How Do Camping Showers Work?

How Do Camping Showers Work

Published: Nov 05, 2020

Camping showers are portable equipment that work with solar, battery, or propane. Solar showers work with the aid of sunlight while battery types can be used only if you charge it. Propane can heat up your water using a burner and stoves which is a quick method.

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


Types of Camping Showers

There are several brands that sell camping showers online and in stores. These kinds of equipment have different types. You can also check our reviews about some of the best-seller showers for your outdoor activities.

Before we continue our discussions on how a certain shower works, let's talk about the types of camping showers first.  We have encountered about three types of showers which are powered by solar, propane, and battery.


These are the following:



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

Although this is the easiest to use, you just need to make sure that the main driver to operate this is visible which is the sunlight. This equipment is required to be exposed under the direct sun to heat up the water inside.  You can use this anywhere as long as there is sunlight.



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

Even though this sounds inconvenient for light backpacking, we can say that this type doesn't need you to oversee its heating process. Another thing we also commend is the ability of the shower flow to be adjusted.



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, that is the reason 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 degree Fahrenheit per pound of water.


How Do Solar Showers Work?

Using solar-powered equipment has a lot of advantages not only to lessen your electric bills but also reduces the pollution produced by oil-operated power plants. For showers, this is not limited to camping use or not all of it is portable. There are also solar showers that can be set down inside your house. But 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 the sun.



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


Temperature Indicators

Camping solar showers have temperature indicators or gauge to know if the water is already heating. We advise you to always follow the manufacturer's guide on how to use it. There is a part of the solar showers that are required to be positioned in 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 its temperature more than 120 degrees 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 we run into can hold 5-gallon water. These types are best for backpacking since it is not heavy and can be packed.  


How Do Battery-Operated Showers Work?

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

This shower is also available with large versions with a built-in water tank and pumps but there are also portable ones. We can't provide a specific way to set up this kind of equipment because manufacturers have various designs with certain instructions to use this.

From our experience, this is much easier as you can adjust the flow of the shower. You can also assure the faster heating process since you are allowed to fine-tune the function however, take note that not all of it has heating abilities.

We recommend you to ask the seller about the specs before you buy it. You may expect some features that the equipment doesn't possess.

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 Propane-Operated Showers Function?

One positive feature is sure that you can obtain in this type of shower and that is the quick heating process of your water. Just like the solar and battery-powered showers, the focal factor that makes this equipment function is the burner and stoves.

The burner in this equipment works with propane and matches. You can check our Zodi Outback Gear Extreme SC Hot Water review for an example to visualize the body parts of the propane showers. It usually has a steel canister to heat it on top of the stove. The stoves or burner may be detachable and there are some that 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, there are designs of propane showers that don't have water canisters wherein, you should have water tubs or basins that will serve as your water container.


How to Use a Camping Shower?

The routine on how to use the different camping showers are almost the same. If your equipment's parts are removable then you should install it first. Next is to fill and heat up. When you fill-up the showers 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 flow of water to be constant. After you consume the water in the bag, you just need to repeat the process until you are finished showering or cleaning.


Final Thoughts

When we tested numerous portable showers, we are able to learn the key features little by little. If you are a newbie just like us before, you just need to read some reviews in order to comprehend how certain shower equipment works.

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

And if you need some shower with quick heating potential, propane showers will be a good recommendation. For effortless shower preparation, a battery-operated shower is perfect.

Click here for a list of the best camping showers.

I get commissions for purchases made through links in this post.

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