Few things beat a relaxing day at the beach. However, returning to the campsite covered in sand, with the smell of BBQ smoke in your hair, and the taste of saltwater on your skin, leaves you desperate for a refreshing shower.
When there’s no shower block available, the next best thing is someone throwing a bowl or two of water over you! Or is it?
We have researched, in-depth, the best solar shower for outdoor use.
They are simple and affordable methods of having a warm shower in your natural surroundings. They are easy to hang and to operate and rely solar on the energy harnessed from the sun’s rays to heat the water to ambient temperature.
Read on for our choices of the best models currently available on the market.
- Reviews of the 6 Best Solar Showers
- Buyer’s Guide – what to look for in the best solar shower for outdoor use
- Final thoughts…
Reviews of the 6 Best Solar Showers
ADVANCED ELEMENTS 5 Gallon Summer Shower/Solar Shower
Let’s begin this review with the aesthetics of this solar shower. It looks and feels sturdy, it has a well-made, wide handle that enables comfortable carriage of the pouch, even when filled to its maximum 5-liters.
The hanging strap is durable, there is no fear that it might snap when suspended from a branch or pole. The side pockets easily hold shampoos and gels, and the Velcro straps are a safe hanging place for washcloths. There is even a small mirror to make those shaving and plucking jobs safer!
Filling the reservoir couldn’t be easier. The fill cap is wide enough to make filling easy with little or no spillage. The cap twists off which makes for a tight seal with no leakage. This is a much better system than the models that employ a push-in bung type system.
Once the tank is full, lay it out in the sun with the clear side up, and go enjoy your day.
On your return, you will have enough warm water for 2 people to comfortably shower, 1 after the other.
The temperature of the water varies upon the ambient air temperature throughout the day. This also affects the time it takes to warm through. However, the water should be warm enough to shower in after 2-3 hours in regular sunshine.
In the desert, it will take considerably less, or be much hotter.
Our favorite feature is the temperature gauge that displays exactly what heat to expect from the shower. In the unlikely event that the water is too hot, it’s easy to add a cup or 2 of cold water to bring it down.
This is a fantastic, durable solar shower, with an easy to use on/off nozzle to conserve water as you shower.
The 4-ply PVC-free construction with insulator and reflector panels, make light work of heating the large water capacity.
- Inbuilt temperature gauge
- 4-ply for fast, more effective heating
- Exceptional durability
- Tight-fitting screw cap
- The hose would benefit from being longer
Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower
With its simplistic design and affordable price, you might think that this solar shower isn’t one of the best models. You’re in for a surprise.
It has a large 5-liter maximum capacity, which is enough for 2-people to have consecutive warm showers.
Once it is filled, lay it out black side up, in the sun. Even on cooler days the heat-locking material will trap warmth between layers and keep it there, warming the water in the process. In bright sunshine on a hot day, you will have enough warm water for a shower in little more than an hour.
The handle is strong, maybe not strong enough to consistently hold 5-gallons at height, but it is easy to reinforce it with duct tape just to be sure.
Our favorite feature is the on/off valve connected to the showerhead. With just a push you can stop the water flow whilst you lather up or shampoo, before pulling it back out to resume. This is a great way of conserving water and ensuring there is a plentiful supply to finish your shower.
The water pressure is surprisingly strong, making cleanup from a dip in a mud pool, or a day driving in the dust, easy to wash away.
Overall, you won’t help but be impressed by this bargain-priced solar shower, it by far out-performs expectation.
- Start/stop valve
- 5-gallon capacity
- Made from innovative heat-locking PVC
- The handle could be more substantial
ELECTRFIRE Solar Shower
The first thought when opening the Electrfire solar shower box is just how well it’s packaged. All of the components are together in a drawstring mesh bag, which doubles up as a great wash bag when the shower is in use.
Maybe it’s because it is an army green color, but it looks a very substantial shower, almost like a piece of military-grade equipment.
It is made from PVC along with other non-toxic, environmentally friendly materials. It is strong, durable, and very portable, weighing just 1.1-pounds.
Our favorite feature is the upgraded shower head. Unlike some of the other models featured in our reviews of the best solar showers for outdoor use, the showerhead is much bigger and resembles the type used in your home.
It has a small lever to the side to switch it on and off and to increase the water flow.
The filler cap twists and locks into place and the see-through back lets the user see just how much water is inside. Once it is full, it can take just 3-hours to get the water up to 94°f.
This is achieved when the kinetic energy from the sun’s rays is absorbed.
The thermometer on the base shows the user the exact temperature to avoid any accidents.
Both the water tube and the hanging handle are reinforced making this an extremely tough and portable solar shower.
- Handy mesh carry bag included
- Multi-hole shower head
- Well-made and durable
- It could use a longer hose
RISEPRO Solar Shower Bag, 10 gallons
This is a great value for money solar shower that is lightweight enough to take to a festival or on a hike. It is also big enough to suit a large family, enabling them to shower one after another without the need to constantly refill the bag.
It holds a huge 10-gallons, yet amazingly, on a hot day, in direct sunlight, it can reach comfortable temperatures of over 100°f in around 3-hours.
Be aware, 10-gallons of water is very heavy, but Rispero has considered this and added multiple layers of black PVC to capture the heat, insulate it, and to strengthen against any leaks. The materials used are also harmless to humans and friendly to the environment.
Our favorite feature has to be the hands-free capabilities of the shower. Initially, ensure the bag is hung securely with the cable system.
A sturdy plastic rod enables the showerhead to hang in place over the top of the bag, leaving the user with both hands left free to shower in comfort.
It also has 3 of the best features of a solar shower, an on/off switch to conserve water, an adjustable flow dial to alter the water pressure, and a temperature indicator to prevent scalds.
You get a whole lot of solar shower for your money with this model. It is lightweight, portable, foldable, and takes little storage space.
- Huge 10-gallon water capacity
- Inbuilt thermometer
- Leak-proof construction
- Overhead, hands-free showering ability
- Suited to large group camping trips
- The hanging hook should not be used when it’s full
- It is exceptionally heavy when full – we suggest 2-people hang it
GF Garden Sunny Style Premium Solar Shower
This is the first of the type of solar shower to feature in our reviews. Just as the bag style, water is stored and heated over time via the sun’s thermal energy. However, in this model, the water tank is in the base and the shower looks more like the domestic shower we use in our homes.
It has an upright pole that is adjustable, with heights varying from 4ft6″ – 6ft9″.
It is made from sturdy plastic and finished in a refreshing lime green color that would look great alongside pools and cabins.
The large water tank holds 16-gallons of water and with just 2-hours of full-exposure to the sun, it will reach temperatures of around 86°f.
Our favorite feature is the 33ft long hose and all of the applicable connectors that are supplied with the shower. It takes just 10-15 minutes to set up and just requires a Philips screwdriver.
Once everything is connected, switch the hose on and use the dial on the pole to set your desired temperature. The water pressure from the faucet is enough to provide enough water pressure for several warm showers.
There is no need to worry about the shower toppling over, it is stable and heavy enough to withstand windy conditions.
The tank has a wide mouth to make filling a breeze, the cap screws on tightly to prevent leakage. The entire structure is well-threaded and water-tight.
This is one of the best solar showers for outdoor use, by the pool, or on a camping trip.
- Fully adjustable for all height requirements
- Perfect temperature with hot and cold mixer tap
- Supplied with a hose, all connectors, pressure regulator, and safety valve
- Exceptional thermal efficiency with a huge water capacity
- Modern and fresh innovative design
- Not as portable as the bag style solar shower
- Quite heavy at 15.91-pounds
VINGLI 7.2Ft 5.5 Gallon Solar Heated Shower
This is a traditional style outdoor shower that would complement any pool area.
It is made of non-corrosive brass and PVC. The black finish ensures it absorbs as much sunlight as possible.
It holds 5.5-gallons of water, that’s enough for several quick showers before and after a swim. Once the pipe is full, on a warm sunny day the water will achieve a very impressive 140°f within a couple of hours.
The pipe’s insulation means that the water stays warm for some time after the sun has gone down. The water fills the entire pipe so the large surface area ensures the water heats very quickly.
All of the hardware is supplied for assembly, it isn’t too difficult, just a little fiddly around the showerhead. That is pretty special too, it is a large rain-style head so has a lovely wide range.
Our favorite feature has to be the foot shower. A separate tap towards the bottom of the pipe, designed specifically to wash feet and freshen up. Both the showerhead and lower tap achieve good water pressure.
This is the most aesthetically pleasing solar shower, in our opinion. It is well-made, solid, and has a pre-drilled plate to secure it to the ground for added stability.
- Sturdy non-corrosive brass construction
- Fast and efficient water heating
- Additional foot tap
- Large, swivel shower head
- Solid steel footplate for secure mounting
- Not portable for camping trips
- Needs to be secured to hard-standing for greater stability
Buyer’s Guide – what to look for in the best solar shower for outdoor use
Multiple features and factors combined make each solar shower slightly different from the next. Here are some for your consideration;
Solar showers hold between 2 and 10-gallons of water, with 5-gallons being the most common.
Most outdoor showers should use no more than 2 gallons per person, a good rule of thumb when choosing the ideal size for your needs.
Multi-ply solar showers will heat up faster than single-ply ones, but only in the correct temperature settings.
So you can have the best, all-singing, all-dancing solar shower, but if it is a cloudy day, it will still take an age to heat.
Most showers claim to heat the water to a comfortable heat of 113°f within a few short hours.
Always check the temperature, particularly if there isn’t an inbuilt thermometer.
A 5-gallon bag weighs heavy so a sturdy handle is a must to ensure it stays securely in the tree. Also, PVC construction needs to be robust to withstand many uses.
A longer water pipe makes shower children or reaching down to feet much easier.
Some models have a mesh bag to make carrying them on camping trips much easier. Not only does it keep all of the parts together, but it also doubles up as a wash bag.
Look for a solar shower with a storage pouch attached. It’s the ideal place to keep shampoo, razors, and washcloths, and not have to leave them on the dirty ground.
Those models that have inbuilt thermometers are the safest. They read the water temperature to prevent any scalding accidents. Similarly, it prevents inadvertently jumping into a cold shower!
Most solar showers are very straightforward to use.
Those with screw tight water funnel caps tend to suffer fewer leakages.
Try to choose a model with a start and stop nozzle as it conserves water as you wash.
Keeping luggage down to a bare minimum when going on a camping trip is an absolute must. Although most of our featured models are very compact when rolled up, some are more lightweight than others.
How do Solar Heated Showers Work (Bag style)
Most solar showers consist of 3 main components;
- An insulated bag – the tank where the water is held and heated
- A hose – made from flexible plastic and measuring between 6-inches and 2-feet long
- A shower head – depending on the model, this may either be a single stream or resemble a domestic shower and have multiple holes.
Once the reservoir is full, the bag is laid in the sun to heat the water.
This is achieved using the thermal energy from the sun and is called heat transfer by radiation. This type of heating requires no medium for the solar energy to travel, unlike conduction transfer which needs a solid.
Energy from the sun is transferred to the water in the form of heat.
REMEMBER TO ALWAYS CHECK THE WATER TEMPERATURE BEFORE STEPPING BENEATH YOUR SOLAR SHOWER
When you’re ready, suspend the solar shower bag from a sturdy tree branch or something similar.
Hold the outlet pipe before turning the release valve to let the water flow. Gravity causes the water to run out naturally, and with some pressure.
Direct the handheld nozzle to where you need it, remembering to turn the water supply off as you lather up.
How an upright solar shower works
Water is stored in much the same way, either in a base tank or an upright pillar. Radiant energy from the sun turns to thermal energy and heats the water.
A hose connects the shower to the faucet and it is this pressure that forces the water upwards and out of the showerhead.
The heated water and the fresh cold water combine inside the shower to supply ambient temperature water. All of or featured models have an adjuster tap to control the amount of added cold water and therefore reached the desired temperature.
How the material of a bag style solar shower contributes to heating water
Most solar showers feature a bag made of PVC as the reservoir that stores the water. PVC is the material of choice due to its durability and its excellent heat absorption properties.
Some of the higher-end models feature multi-ply layers that not only make the bag more robust but also increase the rate at which the water is heated.
There might be up to 4-layers;
- Outer clear layer to supervise the fill level and allow passage of the sun’s rays
- A reflector panel layer to redirect the rays back into the water to speed up the warming process
- An insulator layer helps to maintain the water temperature, even after the sun has gone down
- The final black outer layer. Dark colors attract and absorb the most heat from the sun. All models have a dark-colored back.
How to speed up the water heating process of a solar shower
The water heats faster when in direct sunlight on a very hot day.
Any temperature above 60°f is enough to steadily heat the solar shower, if you want to hasten the process there are a couple of techniques worth trying.
Where best to lie the water bag
Placing the bag on a hot, flat surface that absorbs heat is like launching a 2-pronged attack on the water. By placing the pouch on a hot car roof or a smooth warm rock, the heat is being transferred from both above and below.
Carry a spare PVC mat
A sheet of black PVC placed beneath the water bag will attract and absorb more UV from the sun.
Don’t overfill the water bag
Around 1.5– 2 liters of water is ample for a quick shower, especially if you halt the water flow as you shampoo or lather up.
If you only add this much water, the bag will spread out more, increasing its surface area as its ability to quickly heat up.
Is it easy to clean a solar shower?
A wipe over with a warm soapy cloth is enough for the outer of a solar shower. Inside shouldn’t create an issue as long as it is left hanging with the tap fully open when it comes time to pack it away.
If it has been packed away for a while and you choose to freshen it up before the first use of the season, run a dilution of white vinegar and warm water through it.
What’s the best solar shower tip?
Invest in a couple of rubber tiles from the dollar store. It is such a treat to stand on them as you shower and not have to worry about dust, sand, or grass sticking to wet feet!
How can you cool down the water in a solar shower?
Easy! Add a cup of cold water until you reach the desired temperature.
In the same way, you can add some hot water from the kettle to heat the water if it hasn’t reached optimum temperature when you’re ready to use it.
The best solar showers for outside use work at their peak when they have had all day to heat up.
If you can arrange to shower just before the sun goes down, you will be assured of a warm and refreshing experience, whichever model you choose.