Sea to Summit Pocket Shower Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight and packable, easy to use, heats up well, comes with everything you need
Cons: Low pressure, can be difficult to hang high enough, roll-top is leaky
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Sea to Summit Pocket Shower is a lightweight, dry bag-like shower that uses gravity to do the work. It has a 2.6-gallon capacity, an open top for easy filling, and the showerhead is attached directly to the bottom of the solar-heated bag.
The Sea to Summit Pocket Shower is a straight forward, no-nonsense shower when it comes to comfort. Its head is the same width as similar competitors, providing decent coverage for a gravity-powered shower. When full, it has solid pressure and coverage that will let you lather and rinse yourself clean (200ft from any water source, of course). However, unlike some competitors, this model lacks a hose to concentrate the water flow into the showerhead. This means that the less water there is left in the bag, the less pressurized the water coming out the spout is. This tapers away until the last dregs are just trickling out sadly.
The nozzle on the Pocket Shower can easily be twisted on or off to conserve hot water between lather and rinse. It also displays a helpful diagram of this next to said nozzle, so you're unlikely to forget which way to turn. Though the head is the same width as several others we tested, it's a bit flatter, concentrating the flow slightly better. As is the case with pretty much any gravity shower, it can be challenging to get it hung at exactly the right height for your soapy head. Once you hit that sweet spot, though, this shower performs perfectly adequately for what it is.
With a capacity of 10 liters or about 2.6 gallons, the Pocket Shower doesn't sound like it will last all that long. However, with its tapering water pressure, it outlasted our expectations by going for nearly 10 minutes! That being said, the closer it gets to the end of the water, the less useful that flow is until the last little bits are just that — little bits.
As a good-sized black dry bag-style shower, this unit is heated by the power of the sun. Though it performed slightly less impressively than some of the other solar heated models we tested, a few hours in the midday sun is more than enough to get some nice hot bathwater going. Just got to camp as the sun is setting? Fear not — you can also add a liter or two of boiling water to a mostly full bag and get a pretty cozy shower that way too. This is an excellent option for anyone who wants to play all day without giving up on a hot shower after dark.
Ease of Set Up
The top of this portable miracle is a gaping wide opening with a closure system just like your standard dry bag. This makes it one of the easiest showers to set up by simply scooping up regular lake water. The top rolls down and clips shut and voila! You're ready! This configuration also makes it very easy to clean and dry your unit when you're done, which is not the case for many of the other showers we tested.
If that's not simple enough, there are helpful directions printed inside the bag where they can never get lost. This little guy also comes with a long cord with which to hang it from a sturdy tree — though learning some helpful knots will go a long way toward being able to hoist it to the right height. We noticed that the top tends to leak very slightly when it's lying on its side, but it never seemed to make a noticeable 'dent' in the amount of water inside, even when left out all day to soak up the sun.
The look and feel of the Pocket Shower is that of a relatively thin dry bag, and it seems as though its durability is about the same. For the summer season we tested ours, we had absolutely no issues with it holding up to all kinds of backpacking shenanigans, being dunked in lakes, dragged across boulders, and yanked up trees. The showerhead will leak slightly if you overtighten it, but this warning is helpfully printed in numerous places on the unit to remind you not to do that.
While we had no issues, we couldn't possibly put this little guy through years worth of use and abuse in a single summer (not for lack of trying!). So we read through other user reports online to see what durability issues other people may have noticed over time. We didn't find a ton of reports, though the ones that did have complaints mentioned seams that leak after a long time and the eventual wearing out of the thin fabric. Still, for what it is, we think this little shower holds up pretty well.
Another of the shining glories of the Pocket Shower! At just 4.7 ounces (3.4 without the bag), it's the lightest model we tested. It packs down into a little 5.5" x 3.5" bundle that's easy to stick in a pocket, just as the name implies. Even full of water, it's not terrible to carry by the top clips. Its compact design helps keep it from dragging on the ground while you haul it hundreds of meters from the water's edge to your soaping station.
Honestly, this wee beastie is so light and compacts, we had a hard time coming up with any reasons not to bring it backpacking or camping with us. It's a no brainer to bring along even on road trips or just to wash dishes over a bin in the campground. Every little thing about it is so well thought out to keep it lightweight without sacrificing too much usability. Sea to Summit nailed it.
We think anyone who loves backpacking will find this shower has great value. Even if you're an infrequent backpacker but a common camper, this functional, easy-to-use option is sure to come in handy.
Though not the cushiest shower we've taken, the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower can really go places, possibly providing the best view during a shower. Regardless of where you may take it, this thing is ultra-portable, impressively easy to fill and use, and just might become your new best backcountry friend. We certainly love it and have no doubts about it earning a spot as our Top Pick for Backpacking.
— Maggie Brandenburg