The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of gear

Ivation Portable Review

By adding a bucket and a battery, this shower brings you all the comforts of home in the outdoors
Ivation Portable
Photo: Ivation
Best Buy Award
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $40 List | $39.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great coverage, comfortable and consistent pressure, decent battery life, easy to use
Cons:  Short hose, can't empty its container, durability concerns
Manufacturer:   Ivation Products
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 8, 2020
  • Share this article:
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
69
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 9
  • Comfort - 30% 9
  • Functionality - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 6
  • Durability - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The Ivation Portable is one of many battery-powered showers on the market for a price that's hard to beat, making it our Best Buy Award winner. It stands out from the rest with its simple design that's uncomplicated to use. The pump and battery are housed together and provide a comfortable and consistent stream of water. The wide showerhead can be hung or suctioned to a nearby object and makes a great outdoor dog bath or backyard post-pool rinse. While its hose is a bit short and the pump is too large to fully drain your bathwater bucket, it's still one of the nicest and most versatile outdoor showers we tested.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Ivation Portable
This Product
Ivation Portable
Awards Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award  
Price $39.99 at Amazon$150 List$329.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$99.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 2 sellers
$110 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
69
81
77
66
63
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Great coverage, comfortable and consistent pressure, decent battery life, easy to useExtremely durable, adjustable pressure, easy to use, handy temperature gauge, includes a stoveEasy to use, can re-pressurize, don't need hose, durable, intense pressureHighly versatile, packable, good pressure, durable, water lasts a long timeMultiple spray settings, easy to fill, durable, simple to use
Cons Short hose, can't empty its container, durability concernsHeavy, doesn’t pack smaller, priceyPrecipitous drop-off in pressure, included nozzle not a great shower, can't fully empty, expensive, requires a roof rackSmall shower head, narrow opening, must hold in ON position while usingPrecipitous pressure drop-off, can't fully empty, hose required for refill, small capacity
Bottom Line With a battery and bucket, you can bring along all the comforts from home into the outdoorsIf top notch performance is what you want, then this is the shower for youA simple yet effective car-top pressurized washer for you and your gearOnce you experience this shower, you won’t want to leave home without itGood for a quick rinse on the go, but not the best shower
Rating Categories Ivation Portable Zodi Extreme Yakima RoadShower NEMO Helio Pressure Shower Rinsekit Pod
Comfort (30%)
9
8
7
7
7
Functionality (25%)
7
9
8
7
6
Ease Of Set Up (20%)
6
9
7
5
5
Durability (15%)
5
9
9
7
8
Portability (10%)
5
3
8
7
5
Specs Ivation Portable Zodi Extreme Yakima RoadShower NEMO Helio... Rinsekit Pod
Heating Method Manual Stovetop Solar Manual or Solar Battery Powered
Shower Head Usable Width (inches) 2.1" 1.0" 0.2" 0.6" 1.6"
Time Until Empty 52 min
(battery life)
3 min 30 sec 4 min 40 sec 5 min 45 sec 1 min 40 sec
Weight (shower only, ounces) 21 oz
(1 lb 5 oz)
106 oz
(6lb 10 oz)
310 oz
(19lb 4 oz)
22 oz
(1 lb 6 oz)
86 oz
(5 lb 6 oz)
Packed Size (L x W in inches) 72" x 3.25" 22" x 8.5" 57" x 6.5" 5.5" x 8.5" 14" x 11.75"
Filled Size (inches) Same plus a bucket 22" x 8.5" Same 17" x 8.5" Same
Hose Length (feet/inches) 5' 9.5" 5' 10.5" 4' 6" 6' 8" 6' 1"
Shower Head Diameter (inches) 2.5" 1.25" 0.5" 1.0" 2.25"
Capacity (bucket) 3 gal 4 gal 2.9 gal 1.75 gal
Rate of Flow (gallons per minute) 1.2 gal/min 1.1 gal/min Extremely variable 0.6 gal/min Extremely variable
Construction 2200 mAh lithium battery Stainless steel, industrial grade brass valves Powder coated aluminum tube, food grade hose, standard brass hose fitting Polyurethne-coated polyester, neoprene hose Plastic, fabric-wrapped hose

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ivation is a battery-operated camping shower that must be paired with a bucket or other water-holding mechanism for use. It's USB rechargeable in just a few hours and comes with a 5' 9.5" hose that provides a 2.1" wide spray. It also features two attachments to let you hang or suction the showerhead for handsfree use.

Performance Comparison


This shower is a great choice for backyard and campground use.
This shower is a great choice for backyard and campground use.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort


If you're looking for a shower you can use outside that's just as comfortable as the one in your bathroom, the Ivation is what you want. It has a wide showerhead with evenly spaced holes that don't force the water out in little needles. It turns on and off with the simple click of a button on the pump housing (located in your bucket of water).


The battery pump provides nonadjustable, even, comfortable pressure that's strong enough to clean shampoo out of the dog's fur. Unlike many other camping showers that start out with strong pressure and fade to a trickle, the Ivation is steady. We repeatedly left this shower running for its entire battery life and are impressed by its consistent pressure throughout.

The power button is right on top of the pump, sitting in the bottom...
The power button is right on top of the pump, sitting in the bottom of your water bucket.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

A lot of showers don't have a hands free option and require you to purchase an extra pole or entire tent to rig up your nozzle. The Ivation once again bucks the trend by including not one but two mounts for the showerhead. A hook allows you to use a branch or fence for suspension, while the suction cup works great on car and patio windows.

The suction cup works well on an outside window.
The suction cup works well on an outside window.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We would like to see a slightly longer hose, though. From the base of the hose on top of the pump to the center of the showerhead is just 6.5 feet. While this is plenty for children and dog washing, taller folks may be less enamored by having to stoop to avoid pulling the pump out of the water bucket. Our main tester is 5'4" and has no problems using the Ivation next to its bucket, but those 5'10" and over loudly wished for a longer hose.

This sub-6 foot hose might not be tall enough for all humans, but...
This sub-6 foot hose might not be tall enough for all humans, but it's tall enough for dog baths.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Functionality


When it comes to the technical specs, the Ivation is once again an impressive contender. With a 2.5" wide showerhead boasting 2.1 inches between its farthest holes, we measured this powerhouse pumping an impressive 1.2 gallons per minute.


While this is excellent for comfort, it does mean your bucket of water will drain rather quickly as you rinse. In fact, to bathe a 75-pound dog, we actually filled a 60-quart chest cooler just to be sure we had enough water. You're much more likely to run out of water before you run out of battery, as we clocked this shower averaging 52 minutes of continuous run time, but it will empty a 5-gallon bucket in about 4 minutes.

You're more likely to run out of water before you run out of battery...
You're more likely to run out of water before you run out of battery life.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

It does take a good chunk of time to charge back up again, though. The directions say 2-5 hours, and recommend using a 5V charging block (not included) to achieve the fastest time. Doing exactly that, we repeatedly needed just over 3 hours to fully recharge the Ivation. If you're out camping and recharging it using your car ports (which charge at a lower voltage), it will take longer. Fortunately, a switch from a red light to a blue light easily lets you know when your unit is fully charged.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

And this shower doesn't do anything to the temperature of the water in your preferred receptacle. On the one hand, it's fairly easy to boil a few kettles of hot water in the campground to add to cold water, creating a pleasant temperature. On the other hand, if you don't have a method to heat water, you'll be stuck with whatever temperature you've got.

The Ivation has an impressive rate of flow and provides even...
The Ivation has an impressive rate of flow and provides even, consistent pressure.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Set Up


Not all necessary items are included with the purchase of your Ivation Portable. It lacks both a bucket and a charging adapter. If you're planning to use this around home or on a car camping trip, you've probably got a spare bucket or can pick up one of those "camp sinks" to save space. With the prevalence of smartphones and other technologies these days, you've most likely already got a charging block lying around too. So we don't count it too much against this model that it doesn't come with those items, but you still have to assemble them.


However, if you've ever been asked to carry a 5-gallon bucket full of water, you'll know this is a great way to get your feet wet. We much prefer filling smaller buckets and kettles and using those to fill the pre-placed larger water container. But that's just one more piece of equipment.

It even comes apart with your hands so you can easily clean the...
It even comes apart with your hands so you can easily clean the filter.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Unlike pretty much every item sold with a battery, the Ivation comes with clear and helpful directions that are short, to the point, and easy to follow. It directs assembly, suggests safe usage, and even tells you how to take it apart to clean the filter. It reminds you not to turn it on until the pump has filled with water and describes how to easily drain the shower for storage. It's not bad to set up if you have all the pieces required, but in certain situations (like trying to cross 15 campsites lugging a 5-gallon bucket of water), it's less than ideal.

Just hang it up over your fence and you're ready to go!
Just hang it up over your fence and you're ready to go!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


We found very few details regarding what the Ivation is made out of aside from its 2200 mAh Lithium battery. However, it doesn't feel like a shower that could be backed over with your car. The hose isn't totally flimsy but easily squishes flat under the weight of a cooler lid and kinks if left folded overnight.


The orange plastic housing of the battery and pump is totally adequate but not particularly inspiring. We didn't have any durability issues during our testing, other than temporary hose kinks, but it's just not as beefy and impressive as many of the much more rugged models we tested.

We're wary of the plastic on plastic "seal" protecting the charging...
We're wary of the plastic on plastic "seal" protecting the charging port.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

To be thorough, we also scoured the internet for user complaints to see what other issues might crop up. Several people reported one of our fears — the plastic breaking — particularly around the attachment point for the showerhead. Numerous other people reported their unit stopped working after a time. Though we can't say why that happened, we do have one theory as to how it could. The charging port is plunged underwater every time you use it. It's got a half-twist cap meant to keep it dry during use, but the cap has no rubber seal of any kind — just plastic on plastic. It seems like just a matter of time until, whether through user error or actual material degradation, water may seep into the charging port.

It's not the most durable shower we tested, but ours at least didn't...
It's not the most durable shower we tested, but ours at least didn't break.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


The Ivation shower alone is fairly lightweight and easy to keep in its box and tote around wherever you need it. It weighs just over 20 ounces (or a pound and a quarter) and packs easily back into its 9.25" x 8.25" x 2" box.


However, it requires quite a few additional parts and pieces that, depending on what style you use, make it less portable. If paired with a lightweight solar panel for charging and a packable camping sink to hold water, it's fairly easy to pack along on a camping trip. But, if paired with a standard 5-gallon bucket, it's significantly more obnoxious to cart around.

The whole shower is fairly small and reasonably lightweight, making...
The whole shower is fairly small and reasonably lightweight, making it easy to tote around.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


When it comes to camping showers, there is a HUGE range of prices you might pay for shockingly different types of showers. The Ivation is one of the least expensive options available and one of the most comfortable. We love what this shower has to offer and think it is a very high-value item.

Conclusion


The Ivation Portable is a super comfortable shower that's easy to use and love for a low price, making it a natural choice for our Best Buy Award. This battery-powered model is an excellent choice for using around your home and yard.

We love using this comfortable shower.
We love using this comfortable shower.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg