Why a portable shower? While cleanliness and godliness may still go together, being able to shower will be one key way of keeping dirt, bacteria and infections to a minimum in an apocalyptic situation.
With so much focus spent on getting clean water, fresh food and
providing fuel for warmth and cooking, many people put personal hygiene
way down their list of priorities when it comes to their survival
preparations. However, not washing your skin regularly can lead to
clogged pores, which will stop you from sweating properly and any small
cuts and scrapes can easily become infected.
When you start your research for the best survival shower, you'll find plenty of different options. Ideally, you should find one that meets some or all of the following criteria:
- Renewable power source - in a survival situation, you're unlikely to have enough electricity to waste on providing power to your portable shower. Even in a small family scenario, you'll need to provide four showers every two to three days and your electricity will be better used elsewhere. Look for ones that use gravity, solar heating or a hand pump mechanism as these will all give you enough power to sluice water, soap and dirt from your skin.
- Quick to heat - survival living doesn't have to mean enduring hardships and many survival showers will heat up to above 100 F which, while not as hot as most people take a shower at home, will be a big step up from a freezing cold dip in a local river or lake. The better models will heat the water in a matter of minutes.
- Large capacity - the average adult will use between two and three gallons of water if they're having a quick shower aimed at cleaning rather than relaxing. Your shower therefore either needs to have a large enough storage tank that you're not having to refill and reheat it after every shower or a connection to a clean water supply.
At the end of it all, the portable shower that you end up buying will be largely dictated by the amount of money that you are willing to spend. As a rule, the more you spend the better quality you get. The following represent low, middle and high-end options:
- Solar Spray - this is about as basic as portable survival showers get. It's a five gallon metal jerry can with a shower attachment at the top. The metal preserves heat and will warm the water to 100 F in three hours. You then put the jerry can up high and let gravity pull the water down onto you. A cheap option at $15.
- Basecamp - the Aqua Cube is much more high tech, but relies on a propane burner to heat the water in less than 10 minutes. It is compact and you can either connect it to a clean water supply or buy the additional 10-gallon storage tank. You'll find the basic model for around $310.
- Zodi Extreme - this represents a good halfway house as the central canister relies on you to put it over an open fire to heat, but it then uses a combination of the heated water pressure and a manual hand pump to provide high pressure showers. The inner walls are designed to retain heat quickly and you'll have a hot shower in under five minutes. The canister alone without accessories goes for $120.
Your decision for your portable shower should take into account how far your clean water supply is, the number of people that you have and the amount that you've budgeted for personal hygiene. If you're travelling with a large group, try to split the cost of a more expensive shower between yourselves to give you peace of mind. Plus a more expensive shower will last longer, should you have a bigger party than anticipated.
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