Roughing it in the great outdoors is one of life’s greatest joys. But after a long day of hiking, fishing, or other outdoor activities, there’s nothing worse than feeling dirty and grimy. A hot shower can be just what you need to refresh and recharge while camping.
But if you’re not careful, you could easily run out of water for your camp shower. Nothing will ruin your outdoor experience faster than a cold, incomplete rinse. So how do you ensure you pack enough water for a proper camp shower?
The amount of water needed depends on the type of shower system you use. Portable camp showers typically hold around 5 gallons, which provides 4-10 minutes of shower time. For DIY showers, calculate water needs based on your container’s capacity and shower head flow rate. Most household showers use 2-3 gallons per minute.
Bucket showers require estimating water volume based on bucket size and your typical water usage per shower. For a 5-gallon bucket, if you use 1 gallon per shower, you’ll get 5 showers.
The key is planning ahead and conserving water. Use biodegradable soap and limit shower times. With some simple calculations and careful use, you’ll stay refreshed and clean throughout your camping trip.
Now let’s take a closer look at how much water you really need for a rewarding camp shower experience.
Key Factors That Determine How Much Water You Need
Several key variables play into figuring out your perfect water volume for camping showers. These include:
Your shower system: The type and capacity of portable shower you use impacts water needs. Standard camp showers hold 4-5 gallons. DIY showers depend on your container and shower head. Bucket showers vary based on bucket size.
Flow rate: Household showers average 2-3 gallons per minute. Camp shower flow rates can be lower. Knowing your shower head’s flow rate helps estimate duration.
Your water usage: How long and how often you shower, and your water saving habits, determines total usage. Monitor your home shower usage to extrapolate.
Number of people: The number of people in your camping group who will use the shower multiply total water needs.
Shower duration: Standard portable camp shower capacity provides 4-10 minutes of water. Your target shower length affects water volume required.
Water pressure: Lower flow showers compensate lower pressure with more water. High pressure needs less.
Calculating Your Water Needs
You can determine your ideal water volume for a camp shower trip by following a few simple steps:
- Decide on shower system: Portable, DIY, solar, or low-flow? Shower type sets parameters.
- Estimate flow rate: Most portable showers are 1.5-2 gallons per minute. Time a home shower to compare.
- Determine target duration: How long do you want your camp shower to be? 5 minutes? 10 minutes?
- Factor in your usage: How much water do you use during an average home shower? Use that as a guide.
- Consider your group: Multiple people? Multiply expected water use by the number of people showering.
- Choose water container: Pick camp shower, bucket, or tank that meets calculated volume.
- Adjust for pressure: Less pressure may require more water.
Water Volume Examples Based on Shower System
To give you a better idea of actual water volumes needed for different shower setups, let’s look at some real-world examples:
Portable Camp Shower
- 5 gallon capacity
- 2 gallons per minute flow rate
- 10 minute target shower length
- Used by 1 person
Total water needed: 5 gallons
A standard portable camp shower holds enough water for an average 10 minute shower for 1 person.
DIY Camp Shower
- 5 gallon jug container
- Household shower head – 2.5 gpm flow
- 5 minute target length
- Used by 2 people
Total water needed: 25 gallons
Higher flow household shower heads use more water. Calculate needs for each person’s shower.
Simple Bucket Shower
- 5 gallon bucket
- Makeshift 1 gpm shower head
- 4 minute target length
- Used by 2 people
Total water needed: 16 gallons
With a low-flow shower head, you can stretch a 5 gallon bucket to 4 short showers for 2 people.
Tips for Conserving Water
When calculating shower water for camping, always err on the side of caution and pack a little extra. But you can also put some water saving tips into practice:
- Take shorter showers
- Turn off water while lathering up
- Use dry shampoo instead of washing hair daily
- Swim in lakes/rivers to rinse off
- Reuse cool down rinse water for next shower
- Use solar shower to heat water for free
Planning your camp shower water needs takes a little math and estimation. But putting in the effort ensures you can enjoy refreshing cleanliness while spending time in nature. Calculate your group’s expected water usage, pick a system that works for your style of camping, and try to conserve. With the right preparation, you’ll never have to cut a camp shower short again.
Recommended Portable Camp Showers
Now that you know how to figure out your ideal water volume for camping showers, here are some highly rated portable shower systems that deliver the supply you need:
Coleman 5-Gallon Portable Shower: This affordable and popular camp shower holds 5 gallons of water and can deliver up to 9 minutes of steady shower time.
Advanced Elements 5-Gallon Summer Shower: With adjustable flow control and on/off switch, this 5-gallon model provides 7-8 minutes of shower time.
Nemo Helio Pressure Shower: The Helio delivers high-pressure water flow from a lightweight 11-liter tank. Recharge via USB.
Sea to Summit 20-Liter Shower/Dry Sack: This sizable 20-liter capacity shower sack can provide multiple showers. Integrated handle for hanging.
RinseKit 2-Gallon Pressurized Portable Shower: No pumping needed with this pressurized system powered by compressed air. Hot water compatible.
Ivation Battery-Powered Handheld 5-Gallon Camp Shower: Run shower off a rechargeable battery to conserve water with an on/off switch.
Dr. Prepper Ultralight 5-Liter Solar Shower: Compact solar-heated shower weighs just 5 ounces. The water is supplied by you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I estimate my shower water usage at home to plan for camping?
A: Take a few normal showers at home and time how long the water runs. Measure how much water you use from your hot water tank/well in gallons. Calculate your average shower time and water consumption.
Q: What if I am car camping and have room for more water?
A: If car camping, consider bringing 10-20 gallons of water per person for more generous showers. You can use a larger drink cooler as a water reservoir.
Q: Can I reuse the water from my portable camp shower?
A: You can reuse camp shower water for washing dishes or clothes if you use biodegradable soap. Just don’t drink it or reuse for bathing.
Q: How do I estimate for low-flow shower heads?
A: Test your DIY shower head’s flow rate by timing how long it takes to fill 1 gallon. Calculate gallons per minute. Factor lower flow rates into your estimates.
Q: How often can I expect to refill my camp shower water supply?
A: For most portable showers under 10 gallons, expect to refill after 2-3 quick showers. Bring extra water or be near a source to refill.
The Bottom Line
A hot refreshing shower, even when camping, can renew your mind and body. With a little planning, you can enjoy this bit of home comfort while spending time communing with nature. Calculate your group’s expected water usage, choose a portable shower system that meets your needs, and practice conservation. Follow the guidelines above so you’ll never have an abruptly cold camp shower again!