Pulling out of your driveway in your conversion van can mean only one thing: it's time for an adventure. It is an opportunity to take off from the real world and have a second home base while you explore and do the things you love in the great outdoors.
You may have seen that adventure vans took off during the pandemic and have not stopped since. We are not surprised, to be honest. How can you resist the endless adventure of exploring new places and waking up to unique scenery in your camper van?
However, many people who have already hit the road, whether for a short trip or a long-term adventure, have discovered some must-have van accessories that you will want to invest in first. This includes everything from storage to a portable shower and even a roof rack during your van conversion process.
Out of all the van accessories to invest in, many seasoned travelers will agree that having a shower in or outside of your van is a pretty nice addition. If you are spending your days mountain biking, skiing, and surfing, a van shower is the perfect way to rinse off before calling it quits for the day.
Having the gift of hot water or at least the ability to freshen up can make your van experience more enjoyable and keep you on the road for longer. We've rounded up a few popular options to consider to stay squeaky clean while adventuring in your van.
Van Showers - Options & Considerations
When considering adding a shower and hot water source to your van, there are several aspects to consider. The first and most important question to address is, how much space are you willing to use for your shower if you plan to have an indoor shower? Or are you open to an outdoor shower set up between the rear doors? In addition to where you will take your showers, you’ll also want to consider the space needed for your hot water heater, fresh water storage, and gray water storage.
Another critical aspect to consider is your power source. Water heaters that use gas, diesel, or propane can offer quick and efficient heating, but not all will have this option or want the extra concerns with these fuel sources.
Electric water heaters can take a little longer to get you hot water, but many find that the lack of safety concerns can be worth the short wait. However, you’ll need to make sure your power source can provide adequate electricity for the water heater and still be able to power your other necessities. This is where having a solid solar setup will help, especially if you plan on spending time off the grid.
There are several other details to consider, such as the size, ease of use, and more. Make sure to do your homework to find what works best for you.
Once you’ve considered the space and power source for a warm and refreshing shower, you’ll have an idea of your options or have a decent place to start. Now that you’re keeping the space needed and fuel source in the back of your mind, you can begin to understand what type of shower arrangement works best for you.
1. The full wet bath
A full wet bath is a popular option for van life on social media but may not be realistic for all. With designated space for your shower and likely a toilet, it takes up a fair amount of your van’s interior space. But don’t let the space idea scare you away. You could also use this as a storage area when the shower isn’t used. It will be a tiny space, but it can be equally aesthetically pleasing and deeply functional.
2. Stowable shower
Shower-in-a-cupboard anyone? Or how about a hidden floor drain? You can get creative and have a hidden shower head that you only pull out when you need it. You’ll still need a waterproofed area to stand in where you can shower and let the water drain to your gray water tank, but this is a convenient way to have your private shower access without taking up so much space. Don’t forget to turn on your fan to vent any steam and avoid moisture collecting inside your van.
3. Outdoor shower
Then, there is showering while being connected to nature. With an accessible water line from the outside or back doors of your van, you can shower in the fresh air and even hang a shower curtain for privacy. This is also a huge bonus when you need to spray down your sandy wetsuit or muddy mountain bike.
4. Portable shower
While a portable van shower may not be as glamorous as a full wet bath, they still do the job. Some even have features that built-in showers can’t offer, such as the ability to pull fresh water from a river, or simply the ability to relocate it to anywhere you want. Just make sure you remember to use biodegradable soap and shower at least 200 feet away from any rivers, lakes, or other wetlands.
5. Public bathrooms
Of course, if you want to prioritize your van space for other necessities, you can likely get away with using public bathrooms to take many of your showers. Whether it’s a gym, public pool, or you scored a campground that offers hot showers, there are usually options if you’re willing to look for them and pay a small fee.
Our 5 Picks for Portable Van Showers
Now that we’ve covered the popular options for showering while traveling in your camper van, we get that decision paralysis may be settling in. If you’re unsure what’s best for you, or you already have your van built out and are wishing you installed a shower, we’ve got you covered with our favorite portable shower options.
Below are some of our favorite portable showers options to consider:
Geyser Portable Shower System
The Geyser gives you quick and easy access to hot water for bathing, cleaning your gear, and even doing dishes. With a low power draw and a sleek design, it’s one of the most compact camper van shower options and uses the least amount of water.
- Easy to use
- Small and easily stowable in your van
- Efficient use of water
- Not ideal for washing your hair
- On the expensive side
The Joolca Hottap is a unique option that relies on propane for heat. It’s straightforward to set up and offers several options and accessories for a hands-free hot shower on the go. The unit can be mounted to the back of your camper van or be used as a freestanding unit and has convenient controls to easily adjust the temperature.
- Warm water at (almost) a flick of the switch
- Efficient water flow - 1.6 Gal/min.
- LED display shows current water temperature
- Taps into almost any water source
- Complicated setup compared to the Geyser, Nemo, and Rinsekit
- Ample storage space required for the system itself and propane
- Requires propane
RinseKit is a battery-powered portable shower and is best known as a Shark Tank winner, describing itself as “the original portable shower system.” They offer several options ranging from a 1.5-gallon tank to a 4.5-gallon model. For the highest volume, opt for the RinseKit Pro.
- 50 PSI water pressure with 5 spray options
- Easy to fill design
- Choose your water temperature from 33-120 degrees fahrenheit
- Requires charging
- Takes up more space than the Geyser and Nemo options
The Nemo Helio is conveniently compact when not used, doesn’t require a power source, and uses the sun to heat the water inside - also known as a solar shower. This easy shower system can be quickly pressurized with a couple of foot pumps and boasts 5-7 minutes of impressively continuous and robust spray.
- No power required (except for your foot)
- Compact design and extremely lightweight
- No built-in heating mechanism
- Powered by a foot pump
Using an exterior-mounted shower makes it easy to avoid a messy interior, so we recommend this option if you love keeping your van as clean as possible.
- It doesn’t take up any interior space in your van
- The largest tank options by far at 4, 8, 10 gallons
- It takes up valuable space on your roof rack
- Slightly spartan design wise - requires a hand or electric pump to pressurize
Overall, there are many ways to make the most of your van showers and ensure you can start or end your day feeling clean and refreshed.
As you prepare to go off on your epic van adventure, do your research and figure out the best way to shower while on the road. As all the other adventurers say, being clean is essential for staying comfortable.