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  • Writer's pictureBasecamp Outdoor Gear Team

5 Ways to Take a Shower while Camping

How to stay clean, reduce waste, and protect the environment when spending time outside.

How often do you take a shower while on a camping trip? Not often enough, I bet. Taking a shower at the end of a long day is a real drag, especially if it's cold out. But you don't want to crawl into your sleeping bag feeling dirty. Below are a few ways that I found to clean up at the end of the day, depending on my energy level and the temperature outside.

Disclaimer: This article is written for car campers in unserviced campgrounds. If you're camping in an RV park, look for the shower house. If you're backpacking, spray your face with water from a stream and keep walking.

Hippie Shower

The hippie shower is the easiest and quickest way to clean yourself just about anywhere. It requires simply wiping yourself down with a few wet wipes. This is definitely NOT my preferred way to take a shower because it is not very friendly to the environment and it does not do the best cleaning job. But it does the trick when you're too cold and exhausted to do anything else.

When you have no choice but to use this method, please use compostable wet wipes such as the Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes.

Sponge Bath

The next best way to clean yourself when you're tired and cold is the sponge bath. Heat up water in a pot on the stove, dip a sponge in it, sprinkle a bit of soap on it, and wipe yourself down. You can do a small part of your body at a time so you don't get too cold sitting naked outside.

I prefer this method to the hippie shower because it is more friendly to the environment and it cleans better. But it still isn't ideal for cleanliness and it requires a bit more effort to set up.

soapy pink heart-shaped sponge
Soapy sponge

Solar Shower

Hands down my preferred method for taking a shower. If done correctly, it is friendly to the environment and washes you just like a shower at home! But it does require a bit of setup.

At Basecamp, we rent the Sea to Summit Pocket Shower. One 10L shower bag will run for 7-8 continuous minutes. You can prolong the experience by turning the shower head on and off as needed, navy shower style.

The solar shower is ideal for campsites where you stay multiple nights. When you're setting up your basecamp, look for sunny spots to hang your solar shower bag so it can heat up during the day.

Of course you can heat up water yourself and add it to the bag so you don't have to wait all day.

Battery-Powered Shower

This is a pretty cool invention. Fill up a bucket with warm water and submerge the battery-powered pump in it. Switch it on and off as needed.

Or just reconnect with your childhood. Sit in a bucket of water and use a cup to pour water on your head.

baby spraying water in a big blue bucket
Here's one way to take a shower outside

Buy concentrated all-purpose biodegradable environmentally-friendly soap

These soaps are magical! They do everything. In my opinion they work best for dishwashing and body washing. You can also use some of these soaps as shampoo and even toothpaste!

Because these soaps are so concentrated, they last forever. At Basecamp, we sell small prefilled refillable bottles of wilderness soaps. We will refill the containers for you with one of these options:

Quick disclaimer about these soaps: According to LNT, "Even biodegradable soap can linger a long time in streams and lakes." Please refer to Tip #6 in our blog about washing dishes for proper disposal of grey water.

Stock up on the following showering items

Environmentally-friendly biodegradable concentrated liquid soap (see above)

Sponge, loofah, or washcloths


Large pot or bucket

Feel free to contact us for more information. Happy showering!

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