Product Review: Pitch Your Tent

Product Review: Solar Showers

Most of the time, getting dirty while camping is half the fun. But on longer trips, or if it is really hot out, I’m always interested in cleaning up a bit. Trust me, having clean hair, face and hands goes a LONG way toward making me feel human again!

It holds 5 gallons of water and is made from heavy-duty plasic.

Whenever I drive through a campground, I see tons of those PVC camp showers laying on picnic tables and the hoods of cars. But my only experience with one was decidedly unpleasant so I’m never tempted to try it one out.

The Story

It was just before my 4th birthday. Standing on a picnic table, The Queen Mother decided to hose me down. Needless to say, the water was FREEZING and I was screaming that I was camping, there was no way I’d ever take a shower! Needless to say, Mom gave it up as a bad job and just dried me off! No solar showers for me!

According to the package, the solar shower should be able to heat 5 gallons of water from 60 degrees to 105 degrees in just three hours. And, according to various water/shower websites, most people shower in water between 102 and 107 degrees. So, the box promising water of 105 would be right in the comfortable range for most people.

I'm not sure how easy it would be to fill the shower without using a garden hose!

Of course, there’s a HUGE difference between a solar camp shower and your shower at home:

The Bathroom!

At home, you close the door and trap all the warm air around you. In camp, there aren’t really any doors to close!

The only thing left to do was to put the solar shower to the test!

The Test:

  • Initial Water Temperature: 78°
  • Gallons in shower: 5
  • Put in sun at: 1:07 pm
  • Outside Temperature: 94°

High-dollar weather station I "borrowed" from ESP Boss.

Mid-way through the 3 hours:

  • Time: 2:37 pm
  • Water Temperature: 92°
  • Outside Temperature: 97°

After 3 hours

  • Time: 4:08 pm
  • Water Temperature: 100°
  • Outside Temperature: 94°

The Verdict:

Well, at 100 degrees, maybe the water would be warm enough and maybe not. On a hot day, it would probably be okay to rinse hands and face. Even a quick scrub to my hair. Since I was at the office, couldn’t really test it!

My water, straight from the garden hose, started out at a balmy 78 degrees. I’m pretty sure that this is much warmer than water that comes out of the spigot at any campground I’VE ever been too!

I used an aquarium termometer to measure water temperatures.

The shower was a bit hard to fill with the hose. It seemed like it would go better as a two person job. To make matters worse, when I tried to pick up the bag, the clear plastic shower tube popped off and water went pouring over my foot. (This is a problem!)

It was actually quite difficult to carry the shower from where I filled it to where I was going to conduct the test. Of course, I couldn’t really wrap my arms around it and carry it like a baby since I was at the office and didn’t want to get all wet. In camp, this might not be as much of an issue since wet and dirty are part of the fun of camping.

I’m not sure at all how you would HANG 5 gallons of hot water so you could get UNDER the hose to wash anything. 1 gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds; 5 gallons weighs 42 pounds, give or take. That’s an awful lot of weight to haul up into a tree!

The full shower is heavy and awkward!

The box said that the hot water is also good for washing dishes. I don’t know about you, but when I’m in camp, I want to scrub dishes with BOILING water. Maybe use warm water (solar shower warm) as a rinse.

Now, there is one more part of the puzzle:

It was partly cloudy in the afternoon so the solar shower wasn’t in 100% full sun. I don’t know how much of a difference that makes to the over all water temperature. I’m planning on re-testing the shower with cold water and on a fully sunny day. I also am curious to know if air temperature makes that much of a difference. And, what happens if you DON’T put the bag in the sun, clear-side-up?

Readers Weigh In:

  • What have been your experiences with solar showers?
  • What is your favorite way to clean up while you’re in camp?

Here’s a link, in case you want to purchase a camp shower.

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