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Hiking, camping, backpacking – it’s all awesome, as long as you can get clean at the end of the day.

But out in the wilderness, showers are kind of few and far between…and diving into a cold lake isn’t terribly appealing in springtime pursuits of the outdoorsy.

But there is such a thing as a solar shower that you can pack up and bring along for a hot shower, anytime in late spring, summertime, and early autumn.

As I head out for some adventures in Utah on my bike, I’m super glad to bring along one of the best solar shower options to keep me clean – well as much as anything can when you’re on the trails.

Quick-Find Best Solar Shower List

Image Product
  • Best overall
  • Heats up quickly
  • Good capacity
  • Best overall
  • Heats up quickly
  • Good capacity
  • PVC-Free
  • High quality
  • Heats up quickly
  • PVC-Free
  • High quality
  • Heats up quickly
  • Built in thermometer
  • Very durable
  • Rolls up very small
  • Built in thermometer
  • Very durable
  • Rolls up very small
  • Includes privacy shelter
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Great for campgrounds
  • Includes privacy shelter
  • Reasonably lightweight
  • Great for campgrounds
  • Super lightweight
  • High quality manufacturer
  • Sturdy handle
  • Super lightweight
  • High quality manufacturer
  • Sturdy handle
  • Much higher pressure than normal
  • Fairly light for what it is
  • Includes multi-purpose cleaning tool
  • Much higher pressure than normal
  • Fairly light for what it is
  • Includes multi-purpose cleaning tool
  • Huge capacity
  • Still heats up quickly
  • Great for groups
  • Huge capacity
  • Still heats up quickly
  • Great for groups

What is a Solar Shower?

While other forms of solar showers exist, in this case, we are discussing a solar shower that is not powered by solar panels. Instead, we are referring to the portable solar showers that may be used for campers, hikers, et cetera.

Solar showers are a convenient, portable option for keeping clean while on the move. They’ve been created to meet the ever-rising need of campers, hikers, backpackers, off-the-grid lifestylers, and others for having a portable, hot shower that doesn’t burn through non-renewable energy sources.

Basically, a solar shower is a specially designed, sturdy bag that’s filled with water.

This bag is heated by direct sunlight. These bags are typically a 5-gallon, flexible PVC coated black or charcoal colored bag that can be hung from a post, tree branch or some other point that will allow gravity to kick in and shower down the water for the user.

Close up of man's boots while hiking on trail in the mountains best solar shower

How Does a Solar Shower Work?

Most solar showers have an opening hatch at the top of the bag where a spigot from a hose can be used to fill the bag with water. Of course, water from natural sources may be poured in via a water bottle, or some other object.

At the bottom of the shower bag, there is a flexible plastic tube which allows the user to direct the flow of the water. At the end of this tube, there will be a spigot of some kind which adjusts the flow rate of the water, turning it into a shower.

Solar shower bags must be hung above the user to allow gravity to produce the shower effect desired. The water bag may be hung before the shower to collect heat in direct sunlight or may be hung at the time of the shower after heating in a more directly lit space elsewhere.

On days that the air is at least 70 degrees Fahrenheit, a solar shower is capable of heating water up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit for a comfortable shower. This should take about three hours or less of direct sunlight exposure time.

After the water has been heated, the user simply stands in the appropriate place beneath the spigot and showers.

How to Choose the Right Solar Shower

There are several key factors we recommend looking into before finalizing your decision on the purchase of a particular solar shower.

Reviews and Ratings by Real-Life Users

A big key to this particular type of solar product is how real-life users before you rate the solar shower.

There are loads of options that don’t necessarily actually get hot, but you can’t know that from simply reading a product description. Companies will always say their products do what they’re designed for.

Real-life users, however, can tell you if they actually do as what it says on the tin.

Make sure to look at what folks say about how long it takes to heat, how hot the water actually gets, how many folks can take a shower with it in a short period of time – spoiler: it’s usually just one or two – and how easy they are to carry and set up on the go.

Oh, and this is kind of what we’re here for. To distill all of these and our own experiences down into something useful for you before you buy.

Ease of Packing and Carrying

Because the outdoor solar shower needs to be highly portable, it’s important to examine how easily they will pack up. This means you should look at dimensions when packed, and weight of the solar shower.

For the most part, this won’t be an issue, as solar showers tend to be very lightweight, but some are bulkier than others, and therefore are more suitable to campers using vehicles rather than backpackers hitting the wilderness for a few days or longer.

Ease of Setup and Use

You’ll also need to consider how easy the solar shower will be to set up and use.

Most will have hooks or other means for hanging them already attached/built-in, but some will have an easier-to-use spigot, add-ons, or other option that could make them more appealing than another cheaper option.

How Hot the Water Gets

Of course, a huge factor with a shower of any kind is how hot the water actually gets.

Most companies will give a statement on the temperatures but reading reviews from real users on this fact will be key for getting the right shower for your needs.

How Quickly the Water Gets Hot

How quickly a shower heats up is also fairly critical for many of us. If we’re going to be hiking all day and setting up camp in late afternoon, we’re probably looking for a shower soon after pitching the tent.

This means you’ll want to get a shower that will heat the water within a few hours at the most.

Finding one that will heat more quickly than that will be unlikely but be on the lookout for real-life comments to this effect for clues on this.

How Quickly the Solar Shower Loses Heat

Similar to the need for getting the water hot quickly, you’ll need a solar shower bag that will keep the water hot long enough to effectively get that shower in.

If you’re able to hang the bag where your shower will be, all the better, but in many cases, this isn’t the most practical location for heating a shower towards the end of the day.

Make sure to read reviews for comments on how long the given solar shower keeps the water warm.

Water Capacity

Depending on how many folks are expecting to use the same shower – and how many times a day you’ll be able to warm up water for those showers – the capacity is a huge issue.

Most solar showers come in at the 5 gallon mark, but there are some smaller ones that are ideal for backpackers and larger capacity offerings for groups of people planning to quickly slide through the soapy cleanse.

2.5 to 3 Gallon Solar Showers

These small capacity shower in a bag options are ideal for one or two backpackers. They’re extremely small and lightweight, so they pack up most compactly for squeezing into knapsacks for a long hike.

4 Gallon Solar Showers

Four-gallon capacity showers are ideal for one to three campers able to quickly wash up on the trail, or a single camper who likes to enjoy a longer shower.

5 Gallon Solar Showers

A five-gallon shower is great for a group of two to four campers looking for quick, hot showers. They will take longer to heat up than a 2.5 or 4-gallon shower, but not significantly longer.

10 Gallon Solar Showers

Ten-gallon showers are ideal for larger groups – say 4 to 6 people – taking quick showers, or for two or three individuals who know they can’t glide in and out in under four minutes.

Group of Hikers Walking on Deserted Rocky Terrain best solar shower

Quality of Manufacture

Finally, and perhaps the most important factor for choosing a portable shower is the quality of material and labor that goes into the making of said solar powered shower. The materials will determine how long the shower will last, how well it will work, and how effective it will be in heating and keeping hot the water for your shower.

Look for products made by reliable manufacturers with high ratings and long-standing reputations for quality.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Solar Shower

When you head out with your solar shower, you’ll want to remember these key tips for saving hot water for the group.

1. Make Use of Those On/Off Valves

One of the biggest water savers will be doing military-style showers. Turn the water on long enough to get wet, shut it off for soaping up, and then back on again for rinsing. Repeat for each stage of that bubbly cleansing.

2. Use Washcloths

If you don’t typically use a washcloth, you’ll want to change your habits in quick showers when you’re trying to conserve water. Washcloths will help you save on water by thoroughly sudsing up from a tiny amount of soap and water.

3. Use a Privacy Shelter

You might not realize it, but a privacy shelter for your shower can also help you conserve water. They block others from seeing you – thus allowing you to fully disrobe for washing – and that helps save water since you’ll be able to spend less time juggling soap and water spouts. Instead, you can position the showerhead to cover more of your body at once.

Most privacy shelters are lightweight and compact and tend to be inexpensive so they won’t add much to your load or overall cost for gear.

How We Chose The Best Solar Showers

Being an avid camper and hiker with exciting trips in my near future, I wanted to find the absolute best solar camping showers to review and tell my readers about. So, I started out with a list of about 50 options as suggested by fellow reviewers and highly-rated options on Amazon and similar retailer sites.

From that list of 50 choices, I knocked out any that didn’t have great reviews from real-life users. This knocked the list down to about 20 choices that I felt I could legitimately dive into for reviewing myself.

This list of 20 was still too lengthy, so I researched what professional outdoorsmen and real-life campers/hikers had to say and eliminated those that didn’t fit the bill.

From there, I reviewed the top choices for myself and compiled this list of the best outdoor solar shower reviews for your benefit (and mine).

The Best Solar Shower Reviews

At first, it was a little challenging reviewing solar showers. After all, most of them are just a – hopefully – insulated bag designed to hold water and lie around in the sunshine.

But as I dug into the options getting ready for my own adventures, I’ve learned that subtle differences can make all the difference in convenience, comfort, and usability.

Here’s what I found in my researching and reviewing of solar showers for camping, hiking, and backpacking.

#1. Advanced Elements Solar Shower (EDITOR’S CHOICE)

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

For the absolute best 5 gallon solar shower, you’re looking at the Advanced Elements Solar Shower. This has a great capacity of 5 gallons, perfect for two to three quick showers or one longer shower if you’re soloing the campsite.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Empty weight: 1.32 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 6 x 2 inches
  • Extras: water temperature gauge, Velcro strap for storage, pocket, reflective mirror

The Advanced Elements solar shower has a super-efficient 4-layer construction that captures and holds heat for a long time, making sure everybody going in still gets hot water. You fill it up and lay it out – clear side up – for a hot shower in a few hours’ time.

The solar shower has a reflector panel and insulator panel for collecting and storing the heat efficiently and uses an easy-to-use on/off showerhead for water saving purposes.

There’s a side pocket for your soap and shampoo, a Velcro strap for your washcloth and has an extra-large filling valve for easy use. There’s a mirror for grooming, as well.

The whole thing is only 1.32 pounds and rolls up tightly for super convenient stow away for any situation. It’s perfect for backpackers, campers, hikers, and anyone else on the go who needs a tiny but useful shower.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#2. Advanced Elements PVC-Free Summer Shower – Best Non-PVC Solar Shower

Overall Rating: 4.9 out of 5 stars

For an easy to use, easy to set up solar shower that’s also safe from the dangers of PVC, the Advanced Elements PVC-Free Summer Shower cannot be beaten. It’s truly the best around, with the safest ratings and strongest convenience options for a hanging solar shower bag.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Empty weight: 20 ounces
  • Dimensions: 20 x 16 x 2 inches
  • Color: black/yellow
  • Extras: temperature gauge, reflective mirror, pocket for shower supplies, Velcro store strap

The Advanced Elements PVC-free Summer Shower has an extremely convenient twist off cap and extra-large filling valve for incredibly easy use. The dark materials and temperature gauge help make sure you’re getting exactly the shower you want.

It’s only 20 ounces when empty, rolls up for easy stowing in your backpack and comes with a convenient pocket for storing your shampoo and soap while showering. It’s even got a Velcro strap for keeping your washcloth handy. Plus, there’s a mirror attached for grooming convenience.

The shower has an easy control head for adjusting the water flow. The nozzle is easy to use with the convenient on and off button.

Just hang it up in the sun and you’re good to go for a couple of quick, hot showers.

A great option if you’re looking for both something that just plain works, but doesn’t contain PVC.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#3. Stearns Sun Shower Camping Shower – Best Cooler Weather Solar Shower

Stearns Sunshower review

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

For an uber sturdy, heat-retaining solar shower, the Stearns Sun Shower camping shower is a great option. It’s a little smaller than the standard 5-gallon bag, and may well suit your needs better than others.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 4 gallons
  • Empty weight: 1.34 pounds
  • Dimensions: 20 x 6 x 1.5 inches
  • Extras: Built-in thermometer

The Stearns Sun Shower is made of highly durable PVC material that’s specially designed to capture and retain heat, even on cooler days. This makes it the ideal shower for morning showers or spring/autumn camping trips.

The material is heat-locking, while the built-in thermometer lets you know what to expect before turning it on.

The shower has a super strong handle for hanging and carrying and uses a handy on/off showerhead valve switch to help you conserve water.

The four-gallon capacity will work for up to three quick showers.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#4. Texsport Instant Portable Outdoor Camping Shower & Privacy Shelter

Texsport Instant Portable Outdoor Camping Shower review

Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

For the best combination of solar shower and privacy shelter, you’ll want to check out the Texsport Instant Portable outdoor camping shower. It comes with a 5-gallon capacity shower while providing you with a privacy shelter that keeps the bugs and onlookers out.

These are crazy, right? I would never have thought that something like this exists, but if you’re at a campground and if you need your privacy (or have kids, for example), this is such a cool idea!

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Empty weight: 3.9 pounds + shelter
  • Dimensions: 87-inches height, 54 x 54-inches wide
  • Extras: shower shelter

The whole setup is extremely lightweight and perfect for most campers in just about any condition.

The kit is a bit large for backpacking, however, so you’ll want to check out other options for that situation.

The shower works quickly to warm up the water, though you’ll need to heat it outside the shelter for fastest results.

Shelter Breakdown:

  • Rainfly: yes
  • Mesh windows: yes
  • Rust-resistant: yes
  • Water-resistant: yes
  • Mesh roof: yes
  • Extras: Removable external towel bar, internal mesh shower rack

The shelter itself comes with a large zippered D-style door and is taffeta coated with heavy-duty polyurethane for water and flame resistance. The frame is 3/4-inch rust-resistant diameter chain-corded steel. The rainfly has four see-through skylights for indoor visibility and there are two “no-see-ums” mesh windows for privacy on the walls.

All of these keep you covered while providing ventilation for a safer, more comfortable shower. The shelter has also a rip-stop, removable floor.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#5. Coleman Solar Shower – Best Lightweight Solar Shower

Overall Rating: 4.1 out of 5 stars

For an uber light-weight, moderate capacity solar shower, you’re looking for Coleman Solar Showers all the way. These babies weigh in at less than a pound a-piece. Which is crazy light – meaning they’re perfect for backpackers and hikers.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 5 gallons
  • Empty weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.5 x 2.2 inches

Best of all with these is that while they’re pretty basic and incredibly lightweight, but they’re also highly durable. And when you’re gallivanting about in the woods, that’s pretty important.

Plus, this is made by a really well-known outdoor company whose products have been tested and tried for years and years. They’ve got pretty fair warranties, and good customer service, too.

The shower has a sturdy handle for hanging and carrying the shower with. It’s also a great shower for cooler days and will still heat the water to a decent temperature and keep the water hot long enough for a couple of people to make it through.

Finally, it has a good-quality on/off showerhead valve for water conservation.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#6. Nemo Equipment Helio Pressure Solar Shower

Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Shower with Foot Pump review

Overall Rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

If you’re not sure you’ll be able to hang up your solar shower or prefer the control of a pressure shower, you’ll love the Nemo Equipment Helio Pressure Shower. It comes from a well-established, well-respected company known for high-quality outdoor products.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 2.9 gallons
  • Empty weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Dimensions: 8.5 by 17-inches
  • Extras: inflatable foot pump, multi-purpose water pressure cleaning tool

The Nemo Equipment Helio pressure shower is a small capacity shower for one or two campers. It sits on the ground – be sure to remove sharp objects before placement – and uses a foot pump to turn the water on and off as needed.

When fully pressured, the pump will provide five to seven minutes of high-powered water flow. And since it’s a pressure shower, it’s actually more precise than an on/off valve on a showerhead.

The Helio was designed with versatility in mind. It comes with a multi-purpose cleaning tool that works as a water pressure spout for cleaning dishes, pets, gear, and more, or simply for showering off the grime after a long hike.

What’s especially great about this shower is that it’s specifically engineered to keep the water hot for hours, meaning you can shower at pretty much any time and still have the same heat as you would at bright noon.

The shower comes with a 7-foot hose with a spray nozzle and allows you to regulate the flow of water – low to strong water pressure – to wash as you like. Lower pressure means longer water use.

The shower packs down to a tiny 8.5 by 5.5-inches and only 1.6 pounds for a super lightweight, easy to pack solar shower for backpacking or camping anywhere.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

#7. Funtalker 10 Gallon Solar Shower

Funtalker 10 Gallon Solar Shower review

Overall Rating: 3.8 out of 5 stars

If you’re headed out with a larger group – or just really love a good long, hot shower in the woods – you’ll want to go with the Funtalk 10-gallon solar shower. It’s lightweight, at only 20 ounces, and holds a heck of a lot of water for a solar shower.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Capacity: 10 gallons
  • Empty weight: 20 ounces
  • Dimensions: 15 x 15 x 10.62-inches

It takes only about three hours for the Funtalker to heat the entire 10 gallons to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, the perfect temperature for a comfortable shower.

The shower comes with one nozzle and two nylon hooks for convenience and folds down to tight 12 inches by 6 inches by 2 inches for compact storage. The hose is over two-feet long, making it ideal for awkward situations.

The bag is made of highly-durable black PVC to easily capture and retain heat. It comes with a 90-day replacement if anything goes wrong, and a 30-day money-back guarantee if you simply decide you don’t love it for any reason.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

Shower Accessories for Camping

In the water conservation section, I mentioned a few products you’ll want to consider using for your solar shower. I thought I’d toss in my favorites for your convenience.

Best Solar Shower Privacy Shelter

There is one option for this section that I’d like to recommend.

Our pick above includes an actual shower, but if you have a shower already and want just the privacy shelter, this is our top pick.

WolfWise Dressing Tent Shower Privacy review

The WolfWise Pop Up privacy shelter is super lightweight at only 4.4 pounds and is incredibly easy to set up. It literally just pops up anywhere you want it.

It folds down to 23.2-inches by 1.4-inches, and so stows away easily, even in a backpack.

It’s UPF 50+ and water repellent and made of anti-tear materials. The frame is made of galvanized steel, too, so you know it’s going to last. Plus, there’s a rain fly and mesh top design that helps balance out temperatures inside.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

Best Quick-Drying Camping Washcloth

Because we always need a good quick-drying washcloth, I also thought I’d mention my favorite: the Lunatec Self-Cleaning travel washcloth.

Lunatec Self Cleaning Travel Washcloth review

They’re odor-free, quick-drying, and even give a nice, light exfoliation.  

They come in a pack of 5 100% nylon washcloths that measure 11 by 11 inches square.

>> Tap Here to Read More Reviews and See Today’s Price on <<

Finding the Best Solar Shower for Your Adventures

As you can see, there are subtle differences between the showers that make one ideal for someone over another. The reviews of real-life users, professionals, and my own research and reviewing have shown that to be clear.

Be sure to think through how many people will use the shower, when people tend to shower – i.e. is everyone a morning showerer, or will some folks go evenings? – and how long you’ll typically have for warming up water before stepping in.

Grab a few key camping accessories for your shower, like a water-resistant shelter, washcloth, and great toiletries bottles, and go have some adventures.

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