Deciding to strike out for a van life adventure is a big commitment, especially if it’s a long-term adventure. You know you and your traveling companion must make sacrifices, such as making the most of living, working, cooking, and communing in a small space.
But there are some things you don’t want to give up, like staying squeaky clean. While showers don’t always make the list of van life essentials, we thought we’d give them a full page here to address on-the-road cleanup needs.
Sure, you can seek out special campgrounds, local businesses, or secluded lakes and streams, but those aren’t things you can count on all the time. Besides, there’s nothing like taking a shower inside or just outside your own campervan.
We want to help you find the best outdoor shower add-on options for your campervan, so let’s see what’s out there to make freshening up a breeze, no matter where you roam.
Solar Shower Bag
If you want to keep things simple and inexpensive, you might consider investing in a solar shower bag. You’ll find many brands and options available once you search for this low-maintenance option.
Solar shower bags come in a range of capacities, starting at 2.5 gallons and going up to above 10 gallons to accommodate the size of your group or your shower needs and desires. All you need to do is fill your handy bag with water once you reach your campsite, then set it outside in the sun to warm up, which usually takes around three hours in direct sunlight. Each shower bag unit features a temperature gauge to know when your shower is warm enough, so you won’t need to guess when your bag reaches a toasty 110 degrees.
All you need to do is use the hook to attach to the outside of your van, then you’re ready to shower.
Most models feature multiple layers of material construction to ensure heat retention and high performance. The Advanced Elements Summer Shower, for example, comes with solar, reflector, insulator panels, and a water reservoir, often made from ripstop fabric.
The best part about solar shower bags is that, once you use them and drain the water, you can tuck them away for pure out-of-sight, out-of-mind minimalist bliss. With their small size and easy use, you can use a solar shower bag with any campervan you own.
The main downside to the solar shower bag is that it can start to leak after multiple uses, so there is a risk that it offers a short lifespan. Then again, the cost is low, often in the range of $20-75, so you might weigh your options regarding risk to sustainability.
This might be the cream of the crop where van life showers are concerned. It’s the perfect option for deluxe campervan options. However, remember that it is one of the more expensive options and needs to become a permanent fixture. You need to ensure that there is a permanent connection between your water and gas sources. And it isn’t quick and simple like some other options.
The great news is that if you go with this type of outdoor shower, you’ll enjoy consistent, comfortable water temperatures every time you use it, even outdoors in cooler conditions.
Another downside, especially if you’re budget conscious or traveling to a place where propane is not easily available, is that it takes a lot of propane for the water to warm up. You’ll need to refill the propane tank relatively often to take care of daily showers and other essential needs.
If you want to step up for a more powerful shower, the pressure shower is the way to go. With these units, you don’t need to hang them overhead, like solar bag shower options force you to do. The 22-liter NEMO Helio LX pressure shower, for example, sits on the ground, delivering the pressure you need to do your daily cleaning essentials, like showering, washing your hair, bathing the dogs, doing the dishes, and everything else.
Here are some top features and capabilities that make this type of outdoor shower so popular for van lifers:
- Pressurize quickly and easily to fill the generous 5.8-gallon tank using the manual foot pump.
- Provide additional foot pumps to allow for full and strong pressurization for a continuous spray for 7-10 minutes.
- Fill the tank directly with hot water or let the black tank absorb the sun’s rays to warm up gradually.
- Use the seven-foot neoprene hose to reach farther outside the van for particularly dirty cleanup sessions for muddy dogs and dirty gear.
- Stow it easily and safely while driving in the compact ventilated carrying case.
For something different, you might try a road shower, which you attach to the top of your campervan. It’s another, more expensive solar shower option. For instance, Yakima sells road showers for prices ranging from $450 and $670, so it’s a pretty big investment.
Is it worth it? Depending on how much you travel and what a good, hot shower is worth to you, it might be. A road shower offers a high-powered shower experience, but once installed, you can’t move it around or make many changes, and it makes it very obvious you are living vanlife since the pipe system is set up externally.
A road shower is an intriguing option, but we think it might be for the most die-hard van lifers who don’t mind showing off their commitment to life on the road at all times.
A Built-in Shower System
If you haven’t bought your campervan yet, you might look for a sprinter-style van with a built-in outdoor shower system. We love the Winnebago Revel and feel it’s a great option if you want some excellent features like a ready-made shower. Sometimes, it’s nice to let the experts do it all for you, ensuring everything is installed perfectly to fill your needs before you drive your campervan off the lot.
The Revel features an indoor shower with a wall surround, flexible showerhead, shower curtain, and 31″x26″ wet bath. There is also a powered roof vent to prevent things from getting too warm inside your campervan.
The best part is that you can add any of the above-listed outdoor shower options for messier cleanups, like muddy paws and mountain bikes. Your spacious, road-ready campervan will let you add any accessories or equipment you need to turn your Revel into your cozy home, whether as a home away from home or as your home for life.
Do You Need More Ideas to Create the Perfect Shower Setup for Your Van Life Adventures?
Whether you own a campervan that needs a shower option or you want to add an outdoor shower to your existing sprinter van, your trusted RV retailer can help.
If you’re shopping for your first or a new campervan, browse our inventory online to get an idea of what might suit you best.
Connect with our team at RecVan today to learn more about all the shower options and new campervan unit options to figure out what’s best for you and your travel companions.