How to Shower While Winter Camping?

How to Shower While Winter Camping

Winter camping showers can be daunting, but they don’t have to be! As an experienced camper and someone who has had to shower in the cold weather many times in the past years, I’ll be sharing my insights and practical tips to help you enjoy a safe and refreshing shower while winter camping.

This article will cover the challenges of winter camping showers, including hypothermia, frostbite, and slip hazards.

I’ll also provide proven ways to clean yourself, attached to safety tips, to help you transform this daunting task into a delightful ritual.

“A winter camping shower can be a challenge, but it’s well worth it. The feeling of warm water on your skin after a day in the cold is like nothing else.”

Morgan Sommerville, experienced winter camper and outdoor educator

Winter camping shower risks

Winter camping can be a rewarding experience, but it’s important to be aware of the risks involved, including those associated with showering. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Hypothermia: Hypothermia is a condition that occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit. It can be caused by exposure to cold weather, water, or wind. Symptoms of hypothermia include shivering, confusion, slurred speech, and drowsiness. If left untreated, hypothermia can be fatal.
  • Frostbite: Frostbite is a condition that occurs when the skin and underlying tissues freeze. It is caused by prolonged exposure to cold temperatures. Symptoms of frostbite include numbness, tingling, and a change in skin color to white, gray, or blue. If left untreated, frostbite can lead to tissue damage and amputation.
  • Slip and fall injuries: Ice and snow can make it slippery and dangerous to walk around, especially when you’re wet. Be careful not to slip and fall when showering outdoors in winter.
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning: If you’re using a propane or kerosene heater to heat the water for your shower, be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area. Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be fatal if inhaled.

Proven ways to clean yourself during winter camping

#1 Sponge bath

This is a simple and effective way to get clean in cold weather. You’ll need a basin of warm water, a sponge, and biodegradable soap.

Strip down to your underwear and wash your body, paying special attention to your underarms, groin, and feet. Be sure to dry off thoroughly afterwards.

#2 Baby wipes

Baby wipes are a convenient way to clean yourself without water. They are especially useful for quick clean-ups after using the bathroom or for cleaning your face and hands. Just be sure to pack enough wipes for your trip and dispose of them properly.

#3 Dry shampoo

Dry shampoo is another great option for cleaning your hair without water. It absorbs oil and dirt from your hair, leaving it feeling clean and refreshed.

Simply spray the dry shampoo onto your hair, massage it in, and then brush it out.

#4 Use a solar shower bag

Solar shower bags are a great way to get a warm shower while winter camping. They work by absorbing sunlight to heat the water inside.

To use a solar shower bag, simply fill it with water and hang it in a sunny spot. The water will heat up over time, and you can enjoy a warm shower in just a few hours.

“The best way to take a winter camping shower is to use a solar shower bag.”

Andrew Skurka, professional backpacker and author of “The Ultimate Hiker’s Guidebook.”

#5 Lake or stream bath

If you are camping near a lake or stream, you may be able to take a bath in the water. However, be sure to check the water temperature first and take precautions to avoid hypothermia. 

It is also important to dispose of your soap properly by:

  • Pack it out: If you are using solid biodegradable soap, it is best to pack it out with you. This is the most environmentally friendly option, as it ensures that the soap does not end up in the environment.
  • Bury it: If you cannot pack out your solid biodegradable soap, you can bury it in a shallow hole. Be sure to bury the soap at least 6 inches deep and 6 inches away from any water sources, campsites, or trails.

Also, be aware of the potential for wildlife encounters such as bears, snakes, and crocodiles, may be attracted to the water, especially if they are looking for food or a place to cool off.

Other animals, such as birds, insects, and fish, may simply be curious about your presence.

#6 Camp shower

A camp shower is a portable shower that can be used anywhere. Camp showers typically use a battery-operated pump to pressurize the water.

To use a camp shower, simply fill the reservoir with water and turn on the pump. You can then use the included hose and shower head to take a shower.

#7 Tent shower

A tent shower is a more involved option, but it can be a great way to get a full body wash in the comfort of your tent.

To build a tent shower, simply hang a tarp from the ceiling of your tent and fill a bucket with warm water and soap. Then, step into the tarp and use a cup or ladle to pour water over your body.

Consider this specific products on your winter camping trip

Here are some specific products that you may want to consider bringing on your winter camping trip:

  • Biodegradable soap: This is important for environmental reasons, as well as to avoid soap scum building up in your tent.
  • Wet wipes: These are a must-have for quick and easy cleaning.
  • Dry shampoo: This will help to freshen up your hair without having to get it wet.
  • Microfiber towel: These towels dry quickly and are compact, making them ideal for winter camping.

Safety tips for winter camping shower

  1. Shower during the warmest part of the day

Avoid showering in the early morning or evening when the temperatures are coldest.

  1. Choose the right location

Find a sheltered spot away from the wind, and make sure there is a place for you to dry off and change clothes.

  1. Heat your water safely

Use a portable propane or solar water heater, or heat your water in a safe container over a stove. Do not boil water in your tent, as this can create a carbon monoxide hazard.

“If you’re going to take a winter camping shower, be sure to heat up the water in advance. You don’t want to be freezing while you’re trying to get clean. And be careful not to overfill the water container, or you’ll have a lot of extra weight to carry.”

Ray Jardine, American author and advocate of lightweight backpacking
  1. Heat the water to a comfortable temperature

You don’t want the water to be too hot, or you could risk getting burned.

  1. Shower quickly and efficiently

Get in and out of the shower as quickly as possible to avoid hypothermia.

  1. Dry off quickly

Once you’re finished showering, use a microfiber towel to dry off quickly as possible. Put on warm clothes and a hat to stay warm.

  1. Be prepared for the cold

Winter showers can be cold, even if you’re using a water heater. Be sure to wear warm clothes and a shower cap. Read about how to dress for winter camping.

You may also want to consider bringing a changing tent to keep warm and dry before and after your shower.

“A winter camping shower is a great way to boost morale and stay motivated. It can also help to prevent skin problems caused by sweat and dirt. Just be sure to dress warmly and dry off quickly after showering.”

Christine Barnes, American adventurer and author of the book “Winter Camping Essentials”
  1. Be aware of your surroundings

Be on the lookout for hazards such as ice, snow, and wildlife.

  1. Don’t drink alcohol before or during your shower

Alcohol can impair your judgment and coordination, and it can also make you more susceptible to hypothermia.

  1. Be careful with fire

If you’re using a propane water heater, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

Recommended Reading: Important tips for maintaining your personal hygiene


Be prepared and knowledgeable to take a safe and invigorating winter camping shower.

With simple sponge baths, baby wipes, dry shampoo, and portable shower options, you can stay clean and comfortable in the winter wonderland.

Remember to be environmentally responsible and follow safety tips for a seamless winter camping shower experience.

Stay warm, stay safe, and make your winter camping memories unforgettable.

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