes with everything you need
Cons Low pressure, heavy when full, doesn't fold up intuitivelyShort hose, can't empty its container, durability concernsSmall shower head, narrow opening, must hold in ON position while usingPrecipitous pressure drop-off, can't fully empty, hose required for refill, small capacityLow pressure, can be difficult to hang high enough, roll-top is leaky
Bottom Line Travel farther and feel cleaner with this upgraded gravity showerWith a battery and bucket, you can bring along all the comforts from home into the outdoorsOnce you experience this shower, you won’t want to leave home without itGood for a quick rinse on the go, but not the best showerA super simple, fairly-priced, and extremely packable option you can bring anywhere
Rating Categories Advanced Elements Summer Ivation Portable NEMO Helio Pressure Shower Rinsekit Pod Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
Comfort (30%)
5
9
7
7
5
Functionality (25%)
6
7
7
6
6
Ease Of Set Up (20%)
5
6
5
5
7
Durability (15%)
7
5
7
8
6
Portability (10%)
8
5
7
5
9
Specs Advanced Elements... Ivation Portable NEMO Helio... Rinsekit Pod Sea to Summit...
Heating Method Manual or Solar Manual Manual or Solar Battery Powered Manual or Solar
Shower Head Usable Width (inches) 1" 2.1" 0.6" 1.6" 1"
Time Until Empty 3 min 33 sec 52 min
(battery life)
5 min 45 sec 1 min 40 sec 9 min 47 sec
Weight (shower only, ounces) 13 oz
(0.8 lb)
21 oz
(1 lb 5 oz)
22 oz
(1 lb 6 oz)
86 oz
(5 lb 6 oz)
4.7 oz
(0.3 lb)
Packed Size (L x W in inches) 14.5" x 4.5" 72" x 3.25" 5.5" x 8.5" 14" x 11.75" 5.5" x 3.25"
Filled Size (inches) 19" x 14.5" Same plus a bucket 17" x 8.5" Same 20" x 8.5"
Hose Length (feet/inches) 1' 3.5" 5' 9.5" 6' 8" 6' 1" N/A
Shower Head Diameter (inches) 1.4" 2.5" 1.0" 2.25" 1.4"
Capacity 3 gal (bucket) 2.9 gal 1.75 gal 2.6 gal
Rate of Flow (gallons per minute) 0.6 gal/min 1.2 gal/min 0.6 gal/min Extremely variable Extremely variable
Construction 4-layer construction 2200 mAh lithium battery Polyurethne-coated polyester, neoprene hose Plastic, fabric-wrapped hose 70D nylon dry sack, plastic components

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.

Options Galore
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.

Performance Comparison


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

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, 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 temperature gauge makes it easy to see when your water is the...
A temperature gauge makes it easy to see when your water is the perfect temperature.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Functionality


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.

The Coghlan's (left) and older version of the Advanced Elements...
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.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

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.

Shower Hanging Pro Tip
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.

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

Durability


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.

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

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 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.

Though a bit awkward, the Advanced Elements folds down into a pretty...
Though a bit awkward, the Advanced Elements folds down into a pretty thin package.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


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.

The outward angle of this shower head adds coverage to an otherwise...
The outward angle of this shower head adds coverage to an otherwise fairly narrow shower head.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

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 great use for this gravity shower from Advanced Elements.

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

Maggie Brandenburg