How to Make a Camping Shower

How to Make a Camping Shower
Being able to shower while camping, hiking or paddling can make a big difference in the enjoyment of your trip. There are several types of ready-made camping showers commercially available, but it can be cheaper and quite simple to make your own. This version uses a modified chemical pump sprayer bottle, commonly sold at hardware stores to spray bleach or lawn chemicals. With this 1-gallon bottle, you should have enough water for one person to spray off, soap up and rinse for about 10 minutes, though you will use much less water and have lower water pressure than in your at-home shower.
It's possible to use the spray bottle as is, but a few easy modifications will make it more convenient and comfortable to use. The bottle should come with a plastic hose, connecting the bottle to the spray nozzle. You will likely find that the shower works better with a longer and more flexible hose than the one included. If you want a warm shower, or to build an enclosure for privacy at group camp sites, there are a couple of additional steps you can take to elaborate on this very simple model.
 

Instructions

Difficulty: Easy

Basic Cold-Water Shower

Things You’ll Need:
  • 1-gallon new chemical pump spray bottle
  • Sharp knife
  • 10 feet of rubber medical tubing (the same diameter as the mouth of the sprayer bottle)
  • Several heavy duty rubber bands
  • 2 black plastic garbage bags (optional)
  • 10 x 10-foot tarp or plastic sheeting (optional)
  • Rope (optional)
 
Step 1
Use the knife to cut the hose away from the bottle, leaving a 1-inch lip protruding from the bottle. Then cut the other end of the hose away from the handle of the spray nozzle, again leaving a 1-inch lip sticking out from the handle.
Step 2
Replace the bottle's hose with the flexible rubber medical tubing. Fit the end of the tubing around the lip of plastic protruding from the bottle. Secure by wrapping a heavy-duty rubber band several times around the tubing. You can also secure the tubing using duct tape or aquarium sealant, but a rubber band allows you to disassemble the shower.
Step 3
Repeat Step 2 on the other end, fitting the tubing over the plastic lip of the spray nozzle. Secure the tubing with another rubber band.
Step 4
Fill the bottle with water and pump the sprayer nozzle. Check for leaks at both ends of the tubing. If either end is leaking, turn off the spray, empty the bottle, and readjust the rubber bands. This is all you need to do to make the most basic, cold water camp shower. You can secure another rubber band around the pump trigger on the sprayer nozzle to hold it down. This will create a continuous spray, and free up your hands. With this method, it helps to hang the sprayer nozzle above you, from a tree branch or other overhang.

Warm Shower

Step 1
Use solar energy for a warm shower. If you want a warm shower and it is a sunny and fairly warm day (60 degrees or above), you can use solar energy to heat up your water before you shower. Fill the bottle with water to measure a gallon, then pour the water it into a black plastic garbage bag.
Step 2
Squeeze the air out of the bag and tie the top. Put this into another garbage bag, to lessen the danger of leaks.
Step 3
Use a rope to hang the bag in a sunny spot. Unless it is a very hot day, the ground will be colder than the air, so keep the bag off the ground. Early afternoon, when the sun is strongest, is the best time to do this. Depending on the air temperature, your water should be warm (not hot) in about three hours. You can also use water that has been heated in a pot on a stove or over a fire, but be sure to fill the bottle half full with cold water first and test the water for temperature before spraying yourself.

With Shower Enclosure

Step 1
Consider building an enclosure for privacy. If you are camping in a public campground or with a group, you can also build a privacy enclosure using a tarp or plastic sheeting. Fold the tarp in half and tie its two top corners together with a length of rope, passing it through the tarp's metal grommets, or cutting new holes with a knife.
Step 2
Tie the other end of the rope to a tree branch or other overhang.
Step 3
Tie lengths of rope to at least two other points along the top edge of the tarp, then tie the other ropes out in opposite directions, creating a vertical tube with a slit for an entrance.
 

Tips & Warnings

 
Make sure that you set up your shower slightly downhill from your campsite to keep the water from running into your tent and other equipment. Soap can be very damaging to the ecology of your campsite. Never use regular soap or shampoo when using your camp shower. In fact, it's best not to use soap at all. If you must, use a very small amount of a biodegradable soap (see Resources). Never shower near a stream or other water source-- even biodegradable soap can be harmful to plants and animals using the water.
 
Make sure that you set up your shower slightly downhill from your campsite to keep the water from running into your tent and other equipment.
 
Soap can be very damaging to the ecology of your campsite. Never use regular soap or shampoo when using your camp shower. In fact, it's best not to use soap at all. If you must, use a very small amount of a biodegradable soap (see Resources).
 
Never shower near a stream or other water source-- even biodegradable soap can be harmful to plants and animals using the water.

Article Written By Katie Lorah

Katie Lorah is a Brooklyn, NY-based writer and outdoors enthusiast who has been writing since 2005. She has worked in nonprofit communications and is an avid cyclist, runner, hiker and cross-country skier, all without the benefit of owning a car. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in urban planning and journalism from New York University.

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