Boondocking Basics

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How to Take a Shower when Boondocking

How to Take a Shower when Boondocking


When boondocking, you take a shower just like you would when camped at an RV Park with full hookups. Taking a shower while boondocking doesn’t have to be any different. However, most full time boondockers prefer to shower more efficiently.

rv boondocking and taking a shower
Boondocking in Northern Arizona

How to Take a Shower when Boondocking

Veteran boondockers try to minimize their water usage so that they can remain camped in the same place for as long as possible. The more often you have to pack up camp and move, the more fuel you end up spending. Boondockers prefer to save as much money as they can.

Many boondockers also have small water tanks, and thus being efficient becomes an important habit.

Navy Style Showers

“Navy style” showers is the common method of showering. This means turning on the water just long enough to get your hair and body wet. Then turn off the water. Now, shampoo first, followed by washing your body. Turn the water back on and rinse everything off. Turn off the water immediately.

Why shampoo first? Because if you were to wash your face with soap first, you’ll have to keep your eyes closed while reaching for the shampoo. It’s just easier the other way.

How Often Should You Shower When Boondocking?

It’s rare for boondockers to shower every day. In fact, most only shower once every few days, and others once a week. It really just depends on each boondocker’s comfort level and how much water they have in their tanks.

Many boondockers tend to remain alone and thereby don’t feel the need to clean up. Often, they only shower when they plan to go into town.

You can still shower everyday if you want. It just means you’ll use more water, and fill up your gray tank faster. If you only plan to remain camped in the same place for less than a week, and you don’t mind dumping your tanks every week, then there’s no issue with showering everyday.

Read our other article, “Can I Still Shower Everyday When Boondocking?”

Is It Necessary to Capture Shower Water in a Bin?

In the interest of limiting water into their gray tank, and for wanting to re-purpose used water, some boondockers capture shower water in a plastic tub. They often use a plastic storage bin. It’s not something most boondockers do, it’s largely done by those who want to keep their RV camped for several months without moving.

Most of the reuse is for flushing the toilet. See our other article, “Flushing the Toilet with Shower Water“.

Otherwise, if your water tank capacity and gray tank capacity is enough to last you a couple of weeks, then you probably don’t need to do this.

Showering Outside with Jugs

Believe it or not, this is more common than you think.

Boondockers that don’t have showers in their rigs will fill up a couple of 1-gallon jugs with water and set them outside under the sun long enough to warm up the water. They will stand inside a large plastic bin, or on a plastic mat, or just wear flip flops, and take a shower. They first douse their hair and body with water, then wash themselves with soap and shampoo. They use the remaining jug water to rinse off.

Even boondockers that have a shower inside their RV will do this, mostly because their gray tank capacity is too small for their boondocking needs. This allows them to measure how many gallons per day or per week they drain into their gray tank.

Showering at a 24 Hour Gym

This is very common, even for boondockers with showers inside their RVs.

They get a gym membership to a chain with hundreds of locations around the country, usually Planet Fitness or Anytime Fitness, and get a membership that gives them access to all of their locations.

Fitness centers and gyms that are open 24 hours a day will allow RVs to park in their lot during the late hours of the night. Many RVers will actually arrive at the gym after 10:00pm, which is when the parking lot starts clearing up. They’ll go into the gym, work out, take a shower, and then come back to their RV to sleep. They set their alarm clock early enough so that they can leave before 6:00am, when the parking lot starts to fill up again.

Read our other article, “Do People Get Dirty and Smelly When Boondocking?”

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1 thought on “How to Take a Shower when Boondocking”

  1. I am a hard core camper. I traveled the state of California on public transportation (Amtrak, buses, ferrys, and lyft) while writing “dash wendy” a carX travelers guide.

    My shower method is to use a spray bottle, a boar bristle brush, and Kirk’s soap to wash and rinse with.
    While sitting down, I spray one arm with water, scrub with soap and then spray rinse off. I then dry off my arm and move on to the rest of my body in this manner.

    This is best done in warm weather or by a fire.


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