Story by Lucy Pullan |

June 6, 2022 |

camper van with people standing by it

There’s nothing better than taking a shower after a long hike, a treacherous bike ride or just to feel fresh again, but you aren’t going to find a shower built into a Wayfarer Van.

Are we anti-shower? Are we just a bunch of dirty hippies? No.

We’ve been building camper vans since 2016, and while we are big fans of taking showers, we aren’t fans of putting showers in vans. When we considered building showers in our vans, the list of cons quickly outweighed the pros:

  • Using up valuable space
  • Having to carry more water on board and more trips to fill and empty water tanks
  • You now have to winterize your van – hello frozen pipes!
  • Dealing with possible leaks, condensation, and mold inside your van

In short, the shower is just something to maintain or break and derail your adventure plans.

But you still need to clean up while on the road. That’s why we’ve made a list of simple, easy-to-use showers that keep you squeaky clean on your adventures.

Note – all links and prices are current as of May 2022, Some products may be linked through referrals where Wayfarer earns a small commission for purchases.

Easiest Option – Gym or other public showers

  • Planet Fitness seems to be rising in popularity amongst full-time travelers. The low monthly membership fee gives you access to any of the gyms across the country. If you don’t think you’ll use the showers enough to justify paying for a monthly membership, there are many other places that you can pay to shower at. Most commonly…
  • Aquatic centers
  • Campgrounds/ RV parks
  • State parks/ Town parks
  • Truck Stops
  • Laundromats
  • Marinas
  • Beaches

This is one of the easiest ways to have the luxury of a shower with endless hot water without the hassle!

Portable Options

  • String a shower curtain across your back doors, or shower in your swimsuit with these easy-to-pack options for a portable shower. Pro tip – if you are traveling with unused leveling blocks, pull those out and stand on them for an elevated surface so you aren’t standing in a mud puddle while trying to get clean.

Solar showers

  • The Advanced Elements Summer Solar Shower ($35) is a quick, sustainable, and affordable option for showering on the road. You simply fill the bag with water and leave it out in the sun to warm up. Some Wayfarians keep it on their dashboard to warm up while they’re driving so it’s nice and warm by the time they get to their campsite. Then you simply hang it up outside and shower with the attached shower handle. Let gravity do the work! Be aware that the solar shower will be warm, but not hot.
  • The Nemo Helio Portable Pressure Camp Shower ($160) has the same design as the solar bag, simply leave it in the sun to warm up the water. The only difference is the foot pump so that you can pressurize the water on your own without needing to find a place to hang it up.
  • If you want to upgrade to a solar shower with more water capacity, the Yakima RoadShower Portable Shower (starting at $379) may be a good fit for you. It has to be permanently installed on a roof rack, which is one of the biggest challenges with this item. With the ability to have more water storage coupled with the ability for the water to be heated by the sun daily, it may be worth the extra hassle and higher price of $379+.

Electric Powered Portable Showers

  • For a total of $59, you can have a hot portable shower with the Ivation Portable Camping Shower ($37), paired with an Electric Immersion Heater ($22). The immersion heater is plugged into a 120v outlet and can be placed in a bucket of water while the battery power pump delivers hot water to the showerhead. If you don’t want to deal with the 120v power consumption, you can simply boil water with your stove and opt-out of the immersion heater.
  • Geyser Systems Portable Shower with Heater ($325): this device simply plugs into a 12V car outlet, which powers both the water pump and heating device. The water runs through an attached sponge which reduces water waste. One of the biggest benefits of this shower is the water-saving design, letting you shower with less than 1 gallon of water! Due to its compact and efficient design, it may be well worth the price of $300+.

Propane Powered Portable Shower

  • BOSS-XB13 Battery Operated Shower System: ($190) this truly portable shower. The battery-powered pump pushes water from a bucket or tank of water to the heating element. The heating system uses a 1 lb propane tank to heat the water and delivers it to the showerhead for a nice hot shower. This is a completely portable shower, with no need to plug it. Its design is larger than some of the other shower options suggested, but it can easily be brought along for a trip when needed or left behind.

No matter which option is best for you, you can feel confident knowing that you’ll have a way to rinse off and get clean when needed. And you can sleep with the peace of mind that you don’t have anything complicated to maintain inside your van.

Happy Traveling!

Lucy Pullan writes about full-time travel in a camper van. She has been on the road for a year and a half in her self-built van; with her partner, Jon, and their very energetic dog, Teton (named after her favorite national park). Learning to navigate this unique lifestyle along the way, she loves sharing the tips, tricks, and solutions to make your camping trips worry-free! Lucy is passionate about hiking, biking, and constantly exploring new places and doesn’t see herself leaving this lifestyle anytime soon. You can follow her adventures on Instagram @ajucyadventure.