Wondering How To Shower With a 4WD?
Four wheel driving is becoming very popular, with a crazy amount of power available from a variety of lithium batteries and a large selection of 12 volt inverters to run house hold items, camping and four wheel driving is more comfortable than ever.
It can be hard to figure out how to shower with a 4WD though. There are some pretty complicated solutions out there as well as some basic things like overhead shower bags.
In this post I will describe how to shower with a 4WD using two interchangeable setups that I run in my 4WD touring build.
The first is for summer or warm weather climates, the second for winter and cold weather climates.
Both of these two setups use parts of the Smarttek Black 6 l/min kit (Tentworld eBay link) that I purchased, for more details on this kit and how it compares to the Joolca Hottap V2 see this comparison post here.
The idea of this post isn’t to convince anyone that this setup is the best, it’s just to share the idea for others who might want to travel with a lightweight summer setup that easily converts to a winter setup when required.
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Why run a shower anyway?
Honestly you don’t need to.
If you stay in caravan parks or head out for one or two nights then you can arguably get away without a shower setup, but it is a comfort thing and it is nice to go to sleep relatively clean.
People will use waterless cleaning methods like wet wipes or dry soaps.
Having a shower can be handy though especially if it’s easy to setup.
How to shower with a 4WD for cheap
Before we get into the more expensive options that involve pumps and shower heads I’ll firstly point out all you really need is a bag of water hung overhead for a shower.
This method in summer will even give you hot water.
These shower bags are purpose built for this exact job, here are 3 such examples of this exact thing from tentworld.
My two shower setups
Above are the most simple solutions to those wondering how to shower with a 4WD but now I will go over the two different setups I run.
A lot of these setups nowdays run their own lithium batteries that require charging, whereas the setup I have pulls power from the existing lithium battery in the canopy to run the pump.
This for me keeps it light weight, but for those who don’t have a secondary battery in their car, those other units with included power might be an easier solution.
What I wanted from a shower
The idea for me was to have a shower head with a pump that pulled water from a jerry can or bucket.
For about half the year this would be enough, the water could be left in the sun in the jerry can to get it warm enough for a shower, or the weather would be so warm that a cold shower would be better anyway.
For the other half of the year I wanted hot water, but this comes with its own hassles.
For the hot water you either need one of the battery powered showers or a gas powered hot water unit. I decided to go with the gas powered unit, these can be run for a long time, don’t need charging and can also be powered through a camp water supply without a pump if needed.
As mentioned in the intro I bought the Smarttek Black with the 6l/min pump.
The summer shower setup
In the warmer months all I needed was the included 6 litre pump, a pickup hose to put in a jerry can and a shower head. I mounted the pump to the canopy in a permanent way, with the hose attached and the power cable running to a cig socket.
On the “water out” side I have a shower quick connect attachment (eBay) from Smarttek, so when I go away all I need to do is pack the 5 metre shower hose (eBay) which helps me get the shower head out to a good distance from the car.
The rest of the setup is permanently installed in the car as seen above, simply plug the pump in, turn it on and drop the pick up hose into a bucket or jerry can.
The shower can be turned on and off from the shower head.
The only downside here is that if the pump were to leak at the connections it would flood the canopy.
For me it was cheaper to get it as part of the kit because it gave me flexibility to add in hot water as needed.
The winter shower setup
To change the setup above to the winter setup doesn’t require too much alteration, but it does involve carrying heavier items. The hot water system weighs 5.5kg with batteries and you will need a gas bottle as well.
Some people carry gas for cooking so this may or may not be an extra item depending on what you cook with.
I hang the unit above from an ‘s’ hook worth about $2 from Bunnings. It hangs vertically which is needed for the unit to work properly.
If you have nowhere to hang this there is a tripod stand (eBay) available so you can set it up where you like. The downside is it just means you are carrying around another item.
Connect the gas, then the “water out” of the pump changes from the shower head to a hose that connects to the bottom of the unit, then the shower head connection connects to the unit.
So the water setup is basically the same except we move the shower head hose from the pump to this unit, with a new hose in between. Gas is used to heat and a D-cell battery used for ignition.
This can heat water up quite hot, cutting out at ~50°C, so you could use this for showering and also for hot dish water when you’re done.
This works for me as I already have power onboard and don’t want to be carrying around another battery pack shower unit with extra weight and charging needs.
I like the option of not needing to run the water through the hot water unit and being able to just have a quick cold (room temperature) shower when the weather is hot or I don’t want to spend time with the gas unit.
For colder climates though that gas water unit can make the whole experience more comfortable for myself or for others.
Hopefully it has shed some light on the subject for those wondering how to shower with a 4WD or how to shower when camping from a 4WD.
How do you shower with a 4WD?
Do you bother?
Shower setup video
If you are struggling to understand this setup, this video is all about the install process, all the weights costs and a comparison between the Joolca Hottap V2 vs the Smarttek Black hot water units.