8 Best Portable Solar Shower Bags for Camping

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Camping provides us with many opportunities to reconnect with nature, be it the way we eat, dress, or sleep! But even so, it’s still pretty hard to skip a good shower.

Rest assured, modern-day campers have found a solution to this common problem: Portable solar shower bags!

Man taking shower using portable solar shower

Solar camping showers are a form of equipment that helps you heat water outdoors. These consist of an insulated bag to hold water, a flexible hose to drain it, and a showerhead for you to wash under. Typically, camping showers contain the following features:

  • Bags made up of PVC, aluminum, or plastic.
  • Hoses between 6” to 2’ in length.
  • Showerhead variations such as standard steam, adjustable, or on/off valves. 

How does a portable solar shower work?

In essence, these absorb energy from the sun to heat the water it’s holding.

With a camping shower bag, you won’t need any fuel or electricity for power. Just fill it with water, hang it under direct sunlight, and wait for it to heat up—and you’ll have a hot bath in no time! Some even come with heat stripes that indicate their temperature. 

If you’re on the lookout for a camp shower, you’ll find two kinds in the market:

  • Gravity-fed: These are typically hung above your head to naturally stream water down to the showerhead. 
  • Pressurized/Battery-fed: Meanwhile, these are usually placed on the ground. 

Solar showers are crafted for convenience, so it’s likely that you won’t face any trouble using them. However, the time your bag will take to heat up depends on your surrounding temperatures! 

These work best under direct heat—so, before using one, always assess your campsite’s weather conditions and schedule your showers when there is plenty of sun! 

Best portable solar shower bags

1. Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower

If you’re looking for a well-equipped and fully functional solar shower, then this one is the best solar camp shower out there!

This 4-layer bag is equipped with both a reflector and insulator panel, as well as a temperature gauge, to optimize the heating process. Likewise, its on/off showerhead and twist-off cap help you conserve water.

In addition, this has a built-in toiletry pouch that can hold various toiletries like towels and shampoo bottles!

Check price or buy on Amazon.

Key features:

  • Comes in 2.5, 3, and 5-gallon capacities for longer showers.
  • Heats up to 110°F in 3 hours under direct sunlight.
  • Portable wide handle with a plastic quick-release buckle, allowing you to hang your bag on higher surfaces.
  • Pre-attached shaving mirror and toiletry pouch.
  • Temperature gauge.
  • On/off showerhead and twistable cap.
  • Reflector and insulator panel.

2. SOL Solar Shower

SOL’s portable shower is friendly for beginners. Not only is it easy to navigate, but it likewise has built-in instructions for your convenience!

Using its black backing material, as well as a built-in thermometer, this solar shower both absorbs sunlight efficiently and allows you to monitor this with ease.

Check price or buy on REI.

Key features:

  • 5-gallon capacity (20L).
  • Heats up to 120°F.
  • Rugged handle for hanging.
  • Built-in mesh pocket.
  • Temperature gauge.
  • Unscrewable cap to fill valve.
  • Black backing material for heat absorption.

3. NEMO Helio LX Pressure Shower

Unlike gravity-fed models, you don’t have to hang NEMO’s pressure shower to warm it. Rather, you can set it under direct sunlight or fill its black tank directly with hot water.

Furthermore, this device uses pumps that can last for 7-10 minutes and can uniquely be refilled without a hose. It also comes with a shower overhead and nozzle sleeve (with a secured trigger) which automates water pressure—perfect for a quick wash!

Check price or buy on REI.

Key features:

  • 5.8-gallon capacity (22L).
  • Safety strap for easy transportation.
  • Comes with a portable and ventilated compartment for tank, hose, nozzle, and pump. 
  • Pressurized black tank with foot pump.
  • 7ft neoprene hose and nozzle sleeve (hands-free water pressure).
  • Lifetime warranty.

4. NEMO Helio Pressure Shower

Like the previous model, this pressure shower can also be rested on the ground; The main difference, rather, is that it’s smaller and can only contain 2.9 gallons of water.

Nevertheless, this horizontal camping shower still comes recommended, since it includes folding panels for a fast, portable, and easily-refillable set-up! Its uses are versatile, from showering to rinsing equipment.

Check price or buy on REI.

Key features:

  • 2.9-gallon capacity (11.4L)
  • Safety strap for easy transportation.
  • Comes with a portable and ventilated compartment for the tank, hose, nozzle, and pump. 
  • Pressurized black tank with foot pump.
  • 7ft neoprene hose and nozzle sleeve (hands-free water pressure).
  • Lifetime warranty.

5. Coleman Solar Shower

If you’re traveling on foot, Coleman makes for a great, lightweight option. This solar shower is easy to carry, durable, and can trap heat perfectly through its locking system! 

The only catch is that its hose is short and tends to crumple up, though you can easily remedy this by smoothing it out.

Check price or buy on Amazon.

Key features:

  • 5-gallon capacity.
  • Heats up to 120°F. 
  • Strong handle, equipped with a plastic quick-release buckle for hanging and carrying.
  • Threaded cap that prevents bursting.
  • Handy on/off showerhead valve.

6. STEARNS Sun Shower 4 Portable Shower

Using its heat-locking material, STEARN’s model can adapt to different environments—keeping your water warm, even in cold weather! The twisting mechanism on both its showerhead valve and nozzle also secures its closure, allowing you to conserve water.

With its 4 gallon capacity, you’ll have enough water for an outdoor trip or during emergencies, as it stores just the right amount for 4-5 quick showers.

Check the price or buy on Amazon.

Key features:

  • 4-gallon capacity.
  • Heats to 60-110°F in 3 hours under direct sunlight.
  • Includes mesh storage bag.
  • Built-in thermometer.
  • On/off twist-top showerhead valve and twist-flow nozzle.
  • Reinforced handle suitable for suspension and carrying.

7. Sea to Summit Pocket Shower Black

This compact shower is great for those who value durability. For added protection, it comes with a small, zippered pouch, and uses waterproof and wear-resistant fabric in its material.

When not in use, it also doubles as a dry-sack! Using its contoured showerhead, this model equally disperses enough water for a 7-8 minute shower.

Check the price or buy on Amazon.

Key features:

  • 10L capacity.
  • Roll-top closure (with two D-rings and a 20 ft cord) for hanging.
  • Contoured showerhead for easy water dispersion.
  • Temperature gauge.
  • Twist mechanism for showerhead and water flow adjustment.
  • Double-purpose as a regular dry bag. 

8. Camco Outdoor Natural Solar Shower 

Simple yet efficient, Camco’s solar shower absorbs energy through its black bag to heat water. In fact, it’s made from non-toxic and UV-resistant PVC material to provide a safe shower for everyone—kids especially! 

However, while this can warm up faster, it can’t hold high temperatures for very long. Nevertheless, its small, light, and portable design still function well for campers, new and old. Controls are likewise very understandable for first-time users.

Check price or buy on Amazon.

Key features:

  • 5-gallon capacity.
  • Includes mini-showerhead (with on/off valve), hanging cord, and flexible tube.
  • Integrated handle for overhead placement.

What should you look for in a solar shower bag? 

As you already know, solar camp showers come in many shapes and sizes. To get the best deal, keep an eye out for the following features: 

Size

Camp showers can be pocket-sized or large, depending on their holding capacity. To get the right fit, consider how much water you’ll use, how much people will shower, and how long you’ll be traveling, as this affects their portability. 

Design

Not all showers are built equally, as features vary for their tanks, nozzle, hoses, and pump.

Likewise, their bags are composed of different materials—such as PVC (flexible but potentially toxic), aluminum (durable but heavy), and plastic (portable but flimsy)—so assess which works best for you!

Shower Holding Capacity

This indicates how much water a solar shower bag can hold. On average, they carry 2.5-10 gallons.

The 5-gallon model is most commonly bought since they’re light and carry enough water for a quick shower.

Size Absorption 

This refers to how long it takes for sunlight to be absorbed to heat water. Recall that heating gravity-fed models differ from pressurized and battery-powered ones, especially if you’re particular about convenience.

Thus, for a faster process, find a camping shower with built-in solar panels or backing material.

Portable solar shower camping

FAQs

How do you use a solar-heated camp shower?

To set up a solar shower, you’ll first have to add water to your bag (through its nozzle/cap). It’s generally advised not to overfill it since heated water expands—and can tear the compartment if you’re not careful!

Next, you’ll have to place your bag in an area with direct sunlight, making sure that its absorbent side/s are facing the sun. This step requires that you know the type of bag you’re using.

While pressurized/battery-powered showers are laid on the ground, gravity-fed models need you to hang it up—lest the ground absorbs its heat instead: 

  • For better pressure on gravity-fed showers, it’s best to place it overhead and keep its hose straight.
  • On the other hand, pressurized/battery-powered showers don’t require as much effort to heat, though be sure to pump its pressure chamber/insert its batteries before use.

Lastly, just connect its hose and showerhead, and turn on its valves as instructed. 

How much does a solar shower cost? 

Depending on their features, gravity-fed showers cost between $6-20 dollars, while pump/battery-fed showers cost about $50-150.

Are portable solar shower bags safe?

Solar shower bags are generally safe, given the proper use and maintenance. To keep you in check, here are some quick tips:

  • Before taking a shower, test how hot your water is. For added safety, some
    bags come with a built-in temperature gauge.
  • If your environment is very cold, it’s best not to take a shower outdoors. Even if your water is hot, pausing to soap will expose you to cold winds and lead to hypothermia. 
  • If your bag contains PVCs, don’t drink the water, it might contain lead. Fortunately, there are PVC-free showers available to purchase, should you be sensitive to the material or if you’re traveling with kids.

How hot do solar shower bags get?

In temperatures about 50°F, these can heat water up to 130°F. Ideally, after 3 hours of exposure to direct sunlight, your bag should be around 113°F.

However, know that using hotter water can result in 3rd-degree burns, thus it’s best to test it out (or keep a built-in gauge) for safety! You can also mix cold water to ease the temperature.

How long does a portable shower last? 

Since regular showers use 2 ½ gallons of water per minute, the more water your device holds, the longer your shower will be.

Thus, for every gallon, the average shower time would be:

  • 2.5 gallons → 1 and ½  minutes
  • 5 gallons → 2 and ½ minutes
  • 10 gallons → 5 minutes

If your bag has a smaller capacity, worry not! By suspending plastic, shower curtains,
or any similar partition, you can construct a makeshift stall and conserve water while soaping. 

How do camping shower bags fare during winter/on cloudy days?

On a cloudy day, heating your shower bag might take longer—but it’s possible, as long as there’s direct sunlight.

On the contrary, heating might be difficult during winter. Even under direct sunlight, the cooler winds and temperatures counteract its solar radiation, and thus, prolong the heating process. 

  • If the temperature outside is below 35°F, your shower won’t be heated warm enough (using water 70°F-below can lead to hypothermia).
  • However, if the temperature outside is above 35°F, your bag will likely heat-up.

Some showers are equipped with heating components; Yet, if you’re already feeling unwell from the cold while clothed, it’s advised that you don’t push through.

Are shower bladders for camping worth it?

Absolutely! 

Portable solar showers are the much-awaited solution to camping shower woes. With the right product and the proper use, you’ll have yourself a nice, clean, and comfortable bath outdoors.