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How To Shower While Backpacking


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jaime Deyoung



When it comes to backpacking, it’s not all about the breathtaking views and adrenaline-pumping adventures. As a seasoned traveler, you know that personal hygiene plays a crucial role in keeping you comfortable and healthy on the road. While finding a proper shower while backpacking may seem challenging, it’s not impossible. With the right equipment and some careful planning, you can enjoy a refreshing shower even in the most remote locations.


In this article, we’ll guide you through the process of showering while backpacking. We’ll cover everything from choosing the right shower equipment to proper water disposal and leave no trace principles. So, whether you’re embarking on a multi-day trek through the mountains or exploring the wonders of the great outdoors, you’ll never have to sacrifice cleanliness for adventure.


While it’s true that backpacking showers may not offer the same comfort and convenience as your bathroom at home, they can provide a welcome respite from the dirt and grime of the trail. Not only will a shower help you feel refreshed and revitalized, but it also contributes to your overall well-being during your backpacking journey.


So, let’s dive in and discover how you can have a satisfying shower experience while backpacking, leaving you feeling clean and ready for whatever adventures lie ahead.


Choosing the Right Shower Equipment

When it comes to showering while backpacking, having the right equipment is key. Here are some essential items to consider:

  1. Portable Shower Bag: Look for a lightweight and compact shower bag that can hold enough water for your needs. Choose one made from durable materials and with a sturdy handle for easy carrying.
  2. Shower Head or Nozzle: Opt for a portable shower head or nozzle that attaches to your shower bag or water container. Look for options with adjustable water flow and different spray patterns to suit your preferences.
  3. Privacy Shelter or Shower Tent: To maintain your privacy and create a makeshift showering space, consider investing in a portable privacy shelter or shower tent. These can provide a secluded area for showering, protecting you from prying eyes.
  4. Biodegradable Soap and Shampoo: Choose biodegradable soap and shampoo to minimize your impact on the environment. Look for products specifically designed for outdoor use and with no harmful chemicals that could harm natural water sources.
  5. Microfiber Towel: Pack a quick-drying, compact microfiber towel that absorbs water efficiently. These towels are lightweight and take up minimal space in your backpack.
  6. Water Filtration System: If you plan on using natural water sources for your showers, consider bringing a portable water filtration system. This will ensure that the water is safe to use and reduce the risk of waterborne illnesses.
  7. Backup Water Containers: It’s always wise to have extra water containers in case your shower bag runs out. Consider bringing collapsible bottles or water bladders that can easily fit in your backpack.

As you choose your shower equipment, keep in mind the weight and size limitations of your backpack. Aim for lightweight options that won’t add unnecessary bulk or strain to your load. Additionally, consider the durability and quality of the items to ensure they can withstand the rigors of backpacking.


By investing in the right shower equipment, you’ll be well-prepared for clean and refreshing showers throughout your backpacking journey.


Preparing for the Shower

Before you can enjoy a refreshing shower while backpacking, some preparation is necessary. Here are some important steps to take:

  1. Gather Water: Determine the availability of water sources at your destination. If natural water sources are accessible and suitable for showering, plan your route accordingly. Alternatively, if you’ll be staying at campsites or hostels, inquire about water availability beforehand.
  2. Plan Your Shower Schedule: Consider the timing and frequency of your showers. While it’s essential to maintain hygiene, it’s also important to plan your showers to conserve water and minimize your impact on the environment. Aim for quick and efficient showers, especially in areas with limited water resources.
  3. Check Local Regulations: Research any regulations or restrictions regarding showering in the area you’ll be visiting. Some remote locations may have specific rules in place to protect the environment, so be sure to adhere to them.
  4. Test Your Shower Equipment: Before setting off on your backpacking adventure, test your shower equipment to ensure everything is functioning properly. Fill up your shower bag, attach the shower head or nozzle, and test the water flow to make any necessary adjustments or repairs.
  5. Organize Your Shower Kit: Pack your shower essentials in a separate waterproof bag or container to keep them organized and easily accessible. This will save you time and effort when setting up your shower and help prevent any damage or leakage to other items in your backpack.
  6. Review Leave No Trace Principles: Familiarize yourself with the Leave No Trace principles, which promote responsible outdoor behavior. These principles emphasize minimizing your impact on the environment, including proper waste disposal and respecting natural water sources. Incorporate these principles into your showering routine to ensure you’re treading lightly while enjoying nature’s splendor.

By adequately preparing for your shower while backpacking, you’ll be able to make the most of your bathing experience while minimizing your impact on the environment.


Finding a Suitable Location

When it comes to showering while backpacking, finding a suitable location is crucial for both privacy and environmental considerations. Here are some tips for finding the perfect spot:

  1. Choose a Discreet Area: Look for a location that offers privacy and minimal visibility to others. This could be a secluded spot in the woods, behind rocks or bushes, or within the boundaries of a designated camping area. Respect the natural surroundings and try to minimize your impact on the environment.
  2. Avoid Water Sources: When setting up your shower, avoid using natural water sources such as rivers, streams, or lakes directly. Use a separate container or shower bag for your water supply and ensure proper disposal of soapy water to prevent contamination and harm to aquatic life.
  3. Consider the Terrain: Seek out level ground or areas with a slight slope to ensure proper water drainage. Avoid areas that are prone to flooding or where water can accumulate and become stagnant.
  4. Check for Accessibility: Take into account the accessibility of the location. Ensure that it’s easily reachable from your camping site and that you can transport your shower equipment without difficulty.
  5. Respect Local Regulations: Be aware of any specific regulations or guidelines regarding bathing in the area you’re visiting. Some protected areas may have restrictions on showering to preserve the ecosystem, so it’s important to comply with the rules to ensure the sustainability of the environment.
  6. Be Mindful of Wildlife: Consider the presence of wildlife in the area and choose a spot that minimizes your impact on their habitat. Avoid areas with visible signs of animal activity or nesting grounds.

When in doubt, consult with local authorities, park rangers, or other experienced backpackers for recommendations on suitable showering locations. Remember, finding a suitable spot for your shower is not only about convenience but also about respecting and preserving the natural environment.


Setting up Your Shower System

Now that you’ve found a suitable location, it’s time to set up your shower system. Follow these steps to ensure a smooth and effective setup:

  1. Secure Your Privacy Shelter: If you’re using a privacy shelter or shower tent, set it up first. Choose a flat area and ensure it’s stable and secure. Use stakes or guy lines if necessary to prevent it from blowing over in windy conditions.
  2. Hang Your Shower Bag: Hang your shower bag from a tree branch, the roof of the privacy shelter, or any other sturdy structure. Make sure it’s at a comfortable height for showering. Use a rope or adjustable straps to hang the bag securely. If necessary, fashion a pulley system to facilitate easy height adjustment.
  3. Attach the Shower Head or Nozzle: Connect the shower head or nozzle to the shower bag or water container. Ensure the attachment is tight and secure to prevent leaks or accidental detachment during use. Adjust the flow settings according to your preference.
  4. Check Water Temperature: Before stepping into the shower, check the water temperature. If the water is too cold, you can warm it up by leaving the shower bag in the sun or adding warm water from another container. Be cautious not to scald yourself with hot water.
  5. Position Your Towel and Toiletries: Place your microfiber towel and toiletries within arm’s reach in the privacy shelter. This will allow you to easily access them while showering.
  6. Test the Shower System: Give your shower system a test run to ensure everything is functioning correctly. Confirm that water flows smoothly from the shower head or nozzle and that there are no leaks or malfunctions.

Once your shower system is set up and functioning properly, you’re ready to experience a refreshing and rejuvenating shower in the great outdoors. Enjoy the feeling of washing away the day’s sweat and grime while reconnecting with nature.


Taking a Shower

Now that your shower system is set up and ready to go, it’s time to indulge in a much-needed shower while backpacking. Follow these steps to make the most of your showering experience:

  1. Get Ready: Undress inside the privacy shelter and make sure your towel and toiletries are within reach. If the weather is cold, you may want to keep a robe or dry clothes nearby to change into after your shower.
  2. Wet Your Body: Start by wetting your body with the shower head or nozzle. Enjoy the sensation of water cascading over your skin, washing away any sweat or dirt accumulated from your adventures.
  3. Lather Up: Apply a small amount of biodegradable soap or shampoo to your hands, and then lather up your body and hair. Take your time and enjoy the luxury of a thorough cleanse.
  4. Rinse Off: Rinse off the soap and shampoo from your body and hair with the shower head or nozzle. Make sure to rinse thoroughly to remove any residue and leave your skin feeling refreshed.
  5. Dry Off: Step out of the shower and dry yourself with your microfiber towel. These towels are designed to absorb water quickly, making the drying process efficient and effective. Pat your body dry rather than rubbing vigorously to avoid irritation.
  6. Dispose of Water Responsibly: Properly dispose of the soapy water in a designated waste container or away from natural water sources. Follow the leave no trace principles and ensure that your showering activities have minimal impact on the environment.
  7. Repack and Clean Up: Once you’re dry and dressed, neatly pack away your shower equipment, towel, and toiletries. Remove any traces of your presence, leaving the area as you found it.

Taking a shower while backpacking can be a refreshing and revitalizing experience. It allows you to maintain personal hygiene while appreciating the beauty of nature. Embrace the simplicity and freedom that comes with an outdoor shower, and relish in the rejuvenation it provides.


Proper Water Disposal and Leave No Trace

When showering while backpacking, it’s essential to be mindful of proper water disposal and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Dispose of Water Away from Natural Water Sources: Avoid directly draining your shower water into rivers, streams, or lakes. Instead, dispose of the soapy water at least 200 feet away from these water sources to prevent contamination and preserve the ecosystem.
  2. Use Biodegradable Soap and Shampoo: Opt for biodegradable soap and shampoo to minimize the environmental impact. These products are designed to break down quickly and have minimal harm to aquatic life and vegetation.
  3. Strain and Scatter Food Particles: If you use a food-catching device in your shower system to prevent food particles from entering the water, be sure to strain and properly dispose of those particles before scattering the water.
  4. Minimize Water Usage: Be conscious of the amount of water you use during your showers. Aim for efficient showers by turning off the water when lathering or shampooing and only using what you need to rinse off. This conserves water and prolongs your water supply during your backpacking trip.
  5. Follow Local Regulations: Be aware of any specific regulations regarding showering and water usage in the area you’re visiting. Some environmentally sensitive areas may have stricter guidelines in place to protect fragile ecosystems, so familiarize yourself with the rules and adhere to them.
  6. Leave No Trace Principles: Embrace and practice the seven principles of Leave No Trace: plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. Ensure that your showering routine aligns with these principles to leave a positive impact on the natural environment.

By disposing of shower water responsibly and following Leave No Trace principles, you can enjoy your showers while minimizing your impact on the environment. Leave nature as you found it, and let future backpackers enjoy the beauty and purity of the wilderness.


Additional Tips and Safety Measures

While showering while backpacking can be a refreshing and enjoyable experience, it’s important to keep safety in mind. Here are some additional tips and safety measures to consider:

  1. Be Mindful of Water Temperature: Test the water temperature before fully immersing yourself in the shower. Avoid using water that is too hot, as it may scald your skin. Balancing the water temperature with your comfort is key.
  2. Stay Hydrated: Remember to drink plenty of water, especially in hot or arid environments. Showering can be dehydrating, so make sure you replenish your fluids to stay hydrated and avoid heat-related illnesses.
  3. Protect Yourself from the Sun: If showering in sunny conditions, consider showering in the shade to avoid excessive sun exposure. Apply sunscreen before and after showering to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  4. Check for Allergies or Sensitivities: If you’re using a new soap, shampoo, or other toiletries, be aware of any allergies or sensitivities you may have. Test these products on a small area of your skin before showering to avoid any adverse reactions.
  5. Secure Your Shower Area: While showering in a privacy shelter or secluded spot, be mindful of your surroundings. Secure your belongings to prevent theft and ensure you have a clear view of the surrounding area to stay aware of any potential hazards.
  6. Consider Spray Bottles or Wet Wipes: In situations where water is scarce or showering is not feasible, consider using spray bottles or wet wipes as alternatives for freshening up and maintaining hygiene.
  7. Respect Local Wildlife: Be mindful of the wildlife in the area. Avoid leaving food or scented products exposed, as they can attract animals. Keep a safe distance and observe wildlife from afar to minimize disturbances.
  8. Practice Lightning Safety: If you’re showering during a thunderstorm or in an area prone to lightning, seek shelter immediately. Avoid using metal shower equipment or being close to tall objects that can attract lightning.
  9. Trust Your Instincts: If you feel uncomfortable or unsafe while showering in a specific location, trust your instincts and relocate to a more secure area. Your safety should always be a top priority.

By following these additional tips and safety measures, you can have a pleasant and safe showering experience while backpacking. Remember to prioritize your well-being and make choices that align with your comfort and safety.



Showering while backpacking doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right equipment, preparation, and mindful practices, you can enjoy refreshing showers even in the most remote locations. Not only does showering contribute to your personal hygiene and well-being, but it also helps you feel refreshed and rejuvenated during your backpacking journey.


By choosing the right shower equipment, preparing adequately, finding suitable shower locations, and setting up your shower system properly, you can experience the luxury of cleanliness while immersing yourself in nature’s beauty. Remember to practice proper water disposal and follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment.


Taking a shower while backpacking is an opportunity to disconnect from the daily hustle and reconnect with nature. It’s a chance to enjoy the simplicity of life, while also acknowledging the importance of personal hygiene and environmental responsibility. So, next time you embark on a backpacking adventure, don’t forego the joy of a refreshing shower. Embrace the experience and embrace the feeling of cleanliness amidst the great outdoors.