One of the great things about camping is being outdoors. One of the not-as-great things about being outdoors is how grimy you (and all your belongings) get. A camp shower can be a wonderful asset in many ways, from cleaning your body (feels so good, especially after a hike, and getting that bug spray off!), to a convenient way to get water for brushing your teeth or rinsing your dishes.
Privacy can be a concern, though, especially on shared sites. I went camping with a large group on Memorial Day Weekend; I had just picked up a Seattle Sports Solar Camp Shower inexpensively from REI Outlet, and I wanted to be able to use it, but I didn't want to spend money or carry another big thing with me. I searched online and came up empty.
So before I left, I came up with this preliminary design, and I refined it at the site. In the end, it worked great!
Step 1: Materials
You will need:
- Camp shower (purchased or DIY). Mine was about $5.00 on sale.
- Paracord for hanging the shower.
- Bendable, but not totally flexible, plastic pipe, the kind you can make hula hoops with. What can I say, I'm not a plumber. I got mine at Home Depot in the plumbing section, 100' for about $13, 1/2" diameter.
- Knife or shears to cut the pipe
- Pipe connector ($0.33)
- Bungee cords (4)
- Opaque shower curtain liners (2) - $1.00-$5.00 each
- Shower curtain hangers - mine were left over from a previous tenant
Step 2: Make the Hoop
The first step is to make the hoop. I used my arms to predict a diameter that would be comfortable, but not too hard to manage in the car. As it was, I made it a little too roomy at ~48" diameter, and it was a bit too large for the shower curtains to meet as well. Next time I would cut it down a bit, maybe to 40". You choose what is comfortable for you.
Insert the connector completely in one end, but leave the other end disconnected. Pushing it in only two notches didn't affect its functionality on the campsite, but it made it easier to disconnect the one side when I was leaving. Leaving one side disconnected allows you to fold it over on itself and fit it in the car, and it also allows you to place it around a tree (next step).
Step 3: Setup
Find a tree with accessible branches where you can hang everything. Open the hoop and place it around the tree, then close the hoop.
Use bungee cords to hang the hoop. This can be a bit tricky. It took me several tries to get it right. Hanging one bungee hook on the connector helped me to keep the hoop from swinging around.
Evenly space the shower curtain hangers. I only brought 9, which turned out to be enough, especially since the hoop was a little large for them.
Hang the curtains. To keep them in place, I found it helpful to pass the bungee hooks through the first and last holes in both curtains. This also meant I had more hangers to hang the rest.
For privacy, clip clothespins along the outside of one side of where the liners meet. On the other side, place a few clips where the person using the shower can access them from inside and close it up when showering.
It makes a nice, cozy, private shower area when done! You can even hang clothes and towels on the hoop (or on branches).
Hang the shower using paracord.
In my first attempt, I only brought one shower curtain liner, so I used a tarp-like thing on the other side. Then I bought a cheap liner from the dollar store, and it worked much better.
If you want the bottom to stay straight up and down and not blow inwards towards your feet, consider making a second hoop the same size as the first and rigging a way to attach it to the bottom of the liners. This will make it even more pleasant.
This setup survived a massive rain/thunder/lightning storm perfectly. All except the clothespins, one of which blew off.
Leftover pipe can be used to make hula hoops.
Tips for heating water : The sun only heated my water to lukewarm, as we didn't have much sun. If you put your shower in a sunny spot and hang the bladder above the hoop, you should be able to get it warmer. You will have to refill it somehow, though, and I had to do it at a manual pump, so I laid it in the sun on a picnic table. Later, when I was ready to shower, I had come back in my car, so I laid it on my car hood for a while to warm up more. This helped. You can also heat some water on a stove and add it to the shower water, but be careful not to make it too hot.