By Curtis Carper
Camped away from the masses, alongside a gentle brook. That’s about the ideal setting every RVer hopes to find when they head out into the boondocks. Being able to take a nice long, hot shower at the end of your day hiking and exploring brings the adventure to a new level of luxury.
A good shower is what makes camping civilized. How you get one can be done in a number of ways. For the basics there is the old black plastic solar shower that lets you fill the bladder with a couple gallons of water and set it out in the sun to warm. Functional, but hardly luxury.
There are also simple pump/heater outfits that have a small battery-operated pump. They take water and send it through a coil heated by a burner, providing a modest stream of warm water. Often the water supply is a five-gallon bucket, so your length of shower is limited to the quantity of water in the bucket.
For a similar investment you can have true endless hot water from a tankless water heater that operates similar to a residential model. The Eco Temp brand of tankless water heaters operate on larger propane tanks. A 20-pound tank like what is on your RV will last the season.
You can hook up to any garden hose for your water supply, or if you are boondocking, a good option would be to buy a 12-volt RV water pump and hook it to a battery. That way you can drop the suction line into the nearest stream, and your campsite will have adequate hot water to shower an army of campers.
Add a portable shower enclosure to your gear and you can set up your shower station away from the main campsite, giving more privacy to those who prefer it.
The Eco Temp tankless water heater only heats water when there is water flowing through it. Shut off the shower head and the flame stops. This is so much more efficient and allows you to stretch your propane supply a long ways.
With your hot water output coming from the unit through a garden hose, a simple hose sprayer works great as a shower head. Not only can you use this water to shower, you can use it as the source for all your camp hot water. Wash dishes, hose off the ATVs after a day’s riding the trail, give the dog a bath.
Wherever you need hot water on demand, an endless supply is at the ready with a tankless water heater that is independent of your RV. Total cost of the water heater and the RV pump should run you less than $200. Not a bad investment to bring luxury to your out-in-the-boondocks campsite.
(Editor’s note: tankless water heaters have a generic problem starting/stopping. They work best with continuous flow.)