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Water should be one of your primary considerations before you head out camping. Some campsites offer fresh water, but others don’t. Therefore, you need to know how much water to carry for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene.
You need five US gallons (18.9 liters) of water for a camp shower. Additionally, few camp showers hold beyond five US gallons (18.9 liters). You can survive with fewer gallons, but you need to be a pro at water conservation and have a shower with a slow flow to pull it off.
Now that you know how much water you need for a camp shower, I’ll let you in on the different shower options you have for camping. I’ll also explain how best to save shower water when camping.
Why Five Gallons (18.9 Liters) Is the Magic Number
Showering during camping feels nothing like showering at home. The flow rate from camp showers is much slower, translating to less water needed for the shower. However, you will still enjoy a refreshing shower with less water.
You need five gallons (18.9 liters) because most camp showers hold that amount of water. Due to the decreased flow rate of camp shower heads, you’ll take a complete ten-minute shower with five gallons (18.9 liters).
Your body size will also dictate how much water you need for a camp shower. If you are a six-foot-four (1.93-meter) football linebacker, expect to use more water than a ten-year-old kid.
Nevertheless, five gallons (18.9 liters) should be enough for both of you. The difference is that a ten-year-old kid will leave the shower with a couple of gallons to spare.
Camping showerheads are typically smaller and utilize smaller pins to save water. Therefore, they use less water compared to home showers.
You can use up to 30 gallons (113.6 litres) of water for a ten-minute shower at home. During camping, five gallons (18.9 liters) will serve you just as well.
This stat demonstrates how much water we waste using home showers.
Related Article: Showering on the road - full guide
How To Save Shower Water During Camping
Water can prove to be a very precious commodity during camping, especially if you don’t have a freshwater body near you to fetch water. Therefore, you must use water as conservatively as possible. Showering consumes a lot of water, but you can save plenty using a simple trick.
Turn off the water when not in use. We waste a lot of shower water by leaving the shower on during lathering, for example. When camping – and even at home – you don’t need to have the shower on throughout the entire bath.
A system called the navy shower can help you save plenty of water during camping. Spend the first 30 seconds getting wet under the shower, then switch it off.
Lather your body, and turn on the shower for a minute to rinse off. The target is to spend less than two minutes under the shower.
By doing this, you’ll save a ton of fresh water.
If the navy shower is too tough for you, save water by using a low-flow showerhead. It reduces the rate of water flow, resulting in reduced water use.
What Are the Types of Camping Showers?
The different camping showers have three things in common:
- A water reservoir
- A hose
- A showerhead
They differ in heating capabilities and methods, complexity, and price.
The types of camping showers available are:
- 12V showers
- Gas-heated showers
- Car-fitted showers
I’ll look at each of these in greater detail to help you choose the best one for your camping trip.
Canvas showers are the simplest type of camping showers available.
They have a hose, a reservoir, and a showerhead. Canvas showers depend on gravity to work, so you need a place to suspend the bag, like a tree branch.
You also need an improvised screen to shower using a canvas shower or get comfortable with showering in the open. The bag is too heavy for a shower tent, so you’ll need to get creative to secure privacy.
You’ll have to preheat the water if you must shower with warm water.
The main advantage of a canvas shower is its simplicity. Fill the reservoir with water, find a private spot, and get to showering.
- Camping shower; ideal for hiking, hunting, fishing, and other outdoor adventures.
- 3-gallon capacity; designed to heat water fast in the warm sun; has a water temperature gauge.
A solar camping shower is just like a canvas shower, but this one uses the sun’s energy to heat water for you.
The cover is made of heat-absorbent material that heats the water using sun rays. All you need to do is leave the full bag out in the sun and let nature work its magic.
You’ll wait several hours before the water heats up. Therefore, ensure that you maximize the time when the sun’s hottest.
You can accelerate the heating by placing the bag on a metal surface, for example, a car bonnet. Before you start showering, ensure that the water’s not too hot.
Just like the canvas shower, the solar shower needs gravity to work. A tree branch would work best, considering that the bag is too heavy for a shower tent.
An advanced type of solar shower can be mounted on your vehicle’s roof rack. That way, the water heats up as you move around.
This type of solar camping shower doesn’t take up much space. The vehicle’s height also presents a high-enough mounting point for the shower.
However, you’ll have to bathe very close to where you park your vehicle.
The main disadvantage with solar showers is that no sun means no hot water.
Related Article: How to Easily Hang a Camp Shower (Tips and Tricks)
3. 12V Showers
- Refreshing showers on the go
- Gentle flow for universal comfort
- Hold by hand or hang up high
- Long-lasting rechargeable battery
- Lightweight, compact and convenient
12V showers address the water pressure disadvantage plaguing the solar and canvas showers.
The 12V shower comes with an electric pump that you place inside the reservoir. The pump provides water pressure to facilitate a relaxing shower.
Since you don’t have to hang the tank overhead, you can bathe inside a water tent using the 12V shower.
However, hot water enthusiasts must still heat the water before showering.
The Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower from Amazon.com is an excellent option for this category. It utilizes rechargeable batteries that you can fill using any USB port.
At full charge, the shower will give you one hour of continuous use.
4. Gas-Heated Showers
This is one of the options for a camper that can’t do without a hot shower, but it isn’t cheap.
These showers use propane to heat your shower water and a battery-driven pump to deliver it.
Some of these showers allow for the regulation of water temperature. They come in wide varieties, so you will get one that suits your needs.
The more advanced your shower gets, the more you’ll have to shell out.
A gas-heated shower can prove to be a worthwhile investment during an extended camping trip. Having to heat your water every day can be tiring and inefficient.
5. Car-Fitted Showers
If camping is the sort of thing you do regularly with your car, you should consider a car-fitted camping shower.
The shower’s pump uses power from your engine to pump water from the reservoir. It uses the heat generated by your engine to heat your shower water.
You regulate the shower water’s temperature in the same way you regulate your car’s internal temperature. With a car-fitted camping shower, you’ll really enjoy your showers, especially if you park close to a body of water.
I advise that you invest in a long outlet hose so you can set up a shower tent next to your car.
Five US gallons (18.9 liters) will work well regardless of whichever type of camping shower you use.
You can use far less than five gallons (18.9 liters) per shower if you shower conservatively. Try the navy shower and marvel at how much water you save.
Here are some of my favorite van life essentials:
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you found it helpful as you’re experiencing your life on the road. Here are some tools and gadgets I use on a daily basis that made my van life a lot easier. I hope you’ll also find them as useful as me. These are affiliate links, so if you do decide to purchase any of them, I’ll earn a commission.
But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I use and recommend to everyone, even my closest friends and family.
Kitchen: I’m cooking a lot and I’ve finally found my perfect cookware set: The Magma Cookware 10 Pcs that you can nests and store in less than 1/2 cubic foot of cabinet space is really handy. Since I’m also spending a lot of time working at my desk, I use my favorite coffee mug from Yeti. For more, check my list of kitchen accessories I can’t live without.
Outdoor: Even though I’m spending a lot of time in my van working, I do enjoy getting out and explore my ever-changing neighborhood. This sometimes requires me to take my portable solar battery with me. And when I just want to chill outside and take a nap, I use the Winner Outfitters Hammock.
Clean/Tidy: Space is precious and therefore I used these heavy-duty storage bins from Homs to store my material. They’re robust and you can stack them together. Regarding showering, I like to use this portable solar shower from Advanced Elements when it’s hot outside.
To see all of my most up-to-date recommendations about van life, check out this resource that I made for you!