Starry night

How Do You Shower While Camping?

By Jean Welsh
Starry nightStarry night

After a long day of hiking and lugging a pack, few things would be nicer than a hot shower. You could rinse all the dirt and sweat away, relax your tired muscles, and gaze up at the stars while reliving that epic ascent. But every camper worth their daily ration of skillet cornbread knows showers are few and far between out on the trail. So here are a few handy tricks to keep clean while communing with nature.

To freshen up when time is tight, a couple of common household ingredients that you’ve probably already got stowed away in your pack are lifesavers.

You can bring some spirit to tired locks with baking soda. Flip your head over and sprinkle a dash onto your scalp, then gently work it down through your hair. Think of it as dry shampoo for the outdoor set! The key here is a little goes along way.

Next, wipe a little apple cider vinegar along your armpits. The natural alpha hydroxyl acids in apple cider vinegar remove dead skin, its acidity kills odor-causing bacteria, and its antibacterial properties keep the stink away.

Finally, massage a few drops of grapeseed or olive oil into your face. Both are rich in vitamins and antioxidants and penetrate your skin to moisturize deeply.

Best of all, you can sleep easy knowing none of these little cleanliness-hacks will pollute the soil or groundwater.

How do you showerHow do you shower

If you have a bit more time to spare between putting down your pack and pitching your tent, you can indulge in a more luxurious camp cleaning ritual. Wipe down with REI’s no rinse body wipes for camping. They’re hypoallergenic, and enriched with aloe vera and vitamin E. Of course, if you packed them in, you pack them out.

If you just can’t bear to bed down without a full body dousing, Sea to Summit’s Pocket Shower, available at, is your best friend. Lightweight and easy to carry, this portable camping shower holds about 2.6 gallons of water. If you rest it flat on a rock or on top of your tent, it heats up in no time thanks to its black coloring. With a few drops of concentrated soap from Sea to Summit or Campsuds, you’ll feel like you’re at nature’s finest spa!

Of course, you should never wash yourself (or your dishes or gear!) within 200 feet of a water source, and any waste water should be buried in a cat hole 6 to 8 inches deep.

For those of us who are used to showering every day before work or when we return home, a few days outdoors without a shower can feel like a fun adventure. But for people experiencing homelessness, who don’t have regular access to a shower, let alone a soapy washcloth or shampoo or conditioner, a shower can be a rare and precious way to restore dignity and hope. Spending a few days on the trail without a shower might inspire you to help the homeless when you return to home.

In the first year 100% of the profits from The Right To Shower are being to donated NGOs that provide mobile showers to people experiencing homelessness. That means every shower with The Right To Shower brings a person in need closer to the ritual of scrubbing down and cleaning up that so many of us take for granted each day.

Profits from The Right To Shower support charities like Lava Mae, which brings showers to the streets with mobile shower units – essentially, trailers retrofitted with sinks and shower stalls – which are available for free to anyone who wants to use them in cities across the US, so that everyone can have access to a shower, no matter their housing situation.