"Outside" doesn't have to be synonymous with "dirty" if you have a camping shower. We investigated 35+ options before choosing the 10 best showers to test side-by-side, staying clean while living life outdoors. We spent months living and camping in trailers, tents, and under the stars, keeping ourselves, our dogs, our dishes, and our gear clean all the while. We tested shower functionality in the great outdoors and in the lab, measuring rates of flow, spray coverage, and wait time to get hot water. From showers that mount on your roof rack to ones you can carry in your backpack, we've identified the right shower to get the job done.
The Best Camping Showers
Best Overall Camping Shower
Zodi Extreme S/C
The Zodi Extreme is an impressive camping shower that wowed our testers in just about every category. Though not a conventional design, the Zodi brings together an adjustable pressure we're not used to seeing in a camping shower with an easy-to-use design that's built to last. The Zodi is the only camping shower in this review with a completely adjustable range of pressure controlled by the hand pump and a variable on/off lever. Its kink-proof hose is long enough for even the tallest folks to use it comfortably.
The Zodi is shockingly easy to heat to the right temperature, as it can be set directly on top of a sturdy stove until the outside temperature gauge reads a glorious 104 degrees. Though it's the heaviest shower in this review that you're expected to carry around and it doesn't compact even slightly, the Zodi delivers an incredible experience from personal showers to gear cleaning to bathing the dog.
Read review: Zodi Extreme S/C
Best Bang for the Buck
Pure Clean Battery-Powered
If you want to bring the comforts of home to your outdoor shower experience, the Pure Clean Battery-Powered shower can help you out. With one of the widest shower heads we tested, it provides ample coverage for your self-cleaning adventures. A rechargeable battery pack provides easy, steady pressure without any pumping or squeezing on your part. It's so small and easy to cart around that, with the addition of a bucket, you can use it to clean just about anything! From bathing the dog in the yard to cleaning dishes during summer camping trips and even rinsing sandy or muddy gear before sticking it back in your car. A simple USB recharge lets you keep everything clean nearly effortlessly, and the price is nice!
However, it's not the most durable shower option, with numerous small parts to lose and brittle plastic to baby. You won't want to treat it too roughly if you expect to keep it around for long! It's also very important to never get the battery wet, or you're likely to shorten its life in that arena as well. This is made more challenging by a particularly short cord attaching the battery to the shower itself. We're not terribly impressed by its 32-minute battery life, but for a single shower/dog bath/boat rinse, it'll get the job done. And despite these shortcomings, it's a comparatively inexpensive shower that's impressively easy and comfortable to use.
Read review: Pure Clean Battery-Powered
Best for Weekend Warriors
For the ultimate road trip accessory, the Road Shower takes center stage. This impressive powder-coated aluminum shower tube mounts on your roof rack, not only following you wherever you roam but also heating your water as you drive. It delivers pressure as intense as a typical garden hose, but from your car. As the tank empties and the pressure lessens, you can quickly and easily "top up" with a regular air pump (like the one you brought for your bike). Once it's on your car, there's no set up required - simply unhook the hose from the side of the tank and spray liberally. Filling up with a hose is easy. No hose access? No problem! This thing can be opened on top and filled by hand then pressurized with an air pump. No pump? Leave the cap open and you'll still be able to use it, though the trickle you'll get is better for rinsing dished and splashing your face than cleaning your sandy kayak.
The included nozzle works just like a standard hose head. This may be all you need, for cleaning gear, rinsing feet, or de-muddying the dog, but isn't great for an actual shower. For that, you'll probably want the attachable shower head, which is an additional purchase. Also, if you fill at home and leave the pump behind, you'll find the pressure drops precipitously as the tank empties. And if the 4-gallon, 4S version isn't big enough for you, 7 and 10 gallon versions also exist!
Read review: Yakima RoadShower
Best for Versatility
NEMO Helio Pressure Shower
With a unique combination of function and portability, the Nemo Helio Pressure Shower is a surprisingly versatile camping shower that's great for so much more than just camping. The foot pump delivers good pressure without taking your hands away from whatever you're cleaning. With a narrow shower head, even the 2.9-gallon capacity lasts a surprisingly long time. With a nozzle not unlike a kitchen sink sprayer, the Nemo can easily be used to clean all kinds of things from dogs to dishes. Packing down to a fraction of its assembled size and constructed of lightweight yet durable materials, the Helio is surprisingly portable.
Though it was challenging to fill and close, with its narrow top opening, once we got it set up, we were stoked with the performance of the Helio and had a hard time coming up with a situation in which is isn't dead useful.
Read review: Nemo Helio Pressure Shower
Best for Backpacking
Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
This tiny little shower looks like next to nothing, stowed away in it's little < 6 inch case, then unrolls into a 2.6 gallon dry bag-style shower, all for just a few ounces. Its big, open top makes scooping water straight out of a lake super simple and with a few rolls and a clip, she's ready to go. The black exterior does a good job soaking up the midday sun and turning it into a warm evening shower. A simple twisting nozzle right on the bottom of the bag - with helpful directions printed next to it - make bathtime a cinch. It also comes with a long length of parachute cord for hanging in a tree, though learning some key knots (like a truckers hitch, for example) will make this process easier. And yes, the weight of that cord is included in this model's 4.7 ounce statistic - so is the storage bag!
As hard as we tried, we weren't able to stop ours from leaking ever so slightly from the top roll as it laid on its side, heating in the sun. It didn't seem to make a dent in how much water it held though, so we tried not to worry about it too much. Once this thing is full of water, it weighs around 22 pounds, which is less fun to hoist over your head, but still lighter than most larger competitors. All in all, the performance of this simple gravity shower in an itty bitty, ultralight package makes this a great way to level up your next backpacking trip.
Read review: Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
Why You Should Trust Us
Maggie Brandenburg and her extended team of outdoor bathers get outside a lot and get dirty in the process. As a seasoned and committed nature explorer, Maggie has guided kayaking and backpacking trips in the backcountry for over 15 years. Aside from guiding, she explores Carribean islands, kayaks crystal blue lakes, and meanders along alpine trails. She has spent extended periods living entirely outdoors and knows how nice it is to get cleaned up in these conditions. With this wealth of experience to draw from, she understands what makes a great outdoor shower.
We began this study by thinking about what the most important aspects of an outdoor shower are before we bought and tested any. We then carefully selected the ten best we could find, and used them for subsequent summers, paying close attention to how well they performed in those key areas. We did things like measure the width of the showerhead stream and length of the hose to rate functionality. We took them apart and cleaned them, if we were able, to examine the ease of use, and we dropped them, full of water, from a height of over 6 feet, to get a sense of their durability. In the end, the best models revealed themselves.
Related: How We Tested Camping Showers
Analysis and Test Results
Over the course of an entire summer, we got dirty and got clean repeatedly. We spent months recreating, playing, and existing outside and spent more time cleaning up outside than we would have dreamed. We cleaned dirty kayak bottoms, we bathed dogs, we rinsed grubby feet. We set up a shower station for multiple weekends of trail work crews in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. We lived outside for weeks on end with only these showers to keep us clean enough to blend in with all the folks with indoor plumbing. We tested everything about these showers and collected what we learned to compare each shower to the others across five different metrics for a complete picture of what each is best suited for.
Related: Buying Advice for Camping Showers
While every shower earned a different total score, each metric is also calculated as an average of scores from a myriad of tests, a collective of experiences, and a wide variety of user feedback. For example, the Comfort metric is comprised of the performance of each shower to tests of pressure and ease of use, while also combining feedback from users of many sizes and for different uses. Read through the following information to learn what went into every metric we tested and how it went into the overall score, and gain insight into the right camping shower for your cleanliness desires.
Camping showers can be attached to a wide variety of prices, from less than $10 to well over $300! While reviewing this range, we found that price doesn't necessarily correspond with performance. And though we never include price into any of our calculations of product performance scores, we recognize that price can make a big difference as to what model you ultimately decide to purchase. The shower with the best value is the Pure Clean, our Best Buy award winner.
Comfort matters a lot when it comes to a proper shower. While you wouldn't expect to have the same level of comfort out in the woods as you do in your bathroom at home, the closer the better! We assigned this metric the highest weight of any metric in this review because when you're that exposed (and outdoors!), you need that extra level of comfort to get confidently clean.
To test this category, we asked a lot of people to take a lot of showers and tell us about their experiences. We asked questions like how easy was it to shampoo your hair? How good of a job do you think the shower did getting suds off your skin? Do you feel like you're clean? We also considered other questions such as how easy it is to operate this shower by yourself? Can you easily turn the water on and off when you need it? Can the rate of flow be adjusted to suit your needs? Is there a stand or fixture to hold the showerhead or will you need one hand to operate it? How much time do you have to take a shower before you run out of water? How is the shower powered (battery, gravity or pump) and how convenient is that?
In addition, we used these showers for more than cleaning ourselves. We recognize that there are many other potential uses for camping showers that don't necessarily involve getting in a privacy tent and soaping up from head to foot. So we bathed dogs with these showers, we cleaned our kayaks, and we washed dishes in camp. We evaluated how easy and comfortable it was to do each of these activities with each shower. Some showers, like the battery-powered Pure Clean, are incredibly comfortable to use no matter how we use them. With a wide head and an excellent amount of pressure, cleaning just about anything is a breeze. The Zodi Extreme S/C is another very comfortable shower to use that provides a good amount of pressure and a long versatile hose attached to a large, durable tank.
What good is a shower if it doesn't work well? Not much good at all, we think, which is why this metric is the second most important metric in this review. The combination of Comfort and Functionality together paint a very rich picture of how it is to actually use any one of these showers. The tests we performed and aspects we scrutinized for this metric are complementary to the ones we carried out for Comfort tests.
This category was all about the technical comparisons. We measured, weighed, tested, and measured each shower some more to see how they stack up to each other when it comes to sheer numerical comparisons. We evaluated manufacturer claims and specifications to see what these showers were actually capable of.
Putting these measurements and tests together gives a better overall picture of the aptitude of each shower. We tested the rate of flow, took temperature ratings to see how quickly water heating mechanisms worked and ran batteries down to nothing repeatedly. We measured the length of shower hoses, the width of showerheads, and even their functional width - that is the diameter of the actual space water comes out of. In terms of actual specification functionality, the Zodi Extreme S/C reigns champion. Its long, kink-free hose, adjustable rate of flow, variable pressure options, and quick stove-heating mechanism make the Zodi an incredibly functional shower no matter what you're trying to clean. The Pure Clean is also an impressively functional shower, with a wide showerhead, quick and efficient rate of flow and rechargeable battery. The Road Shower 4S also stands out in this metric with its available high pressure, intensified for cleaning the dirtiest gear through a narrow, concentrated nozzle.
Ease of Set Up
When you want to shower at home, you simply walk into the bathroom and turn the shower on. We realize it isn't quite that easy when you want to shower out in the woods, but it doesn't have to be incredibly complicated. For each shower, evaluated how easy or complicated it is not only to set up but also to take it back down and put it away again.
Setting up a shower isn't just setting up the actual shower itself unless you're into really cold showers. To take a hot shower without the comforts of a nice big water heater in your closet means you'll be heating up the water yourself. However there's a wide range of how these showers might have their water heated up, and doing it manually is just one of them. We tested how quickly solar showers such as the Advanced Elements shower heated up in the sun and how quickly the Zodi Extreme heats up over the stove. We also evaluated how easy it is to get water into each shower in the first place, as they range from as wide open as a dry bag, like the easy to use Pocket Shower, to as specific as needing a physically connected hose or faucet, like the RinseKit POD. We also considered any directions that may have come with the shower as to their usefulness and effectiveness.
While all showers needed some sort of privacy barrier (or to be really truly away from anyone you aren't willing to show your birthday suit!), some of the showers we tested need additional items to make them work. From a bucket to put a pump into, to a stove to heat the water, most of these showers had some additional items necessary for their proper or comfortable functioning. And after your shower is complete and you and/or your grubby subject(s) are all squeaky clean, we wanted to know how easy it is to dry out your shower, clean it and put it away in storage. The Zodi Extreme is by far the easiest to set up and put away, as it simply zips into its carrying bag, and as it's made of stainless steel, needs very little cleaning and just a bit of oil every so often for upkeep. The Simple Shower is also impressively easy to set up; just screw it onto the nearest 2-liter bottle and you're ready to rock! Even the dry bag-style Sea to Summit Pocket Shower stands out as being easy to dunk in a lake and fill its gaping maw with water to heat in the sun. It also comes with the cord to hang it from a high branch if need be.
The last thing you want is for a shower to fail mid-shower, leaving you covered in soap, or break open in the back of your car causing a mini tsunami. It's also important that whatever shower you decide to bring with you can withstand whatever adventures you're hoping to take it on, whether that's being jostled inside a backpack, surviving a fall from a tree while you're trying to affix it, or being able to tip over in the back of the truck in traffic.
One of the first things we considered when testing this metric was the materials used in the construction of each shower. We also evaluated the construction itself, inspecting each connection, cap, hose, and seam for integrity and suspect areas. We noted pieces that worried us and gave those a pretty hard time to see if they would break. For example, if we were worried about the cap on a shower, we made sure to put it on and take it off repeatedly and give it bends and twists in ways that felt true to actual usage. Metal and hard plastic showers reigned supreme here. The stainless steel construction of the Zodi and the powder-coated aluminum of the Road Shower are particularly impressive, both featuring brass attachments and durable hoses. Even the RinseKit POD is quite durable, with few moving parts, a hard plastic body, and a fabric casing protecting the hose from damage.
We also used these showers a lot to see if they would stand up to the daily abuse of constant use for all kinds of cleaning purposes. We then went beyond that and purposely treated them roughly in ways we felt were consistent with normal usage. For showers that hang, we dropped them from 8 feet high to see if they would break. Anything handheld we dropped from a level they would normally be used to test how readily they might crack or malfunction. We also dragged them through dirt, rocks, and scraggly weeds to see what would tear. Despite having a soft construction, we were impressed with how well the Nemo Helio handled all our rough treatment.
If you can't take your camping shower with you camping, what's the point? Not much, we think, which is why we included Portability tests as part of our overall score calculations. The results of these tests are summarized below.
The most obvious test of portability we performed was to measure and weigh every shower in this review to see how they compare while empty. We also considered their overall shape to transport and if they come with any sort of carrying case to facilitate this process. The simple gravity showers stood out most in this metric as being rather light and packable. The obvious winner though, is the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower, weighing less than 3.5 ounces without its stuff bag, but still including the hanging cord. The Coghlan's 5-Gallon and Advanced Elements 3-Gallon also weight less than a pound while still having solid capacities. The Simple Shower weighs the least - about an ounce, with a 2 liter bottle included - but is not quite as compactable.
Additionally, we evaluated the compactability of each shower, as several can pack down quite small compared to their full size which aids in their transportation. While we appreciated the ability to roll up both the gravity showers, we were most impressed with the transformation of the Nemo Helio, fitting all its components into a relatively small, lightweight package. The final thing we considered was how easy each of these is to transport when full of water. We didn't count it against a shower if it was heavy when full, as that simply means it has a larger capacity for water. What we did evaluate was the carrying mechanism itself and its relative level of comfort and ease of use.
With so many different kinds of showers available to help you keep clean and clean your gear while you're outside, it can be overwhelming to figure out which one will actually suit your needs best. We had an absolute blast testing these showers for hundreds of hours to bring you the absolute best showers for whatever you want to keep clean. We hope that our research and testing of cleanliness has brought you insights into how you can take your camping to the next level by bringing along the right camping shower. Stay clean out there!
— Maggie Brandenburg