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Pros & Cons of Outdoor Camping Shower for Vanlife – 2024

As the popularity of vanlife continues to soar, many are wondering whether or not an Outdoor Camping Shower for Vanlife is the ultimate set up versus an inbuild one. Of course, there are many different types of outdoor camping showers out there: Shower Tent (Pop up shower tent), Shower Awning (Kickass shower tent), Portable Shower (Joolca style). As we did our Lap of Australia we first had a pop up shower tent, wich we then upgraded for a vehicule mounted shower awning (Kickass shower tent). And, we absolutely adored our shower awning. So, in this article we’ll tell you why !

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Basic outdoor camping shower

Hot water camping shower

  • Simple and affordable option
  • Consists of a water bag/reservoir hung from a tree or other sturdy object
  • Water flows downwards using gravity
  • Showerhead attached to the bag can be used to get clean
  • Great for short camping trips or for those who don’t mind taking a quick, cold shower
  • More luxurious camping experience
  • Uses propane or solar power to heat up the water
  • Water released through the showerhead is warm
  • Portable or built-in options available
  • Perfect for those who want a warm shower after a long day of hiking or exploring

For the purpose of this article, we will focus on heated outdoor camping showers similar to the one we had in Australia (Kickass shower tent with hot water system)

Portable Shower Tent Styles

  • Shower tent / ensuite tent
  • Pop up shower tent
  • Vehicule mounted shower awning (Kickass shower tent)

Outdoor Camping Shower : The Benefits

  • Freedom:
    Outdoor showers allow you to have the freedom to rinse off anywhere. You can enjoy a warm shower under the stars in the middle of nowhere, which can be a unique and very enjoyable experience. It will also make you feel more connected with nature, giving you a unique experience every time! In fact showering outdoor under the stars in remote places all around Australia is one of my foundest memory of our lap.
  • Saves Space & Weight:
    Outdoor camping showers save space in your van, which can be crucial for vanlife enthusiasts. Outdoor showers only require a little space, and you can easily install them on the side or back of your van. Additionally, they are also much lighter, which can definitely be a massive advantage!
  • Cost-effective:
    Outdoor showers are extremely cost-effective as they are usually much cheaper than inbuild showers. Of course, there are many different options, some are very basic, and others are pretty fancy, with a hot water system, shower tent, and so on. But even with a fancy outdoor camping shower (like we used to have in Pumbaa), they are generally much cheaper than inbuilt ones.
  • Minimal Maintenance:
    Outdoor camping showers are easy to maintain and clean. You don’t have to worry about cleaning the cubicle or the drain! Plus, you do not have to worry about emptying your grey water tank as the water runs off directly on the ground. But in saying that, outdoor showers will force you to be eco-conscious and use eco-friendly products when showering to avoid harming the soil with toxic chemicals often found in soaps or hair products.

Outdoor Camping Shower: The Disadvantages

  • Privacy:
    Privacy can be a significant concern while showering outdoors. However, there are many different type of shower tent options out there. We truly loved our outdoor camping shower ( vehicule mounted shower awning) we had in Australia. It was easy to install oon the van, set up nor pack up. Plus, it did not take up valuable space & was brilliant for privacy.
  • Timely & Practicallity:
    Of course having a portable shower, means you must set-up & pack down everytime you want to rinse off or move your van. Let’s face it it can become rather frustrating after a while. And that is exactly why we loved our van mounted Shower Awning.
  • Accessibility:
    Evidently, even with a shower tent, you can’t just rinse off anywhere. It would be a bit weird if you were to set up your portable shower in the middle of a car park in Sydney (Australia).
  • Weather Conditions:
    Outdoor showers are obviously exposed to weather conditions, which can be a problem during cold winters, rainy seasons, or windy days. While on our lap of Australia we did not really enocunter this problem as we follwed the sun & warm weather for over two years. However, depending on the kind of exploring you plan on doing, they may not even be worth considering. This is actually the case for us right now, as we aim to visit Northern Europe once our van build is completed & it makes it impossible for us to solely rely on an outside shower system.
  • Potentially Harmful to The Planet:
    Outdoor camping showers do not have a grey water tank. This means you must be conscious while shopping for soap & hair products. As you do not want to use toxic chemicals & letting them run off on the ground & hurting the environment & wildlife.
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What to remember

In conclusion, if you are considering getting an outdoor camping shower or no shower at all, then I’ll definitely recommend opting for an outdoor camping shower. What’s more, I’ll urge you to consider the vehicule mounted shower awning style one (like the Kickass shower tent we had). It will be a worthwhile investment for your vanlife experience, especially if you enjoy being close to nature and want to rinse off after a day of hiking or surfing.

However, if you are hesitating between a portable shower versus an inbuilt van shower. Then, I would recommend truly considering the advantages & disadvantages of them both, such as privacy concerns, greywater runoff, accessibility & comfort etc.

Ultimately, whether you’ll opt for an outdoor or inbuilt van shower in your next van build will depend on your personal preferences & the kind of vanlife you will do.

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