Figuring out where to shower when you live in small space like a campervan can be tricky.
If you’re looking for van shower ideas for showering on the road, go no further.
We’ve rounded up the top ways to add a van shower to your rig, whether it’s a solar shower, an indoor shower, an awning shower, or a makeshift shower made out of a weed sprayer.
Our top four picks:
- Easy to Store
- Holds 10 liters
- Super lightweight
- Easy to Fill & Mount
- Heating rod option
- Three sizes
- 12-volt charging
1) Solar Shower (What We Use)
We’ve gone through at least three iterations of solar showers, and to be honest, many of them suck. They break or fall apart without much use.
Right now we are sticking to the Sea to Summit pocket solar shower, although I have to admit we’ve had to replace it three times already. Usually the nozzle area develops a leak, but we do have super high usage of this van shower.
The Sea to Summit folds down into the size of a deck of cards when not in use, and holds enough water for both of us to shower. We usually end up heating some water up on our propane stove, then adding it to this shower.
We also hang this van life shower from our back hatch or the front mirror to use as a handwashing station.
It heats up quickly in direct sunlight, and we often rest it on the hood of our van, loosely connected to the wiper blades.
This is the best van life solar shower we’ve found, even though it’s not perfect and still rips after lots of use.
2) Road Shower or Awning Shower
You’ve probably seen those campervans driving around with a long, black PVC-type pipe along the edge of the roof.
You can see how the below Jeep Camper is using an awning shower below:
This van life shower is a pressurized awning shower, which is either DIY or purchased from a company like Yakima.
All you have to do is park your campervan in the sun and wait for the van shower to heat up. It even comes with a stick-on thermometer so you can tell how hot the water is.
If you don’t want to spend the money, you may want to consider building a DIY version of this van life shower. You can see an REI tutorial here.
3) Battery-Powered Outdoor Shower
If you don’t want to stand around and wait for the sun to heat up your van life shower, you may want to consider one that uses batteries.
A van shower like the Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower pumps water from a bucket into a nice, steady stream.
This shower comes with a rechargeable, lithium battery. You can charge it with your car’s cigarette lighter, using a solar generator or with a wall charger.
A 2-5 hour charge lasts for 60 minutes of use. It also comes with a suction-cup holder for hands-free use.
This portable outdoor shower is really cool because all you have to do is stick it in a bucket of hot water and you have a shower! No waiting hours for sun to warm a solar shower with this van life essential.
This shower's rechargeable pump plugs into your car's cigarette lighter - each charge lasts for one hour of blissful showering.
- Lithium battery is easy to charge
- Up to 10 mins of shower time with a 5-gallon bucket
- Suction-cup for hands free use
- You need a bucket to use this shower, which takes up space in a van
- You have to wait to shower until device is charged
- Some customer service complaints
4) DIY Bug or Weed Sprayer Van Life Shower
We were discussing van life showers over in The Wayward Home’s Facebook group when one of my readers brought up a DIY bug sprayer shower.
I’d never heard of this, and was blown away by the idea.
Here’s what my reader wrote, “We use a 2-gallon bug sprayer we got at Home Depot for our van shower. We buy the blue metal one and it heats up in the sun quickly.”
The couple sets the bug sprayer van life shower on the back hatch of their Sprinter van camper, where they use it for showering on the road.
Some people elect to build a van life shower from a bug or weed sprayer canister. You can even add your own shower hose, shower wand and low-flow showerhead. This is a great affordable van shower option.
- Heats up easily in the sun
- Affordable DIY option
- Takes up more space than a solar shower
- You’ll have to attach shower hose and head
- Some customer service complaints
5) Geyser System’s Portable Shower
This expensive but efficient Geyster System van life shower uses less than 1 gallon of water for 15 minutes of usage. For a hot shower on the road, all you have to do is add 2 liters of cold water and 2 liter of boiling water. Then, you have an instant van shower!
The Geyser System Portable Shower’s pump technology provides a reliable, consistent water flow with no pressurization needed.
An LED dashboard tells you the water temperature, and a water level sensor tells you when it’s time to stop scrub-a-dubbin’.
Charge this small and efficient van life shower with a 12-volt outlet – either your cigarette lighter or a portable power station like the Jackery 500.
You can also easily use this van shower to wash your dishes – it comes with a replaceable scrub sponge. It seems like a pretty cool van life shower I’d love to try out one day.
6) RinseKit Portable Shower
RinseKit also make battery-powered pressurized portable showers. Simply charge the 12V lead acid battery, fill the tank with water and you’re ready to go. You will have a camping shower or a way to wash your dishes, or rinse a wetsuit, on the road. The battery is extremely long-lasting. The kit gets delivered to you fully charged and will last between 3 and 6 months. Once the power runs out, plug it into a wall or your car charger – it will be fully charged in 4 hours.
The best feature of the RinseKit? It comes with a metal notch behind the shower head, which keeps the nozzle operating hands-free. Attach the shower head somewhere high on your van and you will get the full pressurized shower experience.
The RinseKit systems start at 1.5 gal capacity and go up to 4.5 gal; they come at a variety of price points. The bigger models have 1-inch insulation. RinseKit also make heaters, which can provide instant hot water. This saves you the time and effort to boil up some water before each use.
7) Build an Interior Van Shower
Do you feel like you need a van life shower inside your campervan? Having an indoor shower is a big personal preference and I’ve seen arguments go both ways.
On the other side, Zach of Van Life Outfitters put a DIY wet bath in his Dodge Promaster campervan.
He said having a private cassette toilet and shower was an absolute necessity.
You see Zach of Van Life Outfitters’ DIY wet bath guide here.
- Takes up a lot of space in a campervan
- Causes humidity
- You’ll have to store extra water
- You’ll have to deal with a gray water tank
- Could add a lot of moisture to a van
8) Install a Tankless Water Heater
If you want a van life shower on demand, you may want to consider installing a tankless water heater in your campervan.
Propane is the logical choice here because heating up water using electricity takes tons of energy. You’d need to be plugged into a campground or have a huge battery bank connected to solar panels.
For those reasons, most van lifers go with propane.
You always need to install a tankless propane water heater outside your campervan for safety. The water heater needs to be attached to both a bottle of propane and a bucket of water to work.
The flow rate is lower than a typical shower, but when you’re living the van life, any time of shower feels awesome, right?
A tankless water heater is a popular option for a hot van life shower. You will have to mount this Camplux tankless heater outside your van and carry around a propane tank and container for water.
- Hot water on demand
- Mounted outside so doesn’t take up room inside your van
- You’ll need a large propane canister
- You’ll need a container for water
9) Find Public Showers
If you don’t want to deal with any sort of van life shower, you can rely on public showers.
We’ve done this quite a bit when we didn’t want to set up our solar shower.
Here are some places you can find public showers for showering on the road:
- Truck Stops
- Yoga Studios
- Hot Springs
- Hotel swimming pools with a day pass
- State Parks
- Public Beaches
10) Wet Wipes and Dry Shampoo
Another method van lifers use to stay clean on the road is using wet wipes and dry shampoo.
This really works in a pinch if you can’t take a shower on the road.
We always try to keep these in our van for emergencies. Here are my favorite brands of wet wipes and dry shampoo:
The Best Van Shower Towel
I used to think microfiber towels were a van life essential but I've totally changed my mind after using these Turkish towels.
The towels are lightweight and way more absorbent than microfiber.
On a recent van camping trip, my partner Tom reached for my Turkish towel way more than his microfiber, so I ended up ordering him one off Amazon! I think this is a van life must have you should definitely add to your list.
You can also use a Turkish towel for picnicking or sitting on the beach.
For an awesome van life shower, you’ll also need a really good towel that dries quickly and folds down tiny.
We used to use microfiber towels, but I hated the way they felt, and they never seemed to work very well.
I discovered something called a Turkish towel when reading some sailing blogs. The Turkish towel is made out of 100% cotton and dries as fast as a microfiber towel.
However, it feels much better on the skin and dries you off faster.
You can also use a Turkish towel for picnics, sitting on the beach, or as a lightweight lap blanket.
Looking for more shower inspiration? Check out this post on off grid shower ideas!