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When it comes to living in motorhomes, the most commonly asked question is “How do you shower?”, and for a good reason. Hygiene is pretty important, but the van life can make the logistics of showers difficult.
The best overall camper van shower options are an indoor, in-built shower or the Advanced Elements Solar Shower for an outdoor option. Indoor showers can be used year-round and are safe and convenient. The Advanced Elements shower has great water capacity, is cheap, and uses the least resources.
In this article, I’ll lay out the pros and cons of an indoor, inbuilt shower. I’ll also explore five different outdoor camper van shower options and how they stack up against each other in different parameters for van showers.
Indoor Showers for a Camper Van
There are a lot of options when it comes to figuring out camper van showers, but the first question you’ll have to answer is whether you want something that’s indoors or outdoors.
The answer to this question boils down to what your needs are from your van and if you have the space and finances to accommodate an indoor shower. You could also consider purchasing a van that has indoor showers built-in.
This would take care of the hassle of managing the plumbing when getting a shower installed in your camper van.
The different kinds of indoor showers you could consider include:
- Half-tiled spaces
- A full washroom area
- A drawer with a shower curtain around it.
There are also built into bathrooms that can be hidden away, managing the space crunch.
Pros of an Indoor Shower
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of having an indoor shower in your van.
You Can Use It Year-Round
Outdoor showers are easy to use when the weather is balmy. But if you’re living the van life year-round, they are not an option. When the temperatures start dropping, the only way to stay clean is to make sure you can shower indoors.
In situations like this, the best option is to have access to a shower in your van.
An indoor shower guarantees your hygiene in the coldest winter, so long as you have access to water sources where you can refill your tanks.
It’s Safer at Night
Depending on where you are, outdoor showers may or may not be possible at night. While the night offers some privacy, it comes with its own dangers. In the wild, you risk attracting the attention of predators or scavengers. In urban areas, you risk being attacked.
Having the facility to shower indoors keeps you safer than you would if you were vulnerable and half-naked outside.
There is no denying the privacy of having an indoor shower in your camper van. You can access it whenever you’d like, and you’re safe from prying eyes. You can also take a proper shower in there without needing to keep your bathing suit on.
Cons of an Indoor Shower
Despite the conveniences, there are some downsides to indoor showers in a camper van. Let’s take a look at some of the cons of an indoor van shower.
Takes Up a Lot of Space
The van life isn’t for people who need a lot of space to live in. It can be quite comfortable but requires people to manage to live within a limited area. In such a situation, every square foot of space is vital.
When most spaces in the van are multipurpose, having a set area just for a single action feels wasteful. Additionally, the storage space for the water tanks and plumbing is also a matter of some concern regarding indoor showers in a camper van.
Needs Dedicated Plumbing
Building a shower into your van requires a rerouting of the plumbing system. Depending on your van, this might take quite a bit of effort.
Plumbing will need to be dedicated to your bathroom and carefully managed to ensure there are no leaks. Even the slightest hint of damp can affect the structural integrity of the entire van.
It is also important to note that the water source and wastewater will have their own storage. Not only do these need dedicated space, but they all also require regular refills and cleaning.
Because of the logistics of incorporating a bathroom into a tiny space without leaks, and the difficulty of keeping the van dry, indoor bathrooms can be expensive.
Well-built bathrooms can be quite waterproof but need a lot of effort and skill to set up. You probably shouldn’t try to install one yourself unless you’re very confident about your plumbing and electrical skills.
So the labor charges alone will be quite steep. You can expect your expenses to range between $1500-$2500 depending on the kind of shower you get built-in.
Additionally, inbuilt bathrooms use gas to heat the bathwater, increasing your overall expenses.
If you want to purchase a van with a complete bathroom and toilet system installed, it can set you back to anything between $165,143-$184,784.
Despite this, the pros of an indoor shower far outweigh the cons if you intend to be living in your camper van through the year and go completely off-grid. The concerns of safety far outweigh the price.
Outdoor Camper Van Shower Options
If you’d rather not waste the space and don’t intend to be in completely inaccessible areas, then you might as well save your money. There is a lot of variety when it comes to outdoor shower options for your camper van.
I’ve rated five different outdoor shower options below. All these options guarantee steady water flow and pressure, so I haven’t analyzed how they stack up in that respect.
The main factors I’ve taken into consideration are:
- Heating and Power
- Water Capacity and Usage
- Space and Weight
- Price Range
Heating and Power
When it comes to showers, hot ones are always nicer. If you’re going through the trouble of investing in a shower system, you want to get a shower that has the option of hot water.
|Outdoor Camper Van Shower||Inbuilt Heating||Maintains Heat||Power Requirements|
|Rinse Kit||✖||✔||9 Amp Draw (From a 12V power socket) for the heating Accessory or for Batteries in the Rinse Kit Pro|
|Geyser System||✔||✔||9.8 Amps from 12V power socket|
|Advanced Elements Solar Shower||✔||✔||✖|
|Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower||✖||✖||Battery for pressure|
Advanced Element Solar Shower
The Advanced Elements Solar Shower comes out on top here, not just because of its features, but because of its accessibility. In terms of specs, the RoadShower and The Geyser System do have great features when it comes to heating and power requirements, but neither of these is easy to find.
The Advanced Elements Solar Shower is easy to use, as it needs to be filled up and set outside to heat up, and the shower maintains its heat for a long while. And you can find the Advanced Elements Solar Shower easily on Amazon.com.
But if you’re driving through gloomy weather, you’ll need something that can give you hot water without the sun.
The Geyser System model with the inbuilt heating does require slightly more power than the Hot Rod accessory used in the Rinse Kit. However, the Hot Rod can’t be used with all Rinse Kit models.
Water Capacity and Usage
Water is absolutely necessary, but it also takes up space and is not an easy resource to find, so it becomes an important factor when considering your campervan lifestyle and the kind of shower options you want to choose.
More importantly. If you’re living alone, lugging around gallons of water that you need for your trip can get quite exhausting.
Having a large water capacity is good in some ways, as it means fewer refills. But it’s bad because it makes the van heavier. It also inevitably means that you end up using more water because it’s accessible.
|Outdoor Camper Van Shower||Water Capacity and Usage|
|Rinse Kit||1.5-3.5 Gallons (5.67-13.24 L)|
|Road Shower||4-10 Gallons (15.14-37.85 L)|
|Geyser System||0.5-0.8 Gallons (1.89-3.02 L)|
|Advanced Elements Solar Shower||2.5-10 Gallons (9.46-37.85 L)|
|Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower||✖|
With fairly straightforward specs, it is obvious that the Advanced Elements Solar Shower offers the widest range of water capacity to choose from.
But an important thing to mention here is the Geyser System, which offers between 1 – 15 minutes of wash time at the highest to lowest flow rate. If you’re concerned about your water consumption, the Geyser System is a good option to consider.
Space and Weight
|Outdoor Camper Van Shower||Dimensions||Weight When Full|
|Rinse Kit||14” x 8.5” x 11.75” to 17″ x 11.5″ x 14″ (0.35 x 0.21 x 0.29 m) to (0.43 x 0.29 x 0.35 m)||19-40 lbs (8.61-18.14 kg)|
|RoadShower||55” x 7.40”x 5.74” (1.39 x 0.18 x 0.14 m)||53-120 lbs (24.04-54.43 kg)|
|Geyser System||6” x 9” x 16 “ (0.15 x 0.22 x 0.40 m)||8 lbs (3.62 kg)|
|Advanced Elements Solar Shower||NA||20.8-83.5 lbs (9.43-37.87 kg)|
|Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower||7.2” (0.18 m) (not inclusive of hose)||1.9 lbs (0.86 kg)|
Among these, the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower is the lightest since it is just the showerhead without a tank.
If you’re looking for one with a tank, then the Geyser System is the most portable. It’s followed by the Advanced Elements Solar Shower, which can be rolled up and tucked away, making it convenient to store.
|Outdoor Camper Van Shower||Price Range|
|Rinse Kit||$120 – $315|
|Geyser System||$260 – $325|
|Advanced Elements Solar Shower||$20 – $50|
|Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower||$38 – $40|
There’s no denying that the Advanced Elements Solar Shower is the cheapest outdoor camper van shower when it comes to price.
While the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower comes close, it is only a showerhead and requires a tank or bucket to draw water from. This would be a good option if the water tanks in your camper van are multipurpose, allowing you to use them for your showers as well.
- 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.
Best Overall: Advanced Elements Solar Shower
While the Geyser System comes pretty close to the Advanced Elements Solar Shower, it is fairly pricey.
If you want an outdoor portable camper van shower that uses less power and offers you a wide range of water capacities to choose from, then the Advanced Elements Solar Shower gives you the most bang for your buck.
You can choose from a range of bags between 2.5-10 gallons (9.46-37.85 L) that can be filled up easily and left outside while you drive. Then you can hang it up and shower when you need to.
The best part about the Advanced Elements Solar Shower is its sheer portability, allowing it to be rolled up and tucked away when not in use. Check out the Advanced Elements Solar Shower on Amazon.com now.
- 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
Special Mention: Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower
The Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower on Amazon.com deserves a special mention because it is the only one of the options in this article that comes without its own water tank.
This might be a drawback for some, but for others, the fact that this shower can be used with anything that can hold water is a serious advantage.
The Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower is the least resource-consuming and most portable among the options in this list. It uses limited space, water, and electricity and can be set up pretty much anywhere outdoors.
Check out the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower on Amazon.com.
When considering factors of safety and convenience, especially if you plan to be off-grid, then nothing comes close to indoor showers, despite the expense. However, if you’d rather use the cheaper and less complicated outdoor showers, I cannot recommend the Advanced Elements Solar Shower enough.
It’s affordable, easy to use, maintains heat for a while, and uses the least space and resources.
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!