Should I Have a Campervan Shower? And Which One Is Best?
Updated: Dec 9, 2022
There’s perhaps one aspect of campervan life that puts more people off than any other: the lack of shower. If you’re the type of person who likes to start or end every day with a good scrub, the realities of life on the road can be particularly challenging.
But they needn’t be.
While more often associated with the Winnebago crowd, showers can be installed in campervans too. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should: the considerations that will guide this decision extend far beyond wanting a daily wash.
There are two types of campervan showers: internal/permanent and external/portable. Let’s take a closer look at both: why you should and shouldn’t get one, and which to choose if you do.
Internal campervan showers: pros, cons and options
On the surface, the concept of a shower inside your campervan seems great, combining the freedom of the road with the comforts of home. But as with anything in this world, it’s not that simple. Let’s weigh the pros against the cons.
Cleanliness: Never wake up or go to bed grubby again. An internal campervan shower will keep you sparkling clean on the road.
Luxury: This isn’t a common purchase (for reasons we’ll investigate below.) An internal shower is a luxurious addition to your campervan, increasing its resale value and earning you envious looks at the campground.
Convenience: No more hunting for a shower block on the road, or going days without washing. With a shower on board you can have a wash whenever and wherever you’d like.
Privacy: Internal campervan showers offer a level of privacy that shower blocks and external showers can’t match.
Space: Space is at a premium in campervans. To devote just a small area to a shower might see you missing out on much needed bed, kitchen or storage space. You’ll need a minimum of eight square feet to house a toilet and shower, as well as the necessary headroom.
Expense: Depending on the model you go for, an internal campervan shower can be quite costly.
Dampness: If you install a shower within your van, be aware that your carpet, cushions, bed linen, roof lining and other absorbent surfaces might be affected by the moisture and humidity. This can be minimized if you designate your shower as a wet area, fully enclosing and waterproofing it, and installing drains and fans to remove the moisture.
Inconvenience: Sure, you have the convenience of showering when and where you want, but there’s also some inconvenience involved, like filling the tank, emptying the wastewater, and cleaning.
You’ve weighed it all up, and you’ve decided that the pros of an internal campervan shower outweigh the cons. What are your options?
As close to a home bathroom as you can get in a campervan, fully enclosed showers are permanent fixtures. They are fully waterproofed, plumbed and ventilated, and will often include a toilet.
This luxury comes at the expense of both space and money though – you’ll generally spend in the thousands, and will need eight square feet of space available at a bare minimum, as well as enough headroom to stand comfortably.
Retractable internal campervan showers allow you to utilize the space outside of shower time. These feature a subtle drain in the floor, and a curtain or screen that pulls out into the living area to capture the moisture, and neatly stows away when not in use.
While cheaper and less of a burden on space than a permanent shower, retractable models have one major downside: moisture can easily escape and be absorbed by your van, destroying it from the inside. Good drainage, good ventilation, and a good seal around the shower are vital.
External campervan showers: pros, cons and options
Alternatively you could choose the more popular option: an external/portable campervan shower, although there are again once again a number of pros and cons to consider.
Cost: Without the need to invest in installation, waterproofing, drainage and ventilation, external campervan showers are far cheaper than internal.
Space saving: External campervans showers don’t take up any of the valuable space inside your campervan, hanging off the side or back.
No risk of damage: Unlike an internal campervan shower, external showers won’t damage the inside of your campervan with water, steam and condensation.
Convenience: No more hunting for a shower block on the road, or going days without washing. With a shower ready to go, you can have a wash whenever and wherever you’d like.
Privacy: While you’ll have the option of using a shower screen with your external campervan shower, you won’t enjoy the level of privacy offered by an internal shower.
Warmth: While the water might be heated, an external shower will inevitably expose you to the elements. While you might really need a wash, you might not be super keen if it’s snowing outside.
Inconvenience: You’ll have the convenience of a shower on board, sure, but you will need to set it up every time you want to use it.
So you feel like an external/portable might be for you. What are your options? There are three main choices, though each works in a similar way: by connecting to a power source, and hanging on the exterior of your campervan.
A cheap and sustainable option, solar showers are becoming surprisingly effective, although you will find yourself at the mercy of Mother Nature: if the sun doesn’t shine, the shower won’t be warm. Some use solar panels, while cheaper options simply feature a black pouch that warms the water inside by soaking up the sun’s rays.
These external showers use your onboard power source to pump water through the shower head. Some models may also be able to heat the water, although they can be limited in their effectiveness, and you’ll pay far more for the pleasure.
Portable hot water systems
If you want the ultimate external shower – one that is warm, high-pressure and long-lasting – look no further than a portable hot water system. These generally use 12V power to pump the water, and gas or another form of fuel to heat it. While they’ll set you back a few hundred dollars, this investment is usually more than worth it!
No matter which shower you end up choosing, or indeed if you choose a shower at all, you can trust the expert team at Drifter Vans to build a campervan to suit! Contact our friendly team today.