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Yakima RoadShower Review

A no-nonsense car-top solar shower and rinse station that will last you a lifetime
Yakima RoadShower
Photo: Yakima
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $400 List | $399.00 at REI
Pros:  Easy to use, can re-pressurize, don't need a hose, durable, intense pressure
Cons:  Precipitous drop-off in pressure, included nozzle not a great shower, can't fully empty, expensive, requires a roof rack
Manufacturer:   Yakima
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 11, 2021
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77
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 12
  • Comfort - 30% 7
  • Functionality - 25% 8
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 7
  • Durability - 15% 9
  • Portability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

Do you love heading out of town and need a companion for your gritty adventures? The Yakima RoadShower has got your back, retaining our Editors' Choice award yet again. This metal car-top tube mounts in just minutes to help keep you and your gear clean, wherever you may drive. It provides powerful pressure, is re-pressurized with an air pump, and can be filled sans hose if needed. Though the included nozzle is a bit narrow for a perfect shower, it can easily be swapped out for a showerhead (sold separately). You can't completely empty the tank on the RoadShower without removing it from your car, but we still love this portable cleaning station for all our weekend adventures.

Product Rebranding

Yakima acquired RoadShower in 2019, and since our test cycle ended, they have redesigned the logo shown on the RoadShower. The current RoadShower (shown above) is identical in function and design to the version we tested, though it features different logos.

August 2021

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Yakima RoadShower
This Product
Yakima RoadShower
Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $399.00 at REI$99.95 at REI$34.99 at Amazon$189.99 at Amazon$34.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to use, can re-pressurize, don't need a hose, durable, intense pressureHighly versatile, packable, good pressure, durable, water lasts a long timeGreat coverage, comfortable and consistent pressure, decent battery life, easy to useInstant hot water, very comfortable spray, extremely adjustableLightweight and packable, easy to use, heats up well, comes with everything you need
Cons Precipitous drop-off in pressure, included nozzle not a great shower, can't fully empty, expensive, requires a roof rackSmall shower head, filling is a learning curve, must hold in ON position while usingShort hose, can't empty its container, durability concernsComplicated set up, not very portable, lots of extras requiredLow pressure, can be difficult to hang high enough, roll-top is leaky
Bottom Line A no-nonsense car-top solar shower and rinse station that will last you a lifetimeA truly versatile, all-around useful shower that you’ll want to take with you everywhereBy adding a bucket and a battery, this shower brings you all the comforts of home in the outdoorsA semi-permanent, easy to use solution for anyone who's always wanted an outdoor showerAn affordable, easy to use, and super packable shower that can come with you anywhere
Rating Categories Yakima RoadShower NEMO Helio Pressure... Ivation Portable Camplux Pro Series 6L Sea to Summit Pocke...
Comfort (30%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
Functionality (25%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Set Up (20%)
7.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
7.0
Durability (15%)
9.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
6.0
Portability (10%)
8.0
7.0
5.0
3.0
9.0
Specs Yakima RoadShower NEMO Helio Pressure... Ivation Portable Camplux Pro Series 6L Sea to Summit Pocke...
Heating Method Solar Manual or Solar Manual Propane Manual or Solar
Shower Head Usable Width (inches) 0.2" 0.6" 2.1" 2.2" 1"
Weight (shower only, ounces) 310 oz
(19.25 lb)
20 oz
(1.25 lb)
21 oz
(1.3 lb)
192 oz
(12.6 lb)
4.7 oz
(0.3 lb)
Packed Size (L x W in inches) 57" x 6.5" 5.5" x 8.5" 72" x 3.25" 21" x 12" x 5.5" 5.5" x 3.25"
Filled Size (inches) Same 17" x 9.5" Same plus a bucket Same 20" x 8.5"
Hose Length (feet/inches) 4' 6" 6' 10" 5' 9.5" 5' N/A
Shower Head Diameter (inches) 0.5" 1.0" 2.5" 3.1" 1.4"
Capacity 4 gal 2.9 gal (bucket) (hose) 2.6 gal
Rate of Flow (gallons per minute) Extremely variable 1 gal/min 1.2 gal/min Variable based on hose pressue Extremely variable
Construction Powder coated aluminum tube, food grade hose, standard brass hose fitting Polyurethne-coated polyester, neoprene hose 2200 mAh lithium battery Stainless steel burner, tinning copper heat exchanger 70D nylon dry sack, plastic components

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 — though we also tested the Yakima RoadShower FlexHead showerhead attachment. The version we tested holds 4 gallons of water (other versions hold 7 or 10 gallons) and comes with a 4.5-foot foot hose, all mounting securely on top of your roof rack.

Performance Comparison


This slick shower is ready to come with on all your road trip...
This slick shower is ready to come with on all your road trip adventures!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Comfort


Fully pressurized to 65psi, the RoadShower can spray an impressive 30 feet! This is a great asset for cleaning your gear but doesn't feel quite as nice on your skin or scalp. However, 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.


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 — assuming your pump hose is long enough to reach the top of your car. 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 the water from leaking out or spraying on your fellow travelers as you speed down the highway.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

By twisting the end of the nozzle, you can easily adjust the spray radius to something that's a little more comfortable and usable as a shower. We also bought and tested the FlexHead 30" showerhead sold to accompany this metal tank. Its spray pattern is akin to your high school locker room shower, which isn't nearly as regular and comfortable as your shower at home but is a usable, efficient solution for a hands-free shower next to your car. The only real struggle we had using this showerhead is that its connection point to the tank is too loose, allowing the whole thing to sag. On our short Subaru, this, combined with our roof rack configuration that forces the tank to be mounted farther from the edge of the vehicle, makes it very difficult to use without having to duck and practically hug the side of the car. On a taller vehicle (FJ Cruiser) with a roof rack system that allows the unit to sit close to the edge, the showerhead sag is within reason and quite usable. So, if your RoadShower is mounted on a short vehicle or not right on the edge of your car, the showerhead is too short and too sagging to be of much use. It's best paired with a much larger weekend adventure mobile.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

Functionality


The RoadShower we tested 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 RoadShower holds 7 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 right to lay alongside the water tank to keep wind resistance down 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. Twisting the golden end of the nozzle widens the stream gradually, all the way to a fine mist. This makes it easier to get a more comfortable stream of water and keep your cleaning far more efficient. Using the FlexHead showerhead attachment runs through water at about the same speed as the fully opened spray nozzle, but in a configuration that's more spread out while still pressurized perfectly to get a complete shower.

As a metal tube with a black exterior, this shower heats up very quickly in the sun. The temperature gauge on the outside helps indicate how hot the water inside is. This is one of the very few showers we tested that can actually get way too hot to use, so always be sure to check and test the temperature of the water before committing to a full shower or cleaning another living being.

No hose to pressurize your Road Shower? Fill from the top (unscrew...
No hose to pressurize your Road Shower? Fill from the top (unscrew that cap on the left) and attach your bike pump to the Schrader valve on top!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Ease of Set Up


This package comes with everything you need to mount the RoadShower to your car right out of the box — minus the roof rack, of course. A thorough set of directions helps make the process as simple as possible. And until you decide to take it off for the winter, the shower 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. 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 when removing the hose as it tries to spray that built-up water all over you and your car. And while the RoadShower 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 55-75psi. The manufacturer stresses testing this to avoid over-pressurizing a faulty unit that could then explode.

With the included hose adapter, refilling your Road Shower at home...
With the included hose adapter, refilling your Road Shower at home is pretty simple and quick.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

If you've decided your vehicle is tall enough to use the FlexHead showerhead, the quick connect attachment it comes with is a fantastically easy way to snap on your showerhead when in use and stow it in your car when you're done. The showerhead also has an on/off button, making efficient showers even easier. We were, however, 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 onto your roof rack to prevent theft while you're out having adventures, as otherwise, anyone with a wrench could abscond with your wonderful kit.

The FlexHead showerhead can be easily snapped on and off with the...
The FlexHead showerhead can be easily snapped on and off with the quick connect attachment it comes with. The end of this showerhead also has an easy on/off slider that helps you save water while you shower.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Durability


Constructed of powder-coated aluminum with a food-grade hose and brass fittings, the RoadShower is built like a tank. All the attachment pieces 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 related to durability to complain about with this tough shower setup beyond just the additional maintenance required of a more mechanical piece of equipment.


Scouring the internet for other user complaints, we couldn't find too many that stood out. 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. There were a couple of reports of the RoadShower losing pressure over several days of sitting, which we found to happen when the top opening wasn't fully closed. As a metal-on-metal threaded opening, it can be challenging to keep it airtight. The included wrench is very helpful for cranking that wide cap down to pressurize the tank or opening it up for filling without a hose, depending on your needs.

Powder-coated aluminum, a food-grade hose, and handy temperature...
Powder-coated aluminum, a food-grade hose, and handy temperature indicator make this thing ready for adventure.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


With an oblong shape and no handles, this shower is not meant to be carried. But mounted on top of your roof rack, it's as portable as bringing your bumper with you. Though the 4-gallon version 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. From there, it easily pulls out when you're ready to use it. The FlexHead shower head attachment comes standard with a quick connect adapter, making it even easier to simply pull it off and toss it in your car when you're ready to roll out.


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 RoadShower must be attached to your roof rack. This limits you to being with your car. But if you're the typical weekend warrior, cruising around to all kinds of adventures in your truck or camper van, this won't hold you back a bit.

With this piece as your constant companion, it's a cinch to clean...
With this piece as your constant companion, it's a cinch to clean all your gear before sticking it back in your car!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Value


As one of the most expensive showers we tested, the RoadShower is an investment, and its larger versions 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 hair because you've had too much fun, we think this shower is absolutely worth it. And with its durable build, it's likely to last for many years of weekend excursions. Just keep in mind that you'll also need to have a roof rack, which is another even more expensive purchase.

An easy on/off switch keeps the contents contained while you're...
An easy on/off switch keeps the contents contained while you're underway.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Conclusion


The Yakima 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 topped up easily 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 makes keeping you and your gear from tracking all the mud and gunk home, it's easy to see why the RoadShower is a top choice. Now go get dirty!

Staying clean is easy with this rooftop shower!
Staying clean is easy with this rooftop shower!
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Maggie Brandenburg