There are a lot of different camping showers available for folks that want to go camping but don’t want to wash themselves with a towel. Some have heaters, some have pressure tanks and a lot are ridiculously expensive. I recently was faced with having to choose between the various options and I ended up grabbing one of Jaycar’s 12V Camping Showers.
Now everyone’s needs will be different, but here are the reasons I went with this particular type of shower:
- We take a sedan camping, with no trailer, so space is at a premium. There’e no room for large, solid showers.
- We have a supply of well water where we camp, which is clean but ‘hard’ (high level of dissolved minerals like calcium) — so no point getting anything with an element to heat the water as it would scale up immediately.
- There are no convenient trees at our preferred camping spot which could be used to hoist anything of substantial weight high above our heads, so the water would need to remain at ground level. Gravity feed isn’t an option.
- Water is heated primarily by our 20L solar heater (basically a black bag you fill with water and place in direct sunlight to heat up during the day so you can then have a shower in the afternoon/evening) and boosted by our 20L Hillbilly as required — so appropriately mixed water for individual showers is available in a 10L pop-up silicone bucket. No need for the shower to do any heating or mixing at all.
- I already have a Kincrome Power Pak Plus — a lithium ion battery pack that can jump start cars, power 12V devices, and recharge laptops, phones and other USB devices — so the shower doesn’t need its own power supply.
- The shower pump can’t be too powerful as we don’t want to waste a lot of water. Even though the supply is unlimited, actually getting and hauling it is a pain.
After thinking everything through it was decided that the most logical type of shower would be a submersible pump (which could be dropped in the bucket), drawing 12V DC (from the Power Pak Plus, not the car battery), with a long enough power cord to keep the battery well away from the shower, and a long enough tube between the pump and the shower head to allow the latter to be hung up on a spare tent pole, and a waterproof switch to turn the pump on and off.
It was a toss-up between the Jaycar 12V Camping Shower and a Primus 12V Shower. Both look almost identical and, apart from colour, may very well be. I was heading into Jaycar anyway, so that made the decision easy. Cost was a very reasonable $30.
The power cable is about 4.8m long and the tubing is 2.1m long. The whole unit weighs 1kg and fits in a small bag. I could find no details online (for either product) about water consumption rates — an important issue for me — so I did some tests with the Jaycar 12V Camping Shower as soon as I got it home.
The shower head has a pin which you can push to vary the flow rate from maximum to closed. With the pin in the maximum position, the flow rate is 3.4 litres per minute. With the pin in the minimum position, the flow rate is 1.5 litres per minute. Minimum is fine for us, so we’re looking at about a 6 minute continuous shower per 10L bucket — plenty.
The Power Pak Plus should be able to run the submersible pump (which is rated at 1.5A/18W) for 3.7 hours of continuous use — about 33 showers — before it needs recharging. That is plenty considering our regular getaway is only four days/three nights long. Pumping water should use up only about 18% of the available power on any particular trip — leaving 82% for other devices or an emergency jump-start.
So, everything’s looking good so far. How long the Jaycar 12V Camping Shower will last is anyone’s guess, but at only $30 it’s an inexpensive experiment to conduct. I’ll try to remember to update this page when the unit dies so you can get an idea of its life expectancy.
2018-03-12 Update: Still going strong. No issues whatsoever.