Portable Camping and Surfing Shower




About: http://www.youtube.com/c/AndrewWorkshop

With camping season around the corner, lets gear up by making a portable shower. This is the 3rd shower that I have made and in this one I decided to improve upon the design. I actually use it for rinsing off my surf gear and myself after a session in the ocean.

What I like about this design is it runs on pressure so it can be used anywhere and not relying on gravity to feed the shower head.

The simplest design is to just have a garden sprayer and attach a garden nozzle on it. However there is an potential issue with this method as the diameter of the hoses included with a garden sprayer are usually too small to allow enough flow for the garden nozzle to work properly.

If you are lucky enough to find one with a large hose then things are good. Typically tho they are not so this Instructable will show you how I converted a garden sprayer into a working portable shower.

Step 1: Parts and Tools


  • 2 Gallon Garden Sprayer (1 gallon is too small and anything larger gets heavy when filled)
  • 1/2" Garden Hose Barb Adapter
  • 1/2" ID Hose (garden, clear, etc..)
  • 1/2" x 1/2" MIP brass barb adapter (male and female)
  • Hose clamps
  • Silicone or Sealant
  • O rings or Gasket Materials (preferable the fiber material used for carburetors)
  • Optional: 1 1/2" or 1 1/4" Drain Parts (plug, adapter)


  • Drill
  • Step Drill or Hole saw
  • Hacksaw
  • Pliers
  • Screw drivers

Step 2: Video of the Build

Step 3: The Build

Starting with an off the shelf garden sprayer, we need to adapt a larger hose to it. The issue with the garden sprayer is the internal and external hoses included with the sprayer are too constricting. I tried just adapting directly to the stock hose with a garden nozzle but flow was terrible.

So lets start by removing the stuff not needed, in my sprayer I sawed off the part where the hose connects to the tank. Then drilled out the existing hole to match the size of the 1/2" x 1/2" MIP barb adapter (male and female). A 1/2" hose was clamped onto the male adapter so it feeds from the body of the tank (I don't have any pics of this but it's shown in the video). Then it was feed through the inside of the tank and an o-ring and some sealant was applied on the inside. Using some bent needle nose pliers made this easy.

Next the female thread adapter was screwed onto the male threads, with an O-Ring on the outside of the tank. Pipe tape was applied to the threads as well for a leak proof seal as the pipe threads are tapered.

A 1/2" clear hose was clamped to the barb, you can use any hose, it just happened I had some left over from another project.

Then a 1/2" garden hose barb adapter was clamped to the hose and a garden nozzle was screwed on. I like using one with multiple spray patterns.

Install the pump mechanism, fill with water and you are good to go.

Note: I used O-rings initially, and they work fine but it was hard to keep the two adapters from spinning around in the sprayer. So I reinstalled it with some fiber gasket material. You can get it at your local auto parts store in sheets, cut to the size you need and install. You can really get a tight fit with this stuff.

Step 4: Improvement Modification (Optional)

So on my previous sprayer, I got several years use out of it but the plastic broke after repeated screwing the pressure mechanism on and off so I could fill it with water. It still worked but to get the mechanism on and off was a real pain. To prevent this from happening again, I installed an alternate way to fill the sprayer up.

Using some plumbing fittings for a drain, I installed a drain trap adapter. I don't know the exact name of the part but you can see it in the pictures.

I drilled a hole near the top of the body of the sprayer where my fingers could reach. Make this hole match the size of the drain part with threads. I used a hole saw and then filed it down until it fit. The tighter the fit the better, if you have gasket material you could cut a piece and install it for a 100% leak proof seal.

Since the main hole of the sprayer was a tad bit too small for the nut ring, I heated the parts in hot water so I could squeeze the nut ring inside the sprayer. Then I was able to screw it onto the drain parts with threads before the plastic cooled. Some silicone was applied to seal it up or use some gasket material (ideally) before fully tightening.

Fill the tank with water and install the plug with an o-ring.

This should give many years of trouble free service!



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    15 Discussions


    10 months ago

    After adding the larger radius feed hose and spray nozzle, remove the internal small radius pickup tube entirely and enlarge the feed hole to match the new delivery hose. Fill the container with your temperature adjusted water, pump up the pressure and when ready to shower turn the whole thing upside down. You will need to provide some other alternative mounting to hold it in this position.


    11 months ago

    Brilliant! Add a mister or two and you have air conditioning for dry climates.


    1 year ago

    We do this for camping too. The only difference is that we painted the jug with black paint. Let it set in the sun and you have a hot shower.

    3 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    You must make sure you check the temp before letting kids near it the water can get hot enough to scold yourself. I have personally experienced one of them solar showers that you get from camping stores the water got that hot you could make coffee with it. I actually could not believe how hot the water got in a black plastic bag.


    Reply 1 year ago

    Good point. A nice suggestion would be to paint one side white and the other side black, so depending on the weather you can decide which side faces the sun.


    1 year ago on Step 3

    Best idea I have seen in a long time. Wish I had known/thought of years ago.


    1 year ago

    Make sure you use a new or unused garden sprayer tank, One never knows what evil might lurk inside.

    2 replies

    Reply 1 year ago

    So right. A cleaning with white vinegar would be beneficial before use after an extended period of storage.


    1 year ago

    As Dakotamouse said, leave it in the sun and you've got a warm shower. Thanks for sharing, great idea with so many possible uses.


    1 year ago

    I see a great use for those of us who clean fish at the lake on the tailgate. Thanks for a great instructable.


    1 year ago

    What a clever, well-executed idea! Looks like something Coleman should have in their catalog.


    Tip 1 year ago

    Awesome idea! I've read about this being used for kids with hypohidrotic or anhidrotic ectodermal dysplasia (can't sweat). Neat idea to use as a shower also. Please advocate the use for those that don't sweat and maybe even wouldn't hurt athletes and the elderly or others during heat waves. Some do die from overheating. Thanks for sharing!


    1 year ago

    Excellent idea, thank you!