‘Camping’ means something a little different to everyone. From crowded campsites with luxury bathrooms, to offgrid adventures without a soul in sight, there is a huge spectrum as to what the camping experience can entail - and every camper has their preference. One end of the spectrum requires less preparedness, and on the other, full preparedness.
On one extreme of the camping spectrum is what is called ‘boondocking’. Boondocking refers to camping or RVing in remote areas without any access to conventional amenities such as electricity, water, or sewage hookups. It's all about immersing oneself in nature and disconnecting from the modern world. While boondocking offers freedom and solitude, it requires careful planning and self-sufficiency, including finding alternative ways to bring the creature comforts of home with you - like a shower.
In this blog, we will explore the ways in which you can shower when boondocking. Some methods are more luxurious than others, and none will be quite like the shower you take at home, but with the right technology, you can take a hot, high pressure shower, no matter how far offgrid you are. By being able to have that luxury of a hot shower wherever you go, you’ll be able to push your trips further, and get a little dirtier, knowing at the end of the day, you’ll be clean, warm and comfortable when it’s time to slip into your sleeping bag.
Challenges of Showering When Boondocking
Boondocking presents several challenges when it comes to showering, primarily due to limited resources and lack of infrastructure. Understanding these challenges is crucial to finding suitable solutions.
- Limited Water Supply: Boondocking typically involves carrying a finite amount of water, making it essential to conserve this precious resource. You’ll need water for cooking, washing dishes, washing your hands and drinking, so when you add all that up, you really have to be as conservative as possible when using water when boondocking.
- No Power Source: Not having a power supply means that you will have limited options when it comes to heating water. You will need propane, or an electric way to heat the large amount of water you’ll need to shower - which requires a ton of power.
- Privacy Concerns: Finding a secluded spot to shower while maintaining privacy can be tricky when boondocking in popular areas.
So you can see that when you’re boondocking, showering is not to be taken lightly. When you’re off grid, water may be your most valuable resource, and showering may be the lowest priority on the list of what you need your water for. So if you really want to shower, which you will, you need a super efficient way to use that water for showering, so that you can make the most out of your limited supply.
Now, let’s look at common off-grid showering methods, to see which would work best for boondocking.
Boondocking Showering Methods
Showering off-grid typically involves finding alternative methods for water supply, heating, and drainage. Here are some ways to shower off-grid:
- Solar shower: A solar shower consists of a bag or container that you fill with water and leave in the sun to heat up. It has a showerhead attached, allowing you to take a shower outdoors. Gravity provides the water pressure, and you can hang the bag from a tree or a support structure.
- Easy to carry / transport / store
- Can heat up in the sun
- Low pressure
- Must be hung up above user
- Hard to control water flow
While Solar Showers are cheap and easy to move around, they really do lack the pressure you need to take a shower. Due to the fact that the flow of water is not easy to control, they can also waste a lot of water. Ultimately, they provide barely a drizzle, which will likely leave you feeling unsatisfied if you were expecting anything close to a real shower.
2. Bucket shower: A bucket shower is a simple and low-cost option. Fill a large bucket with water and use a smaller container or cup to pour water over yourself. It's a manual process, but it can be effective. You can heat the water using a camp stove, solar water heater, or any other heat source available to you.
- Easy to carry / transport / store
- No pressure
- No water flow control
- Hard to heat water
While you could barely consider this a “shower”, you can always just take water from a bucket and pour it on yourself, soaping yourself up between pours. While this works in theory, it’s not efficient, as there is literally no pressure, and you end up wasting a lot of water as a result. It’s nothing like your shower at home pressure or dispensing wise, and it's also hard to get hot water unless you boil it beforehand.
3. Natural water source: If you're camping near a clean natural water source like a river or lake, you can take a dip or use a biodegradable soap to clean yourself. Be mindful of any local regulations regarding water use and environmental impact.
- Can be super refreshing
- Saves water
- Can be unsanitary
- No temperature control
- Hard to bathe in an environmentally safe way
While the idea of bathing in the wild sure is romantic, most of the time, it is neither a reliable or safe choice. Sure, if you’re in the mountains and you know that the water is from a pure spring, go for it. But otherwise, lake water, or even stream water may be a little unsanitary for bathing, or may be freezing cold. Even if all conditions are right, unless you’re using an environmentally friendly soap, it’s also bad for the environment to bathe in these natural places.
4. Wet wipes or sponge baths: When water is scarce or not easily accessible, wet wipes or sponge baths can be a practical solution. Use biodegradable wet wipes or a damp sponge with a small amount of water and soap to clean yourself. This method requires minimal water usage.
- Conserves water
- Hard to get completely clean
- No full coverage with water
- Can create alot of waste
- Takes longer
Whether you’re wet wiping or sponge bathing, if you’re low on water, this is probably the best way to get clean at the end of the day. The problem is, of course, that it takes a lot longer to get clean and likely, you will not be getting full coverage.
5. Portable camping shower: Portable camping showers are designed for outdoor use and are often operated with a hand pump or a battery-powered pump. They usually come with a water reservoir that you can fill and a showerhead with adjustable water flow. Some models can be heated using a camp stove or propane heater.
- Pressure can match that of an actual shower
- Potential for high capacity
- Makes water use more efficient
- Can cut off flow of water easily
- Heating options available
- Able to aim / direct the water easier
- Certain models be difficult to set up
- Certain models difficult to transport
- Certain models can take up alot of storage space
- Pricier than other options
So, if you’re looking for a boondocking showering solution that is most like your shower at home, a portable camping shower is likely your best option. They deliver the best pressure, most capacity and most heat of all the above options, and due to their ability to cut off water flow immediately, they can actually save water in comparison to these other methods. While this option is the most pricey, it is most definitely worth it if you value your sanitation and comfort.
What to Consider in a Portable Camping Shower
So if you do choose to get a portable shower for your boondocking showering, you should know that there are many different types, companies and models with different functions. Let’s look at the different attributes of portable showers, so you know what to consider when making your choice:
Portability - When conducting research on a portable shower for your boondocking adventure, the primary aspect to consider is its level of portability. Can it be moved around easily? Is it convenient to carry back and forth to a water source for refilling? Although these factors may appear insignificant, they become crucial when you are frequently on the move and need to locate water sources for refills.
Capacity - Portable showers are available in various capacities. Unless you prefer a brief 30-second "shower," it is advisable to opt for capacities of 3 gallons or more to simulate the duration of a real shower to some extent.
Pressurization - Many portable showers offer limited water pressure and deliver only a trickle of water. Therefore, when researching a portable shower, it is essential to pay attention to the pressurization method. Battery-pressurized showers tend to provide significantly higher water pressure compared to gravity-fed or hand pump models.
Heating - Can you truly consider it a shower without hot water? If your answer is negative, then it is crucial to ensure that the portable shower you select either has a built-in heater or offers compatible heating accessories for purchase. Different heating options are available based on the chosen portable shower, so it is important to consider your desired water temperature and how quickly you need it to heat up.
Ease of Use - The last thing you want when preparing for a shower is dealing with a complicated assortment of separate components. Furthermore, engaging in manual labor such as pumping can make showering seem like a daunting task. Hence, during your research on portable showers, it is important to ensure that the chosen one is easy to use, eliminating the need for excessive effort or thought when you're ready to shower.
As you can see, there are numerous factors to consider when selecting a portable shower. Depending on your setup, climate conditions, available resources, and budget, certain portable showers may be better suited for your boondocking adventures than others. Now that you know what to look for, let's explore the different types of portable showers available, allowing you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each option.
Why the RinseKit is best portable shower for Boondocking
RinseKit portable showers are perfectly designed for boondocking, providing everything campers need for a hot, high-pressure shower anywhere. Here are five reasons why it's the perfect choice:
- Exceptional Portability: Every RinseKit is ingeniously designed with all the components built-in. Some models are built to be carried around easy, and the Rack Shower is made to be mounted on vehicles - making both of them perfect for boondocking.
- Impressive High Pressure: Powered by a battery, every RinseKit delivers an impressive high-pressure spray at 50PSI. This level of pressure is capable of effectively removing even the toughest dirt and grime, ensuring consistent pressure until the last drop.
- User-Friendly Operation: Thanks to its battery-powered pressurization, every RinseKit is incredibly easy to use. Simply fill it up through the top cap, press the power button, and you'll have powerful water pressure readily available at your fingertips.
- Versatile Functionality: With its battery-pressurization and all-in-one design, the RinseKit offers exceptional versatility. They can be used not only as a shower but also as a hose, handwashing station, or van washer, adapting to various needs on your boondocking journey.
- Heating Options Available: There are heating options available for every RinseKit model, so no matter where you are, you can take a hot shower.
In summary, RinseKit is an excellent choice for boondocking due to its portability, high-pressure performance, user-friendly operation, versatility, and heating options. It provides the ultimate showering solution for campers, ensuring a comfortable and refreshing experience wherever your adventures take you.
Other Items You’ll Need for Showering When You’re Boondocking
In addition to your showering method, you may want to consider other items that can make your boondocking showering experience more comfortable.
- Privacy Curtains or Tents: Maintain privacy by setting up portable privacy curtains or pop-up tents around your showering area. This ensures you can freshen up without worrying about prying eyes.
- Floor Mats or Towels: Place floor mats or towels on the ground to create a clean and slip-resistant surface for showering. It also helps in containing water and preventing muddy conditions.
- Water Heaters: Whether you are using a portable shower or even a bucket of water, you may want to have some propane or electric based water heater to warm the water you use on your body.
- Water Collection and Disposal: Use a bucket or basin to collect the greywater during your shower. Properly dispose of it following Leave No Trace principles, ensuring it doesn't contaminate natural water sources.
Step-by-Step Guide to Showering When Boondocking
So once you’ve decided on your showering method, you’ll want to set up your showering area. Here are a few steps for maximum efficiency and environmental-friendliness:
- Gathering and Heating Water: Collect the required amount of water in advance, either from a nearby water source or from your stored supply. Heat the water if desired using a portable camping stove or solar heating method.
- Preparing the Showering Area: Set up your privacy curtains or tent and place your floor mats or towels on the ground. Ensure the area is clean and free from debris.
- Conserving Water during Showering: Wet yourself down, then turn off the water while you lather up with biodegradable soap. Use a washcloth or sponge to minimize water usage. Turn on the water briefly to rinse off.
- Proper Disposal of Greywater: Collect the greywater in a container and dispose of it responsibly. Follow local regulations and ensure it doesn't contaminate the environment.
- Avoiding Slip Hazards: Be cautious of slippery surfaces in your showering area. Use non-slip mats or attach traction pads to the floor to prevent accidents.
- Ensuring Proper Ventilation: If showering inside a tent or enclosed space, ensure proper ventilation to prevent excessive humidity and mold growth.
- Securing Water Containers: When using pressurized or hanging water containers, ensure they are securely fastened to prevent accidental spills or injuries.
Showering when boondocking may require some creativity and adaptation, but with the right techniques and equipment, it's entirely possible to maintain personal hygiene while enjoying the beauty of remote locations. With a portable shower like a RinseKit, you can have a hot, high pressure shower no matter far how you travel, so you can enjoy your trip while maintaining the comforts of home.