What Are Camping Showers?
Camping is a beloved pastime for many American families. Many people use camping as a cheap way to take a vacation. Still others see camping as a destination in and of itself–getting out into the wilderness and enjoying the great outdoors.
Camping showers are exactly what they sound like–portable hot water and shower systems that are designed to be used on a campsite. Camping showers range from propane heated tubs to vehicle-mounted complete hot water shower systems. Some camping showers use the heat of the campfire to warm water for bathing and others have large “water heaters” that absorb the heat of the sun all day to warm water for showers at night.
Different Kinds of Camping Showers
Recreational campers aren’t the only people who use camping showers. Since camping showers are pretty much just fancy enclosures with some sort of water heating system, they are perfect for hunters, people on job sites, and even in the military. You can find camping showers set up after natural disasters by the Red Cross or other emergency officials, and even used as decontamination stations after a gas leak or chemical attack.
There are two basic types of camping showers–hot water and cold water. Every other difference between camping showers is either about size or features. Why a person would choose a cold water camping shower is beyond me, though they are cheaper, smaller, and easier to haul around.
Full-Size Camping Showers
The biggest and most “shower-like” of all camping showers are the full size showers that allow a person to stand upright. These camping showers, like Decker’s Hot Water Station, are not cheap, but the convenience they afford the user is well worth the price if you really need a shower in the middle of nowhere.
These larger sized camping showers heat the water by use of propane tanks–two tanks for the larger full-size camping showers. You can fill the water tank from multiple sources–there’s even a pressurized hose that allows you to fill the water tank with water from a nearby stream or lake, and you can fill buckets with fresh water and fill the water tank this way, so these full-size camp showers work even when you don’t have a source of pressurized water.
Larger camping showers deliver about 2.5-3 gallons of hot water per minute, and allow the user to adjust the temperature anywhere from 80 degrees up to about 150 degrees.
Expect to pay anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for full-size camping showers.
Tankless Propane Camping Showers
The biggest difference between the tankless models of camping showers and the full size camping shower is the simple fact that tankless camping showers don’t hold a reservoir of water. This means you have to have access to a garden hose or other source of pressurized water to use these camping showers.
Tankless camping showers are ideal for campsites that include a garden hose, such as RV campsites or “luxury” campsites that offer more than a fire pit and a great view. Tankless camping showers are great for adding an additional shower option for your guests in an RV, or even when you have a large number of guests in your home.
These smaller camping showers hook up to a propane tank and your garden hose and instantly begin to heat the water as soon as the water is turned on.
Tankless models of camping shower are much cheaper than full size camping showers, ranging from a couple hundred bucks up into the $500 range.
Vehicle-mounted Camping Showers
There are different types of car-mounted camping showers, though most of them use your vehicle’s coolant system to heat the water for your shower. This means that you’ll need to have a car with a water-cooled engine. The only other thing you need to use a vehicle-mounted camping shower is a water source. Luckily, this can be standing water, a bucket full of water, or even a hose.
Part of the installation of vehicle-mounted camping showers involves permanently attaching part of the shower mechanism to your car’s engine compartment. This can be done without damaging the engine or affecting its power, and makes using the vehicle-mounted shower really easy.
The vehicle-mounted shower is easy to use, and as long as your vehicle runs, provides unlimited hot water. You just hook up the pump to the car’s battery, one side of the hose to your water source, and the other side of the hose to your shower partition (usually not included). Because the hose runs through a heat exchanger mounted to your vehicle’s engine, you get really hot water nearly instantly.
These devices run about $400-$500, and because they don’t come with a shower partition, are best for grooming (pets, horses, etc) or for camping trips that offer some semblance of privacy. They are also commonly found on hunting grounds, as there are plenty of water-cooled engines around and lots of need for long hot showers.
Camping showers bring some of the comfort of home to your camping or outdoor trip. You can use camping showers at times other than camping of course–many groomers use devices like this in their “travelling groomer” business, as they are easy to set up and maintain.
The next time you’re planning a camping trip, consider bringing along a camping shower. You may be surprised at how many people are excited about a camping trip as long as they can have their hot water shower.
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