Do you love heading out of town on a new adventure and always return with dirty gear? The Yakima RoadShower has got your back, winning our Top Pick for Weekend Warriors. This car-top tube mounts in just minutes and lives on top of your car to help you keep your stuff - and yourself - clean wherever you may drive. It provides powerful pressure and can be re-pressurized with an air pump at any given moment. It can also be filled without a hose if you're out and about and pressurized by hand to give that same intense spray. Though the included nozzle is a bit narrow and intense for a comfortable shower, it's easily swapped for a flexible hose head (for additional purchase). Though you can't completely empty the tank without removing it from your car, we love this portable cleaning station for all our weekend adventures.
Yakima RoadShower Review
Cons: Precipitous drop-off in pressure, included nozzle not a great shower, can't fully empty
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The RoadShower is a powder-coated aluminum, car-top shower and rinse station that provides pressurized spray through a thin, hose-like nozzle. This model holds 4 gallons of water and comes with a 4.5-foot hose, all mounted semi-permanently on top of your roof rack.
Fully pressurized to 65 psi, the RoadShower can spray an impressive 30 feet! This is a great asset to cleaning your gear but doesn't feel quite as nice on your skin or scalp. The more water you use, the less pressure is left in the tank, until by the end it sprays a single stream of water just 4 feet (see below for photos). However, if you need pressure the whole time, you can re-pressurize the tank with an air pump or bicycle pump using the nozzle on top of the tank. You'll run out of water faster, but the pressure might be worth it to get that excess mud off your bike or the bottoms of your shoes. A simple on/off switch at the base of the hose keeps your water from leaking out or spraying on your neighbors as you speed down the highway.
Though you could use a hand pump to maintain a medium pressure that's easier on your skin, the narrowness of the nozzle makes this stream little wider than a drinking fountain, which isn't ideal for washing your hair. If you're after more of a shower and less of a gear powerwash, Road Shower does sell a shower head attachment with a flexible neck that turns this metal bin into a car side personal bathing apparatus.
The Road Shower has a 4-gallon capacity that runs dry in about 4 minutes and 40 seconds (with no re-pressurization). Used without pressure, powered by just the flow of gravity (and a loosened fill cap), you can use this trickle to clean dishes or splash water on your face for about 10.5 minutes! If 4 gallons isn't going to cut it for you, the full version of the Road Shower holds seven full gallons, and the large version packs 10! With a decent length 4.5 foot hose, you have a reasonable amount of maneuverable space to wash gear or dishes. While a longer hose would certainly make this process easier, this length is exactly the right length to lay alongside the water tank to cut down on wind resistance while you drive to your next expedition spot.
With the included nozzle only, the RoadShower puts out a concentrated 0.2-inch stream of water. For cleaning gear, this is pretty ideal. But as soon as we thought about cleaning ourselves, we were in want of a much wider jet. For about $50, you can purchase a 19-inch flexible hose shower head to upgrade your rig.
Ease of Set Up
This package comes with everything you need to mount it to your car right out of the box - minus the roof rack, of course. A thorough set of directions helps make this process as simple as possible. And until you decide to take it off for the winter, it stays up there quite well over all kinds of terrain. Having it mounted on top of your car and filling it through the attachment at the end of the hose makes refills easy and breezy. If you don't have access to a hose and instead need to open the top fill cap and use an air pump to pressurize, it's a bit more obnoxious - especially if you have a tall vehicle.
While filling your tank with a hose is easy and only takes a minute or two, the pressure it creates makes for an interesting experience removing the hose as it tries to spray that built-up water all over you and your car. And while the Road Shower calls for a specific pressure to be reached for "optimal usage", it includes no gauge to read said pressure. A standard car tire pressure gauge won't work either, as most don't read pressures that high. However, there is a pressure release valve in the fill cap on top that releases extra pressure around 55-75 psi. The manufacturer stresses testing this to avoid over-pressurizing a faulty unit that could then explode. While we had no problems using this, we were a bit disappointed to find the shower is nearly impossible to drain completely without taking it off your car and physically dumping it upside down - and therefore can't be thoroughly cleaned. Also, you'll want to lock it to your car to prevent theft while you're out having adventures, as otherwise, anyone with a wrench could abscond with your wonderful kit.
Constructed of powder-coated aluminum with a food grade hose, and brass fittings, the Road Shower is built like a tank. All the pieces attached to the tank are replaceable, and the included directions give numerous maintenance and troubleshooting tips for common things that could go wrong with your unit. We couldn't find anything to complain about the durability of this tough shower set-up, beyond just the additional maintenance load of a more mechanical piece of equipment.
Scouring the internet for other user complaints, we couldn't find too many that stood out. There were a couple reports of the Road Shower losing pressure over several days of sitting, but we never experienced that. Mostly we found others discussing the regular maintenance these showers need to stay in tip-top shape, which we don't think is so bad.
With an oblong shape and no handles, this shower is not meant to be carried. But mounted on top of your roof rack and it's as portable as bringing your bumper with you! Though it weighs 19.4 pounds empty, your car won't notice the difference - even when it's full of water. It has three open clips for the hose and two velcro straps to keep it tightly pressed against the side of the tank as you drive and easily pulls out when you're ready to use it.
The only real con of transporting this shower around is that you need your car to do it. Unlike some showers that are ready for a backpacking trip, the Road Shower must be attached to your roof rack. This limits you to being with your car to use it. But if you're the typical weekend warrior, cruising around to all kinds of adventures in your Subaru or Jeep, this won't hold you back a bit.
If your adventures and trips always revolve around your vehicle, this shower/gear cleaning package is an excellent way to level up your weekend fun. As is, it's a great way to clean your gear, and with an additional purchase, it can transform into a more conventional shower. From rinsing your surfboard to power washing your mountain bike, we think the Road Shower just may become your new favorite piece of gear.
Ringing up for about $330, the Road Shower is an investment, and it's larger brethren cost even more. But if you frequently find yourself returning home and forgetting to clean your gear until it's been far too long or needing to clean your car AND your do because you had fun too hard, we think this shower is absolutely worth it. And with its durable build, it's likely to last for years of weekend excursions.
The RoadShower is an intensely durable car-top shower and pressurized rinse station all in one. Once mounted, it's so easy to use and provides impressive pressure that can be easily added or topped up with an air pump. Though its original nozzle isn't a comfortable shower, a simple upgrade fixes that issue. No hose? No problem with this tank, as you can fill it from the top and pressurize it by hand in a pinch. With how easy this unit is to keep you and your gear from tracking all the mud and gunk home, it's easy to see why the Road Shower is our Top Pick for Weekend Warriors.
— Maggie Brandenburg