Imagine for a moment that you’re camping. It’s a warm day, you run uphill, you jog around, and you walk. At the end of the day, when you’re all tired, you just need to take a quick shower and go to bed, but there’s no shower… Luckily for you, you can do something about such situations. You can get your own portable shower and carry it with you anywhere. We want you to find the best outdoor solar shower and have a way to stay clean anywhere.
To help you learn more about such products, we have compiled a list of outdoor solar shower reviews. A portable outdoor solar shower gives you just that. It is a large bag made from а special material that you fill with water and leave in direct sunlight. After a couple of hours the water has warmed up and you can refresh yourself.
What is an Outdoor Solar Shower?
An outdoor solar shower is a type of portable device that you fill with water, it warms it up, and you have a shower anywhere outdoors. Some bigger and more expensive than others, but all are portable.
You can take a portable solar shower with you on a hike, while fishing, at the beach, camping, etc. Outdoor solar showers are a way to maintain the hygiene of your entire family, wash dishes, bathe pets. There are different types of solar showers on the market.
Solar Shower Bag
The cheaper but efficient options are solar shower bags, which are made from special materials. More often, PVC or heavy-duty plastic are used as they absorb heat well and are durable. A solar shower bag consists of a bag that holds the water, a handle for hanging it, a hose, and a showerhead that acts as the actual shower. The hose is anywhere from 6 to 8 inches in length, usually made of rubber for flexibility.
These solar showers are gravity fed, and that’s the reason the portable shower must be hung higher than you. There’s no pressure to release the water.
Pressure Portable Solar Shower
Such solar showers have more water capacity than shower bags. A pressure solar shower has a panel that absorbs the heat. This type of shower doesn’t need to be hung high in order to work, as it works with a pressure pump. Most models are even hands-free and use a foot pump.
There are also battery-powered solar showers that are similar to the pressurized ones in terms of being used on the ground. You need to make sure the batteries are charged and installed, and that the pressure container has been properly pressurized before going on your trip.
Why Do you Need an Outdoor Solar Shower?
We believe that the benefits far outperform the disadvantages of almost all top-notch shower products. That is why you will see why you need one. There are so many of them that it’s improbable you won’t find one that will be good for you. If you’re curious about other means to have water while camping, you can check out our buying guides on different types of showers and shower accessories.
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of outdoor solar showers:
Benefits of Outdoor Solar Showers
- You can have a shower anywhere. When your camping, hiking, or at the beach, a portable shower is lightweight and compact to have with you anywhere. You just fill it and leave it, and at the end of the day, you can take a shower.
- One can add one to your emergency kit, just in case.
- You can use it for bathing your pet on your trip.
- Additionally, solar shower bags save water and do not allow for much waste.
- You can use it to wash dishes and maintain overall good hygiene when camping.
Drawbacks of Outdoor Solar Showers
- It takes hours to warm the water.
- Rinsing shampooed hair might be difficult depending on the shower.
- You have little time to shower but it’s still better than no shower.
Best Outdoor Solar Showers Comparison Chart
Advanced Elements Summer Shower / Solar Shower
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Coleman Solar Shower
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Sportneer Solar Shower Bag
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ADVANCED ELEMENTS Summer Shower/Solar Shower
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FeChiX Upgraded Solar Shower Bag
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PGYFIS Solar Shower Bag Camping Shower
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Stearns Sunshower 4.0
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Best Outdoor Solar Showers – (Recommended Picks)
1. Advanced Elements Summer Shower / Solar Shower
The Advanced Elements Solar Shower is a convenient portable shower for any type of outdoor activity. This unit has a four-layer construction.
The material is heavy-duty polypropylene, which is strong enough not to pop or tear. Of course, the solar shower must be handled with care. You should try not to place it over rocks or plants with thorns. If you leave the bag in direct sunlight in winter the water won’t freeze.
When it’s empty, the unit is lightweight. However, the hose and the valve protrude from it, not making it very compact. The unit weighs only about seven or eight pounds when folded.
The amount of water it holds is enough for two quick showers. You should stop the water while you’re lathering yourself and your hair and then turn it on to rinse. If you don’t do that, the shower will run out of the water fast and won’t be enough for the person after you.
- The amount of water is good enough for two showers and heats quickly.
- The 2.5-gallon capacity allows for a quick fill.
- The unit has Velcro straps to hold toiletries.
- Even when it’s filled, it isn’t too heavy to lift and hang on high before use.
- It doesn’t have a pocket or pouch to hold shower accessories.
- There is no way to control the water spray flow, it’s either on or off.
2. Coleman Solar Shower
The Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower is suitable for several uses while you’re outdoors, camping, or hiking. It is suitable for bathing, washing dishes, bathing children and pets. For some of these uses, the hose is too short, but it can be extended with a connector and a second hose.
The bag, when filled, weighs quite a bit so you may want to reinforce the handle and be careful when carrying it. This will help when you hang it high to use it. This shower bag’s nozzle needs to be pulled and pushed to work. This means you should be careful because a stronger pull may yank the hose from the bag.
The plastic of the shower bag is thick enough to support its weight when filled. You must be extremely careful not to poke the unit with a sharp object or leave it on a rock. You shouldn’t pre-fill the bag and travel with it as it may leak.
- Coleman’s return policies are great, especially if you get a defective product.
- This shower bag doesn’t give the water a plastic taste.
- It keeps the water warm for a couple of hours after the Sun is down.
- The hole for filling the bag is about 2 inches in diameter, making it easy and quick to fill.
- The plastic bag could have been made thicker. When the bag is filled and heated, trying to pick it up and carry it feels like it’s about to pop.
- The valve is a bit difficult to use with wet or soapy hands, you need to use two hands to turn on/off the water.
3. Sportneer Solar Shower Bag
The Sportneer Solar Shower Bag has had an upgrade and now has a way to control the water flow. It holds 5 gallons of water, but when empty, it’s easy to store and to lift. The bag is made of PVC and not polypropylene. PVC is stronger and makes the shower bag safer to carry around when filled.
Five gallons is a lot of water and can be enough for four or five showers. This makes the bag convenient for a large family or group. It takes up to 3 or 4 hours in sunlight to warm the water. If possible, check the temperature indicator as it is recommended that it doesn’t go over 50 degrees.
If you’re having a problem with water leaking from the shower hose, there are cable ties included in the package to fix the problem.
- The Velcro straps on the bag are very convenient to hold its components in place.
- This bag has a storage pouch for holding shower accessories.
- This shower bag has a temperature indicator.
- Customer service is very helpful. They respond fast to questions and complaints.
- The showerhead looks and feels cheap.
- It can be hard for some people to lift the 42-pound bag when full and hang it high enough.
4. ADVANCED ELEMENTS Summer Shower/Solar Shower
The five-gallon summer shower from Advanced Elements looks and works as advertised. The bag overall seems like good quality, but the showerhead itself is cheap. It provides good pressure, but not as much body coverage.
Unlike the smaller options, this bag has Velcro straps to hold the hose and shower head from dangling. The hose is about 18 inches long, and that’s perfectly fine for taking a shower, but it might be inconvenient and not enough for washing dishes.
If you do not have a problem with lifting heavy objects, you will love this summer shower. The bag doesn’t have insulation. However, if you warm up water in another vessel (not boiling), fill the bag with it, and leave it in the Sun, it will remain warm until your shower time.
Overall, the product has a reasonable price.
- A solar bag this big can be put in an emergency kit as well.
- Excellent customer service.
- The solar bag has a temperature indicator. But test it before using it on babies or children.
- Delivery to some states may take a couple of weeks.
- It’s difficult to dry the inside as the bag tends to collapse, and the plastic sticks together.
5. FeChiX Upgraded Solar Shower Bag
The FeChiX Upgraded Solar Shower Bag is one of the bigger bags on our list, and it holds 5 gallons of water. It takes it up to three hours to heat the amount of water when placed in direct sunlight, which is relatively fast. Even leaving it for an entire day won’t be a problem as it has a temperature indicator.
Do not use this bag without releasing the hose from the Velcro straps because the water won’t flow well. The handle is made well and looks strong, which is a must when its job is to hold the 5-gallon bag hanging without tearing.
The shower bag is easy to fill and holds enough water for one person to shower from head to toe, or to take up to four of five quick showers. This solar shower bag has more than enough capacity for two or more people to shower. The quality to price ratio is good.
The hose’s length is about 3 feet which is comfortable enough to take a shower. The flow is gravity-powered, there’s no additional pressure applied to it. A shower with this bag lasts less than five minutes, but enough for a quick rinse.
- This showerhead has an on/off switch, which controls water flow from low to high. It’s easy to whirl it with soapy hands.
- It has two color options – black or green.
- The length of the showerhead hose is convenient for various uses, such as washing dishes, hands, feet, animals, kids.
- You can return it for any reason after purchasing the solar shower bag.
- The connection between the bag and the hose is weak, and it can disconnect easily.
6. PGYFIS Solar Shower Bag Camping Shower
The PGYFIS Solar Shower Bag Camping Shower is made from PVC and has a hose that you can detach. The material the bag is made from is thick and durable. However, the water shouldn’t exceed 50 degrees Celsius.
It’s also lightweight and compact, especially when you detach the hose and showerhead. The bag fits easily in a backpack and even the side pocket of a backpack.
If you’re planning to use this solar shower bag for several purposes like washing only your hands or doing the dishes, the hose might be too short. It is only about 15 or 16 inches long. If you’re up for the job, you may replace it with a longer one.
Leave it in direct sunlight and the temperature can rise about 30 degrees in three hours.
On the whole, the product is affordable and gets the job done. Here are the pros and cons that we found about it:
- The adjustable valve gives you different water flows.
- There are two color options for the bag – black and army green.
- The bag has an indicator for the water temperature.
- Removing the hose and opening the water injection hole allows for quicker drying.
- There’s a chance the top support bar bends, if yours bends as well, contact the seller.
7. Stearns Sunshower 4.0
Stearns Sunshower 4.0 is made from quality material and is the most stylish looking one on our list. It is the only one that has a 4-gallon capacity. The solar shower weighs about 35 lb when filled. It’s the ideal choice for people who want more hot water but cannot lift the 5-gallon shower bag high enough.
The hose and the bag are connected well, but if the hose is yanked hard enough, it will come out of it. You may want to glue them together for extra strength. The handle is only ok to hang on a smooth surface, not ok for a tree branch.
You should be careful when camping and not leave the shower bag by the fire as the plastic can be compromised. It shouldn‘t be warmed in a microwave before leaving the house for a hike either.
The hole for filling the bag with water is only about an inch and a half. You can use a hose or a pitcher to fill it slowly or you’ll spill. You will need another person to help you. The small hole also makes it harder to clean and dry the bag on the inside.
- You can extend the hose to your liking.
- There’s an on/off valve on the showerhead. You can regulate the water flow with it, too.
- The package includes a storage bag for the solar shower bag.
- You can adjust the water flow to prevent waste.
- This bag has an all-black inside which absorbs more heat from the sun and warms up the water faster.
- It doesn’t come with a cord for hanging.
8. Advanced Elements (SS761) Summer Solar Shower
The 3-gallon option from Advanced Elements is well-made with a nice rugged handle that holds its weight well. It is easy to fill with the large openings, and it feels like a high-quality solar shower that can endure many uses.
The hose is a bit stiff and can be annoying to use at times, depending on where you hang it. Otherwise, the solar shower can deliver three showers, and a family of three can easily use it.
Indirect sunlight, the bag needs up to 35-40 minutes to heat, on a nice warm day. Otherwise, it will take longer. If the weather is warm, the water can stay warm a couple of hours after the sunset.
- The water flows nicely, more like a watering can, but it is not dripping. You can have a good shower with it.
- The bag is lightweight to carry around, and it weighs only about 12 ounces when it’s empty.
- When folded, its size is 4 1/2 x 14 inches, which is convenient and compact to fit a backpack.
- It has a small pouch for accessories.
- The handle and bag materials are good quality, but the nozzle and the hose not so much. The good thing is you can replace them if you want.
How Does a Portable Solar Shower Work?
Solar showers work by using sunlight to warm the water inside of them. It doesn’t matter if they are bags made from absorbing material or a portable shower with a solar panel.
This is achieved by filling the solar shower with water and leaving it in a place where the sun shines the longest during the day. Depending on the temperature and the shower’s position, it takes from one hour to an entire day to heat the water.
If you use a battery or a pump shower, simply turn it on and that’s it. No need to search for a high mounting spot.
When using a solar heating shower bag that is gravity-fed, you should hang it at least 7 feet above the ground for less resistance and better pressure. A smaller shower bag can be mounted in a shower tent for more privacy and convenience.
How to Use a Solar Heating Camping Shower Bag?
All types, models, and brands are made from either PVC or enduring plastic. The materials are highly absorbent, and when left in direct sunlight long enough will guarantee your warm shower after a day full of activities. Here are some tips on how to use a solar shower bag;
- Fill the bag with water through the water injection hole and make sure to close it tightly. Do not fill it to the brim. Water expands when it’s hot, and if you’ve filled it completely, it might burst open.
- If only one of the sides of the shower bag is absorbent, make sure it is the one turned towards the Sun.
- Find the place where the sun will shine for the longest time during the day and place the bag there. Try to put it on a towel or a smooth surface to prevent accidental poking and breaking. It is also best to avoid placing it on the ground as it won’t heat up as quickly due to the ground soaking the heat from the bag.
- When the water is heated (most bags have a temperature indicator), hang the bag in a suitable place. Make sure it is hung higher than your head. Find a tree with thick branches but without thorns or sharp smaller branches. Any other stable and high object will do the trick. You can even mount the bag on your vehicle.
Additionally, if you want to be certain that you’ll always have a place to mount your shower, you can buy a solar shower bag stand.
- After you’ve securely mounted it, adjust the hose and the showerhead. Turn the water on and take a shower.
How to Choose Your Ideal Portable Solar Shower?
If you’re thrilled about buying such a product because it will allow you to have a quick shower and maintain proper hygiene while camping, you should make sure you buy a good one.
Your top priority is to have an efficient portable shower. You want it to warm the water properly, provide good water flow, and never leak. To achieve that, consider all the points we mention below.
Here is what you should know about before purchasing a solar shower:
There are two primary materials used in the making of portable solar showers –PVC or heavy-duty plastic. The hose and showerhead are also plastic. PVC is more resistant and durable than plastic. However, this alone doesn’t make a PVC shower better than a plastic one. Other things such as the handle, the water injection hole, how the hose is attached to the shower also contribute to how well a product is made.
Can the solar shower or solar panels easily absorb the sunlight? Is the material quick heating? Will the shower bag hold the heat for an extended period of time? These are questions you need to find the answers to before purchasing a portable shower.
You may want to look for a shower bag that easily rolls and fits inside your hiking bag. Having a place to hang the shower bag is also essential. If there isn’t a suitable place then maybe you should choose another type of portable shower.
This is the last but not the least factor to consider. To determine what water capacity you need, take into account how many people will be using it. The fewer people, the fewer gallons of water you’ll need. However, for large families, you may want to buy two or three smaller showers. This way, the water will warm up faster, and the bags won’t be too heavy to lift. Be careful when choosing the capacity of the bag. Think about the weight after the shower bag is filled. You should calculate it correctly, so you don’t hurt yourself trying to lift a 10-gallon bag, or drop it and damage it.
Better buy two smaller shower bags than one large one and have issues with its weight. Otherwise, if you keep your shower bag away from sharp objects, it should last you for many, many uses.
How Hot Can the Water in a Solar Shower Get?
On average, regardless of the type, the water in a solar shower can reach up to 115 – 120 degrees. It depends on the Sun’s power on the day, the position of the bag, how long has it been in direct sunlight, how absorbent the bag is. There are too many variables that play a role in water temperature.
Ideally, it would be able to get hot enough for a satisfactory shower.
One can use solar shower bags when camping, while on the beach or at the pool. You can also use them in your own back yard. If you’re curious about other means of outdoor water heating for your home, you may find our reviews on outdoor tankless water heaters helpful.
Cleaning Your Solar Shower Bag
To clean your portable shower bag on the inside, you can use baking soda or bleach. Mix either with water, fill the bag, close the cap and swish it around for several minutes. When you think you’re done cleaning, run the mixture through the hose to clean it too.
Then fill with water to rinse. Let the mixture through the hose, leave open, and hang the bag up to air dry. Please note that the inside of the bag might take a couple of days to dry completely. Do not hurry to put it away. If you do it before the inside dries, it may get mildew.
FAQ About Outdoor Solar Showers
Can I use my portable solar shower on a cloudy day?
It depends on how cloudy it is. For partly cloudy, it could work, but it will take more time. On a completely cloudy day, it will not heat the water.
Can I use my portable solar shower in the winter?
It is not recommended as you may put yourself at risk of hypothermia. If you want to use it, make sure you do so in a closed space. Even a shower tent can suffice.
What can I mount my solar shower bag on?
You can mount your solar shower bag on a tree, on the roof, or your vehicle (a car might not suffice), on any surface that is high enough and won’t pop the bag.
How much water does a solar shower hold?
The capacity for portable showers is from 2.5 to 10 gallons.
How long of a shower can I take with a camping solar shower bag?
It depends on the amount of water. If your shower only holds 2.5 gallons, for a gravity-fed shower, it will last for about a minute and a half. If the capacity is 5 gallons, it roughly lasts about two and a half minutes.
It‘s our job to do the research and explain the product, features, advantages, and disadvantages to you. We also give objective reviews on the product that we try so you don‘t have to try and fail.
Hopefully, now you understand better these products, their differences, their similarities, and what are the essential features to look for in the best outdoor solar shower.
We genuinely hope that our outdoor solar shower reviews and guyed help you make a good decision. You can come back any time for more information on other water heating systems, such as our guide on direct vent water heaters for your home or cabin.
We appreciate your feedback, so please let us know in the comment section below if we helped you. You can also feel free to ask us any questions about this or another guide.