One item in my camping gear collection that really surprised me with its effectiveness was the Solar Camp Shower that I purchased. I bought it thinking it would be nice to have a way to rinse off on some of my camping trips that are a little bit off the beaten path, and I have been pleasantly surprised with how well it has performed.
Truth be told, expectations were limited but it has done a lot better than I expected. It’s not a full in the home hot shower (how could it be?) but this solar camp shower is a great piece of gear!
There are a lot of benefits to buying a solar camp shower. You may be camping in a camp ground that doesn’t have shower facilities – this happens to me a lot on my trout fishing trips. Having a five gallon solar camp shower makes it easy to get back to the camp site and wash off all the grime of a day of fishing.
For those of you with campers, you may be looking for a way to save propane – and this is a perfect way to do that. You don’t have to waste water or propane in your camper when you can fill up a bag, and let the power of the sun warm it up for you.
These are also perfect for anyone that just wants to save energy at home. You can use these bags in a non-camping setting to wash off. Below are some tips and reviews of the best solar camp showers, which should help you decide if solar powered camp showers will be a valuable addition to your outdoor gear collection.
2018 Quick List of the Best Solar Camp Showers
We have made some minor changes to our recommendations, but our #1 option for 2018 is still the Advanced Elements Summer Shower. We have also created this quick reference chart to make it a lot easier for you to see our top recommendations!
New additions to the list include the Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower Bag!
Tips on how these showers work and more detailed reviews on each option are still listed out below this chart.
The Best Solar Camping ShowersOur list of the best solar camping showers.
How Does a Solar Camp Shower Work?
This is one of the simplest products we have ever reviewed. A Solar Camp Shower is literally a bag that you fill up with water, which has a hose running off of it, and a valve that you turn that controls the water flow rate.
A good solar shower bag is going to be constructed with heat locking materials that help store the sun’s energy – warming up the water even on cooler days. The water is gravity fed, so it needs to be hanging high to work well.
The gravity fed water tube will actually give you a surprisingly strong water flow – making showers very pleasant and adding in some heat makes this a pretty nifty idea, and one that is surprisingly well executed among a wide array of camp shower options.
Advanced Elements Summer Shower
The Advanced Elements Summer Shower option is a little more expensive than Coleman (normally between $30 to $40), but it also has higher user reviews online. In fact, this is consistently the highest rated solar shower among users, although some new entries may eventually compete with it. However if you’re looking for quality, the Advanced Elements camp shower
This is our #1 recommended solar camp shower, and we consider it the best solar shower for the price.
The concept behind this option is similar to all the other solar camp shower bags, but it is just a little bit more functional. The cap is an actual screw on cap, so it does not have the leakage that you get with some of the other models. The handle on the top actually snaps shut, making it much easier to attach to a large branch or anything overhead that can handle the weight. I have attached it to the travel rack on my jeep for example.
I also love the little details like the pocket that can hold a mirror, or soap, or whatever you need. This actual camp shower also has an actual gauge attached to it that tells you the temperature of the water – eliminating the guessing game of you wondering if the water is warm enough to be comfortably showering in.
The construction is also really good with the Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower – making it durable enough to last numerous camping trips.
You won’t be disappointed with this option!
* NEW – ADVANCED ELEMENTS ALSO HAS A NEW 2.5 GALLON SIZED SOLAR SHOWER BAG. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE!
Coleman Solar Camp Showers
If you are looking for a very affordable and very effective solar shower, you should look at the Coleman Solar Camp Shower.
The most common one they produce is a five gallon bag, which will provide you with 1 or 2 relatively long showers based on how well you do conserving the water.
You fill up the bag from the top – normally from a faucet or a hose – but you could even drag it into a lake and fill it up with water from there.
Once filled, you want to place the clear side towards the sun to warm up the water. Depending on how sunny and is and the temperature outside – it normally takes about 1 to 3 hours to really warm up the water.
I’ve seen the water in these bags warm up over 20 degrees in an hour, so it can be very effective.
Once warmed up you can attach the handle of the bag to anything that up high, because you must keep the bag higher than the nozzle for it to work. The nozzle does have a neat shower head attached to it that controls turning the water on and off.
The biggest complaint with this brand is the cap has some leakage too it. The cap is also on the “downside” of the bag once you have the heating trapping side facing towards the sun, so you might lose a little bit of water during the warming up process.
The plus side to this option is the shower nozzle, which is really effective, and the price. Normally ranging from $10 to $20 dollars, it is very affordable.
Stearns Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower
Now here is an outstanding solar shower, and the one that is most likely to catch up and surpass our number one choice if they keep up this level of quality. The Stearns solar powered shower holds four gallons, using solar energy to heat the water and is enough for a couple showers, even multiple showers if you just use it for rinsing.
The shower has a very strong handle designed not just for carrying but also for hanging even when full. The valve connected to the showerhead as a very easy on/off feature that makes the water flow incredibly easy to control.
Add in a built-in thermometer and suddenly you have a really solid looking portable camping shower that is fantastic for camping trips, as well as during home emergencies where you have bottled water saved but hot water isn’t available through conventional utilities. The material used in the construction is heat-locking meaning it is designed to keep the warmth it absorbs, meaning you’re not rushing the clock when it comes to getting a hot/warm shower, even on cool days.
This is a really outstanding option and the plastic is thick and heavy duty, which is what allows it to work as a heavy duty option. The shower can heat up to 98 degrees even from ice cold water in a little over three hours and that heated water stays that way well into the evening. Really great option that we like.
Coghlan’s Solar 5-Gallon Heated Camp Shower
This is an inexpensive solar heated camp shower that is one of the top budget friendly options out there. Lightweight, made from PVC (non-toxic), this shower is rated for five gallons and is compact, easy to use, and even includes a hanging cord.
Coghlan’s is a brand that is very well known among a large number of outdoor enthusiasts whether campers, hunters, anglers, or otherwise. They were founded in 1959 and are a Canadian based company so they understand the needs of an outdoorsman.
While Coghlan isn’t a premium brand, they focus more on affordable gear, they still strive to provide an outstanding value for the price, which is the area where this company really thrives. While this is a solid buy for the price, it isn’t a premium option and it’s important to remember that. Some of the top options on this list might last for years, these aren’t likely to make it as long, but they last a while and for the really low price
The biggest complaint with the construction is that the handles will rip a lot over time and with a lot of uses, and the best way to make this last is to keep it at two to three gallons and never go the full amount it claims. If you buy two and switch off both will last quite a bit longer.
These are a solid buy, and if you’re looking for an inexpensive version that will last just a few outings, this is one of the best options for you currently.
Green Elephant 2-in-1 Solar Shower
This bag is 5 gallons in size, and can be used as a dry bag or a solar shower bag (hence the 2-in1 name). Besides the 5-gallon size, it is made from a very thick and durable PVC material – and has a great handle that makes it easy to hang and easy to carry. This bag will easily last you multiple camping trips!
The water flow is very good, and should last you about 5 minutes of continuous flow. That is plenty of time to rinse of the dirt and grime of your outdoor adventures.
If you want to use it as a dry bag, you can reverse the bag, let it air out to protect your belongings, and then store items in your see thru dry bag!
It is very lightweight and easy to store, so you shouldn’t have any issues hiking and camping with it.
Make sure to hang the bag high enough to get good water flow, but you should love the durability and versatility that this solar camp shower brings to the market!
Texsport Portable Deluxe Camp Shower Shelter
For those who don’t want to just hang up a bag on a tree to shower, but would like a little extra privacy – there are some options that include a solar shower bag and a shower shelter.
One of those options is the TexSport Portable Deluxe Camp Shower Shelter.
This unit includes a fabric shelter that is 87 inches high and 4’6” in length and width. This provides plenty of private space for you to shower in, and the unit sets up very similarly to a tent!
It is a very durable shelter, with the poles being rust resistant and made from steel, and the clips secure the fabric to the frame in no time at all.
It does have two skylights that let a little sun in to increase visibility, and it even has a mesh shower rack and removable hanging towel bar. Stakes and a storage bag are also included.
When you buy this version, it also comes with the actual solar shower bag. The bag itself is 5 gallons in size and is very similar to the bags reviewed above.
The big pluses with buying this shelter is you get some extra privacy, but you also make it very easy to secure the actual shower bag to something – making the entire shower process easier. There are a few reviews about the unit breaking down on people online, but the vast majority of people seem to have a good experience with this product.
If you go shopping online you are going to see numerous different solar camping showers that you can pick from.
They are all very similar in how they are setup and work – with Coleman, Advanced Elements, and Green Elephant making some of the most popular versions.
One great option is the Cartman Camp Shower – which is just a very simple 5 gallon bag, but also very affordable!
The RISEPRO solar shower is very popular because it is 5 gallons in size, has an on and off switch, and even has a shower head! This option will make you very happy if you pick it.
If you need a much bigger shower option – RISEPRO has a 10 Gallon option that is very big, but also very heavy. You get more water, but you also increase the weight a lot!
With a 5.28 gallon size, KingCamp is also a really good choice for people looking for a dependable solar shower. What is really neat about KingCamp is their solar showers look great. They have a sharp looking blue, k-army green, and orange to pick from!
Another basic, but very popular, shower option is the Seattle Sports Solar Shower. It is your basic PVC, Black, 5-Gallon solar shower!
Another option we needed to include on our list was the Stearns Sun Shower 4. This is a four-gallon solar shower that is durable and awesome looking!
General Solar Camping Shower Tips
1) To make the water smell better, make sure to rinse out the bag with baking soda and warm water the first few times you use it – otherwise it may have that fake plastic smell to it. The cheaper the version you buy, the more likely you are to have that fake smell.
2) A gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds – so if you are using a 5 gallon water bag, it is going to weigh over 40 pounds. You need to hang it from something that can support that amount of weight, and depending on how strong you are, you might need someone to help you attach it to something overhead.
3) Most water bags will need to be in the sun for 1 – 4 hours to be very warm. You can over heat the water making it almost too hot to shower in. If this happens, place the solar water bag into a shady area or drain a little bit of the hot water and add some cold water to it.
4) Plan out when you are going to use this accordingly. Since it does take time to heat or a little bit of time to cool off water that has overheated so learning to time out when you shower on the beach, the woods, or hiking on the trail is important.
Final Thoughts on Solar Powered Camping Showers
I have been pleasantly surprised with how effective and useful this product has been while I’ve been camping. If you are looking for a cheap and environmentally friendly way to rinse off during a camping trip – you need to purchase one of the best solar camp showers listed in this article!
I have also heard of people using these bags to just hold water in emergency situations. This makes a lot more sense if you have bought a smaller version – we tend to forget just how heavy a full 5 gallon solar shower bag can be!
I have even heard of people using these showers when electricity has been lost for long periods of time. Sometimes we forget just how nice it is to have a warm shower!
No matter what your plan is for your solar shower, you will be impressed with just how durable and effective they are.
We will also recommend pair a privacy tent with your outdoor solar showers – so check out our list of the best privacy tents!
If you are really interested in having the most environmentally friendly camping gear possible, check out this list of incredible solar outdoor gear!
Below is a nice video showing our #1 recommended solar shower in action!