There’s nothing quite like whipping up a great meal at the campsite. Cooking is fun already, but doing it outdoors with your friends and family - now that’s a good time. Unlike cooking at home though, cooking at the campsite can be a little challenging, particularly when it comes to cleanliness. That’s because there’s one thing that you have at home that’s particularly hard to take with you to the campsite: a sink.
Think about how often you use your sink while you’re cooking at home. You wash your hands initially, before cooking. You wash your vegetables before preparing them. You wash your hands after touching meat. You wash your knives and utensils while using them on different foods. You wash your hands before eating. You wash your dishes off. There’s countless other uses.
Now try to imagine preparing even the most basic of meals without that sink. Your hands are nasty. Your veggies aren’t washed. Your knives are cross-contaminated. Your surfaces are dirty and cross contaminated. Your dishes are dirty. It’s a greasy, smelly, and crossed up hygienic and culinary nightmare.
So how do you cook without a sink? How do you prepare a meal anywhere without running water? Do you settle for nasty hands and dirty dishes?
Well, there are some common solutions to this age-old problem. Some methods, of course, are more efficient than others. So to give you some ideas about how you can make a makeshift sink at the campsite, we’ve compiled a list of some of the common alternatives, so that you may be inspired to come up with your own methods.
Portable Camping Sink Options
1. Water Bottle
While it could barely be considered a sink, many campers will opt for just a good ole’ water bottle for washing up while cooking at the campsite. While it is technically a source of water, it is not “running water” by definition, and you have to touch it in order to use it. So if you’re washing your hands, you’ll have to use one hand to wash the other, which kind of defeats the purpose. Unless it’s a big jug of water, you also will have to refill the bottle constantly, which adds another step to the process. You also may be sacrificing your valuable drinking water to wash your hands - which is never a good thing.
PROS: Cheap, easily portable
CONS: Low capacity, touch required, little control, low pressure, wastes water
2. Water Cooler
Much like a water bottle, a water cooler is a common makeshift option for campsite sanitation. It is technically more of a “sink” than just a water bottle, as in, you can hit a button and the water will pour down, and there is much more capacity than a water bottle. Like a normal water bottle though, you still have to touch either a button or a lever with your dirty hands in order to get the water to flow. So if you touch raw chicken or your hands are contaminated, it still may not be a sufficient solution for cleaning.
PROS: High capacity, Lower price, Continuous water flow
CONS: Touch required, some control, not much pressure
3. An Outdoor Washing Table
More like a sink, an outdoor washing table is a good option for those more serious campers out there. While typically these types of table / sink combos are meant for cleaning fish on docks or even grilling at home, they can also serve as a great portable sink for the camp site. They fold up like a folding table, so they are easily portable, and have faucets like real sinks. They pull from any water container, so their capacity is only limited by the container it is pulling water from. They also have a lot of table space, so are ideal for preparing and serving food.
PROS: Unlimited capacity, sink functionality, large table space, continuous water flow, easily portable
CONS: Touch required, medium price, relies on external water source, low pressure, large size
4. A Portable Sink
There are such things as actual portable sinks, complete with their own water tanks attached. They typically are made of plastic and look like an actual bathroom sink. They boast large capacities and are usually used at job sites and at large social gatherings, but can be used at campsites as well. Many of these portable sink setups also come equipped with soap dispensers and towel holders - making them truly a sink.
The only downside is that they typically have to be broken down into separate pieces and then reassembled, so they aren’t as easily portable as the other items listed above. Since they are designed for hand washing, they also may not be ideal for doing dishes, as the sink basin is typically not large.
PROS: Large capacity, soap dispenser included, sink functionality, all-in-one system
CONS: Touch required, medium price, assembly required, lower pressure, large and clunky
5.A Portable Shower
If you’re looking for a solution that can serve multiple purposes, a portable shower can be a great option for those looking to make a prudent camping purchase. While cheaper solar bag style portable showers may not be the best option due to their lack of pressure, battery-pressurized portable showers are a great option for both hand and dish washing. Plus, you can use them for showering, washing off camp equipment and more.
There are different types of portable showers, but if you’re looking for one that is dynamic enough to be used for both cooking and showering, the RinseKit PRO is a great option. The reason is that it boasts all the PROs (no pun intended) of other camping sink options, but also has a multitude of other uses for camping.
- Onboard water tank with 3.5 gallons of capacity.
- Enough pressure to wash hands and knock grime off any dish
- Can be set up to dispense water at the touch of a button
- Super portable
- Small in size
The only con, you could say, is that it is not necessarily touchless. However, there is an accessory that is available for the PRO that does make it a state of the art touchless portable hand washing system - the Auto-Nozzle.
The Auto-Nozzle is a motion-detecting detachable nozzle that can clip into the quick connect at the end of the RinseKit PRO hose. It can either be mounted off the RinseKit PRO, or mounted to a vehicle via a suction cup mount. Then, with the RinseKit PRO plugged in, it can dispense water at the wave of your hand - providing a completely touchless portable water dispensing solution that can be used anywhere. It makes the ultimate portable sink solution for camping - but can also be used for showering, washing off gear and much more.
So you can see that when looking at portable camping sink options, there are quite a few options ranging in price and functionality. Depending on how much space you have at your campsite, how much you want to spend and how often you camp, some options may be better than others, but if you’re looking for an all-in-one portable hand washing solution that is fully touchless and can also double as a shower, the RinseKit PRO + Auto-Nozzle is a great option.