So you want to be an overlander? The overlanding lifestyle has many alluring aspects to it, but there are also some challenges that require an open mind and some creativity. The first of these challenges I’m going to discuss is how to shower when you’re traveling without any shower facilities or when you’re boondocking?
Selecting the Right Shower Solution
The ability to heat water when you’re no where near any hookups or shower facilities is a game changer. There are various options that I explored including solar showers, PVC piped-roof rack mounted showers and propane water heating solutions. I opted for the latter and the basis for my decision was that propane provided an on-demand heating option that would satisfy the needs of a five person family. If I had access to water at a campground (eg: water spigot) then the only limitation would be the amount of propane that I had on tap. In the event that water would not be available at the site that I am camping at… then I would rely on the 5 to 10 gallons of water that I can bring with me using my Woolly Bear trailer.
Portable Propane Water Heater
There are many propane shower units available on the market and a quick Google search will easily lead you down the rabbit hole of options. Using Amazon as my shopping companion… I found a diamond in the rough! The Hike Crew Portable Propane Water Heater & Shower Pump was revealed. It’s an all in one unit that is compact, didn’t require any hanging hardware and also doubled as a sink faucet! But, does it deliver on its promise to provide a hot shower on-demand in the middle of nowhere?
The answer is an emphatic YES! Not only did it deliver piping hot water at 115 degrees or hotter… but it warmed up the water in less than 10 seconds! The Hike Crew unit can be used with the small Coleman propane tanks or you can use an adapter to use a 25 gallon propane tank from Home Depot and not worry about running out of propane. The other component to make the unit fire up and heat your water is that it has to be connected to a DC or AC outlet so the unit can ignite the pilot that will heat up your water. The DC car adapter is included and is about 20 feet long in length providing me with various options to place my shower facility in around my vehicle or my Woolly Bear trailer which has a DC output in the kitchen area.
Once you tap into your propane and power source… you’re ready to shower. All you need is a bucket filled with water and the Hike Camp unit comes with a water pump that simply drops into the water bucket and then connects to the Hike Camp unit where water will pump into the base unit and the propane will heat the water between 95 to 125 degrees! To be honest, 95 to 105 was comfortable for most of my family and anything hotter was too hot. The great thing is that the Hike Camp is capable of going as hot as you’d like and does so with ease and speed. The minute you turn on the unit — the pump begins to send water flow to the shower head. The unit heats up the water when you activate the shower head to release water through the nozzle. Within seconds the water is heated and you can begin your shower. I found that a 5 gallon bucket is more than enough for a full sized adult to rinse their body and hair… turn off the shower head to shampoo and soap and then re-activate the shower head to thoroughly rinse all the shampoo and soap with enough water to repeat this cycle if you needed.
I found myself looking forward to showering every night in the comfort of my own shower facility which was a pop up 4×4 tent. The water pressure will never mimic that of your home shower, but because the water pump is powered… there was a good amount of water flow that comes through the shower head. Using the 5 gallons as an example, you would be able to utilize all 5 gallons of water on a continuous pump within 7 to 8 minutes.
The Hike Camp Portable Propane Water Heater receives my recommendation for an outdoor shower solution. The cost of the unit and quality of the build are on par with the other propane options on the market. One feature that stood out for me was the fact that you can stand this unit on the ground or on a table surface without the need to hang the hardware to utilize the shower. That was a significant function for me as I didn’t want to have to worry about where I would hang this unit — even though I would’ve easily hung it on my Woolly Bear trailer. The other bonus to the Hike Camp over other propane units is the ability to use the unit as a water faucet when you’re not using it as a shower. The back of the unit has a faucet that swings out and provides you with either hot or cold water to wash your hands or in our case… wash our dishes each night. This added feature was a welcomed sight as my kids are responsible for washing dishes every night. Just provide a basin and some soap and you’re off to the races. It was also nice to be able to brush your teeth using this unit’s faucet option.
The Hike Crew unit provides you with all the bells and whistles that the other competitors have as well, but the dual feature of shower and faucet along with all the accessories and power options plus a carrying case make this a solid contender. Heating the water was efficient and reliable and being at about 7000 feet above sea level – the propane unit fired right up each and every time. If you’re looking for a shower unit for your overland adventures… I would not hesitate picking up the Hike Camp. At the time of this writing the Hike Camp unit was sold out on Amazon and I could not find it in stock on other sites. So as an alternate recommendation… I would prioritize any propane water heating system over the other showering options that are available simply because having the ability to heat your water instantly to take a shower wherever you are is something of a premium and enhances the experience of being outdoors and focusing on adventure rather than worry about bathroom facilities.
As always, I hope my experiences help you make informed decisions when considering your load out for your gear. I’d love to hear your feedback or any comments on other solutions out there that might be worth a look. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think!