This lightweight shower unfurls into a good-sized, easy-to-use shower that makes it a no-brainer to bring with you pretty much anywhere. This combination of ease of use, portability, and downright usefulness makes it our Top Pick for Backpacking. Some practice hanging this dry bag-style model and knowledge of a few key knots will make your shower experience all the better. What it lacks in pressure it makes up for by scrunching down into a 5.5 inch long, 3.4 ounce (without the stuff bag) package that's easy to toss into your pack and bring along on a weekend backpacking trip, heating up nicely in that midday sun.
Sea to Summit Pocket Shower Review
Cons: Low pressure, can be difficult to hang high enough, roll-top is leaky
Manufacturer: Sea to Summit
Compare to Similar Products
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, 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 all the way until the last dregs are just trickling out sadly.
The nozzle 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 a bit better than the others. As is the case with pretty much any gravity shower, it's a bit challenging to get this one hung at exactly the right height for your soapy head. Once you hit that sweet spot though, the Pocket 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 still going for nearly 10 minutes! That being said, the closer it got to the end of its life, the less useful that flow was until the last little bits were 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 was 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 solid 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 gaping wide open, 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 quickly and easily. 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 more than most 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 laying 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. We also had a few close calls accidentally opening the nozzle while maneuvering it on hot granite, but that was simple enough to just twist shut again.
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, well, stick in a pocket. 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 so well, we had a hard time coming up with any reasons not to bring it backpacking or camping with us.
With this size and weight, this is a no-brainer choice for a backpacking shower. Though it lacks some of the pizazz of some of the other models we tested, it's got the right combination of portability and ease of use at the end of a long day of hiking. Even if you're at a campground with an actual shower, the Sea to Summit can still come in handy for washing dishes, quickly rinsing hands or feet, or even giving the dog a quick splash.
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 giving us 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 its spot as our Top Pick for Backpacking.
— Maggie Brandenburg