Heated Camping Showers: Everything You Need to Know

There’s nothing quite like camping in the fall. All the downsides of summertime camping - the humidity, the bugs, and the hot nights go away, and the pure bliss of crisp, cool nights comes back. If you ask us, fall may be the best time of year for camping, no matter where you live.

The only downside of fall camping is that, while the cool weather is nice, it can make showering at the campsite a little uncomfortable. In the summer, when you end a day of camping sweaty and sticky in the humidity, a cool shower is acceptable, or even desirable. But in the fall and winter, when the air is crisp and cool, you will definitely want a warm or hot water shower to make showering even tolerable.

So if you’re looking to do some camping this fall and you like to shower at the campsite, you are likely already looking at your options for heated camping showers - or portable showers that have heating options. What you’ll find when researching these products is that there are a variety of options that vary greatly in both how they function and their price range. For those who don’t know about portable showers, this can likely be a bit confusing.

In this blog, we will lay out all the options available when it comes to portable heated camping showers - we will look at how they work, and explore the pros and cons of each. Hopefully this information will help educate you to which option is best for you, so you can take a nice toasty shower at your campsite this fall that fits your budget.

1. Solar Shower Bags

solar camp shower

The most common and cheapest version of a portable hot camping shower are the solar shower bags. They are as they are described - essentially, just plastic or rubber bags with a short hose and nozzle attached to them. 

Here’s how they work: the water pressure is gravity dependent, so in order for water to feed through the hose and nozzle, the bag has to be hung from something higher up than the person showering. While water does come out of the hose, it is very low pressure as it is 100% dependent on gravity. It can also not be used to wash anything as high or higher than where it’s hanging, as the gravity pressure will not work at that point.

These shower bags are typically black to absorb the sun’s heat, so to heat the water inside of it you literally just lay it out in the sun for a few hours. This can take a long time and if it’s not sunny it will basically never heat up if you want a hot shower, you better hope it's a sunny day and that you have enough time for it to lay out to heat up enough.

These bags range in capacity from 1-5 gallons and run anywhere from $10-$60 depending on the size and quality. They are easily found on Amazon or in any Big Box stores, and for many people, it’s all they need for a quick rinse at the campsite.


  • Very affordable
  • Easy to use
  • Easy to transport
  • Can hold high capacities


  • Very Low pressure
  • Relies on gravity for pressure
  • Must have somewhere to hang it
  • Takes hours to heat up
  • Requires consistent sunlight to heat

2.  Propane Heated Portable Showers

propane heated camp shower

 Many hardcore campers and van lifers who want to step up their heated camp shower experience, opt for propane heater portable showers.

The way propane heated portable showers work is somewhat complicated, and they involve a lot of spare parts. While they come in different shapes and sizes, the commonality between all propane heated portable showers is that they consist of basically a propane heater and a water pump.

The battery-powered water pump has to pull water from an exterior source, meaning, there is no onboard water tank for it to pull from. So in order to use it, you have to have a bucket of water or other water source set up for it to pull from. This can be potentially problematic for users who do not have access to a water source.

To heat the water, a propane heater in the unit has to be turned on, with an open flame burning to create heat. So not only do you have to have an external water source, you have to have a propane tank attached, and an open flame burning the entire time you are using the unit.

Once the pumped water flows through the unit and is heated by the propane, it  comes out of a hose on the other end of the unit. Typically the pressure is weak, but the real advantage of these units is that, compared to the solar bag showers, the propane heats the water almost instantly.

While these propane heated portable showers are great for those who want a hot shower almost instantly,  they are pretty complicated, and require many exterior elements for them to work. They need an external  water source and propane - and because they use propane they cannot be used in enclosed spaces as there is an open flame. They are also  difficult to transport and take a lot of time to set up - which means they aren’t as portable as some other options.

This lack of portability means they can basically only be used for showering - and not for other camping related cleaning like spraying off gear, cleaning dishes, etc.

Propane heated portable showers are much pricier than their solar shower bag counterparts. They range in price from $150 - $500, and can be purchased on Amazon and at some retailers.


  • Can heat water to high temperatures
  • Heats up water quickly


  • Relies on external water source
  • Relies on propane for heat
  • Complicated to set up
  • Not easily portable

3.  Portable Showers with Built-In Heaters

portable shower with built-in heater

There are some portable showers out there that have both built-in water tanks and heaters.

These portable showers boast  the convenience of an all-in-one solution, where your water and heat is all on board, and therefore there are no other moving parts required. An example of this type of portable shower with a built-in heater is the Geyser Systems Portable Shower.

How the Geyser works is that both the pump and the heater are powered by a 12 volt plug. That means that the unit has to be plugged in at all times for it to work, and that your car has to be turned on to power it. So in a way, while these units are technically portable,  they still have to have a 12 volt power source to function so they are very limited in where they can be set up

These types of electric portable showers with built-in heaters can heat water in around 45 minutes up to 90 degrees. They are only able to do this because their capacity is so low. The Geyser’s portable shower in particular has only 1.5 gallons of capacity, and if you look, the flow of water is very weak, as it uses a sponge at the end of its hose instead of an actual shower nozzle. So while it can clean and heat up, it’s not very portable, it has low capacity, and isn’t really a shower.

The Geyser shower runs around $324 and can be found on REI’s website or in-store.


  • Heats water without propane
  • Has a built-in water tank
  • No external parts required


  • Low capacity
  • Relies on 12v power source at all times
  • Sponge on end of hose instead of shower head
  • Takes a long time to heat a small amount of water

4.  RinseKit + Immersion Heater

portable heated camp shower

RinseKit portable showers have heating elements that can be purchased as accessories and used as needed. 

Unlike other portable showers, the RinseKit is fully self-contained, meaning it doesn’t require an external water or power source. RinseKit is an all-in-one fully electric portable shower. Its pump runs on a AGM battery  that only has to be charged every 6 months or so - so you can take it far from a power source and it’s good to go.

Due to its battery-powered pressure system, RinseKit boasts superior pressure to other portable showers - comparable to your hose at home. It also has a 5-setting spray nozzle which adds to its versatility as both a portable shower and portable hose for rinsing gear, dishes, etc. 

The RinseKit also has a built-in water tank with a capacity of up to 4.5 gallons. That means you don’t have to pump water from a bucket or other source, like the propane heated portable showers. Just add water, press power and spray! 

These design features  make RinseKit the ultimate portable shower - and combined with the Immersion Heater accessory, it becomes the ultimate hot portable shower.



The Immersion Heater is a stainless steel  rod that screws  into the tank of the RinseKit, and heats up the water in around 30 minutes. It does require a power source to work, so it has to be hooked up to either a 12 volt socket or a trailer hitch in order to heat the water.

After the water in the RinseKit is heated, you can take it anywhere. You don’t have to be near your car, and you don’t need propane. 

So with the RinseKit PRO or PRO PAK + Immersion Heater, you can have a fully portable, high pressure hot shower without propane, sunlight, or a power source to function after the heater is charged. It is a truly portable hot shower that is perfect for the campsite or any other situation where you want to take a hot shower in the field.


  • High capacity water tank
  • High-pressure spray
  • Built-in water tank
  • Heats water without propane
  • No external parts required
  • Doesn’t require sunlight to heat water
  • Dynamic 5-setting hose nozzle
  • Super Portable


  • Can take 30 minutes or more to heat water

Now that we have explored the different types of portable hot showers and how they work, let’s compare them all in a single chart to see how they stack up.


Shower Type

Water Source


Pressurization Method


Heating Method

Time to Hot


Solar Shower Bag

Built-in tank

Fully Portable


Shower Head


4+ hours


Propane Heater


Fully Portable

AC Power

Shower Head




Portable Shower w/ Built-in Heater

Built-in tank

Requires Power Source

12 Volt Battery


Built-in Electric

30+ minutes


RinseKit w/ Immersion Heater

Built-in tank

Fully Portable

AGM Battery

5-Setting Nozzle

Electric Accessory

30+ minutes



So you can see that the different types of portable heated camping showers differ greatly in how they function, how long they take to heat, and how well they spray water. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and are suited for different levels of campers - but if you’re looking for an all-in-one solution that is truly portable, the RinseKit PRO + Immersion Heater is likely your best option. Hopefully the information we have provided will help you on your buying journey, so that you can take  toasty showers wherever adventure takes you this fall.