Road Shower lets you freshen up, al fresco


September 16, 2013

The Road Shower uses the Sun to heat its matte-black water tank

The Road Shower uses the Sun to heat its matte-black water tank

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After a day spent hiking, biking, climbing or otherwise exerting yourself outdoors, a shower sure feels nice. Climbing into your car and driving home all sweaty in order to take said shower, however, can be quite a drag. That's why Colorado native Joel Cotton created the Road Shower. It's a pressurized water tank that mounts on your roof rack, allowing you to grab a quick shower beside your car – just look out for Peeping Toms.

The tank is made from powder-coated aluminum, holds 5 gallons/19 liters of water (which Cotton says should be good for two to three showers), and can be mounted on Yakima, Thule and "most other" rack systems. While it sits up in the sunlight as you drive, its black paint job helps heat up the water contained within. Should that water get too hot, however, its radiator-style fill cap contains a release valve that allows steam to escape.

To use it, users first pressurize the tank by hooking a CO2 canister or a bike pump up to its air input valve. They they take the hose down from its clamps, and set the nozzle to one of its seven settings – these include shower, jet and mist. From there, they just take a shower. Presumably they start by placing an experimental fingertip in front of the nozzle, to check that the water isn't too hot or too cold.

Because both the food-grade hose and the inside of the tank are non-toxic, Cotton points out that it could additionally be used for hauling drinking water. It could also be used for things like spraying the mud off gear before putting it back in the car, or hosing off dirty dishes when camping.

Lots of people already use solar bag showers for the same purpose, although Joel states that those can be easily punctured, need to be hung up, don't have particularly high pressure, and can't be heated while you're in transit.

He has reportedly already sold 100 of his Road Showers, but has now turned to Kickstarter in order to raise funds for going into commercial-scale production. A pledge of US$210 will get you one, when and if the funding goal is met. If not, you can still buy one for $299.95 from his existing website.

The device can be seen in use in the pitch video below.

Sources: Road Shower, Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

I'd say this is a bit light on market research. We had a portable shower in the 1970s in Dubai that was mostly better than this. It had a round plastic base attached to a thick, black rubber bladder and a handle on top attached to the base via cords. You fill it with water (about 20l) and the sun heats it up. The stretched rubber provides sufficient pressure for it to work while it's on the ground and the shower head at head height. When empty it's flat, about 2cm thick and weighs about 400g. If you need more volume you just take more than one. Heating up in transit wasn't a problem since the air was often heading for 50°C and the most common problem was that the water was too hot, even if it was left in a car boot or under a car out of the sun. They also only cost about £20. You can also find 12V shower pumps on ebay for £20 - plug one end into your car, stick the into the included water bag or a handy bucket/stream/lake. So while this implementation looks quite solid and nicely engineered, it's not very flexible and it's really quite expensive.


@ Synchro I'll take an aluminum tank over a rubber bladder any day.


so the temperature is uncontrolled (what if you want a cold shower - summer?)

99% of the time you can;t just take a shower in public anyway

you are getting in the car wet,.. silly

but on the other hand..

you can use it for unnecessary tasks [spraying mud off]

and it;s only $300




Buy a pump up garden sprayer, paint it black and save $ 270. I've been using mine for 5 years on my sailboat and when remote camping... Works like a charm.

Claudio Pagan

Creative idea-my only concern is that the CO2 impacts from hauling 5 gallons of water around and the decreased mileage from the slipstream friction of hanging such a system on a roof rack will outweigh the environmental benefits from solar heated water. In my mind, that's the first principle that needs to be addressed before more "stuff" come to market on an already "stuffed" planet.


In Morocco we just used a long black hosepipe. the sun soon heated it up, and as long as you didn't shower too long you got hot water. You don't really want to be placing a load of water, which is heavy, at a high point on the vehicle when you are driving anyway. If you are desperate for hot water and driving, do what any old time truck drivers did. Put your water bag/kettle/whatever on top of the engine under the bonnet. This will work at night or in cold climates too. You can heat your lunch there as well!

Doug MacLeod

At this price I am surprised that it doesn't include a small fold out shower curtain. A small easily accessed compartment for soap and a towel would be nice.


looks pretty good for cleaning fish

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