Ivation Portable Review
Cons: Short hose, can't empty its container, durability concerns
Manufacturer: Ivation Products
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
— Maggie Brandenburg