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How Camping Showers Work

Draining Camping Showers
When you're camping, those suds aren't so innocent.
When you're camping, those suds aren't so innocent.

When choosing a spot at your campsite to set up your shower, examine the grade of the land that you're on and pitch your shower downhill from the rest of your site. That way, water runoff is directed away from your other camping gear. Steer away from setting up your shower over plain dirt, as it will quickly turn to mud and defeat the whole purpose of washing up. Look for ground that's sandy or has some grass and leaves on it instead.

Your shower site should also be positioned so as to prevent drainage into open bodies of water, as the chemicals in your soap and shampoo can be very harmful to the ecosystem. Some campgrounds have rules for the proper disposal of water runoff, so you'll want to check the regulations for your site prior to your trip so you'll be adequately equipped. If you're at a site that requires total water runoff capture, you might consider purchasing a drain capture floor that you stand in while taking your shower.

These capture systems hold your shower runoff, also known as "gray water," until it can be emptied into a container and taken for disposal at a designated site on the campground. Even if you're at a campground that doesn't require 100 percent runoff capture, work to minimize the amount of harmful chemicals you're sending through shower runoff into open bodies of water. Pick up some biodegradable soap, too.

If water is very difficult to come by at your campsite, consider just rinsing off in the shower without washing with soap. That way, there are no chemical contaminants released into the wild and you can capture your shower water for reheating and reuse.

We'll learn about how to pick out a good spot to heat a solar camp shower in the next section.