How to Make a Camping Shower? (With a Heater & Privacy)

In a few previous articles, I’ve mentioned that spending some time in the wild will get messy at some point. Well, I keep on standing behind that thought. Although, there are a few techniques that will keep you clean refreshed. The best way for that, I believe, is by taking a good, long-standing shower. For that, I decided to write an in-depth article, describing how to make a camping shower.

To make your DIY camping shower, you will need the following items, which can easily be ordered on online or purchased at your neighborhood supplies store:

  • Two sink sprayer hoses with brass barbed fitting
  • A faucet spray head
  • 2-gallon weed sprayer bottle (make sure it’s new, not one that you are repurposing)
  • Two black plastic garbage bags
  • A Rope
  • 10×10-foot Tarp or plastic sheeting

Step 1: Assemble The Hose And Spray Nozzle

These two parts will usually come separately although in some cases, you might find them already pre-assembled when you make the order. Start by screwing the spray nozzle into the extension hose until they are tightly connected. 

When buying the tube, you want to make sure that it has a brass thread on its end and a hole ring where you will fit the nozzle. Make sure that the nozzle is tightly screwed so that there is no possibility of leakage.

Step 2: Assemble The Water Tank

Take a small plastic pipe and attach it to the one end of the second sink sprayer hose. Make sure that it fits just right into the hole ring. 

Then, insert the pipe into the weed sprayer bottle. There is a little threaded hole near the top or bottom of the weed sprayer bottle that the tube will go through. Screw the ring of the sink sprayer hose into the container until it’s tight so that it won’t come off quickly.

Step 3: Connect The Tank to The Nozzle Pipe

Now that you have two spray hoses, each with one free end, you have to connect these two so that there is a link between the water tank and the shower head. 

The two ends should easily join by screwing their brass threaded ends together. You can use some pliers to tighten the link and reinforce this by wrapping duct tape around the connection point.

Step 4: Check For Leaks

At this point, your camping shower is basically done – simple. What you need to do now is to check for any leakages on the connection points as a result of loosely screwing them together. 

You want to fill the spray bottle with water until it’s three-quarters full – then, make sure that the release valve is closed. Pump up the sprayer so that there is pressurized water flowing into the hose. 

Pressing the nozzle should allow a gentle stream of pressurized water to come out that will enable you to take a comfortable shower. Examine the connection to check for any leakages; if there aren’t any, you are good to go.

Step 5: Setting up The Enclosure

Now that your camping shower is ready, you may want to consider putting up an enclosure for your privacy. If you’re out camping as a group and your campsite is on public ground, it will make sense to want to shield yourself from prying eyes.

Fold the tarp in half then tie its two corners together using a rope, passing this rope through the tarp’s metallic grommets. Tie the free end of the line to an overhanging tree branch or any other support you can find. 

Tie more lengths of rope to two different areas along the tarp’s top edge then tie the other lines in opposite directions. This will create a vertical tube that has a slit to act as the entrance. 

Besides playing a significant role as camping shower enclosures, tarps could also protect your tent if you hang them from above. Therefore, I believe you should bring one either way. 

If you are having troubles with the tie, I suggest that you take a look at my article regarding 15 essential camping knots – you would probably find the right one for you in there.

Step 6: Enjoy Your Shower

Find a branch where you can hang your sprayer bottle so that it just above your shower enclosure. That is all you need to make yourself a portable outdoor camping shower.

Be sure to set up the shower slightly downhill from where you are camping so that the water does not flow into your tent.

Remember that ordinary soap can pollute the environment around your campsite. It is better to use a little amount of biodegradable soap if possible and best not to use any soap at all.

Don’t set up your shower near a stream or any other water source. Even the biodegradable soap you are using can be harmful to the Flora and Fauna.

How do I Choose The Right Parts?

For your camping shower to work, it is essential to choose the right parts. Ordering all the necessary parts and figuring out nothing works might be frustrating, and for that, I find this section of the article extremely important. 

Let’s go over each piece and see what is essential to consider.

The Sprayer Hoses

When you buy the tubes, it is essential to pick two that are relatively short. You should keep in mind that a garden hose is way too long and wouldn’t do you any good with the little amount of water you will be using for the camping shower. 

Try picking the shortest type the store has to offer – usually it is around 3 feet. Make sure that the hose is as lightweight as possible, especially if you are going to carry it inside your backpack. 

Also, as I’ve mentioned, it is essential that both hoses feature a barbed brass fitting at one end – otherwise you wouldn’t be able to attach the two.

The Faucet

When you order the faucet, you’ve got to make sure that its GPM is relatively low and that it features a thumb-applied trigger action. 

If the product you buy features a high GPM, your tank will quickly empty, and you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your shower. Therefore, I suggest you pick a faucet with a GPM lower than 1.5. 

You probably won’t be able to enjoy the impressive stream you are used to from home, although in the outdoors you have a limited amount of water. 

Second, it is essential that the faucet has a handle you can push with your thumb for the water to stream out. Don’t use a regular sink faucet – this way you won’t be able to control the water and they will start going the minute you apply some pressure in the weed sprayer tank.

The Weed Sprayer Bottle

If you are mobile and not carrying your gear on your back – please choose the larger container out there. All the effort you’ve put into the camping shower wouldn’t do you any good of the water will run out in two minutes. 

I’ve suggested that you pick a 2-gallon bottle since it is about the size which wouldn’t burden your back much. Nevertheless, if you have a car or a van to carry your gear, I believe you should get a bigger one – perhaps around 4-6 gallons.

How to Make a Camp Shower Water Heater?

To come up with your own water heater, you need to get the following:

  •  Weed sprayer
  •  Proper shower hose
  •  Shower Wand
  •  Trickle valve
  •  MPT fitting
  •  Low flow shower head

The first step entails setting up the tank. It is imperative that you get a new tank and more preferably, one that is made of metal. 

If you come across one that has been painted black, it will even be better. Otherwise, you can buy a can of spray paint so that you paint the tank you have bought black. 

Black color will absorb a lot of the sun’s solar power. Cut the existing hose on the weed sprayer, leaving about 2.5cm then insert the MPT fitting into the tube. 

This threaded piece is what will enable you to connect the shower hose. You have the choice of heating the tank with fire or burning coal, and this will be more applicable if the container is made of metal. 

Believe it or not, a few times I was able to enjoy a hot shower while I was camping in the rain. I’ve used some tricks which helped me to light some wet firewood and keep the fire going in the rain

It might sound ridiculous at first, although nothing comes close to the feeling of hot water in terrible weather conditions. 

Alternatively, if you are camping in a region that receives the right amount of sunshine, exposing the tank to direct rays of the sun should heat the water in just about an hour or two. 

That is all you need to make yourself a camp shower water heater.

How do I Keep my Camping Shower Clean?

Your camping shower needs to remain clean at all times to avoid the buildup of mold and any other undesirable growths. 

The easiest yet great way to clean your shower would be to run some hot water and a little bit of bleach through the walls of your shower enclosure to disinfect them. 

Allow them to sit for one or two hours then rinse with the right amount of cold water to remove the bleach. This will ensure that your camping shower remains clean and discourage the growth of mold.

How do Camp Showers Work?

What makes camp shower work is a pressure gradient. To make fluid flow through a pipe from one end to the other, the pressure at the start point has to higher than the pressure at the end. 

On step 4, I’ve mentioned that you have to pump the sprayer before pressing the nozzle. By pumping air from the surrounding atmosphere, you gradually elevate the pressure inside the tank. 

At this point, the content inside the container is under pressure and “seeking for a way out.” When you press the nozzle, you create an opening for it to escape and water naturally streams out.

How Long Will The Water Last?

The answer to this question depends on two things: the type of faucet you will be using and the amount of pressure you put into the weed sprayer bottle. 

In the product description of the faucet you’ve purchased, you should see its GPM value, which represents Gallons Per Minute. 

For example, if your faucet features 2.5 GPM, it would approximately stream two and a half gallons through it each minute it is open. Hence, if your weed sprayer bottle has the capacity for 3 gallons, for instance, your shower would last around 6 minutes. 

Of course, if you’ve brought a bigger tank it would last longer and the other way around.

Nevertheless, you should also take into account how much pressure you put in the sprayer in step 4. The GPM usually represents the amount of water per minute when the faucet is under its full capacity. 

Therefore, if you pump a few times less – you will enjoy a more extended shower (although it would also feature a weaker stream).

How Much Water Should I Fill The Tank?

It is true that the more you fill the sprayer, the longer the shower you will get. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t fill it to its maximum capacity -otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to pump air inside. 

As I’ve already recommended, you should fill the tank until it is three-quarters full. Still, this number is dynamic, and you can test it to see what happens. 

The pumping process may also work if you fill the sprayer a bit more – try and see for yourself.

Conclusions

Staying clean outdoors is possible, and the right way to do it is probably making a camping shower. At first, it might sound intimidating – there are a lot of different parts, and some investment should be taken place. 

Nevertheless, when you strictly follow the instructions and order the right parts – things should be fine. If you get light headed and buy the products based on a hunch, it would probably waste you a lot of money. Make the purchase wisely so that you can enjoy a long-standing shower even in the worst conditions. 

I hope my article made things clean and answered your question on how to build a camping shower. If you have any hesitation or new insights – let me know all about them by leaving a comment below!

Giladsu

My name is Gilad, a 24-year-old medical student from Israel. Everyone who knows me would tell you that my absolute favorite thing is traveling. Through my journeys, I have gained a lot of knowledge and experience. Now, I am ready and willing to share it all with you! Read more
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