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8 Van Life Shower Ideas to Stay Clean On the Road

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Embracing the van life brings a sense of adventure and freedom, but it also comes with its challenges. Among the first issues many van dwellers encounter is figuring out how to maintain personal hygiene while on the road. Fear not, fellow van lifers! With years of experience living in RVs, vans, and overlanding with rooftop tents, we’ve curated the best van life shower ideas to help you stay clean and fresh during your journey. So, let’s explore the various ways to avoid being the stinky traveler on your next adventure!

Table of Contents

1. Solar Shower

Solar shower

A solar shower is typically the most common way to get a regular shower while on the road.

Using a solar shower isn’t hard to do at all! Simply fill it with water, leave it in the sun for a few hours to heat up, and bam! You have decently warm water and a way to shower!

However, van lifers have complained that the shower bag itself can tear after a few uses (which can be slightly problematic when you’re boondocking and don’t have access to a camp store).

Interested in learning more? Here are some pros and cons to solar showers:

Pros

  • Lightweight – When you don’t have water stored inside, these weigh next to nothing! With water, there is a bit of weight, but it’s definitely nothing you can’t handle.
  • Holds up to 10 gallons of water – More water = longer showers! Who doesn’t want that?

Cons

  • Can break easily – Whether you accidentally tear the bag storing it or you fill it too much and it becomes weaker overtime, these solar bags can be unreliable.
  • Hard to clean & dry – Because it’s a literal bag, it can be hard to clean the inside of it. Overtime, mold could grow inside of the bag (depending on how often you use it / how you store it after being used).

There are some solar showers that live up to the hype, however! We’d recommend using this one:

Advanced Elements 5 Gallon Summer Shower / Solar Shower,Silver/Black
  • Construction – 4-ply construction with reflector panel and insulator panel for optimized heat retention and performance
  • Capacity – This summer shower has a large 5-gallon capacity and is designed to heat water fast in the warm sun
  • Temperature guage- Easy-to-read temperature gauge to know when your shower is warm. The shower can heat up to 110 degrees in under 3 hours in direct sunlight
  • Convenience- Integrated toiletry pouch can hold a razor, mirror or travel shampoo bottles and Velcro straps for wash cloth

2. Battery-Powered Outdoor Shower

Battery-powered outdoor shower

Don’t want to wait for the sun to heat up your water to take a shower? We don’t blame you! In cases like this, we’d recommend a battery-powered outdoor shower!

You’re able to charge these outdoor showers with your car’s cigarette lighter. All you have to do in order to use this shower is stick it into a bucket of hot water, and voila! You’re able to take a nice, hot shower.

Here are a few pros and cons to think about:

Pros

  • Up to 10 mins of shower time with a 5-gallon bucket – Say goodbye to less than 5 minute showers and hello to longer options! 10 minutes is more than enough time to get clean while on the road.
  • Portable – Unlike an awning shower (as mentioned below), you’re able to bring this outdoor shower with you anywhere. Want to go into the woods to shower? You’re able to with this model!

Cons

  • You have to wait to shower until the device is charged – Because the batteries will die pretty quickly (depending on how often you use this and for how long), you’ll have to wait for a good charge in order to use it again. This can sometimes take more time than waiting for the sun to heat up a solar bag, too.
  • You need a bucket to use this shower, which takes up space in a van – While this isn’t a huge deal (unless you’re really tight on space), you’ll have to save room for a bucket inside of your camper van while this isn’t in use.

Interested in getting a battery-powered shower for yourself? Here’s what we recommend:

Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower, Battery Powered – Compact Handheld Rechargeable Camping Showerhead – Pumps Water from Bucket Into Steady, Gentle Shower Stream
  • INDOOR/OUTDOOR HANDHELD SHOWER – Transforms Sink or Bucket of Water Into Instant Shower Stream; Water-Resistant Unit Includes One Touch On/Off Switch
  • PERFECTLY PLEASING PRESSURE – Showerhead Features One Simple Flow Rate for Comfortable Bathing Experience; Gentle Enough for Seniors, Babies and Pets
  • SUCTION CUP SUPPORT – Shower-Head Securely Sticks to Any Flat Surface with Provided Suction Cup; Bonus S-Style Hook Lets You Hang it Safely Overhead
  • BATTERY POWERED CONVENIENCE – Rechargeable Pump Plugs into Laptop, Car Adapter or Computer via USB; Full Charge Allows Up to 1 Hour of Continuous Use, PLEASE NOTE: May include a wall plug instead of USB
  • COMPACT AND PORTABLE – Small, Discreet System Packs Easily in Luggage, Backpack or Car Trunk; for Hiking, Camping, Kid Bathing and Pet Cleaning

3. Pressurized Awning Shower

Have you ever seen a camper van driving around with a long, black PVC-type pipe along the edge of the roof rack? If so, you’ve seen a pressurized awning shower before!

These are pretty easy shower systems to deal with (as all you have to do is park your camper van in the sun for a few hours to let the water heat up). Once heated, you have a shower ready to go!

Some of these models come with a thermometer on the side so you can tell just how hot (or cold) the water is.

Check out the pros and cons of these pressurized awning showers:

Pros

  • Solar heated – Simply park in the sun and wait for hot water.
  • Easy to mount – Most models come with instructions, making installing this a breeze.

Cons

  • You need a roof rack to be able to use these – If you don’t have a roof rack (and don’t care to get one), you won’t be able to use this water system.
  • These can be expensive – These are a bit pricier than other van life showers but they tend to last a bit longer than other models!

Want to get a pressurized awning shower for yourself? Here’s what we recommend:

ASOPARTS Pressurized Water Tank 8 Gallon Road Camping Shower for Overlanding, Water Storage, Vehicle Water Supply and Outdoor Activities
  • ATTENTION: The pressurized camping shower water tank delivers 30L (8 gal), please consider its weight before buying a pressurized water tank, plan to have a roof rack that can support 8 gallons (about 67 lbs), plus another 30 lbs for a safe 100 lbs (this is just static)
  • PREMIUM MATERIAL: The pressurized water tank is made from lightweight aluminum with a black powder coat finish, designed to heat the water up by using the sun. Pressurized water tank could be warmed up well under hot sunny weather, so take good caution with testing the water before use, plus maybe avoid skin contact with the tank itself.
  • EASILY PRESSURIZE: The Road Camping Shower is pressurized using an air pump or compressor, you can also use a common tire pump/inflater to easily pressurize the tank.
  • EASY TO USE: ASOPARTS pressurized water storage with brass fittings, stainless steel mounting hardware, and two hoses. Filling with water goes on top with a solid valve that needs to be screwed/bolted on using the provided compact but solid wrench.
  • FUNCTION: After surfing and beach trips, motocross, camping, fishing, hunting, trail riding, hiking, mud driving, for spraying mud on tires, cleaning muddy bicycles, dirty bowls, sandy hands, sandy feet, and shoes, etc.

4. Geyser System’s Portable Shower

Geyser system s portable shower

While this is a more expensive van life shower, it’s a great investment (and even greater product).

The Geyser System’s portable shower is one of the coolest shower options we’ve seen for van life. All you have to do to get a hot shower on the road is add 2 liters of cold water and 2 liters of boiling water to the tank.

With this van life shower you’re able to get reliable, consistent water flow with no pressurization needed. There’s also an LED dashboard that tells you the water temperature and a water level sensor that tells you when it’s time to stop.

Here are some pros and cons to this awesome van life shower:

Pros

  • Uses less than 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes – portable showers can run out of water pretty quickly, but with this van shower, you’ll notice it lasts a lot longer!
  • 16 ft. long power cord –  Don’t feel like you have to stand right next to your camper van to take a shower with this! Opt to get an outdoor shower curtain and enjoy outdoor showers a little more in nature.

Cons

  • One of the more expensive van life shower options – This model costs more than $200 (but it’s well worth the extra cost if you’re able to swing it).
  • A bit larger than your typical road shower – While this portable shower is small, it does take up a bit more space than others.

Want to get this van shower for yourself? Here’s what we recommend:

Geyser System Portable Shower & Cleaning Kit with Optional Electric Heater for Camping, Overlanding, & Outdoor Recreation – Standard + Heater
  • Rinse & Repeat | Using 10x less water than a standard camp shower, the Geyser System is hyper-efficient and promotes water conservation, letting you make the most of every drop while showering, doing the dishes, and cleaning your gear off the grid.
  • Pressure Perfection | An adjustable flow valve offers precise water-pressure regulation, letting you conserve water in the tank while doing the dishes or helping you clean off muddy gear using a high-pressure blast. The more you need, the faster it pumps.
  • Scrub Away | The reusable scrub sponge (one included) features two sides — a coarse side for cleaning dirty dishes and a soft side that’s easy on skin — and comes in three distinctive colors, letting you use each for a different cleaning application.
  • Built-In Heater | Add 0.8 gallons of water, turn on the water heater, and enjoy a perfectly warm shower in 15-45 minutes. Or use without the heater by adding 2 liters of cold water to 1 liter of boiling water for a 102℉ shower, ready in five minutes.

5. Install a Tankless Water Heater

Tankless water heater

A tankless water heater heats water through a heat exchanger only when you plan to use it (rather than needing to fill a hot water tank to hold warm water).

By doing this, you won’t run out of hot water while showering or washing dishes and you’ll also be able to save some space and weight in the process!

Before you go out and purchase a tankless water heater, take a look at some pros and cons:

Pros

  • Unlimited hot water – If long showers are your thing, a tankless water heater is your new best friend. As long as you have a way to power your rig, you have hot water (this means longer hot showers)!
  • Propane efficiency – You don’t need to leave the power on all the time with a tankless water heater.

Cons

  • A tankless water heater can be sensitive to water pressure – Tankless heaters depend on water flowing through them. Water pressure can vary from campground to campground, which can be difficult for RV tankless water heaters. If you purchase an RV water pump or an RV water pressure regulator, however, that could help resolve the issue.
  • Temperature regulation – You might like the water as hot as it can be, but someone else using your tankless water heater might want it lukewarm. You can’t just add cold water to tankless heaters because it’ll confuse the system.

If you’re interested in purchasing a tankless water heater for your van build, we recommend this one:

Camplux Tankless Water Heater, 1.32 GPM Portable Propane Outdoor Camping Water Heater, 5L, AY132, White
  • Lightweight, Compact & Portable Design: The 10 pounds lightweight portable water heater’s folding handle keeps it out of the way and enables easy setup outside.
  • Flow Rate & Temperature Specification: The temperature raise is 114.8℉ (46℃) at its highest point and 46.4℉ (8℃) is at its lowest point of 1.32 GPM. Also, 1.32 gallons of hot water can be produced per minute at the flow rate of 1.32 GPM.
  • Versatile Applications: The lowest water pressure at beginning for the water heater is 3.0 PSI. For off-grid and rural areas, this hot water generator powered by two size D batteries is ideal. No more chilly outdoor shower anymore.
  • 6-in-1 Protection & CSA Safety Approved: This tankless water heater is CSA Approved with anti-freezing protection, over-heating protection, low water flow protection, dry combustion protection, high water pressure protection and flame failure device.
  • Installation Instruction & Package Content: This Camplux AY132 heater comes with 1-year guarantee, 5 feet premium on/off shower head, 5 feet gas regulator, 1 set US-standard garden hose, and 1 installation hardware pack. Setting up this propane water heater simply takes 10 minutes.

6. DIY Bug (or Weed) Sprayer Shower

Diy bug sprayer shower

It’s no surprise that many van lifers are pretty dang crafty. When we first heard about this DIY weed shower sprayer by Livin Lightly, we were blown away!

Want to make a DIY version of this shower yourself? Don’t purchase a used weed (or bug) sprayer tank. The chemicals can stick around for a long time, even after thoroughly washing it!

This tiny shower can fit into a small space in your camper van, too! Here’s what you’ll need to make your own DIY outdoor shower:

Diy off grid shower parts

Here are some pros and cons to this van life shower:

Pros

  • Affordable DIY option – Depending on the materials you get, this camp shower could be one of the cheaper options for van life.
  • Lightweight – Even when you fill this portable shower with water, you’ll notice that it’s not that heavy!

Cons

  • Limited shower time – According to Livin Lightly, they’re limited to around 7 minutes of shower time. If you don’t have access to public showers and don’t mind a quick shower, this might not bother you!
  • You have to attach the pieces yourself – Not only that, but you’ll have to make sure you purchase the correct pieces. For example, a low flow showerhead gives you 2 gallons or less of water flow per minute which might not seem like enough water for you. A standard showerhead can deliver up to 8 gallons of water flow per minute.

If you’re interested in getting crafty, here’s what we’d recommend to get the job done:

Chapin 20002 Made in USA 2 -Gallon Lawn and Garden Pump Pressured Sprayer, for Spraying Plants, Garden Watering, Lawns, Weeds and Pests, Translucent White
  • 2-GALLON DURABLE POLY TANK: 2-gallon translucent poly tank lets you see the tank capacity while filling and working, tank is durable and compatible with standard lawn and garden chemicals and the funnel-top reduces splashes and waste while you’re filling it with your preferred lawn care and pest products
  • MADE IN THE USA WITH GLOBAL MATERIALS: designed and produced in the USA with US-based customer service and technical support, located at Chapin’s home base in Batavia, NY; backed by Chapin’s 1-year limited warranty
  • SURESPRAY FILTER: anti-clog filter helps prevent clogging from dirt and debris in the tank, keeps you working with less downtime from disassembling sprayer parts to unclog filters
  • COMPONENTS: reach further with the 12-inch poly extension wand and 34-inch PVC hose; dial in to spray a stream or shower with the adjustable poly cone nozzle
  • COMFORT AND ERGONOMIC PUMP HANDLE: easily and comfortably lift and carry the sprayer around while working with the ergonomic pump handle; simple pump action to pressurize the tank

7. Build an Interior Van Shower

Interior van shower

If you feel like the best thing for you is to have an indoor shower, this is the best option for you.

While you won’t be able to have a full bathroom or a “real shower” (you’ll most likely need to install a wet bath) you’ll be able to shower inside your camper van, completely eliminating the need to find public showers.

So, what are the pros and cons to this van life shower? We’re glad you asked!

Pros

  • Get the privacy you want – Being able to shower inside your camper van eliminates the need to find a safe spot outside when it’s time to wash up. Indoor showers are a safer option for van life, too.
  • This van shower is incredibly convenient – Is it humid outside? Maybe it’s raining? With an indoor van shower, you don’t really have to worry about the outdoor elements in order to wash up.

Cons

  • Takes up a lot of living space in a camper van – While this van shower is a great idea for those wanting more privacy, it does take up a decent amount of space. If you’re someone who doesn’t need a ton of space while traveling, this might not bother you!
  • You’ll need a gray water tank – The water needs somewhere to go, afterall! While this isn’t a huge deal, it can be a pain in the butt. PS, if you’re not sure what grey water is, click here!

If you’re interested in building a wet bath inside of your camper van, check out this step-by-step guide from Van Life Outfitters. 

Note: There are some camper vans with bathrooms you can purchase if you don’t want to build one yourself!

8. Find Public Showers Near You

Campground showers

If you’re not interested in purchasing a portable shower (and you don’t want to make a DIY shower), you can always opt to find public showers while on the road!

Using the Public Showers Directory is a great way to find stops around the country. However, you could also use TheDyrt app or the AllStays Travel App!

Between gyms, truck stops, or a beach with public showers, you have more options than you might think.

Check out our guide on how to find public showers near you here.

The Best Shower for Van Life: Geyser System’s Portable Shower

Geyser portable shower

Out of all the van life shower ideas we’ve shown you, the Geyser System’s Portable Shower is the best way to stay clean while on the road (if you ask us).

While this is a more expensive van shower, it’s well worth it (especially if you’re going to be traveling in your van for an extended period of time).

So, what made us pick this above all of the other van life showers we’ve mentioned?

A solar shower bag can be punctured, an indoor shower (such as a wet bath) isn’t accessible for every van lifer, some people aren’t interested in DIY, and some people don’t want to install a pressurized awning shower on their roof rack!

While you could use wet wipes, body wipes, or dry shampoo to stay clean, they’ll only work for a limited amount of time. Eventually, you’ll have to shower!

A hot water heater isn’t necessary when using this product and you don’t have to compare different shower heads when purchasing the Geyser System’s portable shower (as it comes with one)!

Check out this video to learn more about the Geyser System’s portable road shower:

​​How To Use Your Geyser System – The World’s Most Advanced Hot, Portable Shower

Note: You can also charge this van life shower with a 12-volt outlet (we use our Jackery Portable Power Station for this).

Geyser System Portable Shower & Cleaning Kit with Optional Electric Heater for Camping, Overlanding, & Outdoor Recreation – Standard + Heater
  • Rinse & Repeat | Using 10x less water than a standard camp shower, the Geyser System is hyper-efficient and promotes water conservation, letting you make the most of every drop while showering, doing the dishes, and cleaning your gear off the grid.
  • Pressure Perfection | An adjustable flow valve offers precise water-pressure regulation, letting you conserve water in the tank while doing the dishes or helping you clean off muddy gear using a high-pressure blast. The more you need, the faster it pumps.
  • Scrub Away | The reusable scrub sponge (one included) features two sides — a coarse side for cleaning dirty dishes and a soft side that’s easy on skin — and comes in three distinctive colors, letting you use each for a different cleaning application.
  • Built-In Heater | Add 0.8 gallons of water, turn on the water heater, and enjoy a perfectly warm shower in 15-45 minutes. Or use without the heater by adding 2 liters of cold water to 1 liter of boiling water for a 102℉ shower, ready in five minutes.
  • Specs | [Dimensions] – 9.5” x 6.25” x 17”; [Weight] – 7.9 lbs (Empty), 14.6 lbs (Full); [Volume] – 0.8 Gallons; [Pump Current] 2.5 – 3.1 Amps; [Temperature Range] – 35℉ – 131℉; [Heat Current] – 9.8 Amps; [Heater Shut-Off Range] – 99℉ – 108℉; [Voltage] – 12 V DC

Conclusion

With our list of 8 van life shower ideas, you’re now better equipped to stay clean and refreshed while on the road. From portable showers and solar-heated options to clever hacks and gym memberships, you’ll find a solution that works for your van life setup and budget. So go forth, hit the road, and enjoy your adventures, knowing that staying clean on your journey is now one less thing to worry about.

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