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One of the luxuries most often missed when camping is a hot shower. On our last camping trip we took our young kids so we had planned to stay where there was hot showers readily available. But come next camping season, we are going a little more remote. So the search for the best portable hot water heaters for camping begins now.
Being able to have portable hot water showers while camping is a true luxury, especially if you have youngsters. While some of us can grin and bear the cold water, some of the family members are always going to regret leaving the comfort of a hot shower at home behind.
To be honest, the little effort it takes to make hot water outdoors, I say why not. It’s just another camping expense that will continuously give and give. It’s not often you can use a $100 item over and over like a hot shower. That’s why I love camping so much. Once you get past the initial investments of buying a tent, beds etc it’s the cheapest family holiday you can have. Once you have all the gear, all that’s missing is you.
Quick Links To Info On This Page
- 1 My Top Rated Camping Hot Water Shower Heater
- 2 The Best Way To Have Hot Shower When Camping
- 3 Compare Mr Heater BaseCamp Boss Xb13, XW18, XCW20
- 4 Which Mr Heater Hot Water Heater Is Best For Camping
- 5 Best Hose Connection Hot Water Heater For Outdoors
- 6 Tankless Camping Hot Water Heaters
- 7 Best Solar Camping Shower Heater
My Top Rated Camping Hot Water Shower Heater
So if having a hot shower while out in nature is what it takes to make the family happy, I’m all for it. Which is the reason for this research. Next camping season we WILL be taking the Mr Heater Basecamp Boss water heater (Outdoor Systems) with us . Not only will we have hot water for showers, but also for washing the dishes and so forth.
After all my thorough research I ended up on the Mr Heater model. I think it’s the best water heater for camp showers on the current market. Below you can see why in my review and also find out which other portable camp water heaters I considered. While you can set this device up to run the hose through a shower camping tent, I would prefer to hang the Camp Triton model below in this instance.
The Types Of Camping Water Heaters
It’s easy to get confused when searching for outdoor water heaters to take camping. This is because tankless on demand heaters for the home often get thrown into the mix. But this is not what you want. As a camper you need something that is portable and doesn’t necessarily rely on access to a hose and or electricity from the mains.
This is not always an option when camping. Which is why I will be sharing the following 2 types of portable hot water systems. Of course there is the option for DIY hot water, but as a parent to 3 young children this is not ideal for me. So I won’t be showing any DIY systems.
- Propane gas water heater that doesn’t need access to a hose. Ideal when camping far away from civilization and quite remote.
- Propane gas water heating systems which include hose nozzles for connecting to a tap provided by the camping site. A great option for car camping but still want to have your own shower and not in a shower block with other people.
- Solar powered water heating system. Cost effective, but least effective for a family due to limited hot water.
The Best Way To Have Hot Shower When Camping
As mentioned above, I ended up with the Mr Heater (Also known as Outdoor Systems) BaseCamp Boss water heater as my go to heating device when camping. But I may be slightly biased as I think the Mr Heater also makes the best and safest tent heater for camping in colder conditions.
You have probably heard of these BaseCamp Boss water heaters while going through online reviews. One thing you may have not come across is that there are 3 models of the BaseCamp Boss heaters. All with different price points and with different features which I will get to in a minute.
Why I Went For The Cheapest Mr Heater BaseCamp Boss Water Heater
The 3 models of the Outdoor Systems BaseCamp Boss water heaters are the XB-13, XW-18 and the XCW-20. With the BOSS XB-13 being the cheapest and the XCW-20 being much more expensive.
The reason I went with the XB-13 is not because I’m a cheapskate, but because it offers the greatest opportunity for remote camping with no access to Ac or Dc power. The XB13 also has a lower BTU rating which means a 1lb portable gas cylinder will last longer.
While the water may not be as hot as the other two more expensive models I can deal with that. A warm shower is better than a cold shower right. As there will be 5 of us using this hot water heater, a lower BTU rate means we can all have showers without running out of gas in the middle of nowhere.
Plus the PB13 uses .6 gallons of water per minute compared to the XCW20 which can run at 1.18 gallons per minute. Having a lower gallon per minute is good when camping if you have limited access to water. If you’re filling up a tub with water, you don’t want the water to run out too quickly.
But on the other hand if you want a shower that’s more powerful, then you will need either the Mr Heater Boss XW18 or XCW20 to keep you satisfied. By for me, I can get by with lower pressure shower provided the water is warm. Which is why I choose the XB-13.
Compare Mr Heater BaseCamp Boss Xb13, XW18, XCW20
Compare the range of Mr Heater hot water water heaters with other water heaters that don’t require a hose on amazon.
Which Mr Heater Hot Water Heater Is Best For Camping
Elaborating a little more on why I choose the XB13 vs the XW18, XCW20. Battery power is camping power to me. The XB13 runs off 6 x D size batteries which can be recharged via the sun using a portable solar powered battery charger. Provided the sun shines and you have rechargeable D batteries, you will never need access to AC/DC while camping.
Whereas the next model up, the Mr Heater XW 18 requires AC power to recharge the internal battery. The top of the line model XCW20 has both Ac and Dc (car charging) capabilities. So if you don’t like the idea of recharging D size batteries and want hotter water at the sacrifice of more gas, then the Mr Heater BaseCamp XCW 20 would be my next option. But it’s an expensive route to take.
How The BTU’s Affect What Hot Water Heating System You Use For Camping
Having the ability to charge the XCW20 via the car charger is a nice incentive, but the price tag is a little over my head. I can deal with using the sun to recharge D batteries at a lower BTU rate. But what are these BTU’s?.
If you’re unsure on what BTU’s are it’s basically just a guide that tells you how much propane gas the product uses per hour. So the XB13 uses 12,000 BTU’s and will give us a good hour and a half of hot water showers per 1lb cylinder of gas. Compared to the more gas hungry 18,000 BTU’s which will last you almost an hour.
But whichever model of Mr Heater BaseCamp hot water heater you choose, you can rely on it being high quality, safe and do what it’s intended to do. Provide hot water and fast.
Best Hose Connection Hot Water Heater For Outdoors
The reason I went with the Mr Heater above over this Camp Chef Triton system is simply because I didn’t want the hose connection type of heater. Not that there’s anything wrong with connecting a hose to heat the water, it’s just not what I wanted.
But in saying that, this Camp Chef certainly looks like one heck of a water heater. If you car camp with access to a tap on a regular basis, it makes 100% sense to buy the Triton over the Mr Heater. Here’s why.
*But first, make sure you do some price comparing as I’ve found the Camp Chef Triton varies from store to store. Even on the Camp Chef website I found it a bit high for my likings. A good place to start is on amazon and you can check the recent price on amazon here.
Benefits of This Hot Water Heater For Camping
If you like your shower hot, then there’s none better then the Camp Chef Triton. This thing could burn you with the right settings. Not that I’m insinuating that you should burn yourself. But the option for a really hot shower is possible with the Triton.
When you have the water pressure down low, and the temperature up high, the Triton can raise the temperature of water by 102°F which is insane.
So yes, you can control the water flow and the temperature of the water with this camping hot water heater. Which is good for the more pedantic shower takers and also if multiple people will be sharing the shower.
So How Does It Work?
In order to hat a hot shower by the tent while camping you will need a couple of items to get this heater going. First you need 2 x D size batteries to tun the unit on. Next you need a gas bottle. Whats good about the Triton is that you can use bigger gas bottles instead of the disposable 1lb bottles.
Which means you can get about 11 hours of shower power from your regular size bottle of propane gas. But because this shower is so powerful, it does chew through more gas than the above Mr Heater. This unit has 2 internal burners that operate at 13,500 BTU’s each with a total maximum of 34,000 BTU’s per hour. Using a small throw away propane canister would only last you half an hour on this beast. So a bigger propane canister is definitely recommended.
Once you have the batteries and the propane sorted, next it’s time for the water. From here you simply connect a garden hose to the Triton unit. Connections come with the unit so it can’t get any easier than this. Turn everything on and set your settings. Hot water is almost instantaneous.
But You Need Flowing Water
With this model you can’t just have the water intake valve sitting in a bucket of water like you can with the Mr Heater. The Triton requires a pressurized hose to flow the water in through the system to come out of the included shower head.
However the minimum water pressure required to operate the Camp Chef Triton is only 25 Psi. The average water pressure you experience at home is about 40-45 Psi. So the tap doesn’t have to be blasting out water in order to operate. However if you do set up a separate pump which uses creek/river water, make sure you test the pressure before using it on the Triton.
It Blasts Hot Water
The final thing worth noting about the Triton is it’s water output. This thing can blast through 1.5 gallons per minute on the highest setting. The average flow rate for a household shower in America is 2,1 gallons per minute. So not bad for a portable camping hot water shower I say. However with the high flow of water you do sacrifice the ability for the gas burner to keep up. So the water temperature drops to a maximum of 38°F above water temperature.
All in all, the Camp Chef Triton is a proven winner among outdoor enthusiasts. People use this portable hot water shower for RV camping, tiny homes, trailer homes, beach camping, to warm water up for kids pools and much more. It’s very versatile as it can be hung using the included brackets or stood up on the ground using the included frame. So it’s good to go right out of the box.
Tankless Camping Hot Water Heaters
Perhaps you think my recommendations are not quite what you’re looking for. Fear not, Amazon has a few more options for campers wanting a hot shower without having to rely on AC power. Below you can find four more choices to make your camping trip all that much more comfortable.
Best Solar Camping Shower Heater
If getting back to basics it more your style or you don’t like to use propane gas, then a solar heated shower is your next best bet. The best solar camping shower heater I’ve found is the Advanced Elements 5 Gallons PVC solar shower. It’s a relatively cheap item and can produce a warmish shower without the hassles of batteries and propane.
How It Works To Produce Hot Water
The Advanced Elements solar shower heater is quite simply to use. How it works is like this.
- Fill up bag with water. Can be water from home, tap, river etc. Anything you feel comfortable showering in.
- Hang the bag up in the sun. The more exposure to the sun the hotter the water gets.
- Come back to camp after a days hike and take a 7 minute shower.
- Pull down on the shower head and the bag will release water through the shower head.
- Push the shower head back up to stop the bag from releasing water.
Should You Buy A Solar Camping Shower Heater?
As simple as the process is to have a warm shower after a day camping, there are some things you need to consider before hitting the buy now button. The most obvious one is that if it’s a overcast or miserable rainy day, this thing just wont work. If the sun is hiding, the water wont heat up.
While there is a warning label on the Advanced Elements solar shower about scalding hot water, chances are you are likely to be disappointed with the temperature of the water. Truth is, these things can produce a nice warm shower. But not a hot shower.
Which is fine for some people, but for other people the above propane heaters are the better option. This one does come with a shaving mirror attached to the bag which is a very handy item. The bag lasts about 7 minutes which is good for 1-2 people. Any more people and you will need a second solar bag to accommodate.
My opinion is that yes, it’s worth getting one of these solar shower heaters. But to be used as a secondary shower option. I would always have a portable propane shower on hand and use this solar shower for times like washing sand off after a visit to the beach or for a quick shave. They are certainly handy to have, but just too risky to have as the one and only main shower in my opinion. Especially for a family of 5.
19 thoughts on “Best Portable Hot Water Heaters For Camping”
Wow this really would finally get me to go camping, I have always declined camping invitations not only because the hot shower issue but the having hot water to keep everything clean and germ free for the children, I have always just seen that to be a problem I could live without. Its great that now you can get a camping water heater….might be time to start planning my first camping trip (my son will be a happy boy) 😉
You’re Son will love it so much Dianne. My Wife was also concerned about the hygienic approach and bacteria etc when doing the dishes. But you can boil water in a pot or kettle and have hot water that will clean the dishes just like at home. So it’s nothing that can’t be catered to suit your specific needs. But yea a portable hot water heater would be a easy approach all while still having hot showers.
Having a portable hot water heater will definitely make camping a lot more comfortable. When I went camping last summer I didn’t have a portable hot water heater, I just had to take very cold icy baths in the creek, it was actually quite refreshing but I would prefer not to do it again. The solar heater sounds really interesting, but like you said you’re screwed if the sun doesn’t come out. The Solar Shower sounds like something I need to check out!
Hi Kent, I know what you mean by icy cold water baths. They certainly are invigorating. But not something I would want to do everyday while camping. Especially when you’re tired and just want to get clean. Glad to have helped.
There is nothing like taking a hot shower that can revive our body. Taking a hot shower after a day hike can really have you feeling good and take away pain at the same time. What you are sharing is so amazing and I am sure that my and my Wife will go for the Camp Chef Triton hot water heater. This water heater looks really amazing and we always make sure to camp with taps on site.
Wow…never knew such things existed. Necessity really is the mother of invention. A warm shower certainly is a luxury but it can be a real lift if you are camping for an extended amount of time.
I see the Mr. Heater comes in at 7 lbs. which isn’t to bad. When I think of these camping showers I automatically think of a water source and how that would work. I’m glad you addressed the different options in your review.
I wonder if there are limitations in state or national parks on whether you can use these if they consider this waste water?
Great job and I love all the details and research your put into this post!
Hi Tim, thanks for leaving your feedback. I would imagine you would have to go by the local laws, but I wouldn’t think it being too harsh. Especially if you provide your own water.
It’s very disappointing to read the 5 gallons PVC solar shower won’t be that hot. Anyway, if there be a way to travel, like us, with this solar shower to give us hot shower any where we stop then that would be more than helpful. Also, there’s a lot of sun here so we won’t miss heating the water while we travel in the car. I opt out the rest you shared since it’s not applicable to us. I’ll bookmark this site and talk with my husband about it the next time we go out camping.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi Eli, it really does depend on how much sun and how hot it is. A hot shower is possible with the Solar water heater, but I could never say it’s guaranteed. It’s not an expensive item, so it may be fruitful to give it a go.
Camping sure has changed since I was a kid!! Of course that was over 30 years ago so a lot has changed in general.
When we went camping back in the day, there was no concern for the comfort level as far as showers went. My mom said she was teaching us how to survive without any conviences of society. So we definitely did not have portable hot water heaters. I would have loved to have one especially when I got into my teenage years and camping.
If I was still big on camping I would definitely buy a portable heater of some sort. You have all the details for just about every type of portable heater I can think of here.
This article is very helpful for the avid camper that is for sure!
My daughter has been wanting to go camping lately, I wonder if one of the smaller units may be better for us? It is just the two of us afterall. And she is a lot like me, not super girly, so a quick warm rinse off would suite us just fine I think.
You got me thinking about going camping now.
Thanks for the wonderful information on portable hot water heaters.
Now that you have me thinking about camping, I have to check into the rest of the gear, I can hardly believe I don’t have any camping gear right now!
Thank you again.
Haha Stacie, you better get into action then. If money is tight, the solar heater will do just fine. Provided there’s enough sun around and you can both take showers in just a few minutes. Hope you get to take your Daughter out with you. It’s a great family time.
Thanks for the great review on hot water shower heaters for camping. All as I can say is camping is getting more sophisticated from the last time I camped in a tent. But that is not a bad thing. I quit camping quite a few years ago do to sever arthritis. But lately my husband and I have been looking how we could make it more feasable, because buying a trailer at the moment is out of the question, though it would be the best for me giving the arthritis. However, in saying all that, we both miss camping very much.
The fact that I could get a hot shower does make a huge difference. Heat often helps to relieve symptoms. I do like the model you have chosen and understand your reasoning. However, I think the Camp Chef Triton would be best for us, as the rugged days of camping are over. We would have both water and electricity at our site. It would provide ample hot water for all our needs. It is exciting as this provides one more possibility for me to camp again.
I can understand your needs Mary. Heat is a good treatment for Arthritis and having a cold shower while camping is not going to attract any campers with the condition. In your situation, the Camp Chef Triton certainly would be the best choice. I hope you do manage to get back out there. It really is a great escape.
Wow, I didn’t realize how many great options there are for hot water heaters for camping. There are so many different styles, too. This is great! I see why you chose the Boss XB-13, but I think I would be worried about those warm showers versus having a nice, hot shower.
Then again, I guess it depends what time of year you’re camping. Do you think the Boss XB-13 would still be ok in colder weather? Is this something that’s best for summer time? A warm shower in the summer is perfect, but will it be too chilly for the other seasons? I don’t know. I love a hot shower! I think I’d have to go with the Camp Chef Triton.
The Boss xb13 will do you well all year round. Just don’t rely on solar showers during winter.
I camped about 2 months ago, and one thing that I have realized was that the most pleasurable creature comfort that I have missed was a hot shower or just hot water in general
I also like the one powered by solar because that way the energy is renewable. Five gallons is also more than enough for me to take a quick shower. Thanks for such as review which will help me to make a more informed choice.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. If the weather is fine the solar showers are great. But for a family of 5 I will opt for the alternatives.
Hi! I agree with you: “portable hot water showers while camping is a true luxury.” Specially thinking in the kids, this is a great idea!
I like the fact you share your own experience here. You evaluated options and picked the best for you and your family.
Reading your review, I have also come to the conclusion that the best Camping Water Heaters for me is the Mr. Heater model. Thank you very much for helping me make a well informed decision!
No problems Henry. Each person will have their own needs to cater to, which is why I listed some alternatives.