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Big Kahuna Portable Shower

Time on the road often equates to sacrificing cleanliness for adventure. While you can get away without showering on weekend road trips, anything longer than a couple days will graduate you to true smelly dirtbag status.

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Time on the road often equates to sacrificing cleanliness for adventure. While you can get away without showering on weekend road trips, anything longer than a couple days will degrade you to true smelly dirtbag status.

Big Kahuna Portable Showers offer an elegant solution to the grime and a great alternative to gravity-dependent bladder bags and awkward “pressure systems.” These portable shower units come in 4.7, 8 and 13-gallon sizes. I roll with the 4.7-gallon version because it is the most compact (12” × 12” × 9”) but if you’re planning extended, mostly off-grid trips, go bigger.

It’s simple, really—the power cord simply plugs into your vehicle’s 12V outlet, then squeeze the handle and voila. At max nozzle squeeze I’m able
to spray about 12 to 15 feet. At full blast it uses about a gallon a minute, so there’s time to take a full roadside shower if you feel so inclined. Once you’re done, the power cord and the 8-foot hose clip to the container for storage. Tip: since the tank itself is UV absorbent, leave it outside or in-line with a window while you’re out climbing to allow the water to warm up. A compatible water-heater kit is also available for $139, but this requires a non-standard 110V connection.

The only issue I ran into was when I completely filled the tank and drove off-road. I found a tiny drip leaking from the small gasket connecting the power cord to the pump as the water sloshed around inside. According to Big Kahuna, this feature is intentional to allow the pressure to equalize inside the tank when using the pump. I opted to coat the gasket with aquarium-grade silicone and just unscrew the lid when using the pump. Success ever since.

—Tasha Rivard