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Camping The Camping forum is for discussion that relates directly to wilderness camping (commonly referred to as car camping).

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Old 01-24-2008, 12:02 PM
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tpeterson1959 tpeterson1959 is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Las Vegas, NV
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I haven't used a solar shower for years, but the following thoughts came to mind based on my experience and research into solar cooking and some recent research I did for work on solar power plants to be built in the Mojave Desert south of Las Vegas.

Make a simple reflector from a piece of Mylar emergency blanket. It doesn’t have to be perfectly flat or concave to effectively reflect enough additional solar radiation to cause a noticeable difference in the water temperature.

For car or canoe camping, you could actually put the bag in a cardboard box and cover it with a clear sheet of plastic. If the inside of the box is painted black or lined with aluminum foil, the temps in the box can easily get to over 100 degrees even on a cloudy day.

If you really wanted to get fancy, you could use a Fresnel lens magnifier – like the ones you can get to magnify an entire page – and use that as the cover for the box, or just mount it a few inches away from the bag with the focal point being somewhere inside of the bag to prevent melting.

One of the latest advancements in solar power is to simply use Fresnel lenses to concentrate additional solar energy onto the receptor – whether it’s a photovoltaic cell or a parabolic solar collector. Tests at UNLV have shown increases in power production of up to 400 percent!

In some developing countries, solar water pasteurization is used to ensure safe drinking water. Many of the same simple and inexpensive methods could be used to increase the temperature of the shower water.

Last edited by Perkolady : 01-24-2008 at 12:33 PM.
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Old 01-30-2008, 04:15 PM
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Paul Paul is offline
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Location: Beaverton, OR
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I use the Coleman (might be Century) brand solar shower. It works really well. I leave mine on a rock int eh open sun for several hours, and can easilty get hot water. One time this past September on a Jeep trip on the Rubicon trail (great granite slabs BTW), I put it on the hood of the Jeep for half of the day. It got too hot to shower with, and had to let it cool down for an hour in the shade.

The plastic nozzle can easily pop open, and have had it leak while laying out once in a while.
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Old 01-30-2008, 07:09 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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I used one years ago on a BWCA/Quetico paddling trip. The water got pretty warm after taking direct sunlight all day in the canoe.
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Old 03-28-2008, 09:49 PM
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Lv2fsh Lv2fsh is offline
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My wife swears by solar showers.If they don't get hot enough (say not enough sun) heat up some water on the stove or campfire and add it like outofmatches said. A few years ago we bought a shower tent from Cabelas and use that. It works great and when not using it for a shower we put a porta potty in it. Even the pickiest of our relatives enjoyed the trip, and they never liked camping.
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Old 04-07-2008, 07:35 AM
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Mataharihiker Mataharihiker is offline
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For years I used the standard 2 1/2 gallon solar shower...they worked wonderfully in places with trees...that said, it is not always easy to find a place high enough to hang the fact, sometimes I need a shower when there is not a tree in sight...years ago I found a Sterns solar shower which consists of a large (actually larger than I need) double bag put water in the inner bag and leave it in the sun to heat or, as I have done, heat water up and pour it into the inner bag. The outer bag is inflate it with a footpump until you have enough pressure to force the water up the showerhose...

It is a wonderful system...the 5 gallon bag is way too big for me but I don't have to fill it up...just have to pump more air into the bag...most of the time I'm fine with a bucket bath but after a week or so a real shower is a nice luxury...I do not like cold showers...

Rocky Mountain National Park does not allow you to shower at your campsite...understandably they worry about soap contamination...even though I explained that I was using biodegradable soap they said if campers saw my set-up they might try one of their own and probably would not use biodegradable, I used to return to the campground around 3pm when everyone was gone and take a bucket shower where they had a drainfield in the entrance to their toilets...gotta be flexible if you wanna be clean...
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:38 PM
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doug doug is offline
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I use a peace of pool cover (heavy duty bubble wrap), that I made in to a pocket that hold a Platy bag. I helps keep my water cool on an AZ summer day and then when I make camp I put it in the sun about 2:00pm. at about 4:00 or 5:00 I have 2L of 105F water. This is not hot water but it is good for a wash up.
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Old 04-08-2008, 03:55 PM
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justducky456 justducky456 is offline
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My wife and I take two 2 1/2 gallon cheapo solar showers like available at campmor. When we head off for a hike in the morning we place them on top of our sleeping pads in an open area exposed the the full force of the sun all day. They will get HOT to luke warm depending on the daytime temps and sun exposure. 2 1/2 gallons will last for one nice shower or 2 abbreviated showers. The type of shower with a threaded nozzle provides better control of the stream and is easier to open/close with soapy hands.

For the ultimate car camping shower, couple the solar shower with a Paha Qué TeePee for a shower tent. Very nice indeed. The shower tent is really nice on windy days and provides ample privacy when necessary. It stands up very well to high winds also.

Coleman also makes a small propane powered hot water heater if you want hot water on cloudy days but I"ve never used one.

There wouldn't be any need to make a hotel run with this system.

Last edited by justducky456 : 04-08-2008 at 03:59 PM.
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Old 07-21-2008, 01:51 PM
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JayS JayS is offline
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I know this thread is old but thought I'd chime in.

I started using solar showers in the late 80s when I had a sailboat. It was a wooden boat without a shower so a solar shower hoisted up the forestay was just the ticket. On the US Gulf coast, I rarely had a problem getting the temps up to seriously warm to HOT. If it was hot out, I kept the shower in the bottom of the interior to keep it cool. This solar shower was black plastic on one side with clear plastic on the other side. The black "pulls" the heat through theclear plastic into the water and it works great. I have a larger one now that I keep at home for emergencies and have taken in the car for use when I return to the trailhead.

I also have a Sea-to-Summit sun shower for backpacking. It weighs about 4 1/2 ounces, IIRC, and packs down a little bigger than a deck of cards. It holds 10 liters, has an attached nozzle which is adequate and has a thin cord for hanging. It is white inside (with instructions printed inside) and black outside. It does not heat as well as the black & clear solar shower I described above but it's a lot lighter and less bulky. Plus it can double as a dry sack for clothes or whatever. One filling provided showers for my wife and me on a recent backpacking trip. (side note: Sea-to-Summit also sells a small pack of soap "tabs" that work great - you pull out a tab at a time, like breath strips, and wash up. Two or three are plenty unless you're real dirty.)

I also carry a 6" square of a pack towel that I use for sponge baths - works great and dries quickly. With a small heated pan of water, you feel cleaner in no time.
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:15 PM
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mmacc mmacc is offline
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place the shower bag full of water in the front window fo your car in the sun- it will get hot in the summer.
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Old 07-29-2008, 01:27 PM
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Buz Buz is offline
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I use my 3 liter platy bladder as a shower. I have a solar shower that is non backpacking type, and the nozzle fits perfectly on the platy tube, replacing the bite valve. I put the platy in a onion bag, rig a rope thru the bag, and hang somewhere. Get wet, stop water, lather, rinse, good to go. I use my butt pad to stand on, old piece of Ridge rest. Weighs very little and is refreshing when used.
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