How Camping Showers Work

Camping Shower Water Supplies

When campground tent showers aren't available...
When campground tent showers aren't available...

Camping shower setups range from your most basic watering can hung from a tree branch to the more complex vehicle-mounted, battery-operated showers. Most of these setups are going to have the following things in common: a showerhead, tubing and a water container. A lot of heated mobile camping showers will also include a small propane gas tank and a water pump.

Rigged watering cans are the easiest to set up -- simply fill a watering can from the nearest creek, find a convenient tree branch to hang it from, and then tip it to drip onto your head. (Solar showers are also really simple to set up, but we'll learn more about them later on in the article.)

If you'd like to upgrade from a watering can, you might consider a hot water camping shower. A popular model from the Zodi brand, for instance, comes with a multigallon water container, a water pump, a propane gas tank and a shower hose. The battery-operated pump can get you enough water to last for about a 10-minute shower, and the propane heats it up.

Going to be staying near your car during the trip? A vehicle-mounted shower system might work for you. A water pump submerged in a nearby body of water pushes the water through a heat exchanger that's connected to your running car's engine and out through the connecting water hose. And voila -- warm water!

Of course, some of these options are more practical than others, depending on what kind of camping trip you're taking. Propane gas showers and battery-operated, vehicle-mounted showers are durable and can heat up water quickly and provide good water pressure. The downside is that there's also a lot of gear required, which means extra weight to carry, and you'll also need to worry about replacement batteries and gas.

In addition to choosing which shower system works best for you, there's also the matter of privacy to consider. If you're someone who likes to shower away from prying eyes, continue reading to find out about shower shelters.