How to Make an Outdoor Shower with a Camp Shower Bag

How to Make an Outdoor Shower
After working outdoors, a couple of days in camp, a nice cleansing shower begins to sound better than a soft bed or home cooked meal. Even if you do not agree, your tent mates may have their own opinion.

Preserve your level of hygiene (and the peace) by installing a camp shower. Not only will it lighten the atmosphere, it can help head off potential infections and health issues. You can even bring in a few pieces of laundry and save a step.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderate

Location

Things You’ll Need:
  • Rope or twine
  • Knife
  • Tarp
  • Shower bag, heavy duty water bag or two trash bags
 
Step 1
Scout around your camp and find an area with good drainage, far enough away from the tent site or located downhill from your main area so that water will not run off and into your camp. The shower area should be well back from any ponds, lakes or streams to prevent pollution.
Step 2
Look for a rocky or sandy spot to encourage drainage. Failing that, locate an area with some ground cover to help keep the spot from becoming muddy.
Step 3
Select a spot with one tree with a trunk at least six inches in diameter. If it boasts a fork within reach, that will prove helpful in construction.
Step 4
Look for a secluded spot to maximize privacy. If such an area is lacking, you can make your own privacy. Use a tarp or rain gear to create a wall along one or more sides of your shower area.

Choose two trees several feet apart and tie the tarp at all four corners. The tarp does not need to reach the ground; aim to block the middle third of the body from view. This can also help prevent water and soap splatter from affecting surrounding plants and soil.

Construction

Step 1
Pack along a portable water jug, a camp shower bag or double up two heavy duty garbage bags for your reservoir. The garbage bags will not last as long, hold as much water or take much of a beating, but they can work in a pinch. Choose a dark color and the sun will heat your water for you.
Step 2
Fill your water reservoir and leave it in the sun to warm. If your shower is in a sunny spot, you can hang the reservoir and let it warm in place.
Step 3
Choose a branch about six inches taller than the average height of your camping partners, one which can support the weight of your water jug. Drop a line over the branch. A three to four inch branch should support most 5 to 15 gallon showers.

If you do not have a rope, you can place your shower bag in the tree within the crotch of a forked branch.
Step 4
Tie the rope to your shower bag, hoist it to the chosen height and then tie the loose end to an anchor point (the same tree where the bag is hanging will suffice).

Garbage bag showers will hoist easily if you tie a knot in the bag, then wrap the rope multiple times around the bag, below the knot before tying it off.
Step 5
Use the provided tap to control the water flow if your bag comes equipped with one. Wet yourself, turn off the water, lather and wash, turn the water on to rinse.

If you are using a garbage bag-style shower, create a few small holes in the bag when you are ready to begin showering. You may attempt to clamp the holes off while you wash or just allow the water to run as you shower, then refill for the next person.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Some bags can accommodate a small amount of boiled water for a hotter shower, but special care must be taken; mix it with cooler water or you may melt the shower bag. A layer of branches can help keep your feet out of the mud if you must locate your shower over bare soil.
 
Some bags can accommodate a small amount of boiled water for a hotter shower, but special care must be taken; mix it with cooler water or you may melt the shower bag.
 
A layer of branches can help keep your feet out of the mud if you must locate your shower over bare soil.
 
Do not get the wash water in your mouth if you are using found water which may not be potable or may carry parasites. Take care to protect the local environment when using soap. Do not bathe in waterways or allow soapy water to run into rivers or streams. Use a biodegradable soap.
 
Do not get the wash water in your mouth if you are using found water which may not be potable or may carry parasites.
 
Take care to protect the local environment when using soap. Do not bathe in waterways or allow soapy water to run into rivers or streams.
 
Use a biodegradable soap.

Resources

Article Written By Alice Moon

Alice Moon is a freelance writer with more than 10 years of experience. She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and has traveled throughout Asia. Moon holds a Bachelor of Science in political science from Ball State University.

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