A key piece of kit for our Overland camping set-up is the new Road Shower 4. This pressurized aluminum tank utilizes available solar radiation to heat water to a comfortable shower temperature. Allowing my wife and I maintain a high level of cleanliness while camping off the grid. A major draw-back in rustic camping is the lack of everyday utilities like running water. Being able to take a pressurized hot shower in the middle of nowhere is a huge benefit and morale booster. The Road Shower 4 is a well-engineered piece of equipment that has found a home on my truck all summer long. But it didn’t start like this…
Last summer while getting into Overland camping, I was long-term testing a rooftop tent from Tepui. Recognizing the ability to stay off the grid for extended periods of time, a glaring issue came to light. How to maintain a reasonable level of personal hygiene for these extended periods. Bathing in a lake or river is always an option. Bio-safe soaps allow you to use these bodies of water but the temperatures in Northern Michigan are chilly. In fact, Lake Superior doesn’t exceed 50F much in the summer. So I scoured the interwebz for a better solution. And the Road Shower website kept popping up in my search. Ironically offering instructions for a DIY solution to the manufactured product they sell. So being a cheapskate, I gave the DIY option a shot as you can see in this older image below.
Needless to say, the DIY solar shower had its limitations. Like effectively heating the water, maintaining pressurization, air and water leakage, etc. It kinda worked but more importantly offered a glimpse into the true potential of a solar shower. So this year, we pulled the trigger on an expertly manufactured product from Road Shower. The Road Shower 4. And man am I glad we did! What a superior product to anything you could hope to build on your own with common hardware store materials. Plus the safety of pressurizing the welded aluminum tank to 65psi. I didn’t realize exactly how dangerous it was for me to pressurize that PVC contraption I made last season.
Road Shower 4 Video Demonstration
Road Shower offers three different sizes to suit your rooftop requirements; the 4S (4 Gallons/7 minutes), model 4 (7 Gallons/10 minutes) and the 4L (10 Gallons/ 14 minutes). Based on available rooftop real estate and the demands of 2 people, I felt the 7 gallon Road Shower 4 was just the ticket. Once safely pressurized to 65psi, the Road Shower 4 will provide approximately 10 minutes of continuous shower time. When used sparingly, this is more than enough water and pressure to produce 4-6 showers. With the ability to refill the tank and re-pressurize while camping, I didn’t see the need for the larger 4L model.
With full length “T slots” engineered into the bottom and side of the aluminum tank, mounting it to a roof rack, cargo rack or bed rack is about as simple and safe as it gets. A pair of stainless steel carriage bolts and nuts is all I needed to mount the Road Shower 4 to the VooDoo Bed Rack on my Toyota Tundra. This rigid metal to metal mounting system has been rock solid despite driving on some rugged backcountry roads and trails.
Road Shower 4 specifications courtesy of roadshower.com
- Tank Dimensions: 55 x 7.4 x 5.74″
- Slot Channel is 55″ long and the mounting bolts can be moved over this entire length.
- Holds 7 gallons of water. 2 gallons of air space.
- Empty Weight: 25 lbs. Full weight: 77 lbs.
- Powder Coated Aluminum .1″ thick walls.
- Pressure relief valves opens at 55-75 PSI.
- Hose length is 55″.
- Mounting carriage bolts 5/16″ and use a 5/16 nut. Nylock nuts included. 13 mm wrench needed.
- Hose is 5/8 ID food grade hose such as used in the brewing industry, with brass GHT ends.
- Intake air valve is 1/4″ NPT thread to tank with Shrader valve.
- Option to add an outlet or shower head on non-hose end.
- Locking loop to secure the Road Shower 4 to your rack.
- Side slot so it can be mounted from the side of a roof top basket.
- Fill cap comes with and requires a 40mm wrench.
- MSRP $399
Our summers in Northern Michigan provide a perfect climate for Overland camping. High daytime temperatures in the mid 70’s to 80’s will consistently produce tank temperatures near 100F. We even achieved 105F water temperatures during a stretch of hotter weather. One consideration you’ll need to make is what time of day to take a shower. Because aluminum is such a good temperature conductor, as the sun sets, the water in the tank will cool off rather quickly. So we found that taking a shower at the end of the day before bed worked best for us, as morning showers proved to be too cold.
Road Shower includes a food grade hose and sprayer with the purchase of any unit. But I highly recommend the Flex Neck Shower Head accessory. Along with the provided quick-connect fitting, the Shower Head accessory makes that warm shower at the end of the day a breeze. Once rinsed off, you can quickly disconnect the shower head and stow it for travel. Another recommendation would be the purchase of a 12v compressor. Available from the Road Shower accessory page or locally, these pumps are the best way to pressurize the tank prior to use. I have a programable Kobalt unit from Lowes that gets the job done.
Final thoughts on the Road Shower 4
Due to the versatility of the Road Shower 4, I’ve left it mounted on the bed rack of my Tundra all summer long. Although a great piece of equipment for camping, I’ve found many additional uses for it. After a day on the boat, it’s nice to rinse off back at the truck prior to driving home. Additionally, you can rinse off sporting equipment like muddy mountain bikes, sandy SUP boards and kayaks or salty SCUBA gear. For anyone who participates in any outdoor sport, the Road Shower 4 is a worthwhile investment. From my experience, it’s not worth the time and effort of building a DIY model that won’t perform nearly as well or safely as the Road Shower 4. Check out what they have to offer at roadshower.com.