Camping Showers Are Great For Hygiene Without Power
If there is one luxury that everyone loves, it’s the ability to sit in silent appreciation of some warm water to wash up with after a hard day’s work. Unfortunately, a nice stream of warm, pressurized water from your typical shower usually requires a lot of electronic pumps and a large water heater in the basement that won’t be functioning after SHTF. Thankfully there are a few improvised alternatives that have been used by campers and long-term hikers that can be co-opted for prepping use.
How to Build a DIY Camping Shower
The design I’m giving her is just one of many possible methods for making your own. Obviously the kind of gear you keep stockpiled will dictate what you have on hand when you’re building your shower so here are some basic principles behind every shower design:
- Non-electric feed. You won’t usually have the ability to pump water using fuels, so you’ll need to have a design a system that can function without an electric water feed. Gravity is the most common method, though some dedicated folks use showers made with manual air pumps in mind.
- Portability. Most camping showers are made to be lugged along with the rest of your stuff when it comes time to break camp and move on. As such they tend to be made of plastic or rubber since it folds up into a pack and weighs little..
- Durability. Despite the weight and packability concerns, you will also want to have something that can last for many showers without springing unintended leaks. As such, some extra reinforcing materials (duct tape for example) are commonly used on seams and major stress points.
- Ease of cleaning. You will be filling something with water, potentially warm water, which means that all manner of crud is going to try growing in the shower as soon as you’re done using it. Make sure there is some way to easily run a cleaner through the system or that it can be quickly disassembled.
With those in mind, let’s take a look at our extremely cheap, extremely simple design:
- A roll of heavy-duty garbage bags (black is best for improving the water’s heat!)
- Rope strong enough to suspend several gallons of water in the air.
- A tree with a sturdy branch about 6.5 feet off of the ground.
- *Optional* Duct Tape for reinforcing and repairing.
How to Build It:
- Triple-bag the garbage bags for improved strength.
- Fill the bags with clean water. Not only is dirty water bad for you healthwise, but grit and sticks could clog up the shower or rip the bags open.
- If desired, let the bags sit in the sun for several hourse. This allows the sun to do its work, heating the water above “freezing cold” so that it’s at least mildly more comfortable.
- Taking care to avoid weak or rotted limbs, suspend the filled bags with a rope from a strong branch. I suggest hefting it about 6.5 feet off of the ground merely to give you some clearance between the bags and your head, but any height you find comfortable is fine.
- Poke a few holes to let water through and start rinsing. The fewer holes the greater the pressure, so don’t get overzealous. Try to space them apart a bit as well to avoid weakening one section so much that it gives way.
- As you use your shower, feel free to use duct tape to reinforce areas that are weakening or obvious stress points to extend the life of the shower. In my experience duct tape does a pretty poor job sealing the actual holes since the seal it creates isn’t watertight, but it can help if you see bulges along seams and such.
This shower must usually be refilled for each person who uses it, so only the first person gets a warm shower unless you store water elsewhere to warm up and then pour it into the bags right before you shower. If you want to keep reusing the bags and letting them sit, you’ll have to add a fourth layer to catch water that leaks out of the holes, then remove it once it’s time to shower.
A camp shower is really very simple, and while it cannot give you endless gallons of hot water it is far better than the dirty and unhygienic alternative!