Jonathan Arbib

Tag: outdoors

Expedition Shower? What to do?

by on Jul.24, 2011, under Leisure, Tech Junk, Travelling & Outdoors

Having looked around the web extensively for a good solution to this problem, here are my thoughts…

What is the problem?

Have a shower which is easy to use, low in maintainance, and sturdy enough to be used overlanding on a Land Rover.

Possible Solutions

There are possibly dozens of “shower in a bag” type of products like here and here. These bags can be filled up with hot water from a kettle, a pot over a camp fire, or anything similar. There are also versions which can be filled with water and placed under the sun for 3 hours to wam the water up. The problem is that you usually want a warm shower when the wweather is cold or the sun is not out, making this solution pointless. The cheaper “shower in a bag” solutions are not very sturdy and are mostly for the “occasional camper”.


The next step up from this is to use some immagination perhaps and either build you own system or buy one. On the left you can see a copper coil over a flame (which could be a stove or camp fire for example) to warm up the water for your shower. The water is pumped from a tank through the coil which is heated by the fire, and subsequently to the shower head. It is definitely a “smart” and simple system, but for some reason I cannot see myself setting this up every day or so on a long journey. Again, a great system for a short trip perhaps, but not for a long expedition… In the USA, this system retails for about $45.00 USD. You can learn more about it here.

After playing around with these toys, it’s time to unleash more serious hardware. This next setup can be ideal for mobile applications, such as motorhomes. By using a small propane water heater, a pump and tank (or bucket!) you build a not-so-expensive system which will be durable enough for your trips on the road! Water heaters retail for about £180 to £220 new. On top of that you need to add a 12 volt pump like the SHURflo Classic Series Water Pump and a water tank (the capacity of the tank will vary depending on the number of people showering, the ususe of the water – shower, dishes, etc – and the maximum number of days between water refills). The only downside of this system? i don’t see it sturdy enough to withstand the bashing of an overland trip…

The Heat Exchanger option is the next idea. By using the hot water circulated from the engine, you can warm up a small heat exchanger, which in turn will create warm water for a shower! The idea is fantastic, cheap to run and needing minor modifications to the engine cooling system. The only drawback is that you can’t take showers in the morning when the engine is cold… I find this option excellent as it is simple, yet effective, with only one drawback mentioned.

The last setup considered is the “overkill” setup. It is possibly the most expensive thing I can think of in terms of shower system. The setup has a closed-loop system made up of a water pump, a heater (like an Eberspaecher for example), a calorifier, an expansion tank and a reservoir. The pump circulates liquid though the closd loop system though the heating unit, which warms up the calorifier. A water tank and a second pump then feed water through the calorifier to the shower head. Let me explain it with the diagram on the left (click the photo on the left ot enlarge it), since I think thet the epxlanation was not too clear… The system is strong (if well built) and can be expanded for other purposes (like for example heating the inside of the cab with a blower unit). Unfortunately though, it is roughly twice (or more) as expensive as the previous solution.


All the systems mentioned here are great for their intended purpose, some stronger than other, some more expensive that others. I will not tell you what to buy or what to build as it is down to you to decide what system suits you best. The solutions here are all intended for a different experience, from a day-camper, to serious off-the-beaten-path expedition. Leave me a comment (below) if you want to discuss this topic 🙂

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