Roof Rack Shower for Outdoor Activities




Love Diy, outdoors, airplanes, flying, family and America. Environmental Scientist Professionally.

Many "summer fun" and outdoor activities can be made much more enjoyable when you bring along a portable shower. If it's camping, going to the beach, running a marathon, or just taking your kids to the local park this roof mounted shower can be a valuable commodity.

At $60 to build and just over an hour, depending on skill, I hope you'll build one of your own. Please share your comments and suggestions for improvement. Thanks for viewing.

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Step 1: Collect Supplies for Your Shower.

I'm using:

5' of 4" PVC pipe
1- 4" to 4" to 4" junction
2 - 4" caps
2- tubeless tire valve stems
1- ball valve
1- 3" pressure test cap
1- garden sprayer
1-6' garden hose
PVC primer
Thread tape
My favorite black paint

3/4" drill bit
Tape measure
Pipe wrench
Heat gun or torch

Step 2: Measure and Cut.

I started by measuring out and cutting off 2' of my 5' length of 4" PVC pipe.

Step 3: Assemble Pieces for Fit.

I determined the best configuration for me and fit to my vehicle was as shown.

It is probably important to mention here why I chose to use the 4" to 4" to 3" joint vs a 4" to 4" to 4" threaded. I found it very difficult to screw in the 4" cap and assure I had a good seal for pressuring up the tank with air. I felt the best option available was to insert a 3" pressure test cap for 3 reasons1) it's very easy to insert by hand and no tools are required 2) it provides an excellent seal and finally 3) it will blow out if pressures inside grow to great due to heat gas expansion. This provided a greatly needed safety, easy access for filling and an excellent seal.

The pressure cap is rated to 50lbs of head pressure, this equates to 21.666667psi. Therefore the cap will blow out with pressures near 21.66667psi. I would suggest not filling more than 15psi. If you intend to fully pressurize your showers tank you need to install a screw cap and properly calculate the max safe operationg pressure.

Step 4: Glue Your Shower Tank Together.

Using PVC primer and glue connect all you pieces.

A quick tip from a fellow do it yourselfer tape your PVC glue and primer together, this will save you a load of time and frustration in he future when you need both.

Step 5: All Glued Up.

One more friendly suggestion is to put glue on you interior female piece before your exterior male piece. This will allow you to set female pieces down while putting glue on the male piece.

Step 6: Add Your Valve Stem.

Choose a location that will not constantly be exposed to water in the tank and allows for easy install and replacement. I have chosen to install my Valve stem just below my test plug on the vertical axis as to not interfere when installing on either side of my vehicle.

Choose an appropriate drill for you valve stem and drill your hole.

I primed my valve stem hole and added a dollop of PVC glue to the stem for added seal.

Step 7: Install Your Ball Valve.

Now install your ball valve. It's important to choose a location where the valve operation will not be obstructed or blocked by you vehicle and equipment. It's also important to assure you have enough room to install you shower accessories like hoses and or shower heads. I also chose to install the ball valve through the cap and pipe to allow for longer threads and a more secure attachment.

Drill your appropriately sized hole for your valve.

Then heat the hole with a heat gun or torch to assist threading your valve. I was very pleased with how well this method cut threads for the installation of the ball valve. My tank is water and air tight.

After threading in your valve allow your PVC to cool.

After your PVC and ball valve have cooled unthread you valve and add Teflon seal tape.

After thread taping reinstall your ball valve.

Step 8: Pressure Check.

Here I decided to pressure up the tank and check for leaks. No leaks.

4" PVC IS ONLY RATED TO 100psi. I have chosen not to exceed 15psi due to my use of the pressure test plug. Holds pressure well.

Step 9: Paint.

I inserted a length of trim into my 3" opening with a larks head knot tied mid way.

I love the finish of this truck bed liner spray paint and have found it very durable.

Step 10: Install.

I simple used to tie straps for easy install and removal. If and when I decide to make this a permanent part of my rig I'll use black rubber hose and cable clamps to attach.

Step 11: Fill With Water.

Step 12: Insert You Plug.

Step 13: Charge With Air.

Do not exceed 15psi.

If you have chosen to use a screw cap you may be able to use higher pressures. An additional tip is to pick up a small 12v tire inflator and pressure up your tank with it when you need to.

I also found if I remove the cap to eliminate suction the water flows perfectly well under the forces of gravity and a plus here is the slower rate conserves water. I found I could let water run for about 20min with sufficient flow for showering.

Step 14: Choose Your Shower Configuration.

For showering attachments I picked up an extended garden sprayer with built in valve and a 6' hose. This combination works great and also allows my to install any other 3/4" garden hose style equipment.

I hope you build one of your own. If you have comments or suggestions for improvement please share.

Thank you for your vote if you're inclined to do so.

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    14 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 10

    I want to permanently mount this (a 9 foot long version) to the top of my school bus (renovating as an RV/tiny home) Any suggestions? OP mentions clamps just I'm having trouble finding ideas.

    1 answer

    Answer 7 days ago

    Quick Fist Clamps. Rubber clamps that come in various sizes. Search eBay or Amazon for them. Easy single bolt attachment to your roof rack, etc and then wrap around the tube and pull to tighten. I use them to mount my shovel, ax and chainsaw to my overland Jeep.


    1 year ago

    I bought all the supplies today except the pressure valve, which one did you buy? I can't find them anywhere... I am very exited to try this! My cost was $66. The savings over the ones I see online is amazing! Compare to $300 -$500.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 months ago

    Go to any bicycle shop and ask for old presta valve tubes. Presta valves are an all metal valve and you'll want the ones that are threaded all the way down the length of the valve. Ask for a couple of the presta valve nuts as well. You should be able to get more than you need for free!


    Reply 7 months ago

    Just a car tire vavle, can pick up at your Auto supply store. Best of Luck.


    Tip 1 year ago on Step 14

    The OP didn't mention it, but one foot of 6" pipe holds just over one gallon of water. For other pipe sizes, see

    Also, this black pipe is not intended for drinking water, so don't use it for that.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 months ago

    The pipe was white PVC, painted black on exterir


    1 year ago

    awesome. tried doing one at home, but what happens is it loses pressure when the water is running, so I have to keep pumping when using the shower. any ideas about it?

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    Try using a portable tire pump you plug into the cig lighter outlet and turn it on and off as needed.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Or even carry an air pressure tank of 10 or 20 gallon size.


    2 years ago

    Good idea! Clean and functional!


    2 years ago

    Thanks, Handy indeed.


    2 years ago

    Awesome pretty handle when going out doors