Build a Makeshift Camp Shower With Hot Running Water

Making a camp shower.

The stick framework.
The stick framework.
Keeper knots
Keeper knots
Support legs
Support legs
Frame sling
Frame sling
Sling attached to frame
Sling attached to frame
Privacy screen
Privacy screen
Hot water bag installed.
Hot water bag installed.

Making a Warm Water Camp Shower

Making a warm water shower for your primitive campsite is relatively simple.  All you need are some ropes. sturdy green saplings, lashing cord, a couple of heavy duty black trash bags, a tarpaulin, a rubber band and an ice pick or sharp stick.

  1. The first thing you need to do is cut six long green branches.  Make them sturdy and flexible. Lash for of them to form a square, then lash two slightly longer ones criss-cross fashion from corner to corner to make an "X" at the center. 
  2. Cut two six foot long ropes (3/8 to 5/8 inch cord works nicely).  Tie a keeper knot at the center as shown. It's simply an overhand knot that leaves a center loop in the rope.
  3. Next lash the keeper knots together so four cords dangle down from the two lashed together keeper knots.
  4. Tie the ends of the support cords to the corners of the green branch framework so, suspended from a tree the framework hangs horizontal to the ground 8 inches or so above the head of the tallest person using the shower. 
  5. Wrap a tarpaulin or opaque plastic sheet around the top of the framework.  You can use clear plastic if you're something of an exhibitionist I suppose. It's really up to you.  Tie the top edges of the tarp to the frame through the grommets in the tarp. If using plastic, you can use an ice pick or knife point and lashing to stitch the plastic to the framework so it covers all 4 sides and wraps over one more side so that you have an overlapping "door" for the improvised shower stall.
  6. Double bag two heavy trash bags and half fill them with water - not so much you can't lift the weight.  Put the bag of water on top of the framework and hang it in the sun.  If the shower is in the shade, set the bag on top of a table or flat surface in a sunny area.  The heat of the day will warm the water quite thoroughly through the black plastic.
  7. Before the water cools in the evening, set the bag on top of the framework, go inside the plastic enclosure and disrobe.  To start the water flow, pull down a corner of the bag so it hangs below the frame and carefully poke a couple of small holes in the corner to start the water flow.  To cut it off, simply wrap a rubber band around the corner above the holes.  You won't need many holes or very large ones.  You can get a couple of showers out of a bag of water if you run it slowly. 
  8. To accommodate everyone, have each camper be responsible for his own bag of hot water.

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Comments 2 comments

twayneking profile image

twayneking 6 years ago from Puyallup, WA Author

Trash bags and a roll of cord is all you need! It's solar heated, so if you want a really hot shower catch it around 5 on a hot sunny day and you'll get a really warm shower.


Joel T. 6 years ago

That's a great way to stay clean for cheap in the wilderness. The same shower bag/shower tent kit purchased online will cost you around 40$ to 50$ so I guess this is the amount you save when building it yourself.

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