Innovative Shower Designs for Your Van Life Adventure
Does your camper van need a shower? Many would claim that it isn’t worth the space, weight, and trouble, but if you’re going to be traveling in your van long-term, a camper shower is an absolute must. After all, nobody wants to have to rely on gym and truck stop showers all the time, and having a shower onboard means you can get clean anywhere you happen to land.
Of course, you will need to consider where to put the shower, how to build it, and what sorts of features you should include. In this article, we’ve linked to some innovative van shower builds and provided tips for ensuring you end up with the best camper shower possible.
Think About Heating
The first thing to think about? How to heat your water. Rare is the individual who actually enjoys taking a cold shower, so this is a very important thing to consider before you ever even begin your build. There are a few different ways to go about this.
- Propane water heater: This is a popular option that is efficient and provides hot water on demand. It can be installed inside or outside the van.
- Solar water heater: This eco-friendly option uses the sun’s energy to heat the water. It requires a solar collector panel and a water tank.
- Tankless electric water heater: This option heats the water as it flows through the unit, providing hot water on demand. It requires an electrical connection and can be installed inside or outside the van.
- Portable propane water heater: This smaller, more portable option is ideal for those who don’t need a full-size water heater. It can be used both inside and outside the van.
- Heat exchanger: This option uses the van’s engine to heat the water as it flows through a heat exchanger coil. It requires the van to be running to produce hot water.
- Boiling water on a stove: This requires a stove and a pot to boil water. It’s not as convenient as other options, but it can work in a pinch.
- Camping shower bags: These portable bags are filled with water and left in the sun to warm up. They can then be hung up to provide a basic outdoor shower experience.
Add a Vent Fan
If you’ll be building your shower inside of your RV, you really need to think about ventilation. Hot water creates steam, and steam can quickly lead to mold and mildew in such a small space. This is of course a huge problem that you don’t want to have to deal with. Therefore, some sort of ventilation is a must-have.
A favorite vent fan for van life is the MaxxAir Vent Fan. This installs on the top of the van and does an excellent job of circulating air. Installing your vent near or above the camper shower will help ensure it’s as effective as possible at removing moisture from the van.
Add a Toilet
Many van camper shower builds include a toilet inside the shower like in the video above. This type of build is referred to as a “wet bath,” and it’s a very efficient use of space, as it allows you to have all of the features of a full-size traditional bathroom in a small space and makes the toilet more accessible than it might be if it was pushed under a cabinet.
The biggest problem with wet baths is that the toilet does end up really wet at the end of every shower, so you will need to go in prepared to wipe everything down when you finish washing up. It’s also a good idea to choose shower knobs that are difficult to turn on, as many vanlifers have reported being sprayed by the shower while trying to do their business.
Skip the Door
Obviously, you will want something to separate your shower area from the rest of the van, but this doesn’t have to be a door. In fact, many vanlifers choose to forego the bathroom door in favor of a waterproof curtain. There are many nice-looking shower curtains out there, so finding one that compliments your space should be a cinch.
A curtain weighs less than a door and is easier to install, and because of those things, a curtain is an excellent alternative to a door for a camper van bathroom.
Make It Convertible
One of the main issues people have with adding a shower to their van is the fact that a shower can take up so much precious space. For this reason, we really appreciate the builds that manage to create convertible showers that can be hidden away under countertops or in other such spaces.
A convertible shower consumes much less space but still gives you the ability to get cleaned up inside your home on wheels, no matter where you happen to be parked. The convertible shower featured in the clip above is far from the only option, so feel free to get creative!
Choose the Shower Head Wisely
Camper vans can’t carry a whole lot of water around. So it’s very important to do everything you can to save water in your camper shower. One of the best ways to go about this is to install a water-saving shower head like this one from Oxygenics.
There are a few different brands that sell such shower heads. But they all do essentially the same thing–add air into the water to increase the water pressure while reducing the amount of water used. These shower heads are genius and definitely something every van lifer with a camper shower should invest in.
Put It Outside
If you don’t have room inside the van, there is always the option of creating a shower space outside. This isn’t ideal in poor weather. But if you plan to travel in good weather, it can be an excellent space-saving solution that is actually much easier to put together than a full-fledged indoor camper shower.
The video above gives some great tips for a super easy outdoor van shower build. There is also the option of purchasing premade tents and curtains for this very purpose.
The Convenience and Freedom of a Camper Shower
No matter how you go about building a camper shower in your van, you’re sure to appreciate the option to shower anytime and anyplace. After all, the whole point of living the van life is to find freedom. And being free to shower wherever you are is a big part of that!