How Do Camping Showers Work? Find out here!

Boys Showering

Camping showers are portable equipment that work with solar energy, battery, or propane. Solar showers work with the aid of sunlight, while those using a battery can only be used if you charge them. Meanwhile, propane can heat up your water using a burner and stove, which makes it a quick method.

Standard ways of using camping showers are to fill, heat, hang, then use. If you consumed all the water in your shower bag or container, just repeat the process from the start.


Staying clean is an important aspect of camping. Just because we’re away from bathrooms and running water does not mean that we have to stay filthy. Lucky for us modern nature enthusiasts, camping showers exist. We tested numerous products and we came up with a list of the best camping showers available in the market today.  


Different types of camping showers

Several brands sell camping showers online and in stores. This kind of equipment comes in different types. You can check our reviews about some of the best-selling showers for your outdoor activities.

Before we keep discussing how a certain shower works, let’s talk about the three types of camping showers first, which are powered by solar energy, propane, and battery.


This type of camping shower works independently, meaning it does not require any batteries for the equipment to function. From our ongoing evaluations of portable showers, solar-powered showers are the best known and the most affordable type of showers.

Although this is the easiest type of shower to use, you need to make sure that the main driver to operate this — sunlight — is visible. Indeed, this equipment needs to be exposed under direct sunlight to heat up the water inside. You can use this anywhere as long as there is sunlight.


This obviously works with the help of batteries, however, we found out that some of the camping showers that fall under this category are heavy-duty. Indeed, they are either required to be connected to electricity or charged.

Even though this sounds inconvenient for light backpacking, this type of shower doesn’t require you to oversee the heating process. Another thing we also commend is the ability to adjust the shower flow.


These are supported by stoves and burners. According to our campers, the water tanks or containers used are bulky. Of course, you can’t heat up rubber packs on top of the burner, which is why the tanks of propane-powered camping showers are usually made of steel.

The stove that comes with this equipment is usually partnered with free propane. High BTU, or British Thermal Unit stoves or burners, result in a faster heating process. BTU measures the total energy that is essential to raise the temperature by 1°F per pound of water.


Worried about staying clean and fresh on your next camping trip? We’ve got you covered! Read our article to learn how to shower and stay clean while camping


How do solar showers work?

Using solar-powered equipment offers a lot of advantages not only to lessen your electric bill, but also to reduce the pollution produced by oil-operated power plants. Solar showers are not limited to camping use and not all of them are portable. Indeed, some solar showers can also be set down inside your house. However, in this article, we will be focusing on the camping aspect.

How do solar showers work? You just need to fill up the water pack or container, then place it under direct sunlight.


Portable solar showers are designed for outdoor activities; may it be for beach use or camping. They are portable because they are water packs, or their container’s body is structured to be inflated and deflated. Manufacturers use different materials to allow users to heat up their water by exposing it to direct sunlight.

Temperature indicators

Camping solar showers feature temperature indicators or gauges to know whether the water is already heating. Although, we advise you to always follow the manufacturer’s guide on how to use the indicator. A part of the solar shower is required to be positioned under the sun, so if your water is not warming up, maybe you exposed the wrong side of your bag. This portion has a solar panel to permit the heating of water.

Remember that this type of shower can increase the water temperature to more than 120°F, so we recommend you monitor it. After the heating process, hang your shower packs or remove the equipment from the sunlight. The average portable shower can hold 5 gallons of water. These types of showers are best for backpacking since they are not heavy and therefore can be packed.


How do battery-operated showers work?

During our search for the camping showers, we found two designs of battery-powered showers — those with and those without water containers. If the unit has no water container, you can use basins and pails. Although that is a struggle to bring without a vehicle, this is great for the beach and other outdoor activities.

Although this kind of shower is also available with large versions with a built-in water tank and pumps, there are also portable ones. We can’t provide a specific way to set up this kind of equipment since manufacturers provide various designs with certain instructions to follow depending on the model.

Based on our experience, this is much easier to use than other kinds of showers as you can adjust the flow of the shower. You can also assure a faster heating process since you are allowed to fine-tune the function. However, note that not all of them feature heating abilities.

We recommend you ask the seller about the specs before you buy one of these showers as you may be expecting some features that the equipment doesn’t provide.

Lastly, don’t forget to charge your shower because this is the central brain of your gear. It won’t work without batteries, so be attentive before you go.


How do propane-operated showers function?

One positive feature of this type of shower is the quick heating process of the water. Just like solar and battery-powered showers, the focal factors that make this equipment function are the burner and stove.

The burner in this equipment works with propane and matches. You can check our Zodi Outback Gear Extreme SC Hot Water review as an example to visualize the body parts of propane showers. The burner usually has a steel canister to heat it on top of the stove. The stove, or burner, may be detachable, and some are manufactured with huge machines.

There are no other ways to set up this but to attach the propane to its burner, then continue the procedure directed by the manufacturer. Similar to battery-powered showers, some propane showers don’t have water canisters. In such cases, you should have water tubs or basins that will serve as water containers.


How to use a camping shower?

The routines to use the different camping showers are almost the same. If your equipment’s parts are removable, then you should install them first. Next, you should fill the shower and heat it up. When you fill a shower with built-in water packs or containers, we advise you not to completely fill it, especially if you have a constricted water source.

Solar-operated showers are typically designed to be a bag that you can hang. It helps the water flow be constant. Once you’ve consumed all the water in the bag, you just need to repeat the process until you are finished showering or cleaning.


Showering while camping is a bit tricky, mostly because you won’t have an unlimited supply of water. Because of that, you will need to change your bathing habits and learn to conserve water. The amount of water that you need for your shower depends on how long you bathe. How much water do you need for your camping shower? Read our article to learn more. 


Final Thoughts

While testing numerous portable showers, we were able to learn their key features, little by little. If you are a newbie, just like us back then, you just need to read some reviews to comprehend how certain shower equipment works.

Now that you have knowledge about the different types of showers, it is easier for you to know what shower suits your activities. If you are looking for portable versions, then check if there is a packable style under the categories we tackled.

If you need a shower with a quick-heating potential, propane showers will be great. For effortless shower preparation, a battery-operated shower is perfect. As long as you know what you need, choosing a camping shower should be a pretty easy task.

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