DIY Camp Shower: How To Make A Camping Shower

When you go camping, you’re not always guaranteed access to running water and a shower. In fact, while some campgrounds do make a shower houses available to campers, often when you go car camping there is no shower for you to use.

So, what’s a cleanliness conscious camper to do when there’s no shower house?

Easy, make your own camping shower. That’s right, you can DIY it and get yourself all cleaned up…well, at least cleaner than you started out!

Wondering how easy or difficult this little project might be? Well, let us break it down for you.

What You’ll Need

There is more than one way that you can make your own shower, complete with a privacy enclosure and heat, if that’s what you’re after. But I think the most common way to MacGyver this thing is the garden hose method.

And, I’m assuming that you’re not carrying this on your back and instead you have room in you car for everything that you need to make this work.

So, that’s what we’ll focus on.

First up, let’s get you everything that you need to put this thing together. So, head over to your local Lowe’s or order this stuff online:

  • 5-gallon or 7-gallon bucket
  • Garden hose
  • Spray nozzle
  • Bilge pump
  • Toggle switch
  • S-hook
  • 12-v power plug (like you have with a car phone charger)
  • Portable battery jump starter

You’ll connect the garden hose (with the spray nozzle attached to one end) to the bilge pump and then wire that up to the toggle switch. The toggle switch should be secured on a S-hook so that you can hang it up to be accessible while you shower.

The 12-volt power plug should be wired up to the toggle switch, so that you can easily power it on and off with the flip of the switch. And, the 12-volt plug should be inserted in the portable battery jump starter to power the toggle switch.

Now, you put the water in the bucket and submerge the bilge pump in the water. Now, you’re ready for a quick shower!

So, the way that this works is that the jump starter’s power is controlled by the toggle switch. When you switch it on, the bilge pump receives that power and it makes the water in the bucket flow through the hose.

And you control the water flow with the spray nozzle. Using a 7-gallon bucket full of water means that you can run through all the water in 4-5 minutes time. 

So, that’s why you need the the spray nozzle. Don’t have a spray nozzle? No problem, you can attach a regular nozzle without a handle and flip the toggle switch on and off to start and stop the water flow.

Here’s a great video on exactly what this DIY camp shower looks like when you get it all together:

Pretty nifty, eh? I like this DIY camp shower version better than using a water bag camp shower to hold the water, which is how a lot of campers do it. 

That bag is really heavy and you’ve got to have a place to put it that can support the weight. So, if you’ve got the space for the bucket and jump starter, this just makes more sense to me.

The other option that you can do, especially if you don’t have the space for a large bucket, is the weed sprayer bottle DIY camp shower. This a great option for a DIY portable outdoor shower if you’re in a camper van with limited space.

Making A Heated DIY Camp Shower

Okay, so if you’ve got everything that you need from our list above and you’re ready to construct that homemade camp shower, then you might be wondering about that water temperature. I’m assuming you’re not a fan of cold showers, right?

Luckily, heating that DIY camping shower water is very simple.

You’ll just need to heat up some water on your camp stove or over the camp fire. But here’s the thing – you cannot heat all of the water cause you’ll just end up burning yourself when you try to take shower with it.

Instead, put half of the water in the bucket and heat the rest of it over the camp fire. Then, when you put the heated water into the bucket with the rest of the water, it warms up that water and you have a bucket full of warm water.

Simple, eh?

Some campers prefer to use a propane tank to heat the water in their camp shower, so that’s an option for you well. Though, honestly, I think the camp fire-heated water method is a bit easier and then you don’t have to deal with a propane tank.

How To Make A DIY Camp Shower Privacy Enclosure

Unless you’ve packed a shower tent for your showering needs, there’s a good chance that you’re going to need to construct a privacy enclosure for yourself.

The easiest way to do this is to pack a 10 by 12 tarp, or two, and some rope or bungee cords that you can use to string it up and form an enclosure.

Unless you’re bringing shower flip-flops, you’ll also want something clean to stand on, like a large black garbage bag or another tarp.

Another alternative for a clean surface to stand on while you shower is a portable shower deck. Though, honestly, a black garbage bag or tarp is likely going to be your best option since they are cheap and take up little space.

Just remember to place your shower on a slight incline so that your shower water runs downhill. And make sure that the water runoff is going away from your camp site!

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