Vanlife Shower Ideas: Indoor, Outdoor, & Portable!
If you own a camper van, you might be considering installing a van shower. Taking a shower is a great way to get clean, relieve stress and freshen up — it’s only natural that you want to enjoy those comforts in your van.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Not only do you need to design a van layout that accommodates a shower, but you also have to choose a specific shower type. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about showers for sprinter vans, including the following:
- How to shower in van life
- Where to shower in van life
- How to install a shower in a van
- Shower types and styles
- Shower decorations
By the end, you’ll be a bona fide expert on all things related to van showers!
Do I Need a Van Shower for my Sprinter or Transit?
Having a shower in your van can be a big difference that makes vanlife feel worth it, but the truth is, not everybody needs one. Before you start shopping for shower heads and supplies, consider the pros and cons of incorporating a shower in your camper van.
Pros of Showers for Camper Vans
There are many benefits to having an RV van with a shower. These include:
- Privacy: The biggest advantage of van showers is the ability to enjoy showers in private. If you don’t have your own van shower system, you’ll either have to shower outside the van or use a shared washroom.
- Flexibility: Having a shower in your sprinter van offers flexibility and freedom. Unlike people using public washrooms, you don’t have to wait in line to take a shower. You can also shower in any type of weather (including winter).
- Storage: A van life shower provides extra space that can be used to store wet items (provided the shower is not currently in use). For example, you can leave wet umbrellas or raincoats in the shower space.
If you plan on taking extensive trips and value privacy and flexibility, then an RV van shower may be a wise investment.
Cons of Van Showers
As mentioned above, a sprinter van conversion shower isn’t the best choice for everyone. Here are some of the main drawbacks:
- Space: It goes without saying that adding a shower for van life consumes space. If you have a vehicle with plenty of room, this might not be a problem. However, if your van is already small, adding a shower may make it more cramped.
- Weight: Most van showers require the addition of a water tank. Not only do these tanks take up space, but they also add extra weight to your van that can be hard to carry (especially for small vans). Moreover, you’ll need to replenish the tanks regularly.
- Cost: A van with a shower costs more than a van without one. In addition to paying for the van conversion shower build and any necessary parts (such as a van shower tray, drain and shower pan), you have to fill water tanks on a regular basis.
- Difficulty: Installing a van shower is no easy task. Most vanlifers underestimate just how hard building out a van can be. If you lack experience with DIY projects, you may want to consider skipping the shower addition as it’s one of the more difficult projects to complete.
If you want to conserve money and space (and you don’t need to shower frequently), then you might want to hold back on putting a shower in your van.
How to Install a Shower in a Conversion Van
Installing a shower in a van is no easy feat. However, if you have a strong work ethic (and good craftsmanship abilities), there’s no reason why you can’t complete a DIY camper van shower. Here’s a general overview of the installation steps.
Gather Your Materials
Before you start the installation process, make sure you have the necessary materials on hand. This usually includes:
- Framing supplies: You’ll need materials to create the shower frame, such as fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP).
- A water heater: If you plan on taking warm showers, a water heater is a must.
- Shower pan: A shower pan will direct water to your drain, which is helpful for indoor van showers.
- Shower head: You’ll need a shower head for the water to come out of, as well as a shower arm and faucet.
- Shower door: Once the shower is complete, you’ll have to set up a door to provide privacy and keep water from leaking.
Measure the Van Shower Dimensions
Determine where you want the camper van shower to go, then measure out the space. This includes measuring the length of the walls, the height of the shower and the space between the shower walls. Keep in mind you’ll need extra space if you want a van shower toilet combination.
Install the Shower Pan and Drain
Before you set up the shower walls, you need to set your shower pan and drain in place. Start by making sure the subfloor is smooth and even — otherwise, the water will not be able to flow out of the drain properly. You can drill your shower pan directly to the van subfloor (be sure to watch out for studs).
As you work, make sure the drain is aligned properly with the shower pan. Typically, it should connect to an under mount van water tank, which is where water will accumulate. However, this may vary depending on the type of shower you use.
Frame the Shower
Once you have your van conversion shower dimensions, create a frame for the shower. Put simply, a frame is a temporary model that outlines the shower and serves as a base for the shower walls. You can set the frame up around the shower pan — when the frame is done, fill it with your waterproof shower paneling (such as FRP) and attach the shower door.
Connect Your Water Supply System
To actually get water into your shower, you’ll need to connect a water supply system to your van shower head. You can make things easier by using the same system that directs water to your sink. Don’t forget about the heater, which must be connected if you want to enjoy warm water.
As mentioned earlier, most shower models requite connecting the drain to a tank. While many vans host the tank outside (by attaching it to the van subfloor), some van owners may opt to set the tank up inside the van. This takes up more space, but makes it easier to shower in cold weather.
Enjoy Your Shower!
Once you’ve finished the installation, the last step is to test out the shower. Ideally, you’ll end up with fresh, warm water. Keep in mind that this is a simplified DIY shower guide — a successful van life shower build requires a fair amount of technical expertise. However, you can make things easier with a camper van shower kit, which comes with everything you need to make and install your own van shower (such as infrastructure and van water system).
If you’re not interested in handling the installation yourself, you can hire a professional (which can cost upwards of $1,000). Alternatively, you can just buy a sprinter van with a shower for sale from an affordable retailer.
Where Do You Shower When You Live in a Van?
A common question when it comes to cargo van conversions is: how do you shower when you live in a van? The answer to this question depends on the type of van shower you select. Here are a few commonly used models.
Recirculating Shower System Van
A recirculating shower van, or a recycling shower van, is a shower that takes, cleans and then reuses the same water. It achieves this by filtering out any contaminants, then reheating the water before supplying it to your shower. Here are some pros and cons of recirculating showers:
- Conserves water
- Provides hot water quickly
- Can be expensive
- Requires maintenance
Where Can I Find a Van Life Recirculating Shower?
When it comes to brands, one of the most popular options is the Van Life Tech recirculating shower. Passionate about vehicles, the company hosts a team of skilled designers, builders and engineers. Check out van life tech showers here.
Portable Shower for Camper Van
A portable van shower is an independent unit that you can set up when you need to take a shower. When it’s not in use, you can simply fold it and store it away. While most of these are used outside, there are portable indoor van showers available. Here are some pros and cons of this model:
- Conserves space
- Can be used anywhere
- Generally not for long-term use
- Not as comfortable as built-in showers
Where Can I Find a Portable Van Shower?
Here are a few popular portable van shower models:
- 12v Camper Van Shower: This portable unit uses a 12v battery.
- The Rinse Kit: This kit can be attached directly to your van sink.
- Geyser System portable shower: This unit comes equipped with a heater and pump technology.
If you have the time and skills, you could also try to do a DIY portable indoor shower.
Van Conversion Outdoor Shower
A van outdoor shower, sometimes called a roof shower, is a system that lets you shower outside of your van. Usually, a tank is attached to your van roof, then connected to a hose and shower head that are both directed outside. Some van outdoor showers come with curtains that can be set up to give users privacy. Here are the pros and cons of this model.
- Saves space
- Easy to use
- Lack of privacy
- Adds extra weight to the van
Where Can I Find an Outdoor Van Shower?
If you’re interested in outdoor shower van life, check out these examples:
- Vidalido outdoor shower for van: This outdoor shower tent can be set up anywhere.
- Yakima road van roof shower: Secure this dependable attachment directly to your van.
- Propane shower: This propane gas water heater delivers warm water in minutes.
Solar Shower for Van
Many people falsely believe that a solar van shower involves installing solar panels to the roof. However, the reality is bit more simple than that. A van solar shower comes with a pressure solar bag that can retain heat. You then fill the bag with water and leave it in the sun (where it heats naturally) before using the water for your shower. Here are the pros and cons of this model.
- Easy to use
- Lack of privacy
Where Can I Find a Van Solar Shower?.
If you’re interested in solar shower van life, look at these examples:
- Advanced Elements solar shower for van: This bag has a 2.5 gallon capacity.
- NEMO Helio Pressure solar van shower: Helio bags can be filled anywhere, even without a hose.
- Kradl portable van with shower for sale: This lightweight, affordable shower can be conveniently carried.
If you have the time and creativity, you can try a DIY solar shower van set-up.
Van Life Shower Ideas
The most important thing when it comes to building a shower in a van is making sure it’s functional. Once you’ve met this major need, you can focus on something a little more fun: the shower design.
The interior of your van, including the bathroom, should show your personality – feel free to play around with patterns, colors and styles until you achieve the ideal van camping shower for your needs. Here are some van shower ideas that will take your camper bathroom to the next level.
Van Conversion Shower Doors
Those that have an RV bathtub or want extra protection against water leakage may prefer a van shower stall or door as opposed to a flimsy curtain. If you’re looking to install a new door, check out these ideas.
Nautilus Retractable Indoor Van Shower Door
The Nautilus retractable indoor van shower door is a self-cleaning RV shower door that saves you the hassle of scrubbing stains off glass doors or replacing shower curtains.
This revolutionary door design features ultra-light technology and retracts to give you more room for entering the shower. Finally, the door include a squeegee that drains out water and soap, leaving the area clean and mold-free.
RecPro Pleated RV Shower Door
The RecPro pleated RV shower door is a foldable, sliding RV shower door made of vinyl. To enter the bathroom, you need to slide the door to the side — it will then fold to create a passage. Pleated shower doors are usually white and can blend in with a wide range of indoor RV decors. They typically come in six different sizes, but can be trimmed to achieve the exact required size for your van camper shower.
Nautilus Round Shower Door
Another Nautilus product, this shower door is easy to install and brings a sense of class to any van bathroom set-up. The opaque style gives users privacy without making the shower feel too closed in or claustrophobic. As an added benefit, it’s a sliding door (as opposed to an open/close door), which helps conserve space.
Shower Trays/Pans for Van Life
Van shower trays, or sprinter van shower pans, are rectangular or square trays placed at the boundary of your RV bathroom to ensure the water flows towards the drain. They help ensure your bathroom stays clean and dry while minimizing the risk of slipping and sliding. Here are some camper van shower ideas for those in need of a shower tray.
Lippert Rectangular Shower Tray
The Lippert rectangular shower tray is a lightweight, thermoformed small van conversion shower tray measuring 26 x 34 x 9 inches. It’s manufactured by Better Bath, a company that has been producing kitchen and bathroom products for over 40 years. Since Lippert’s rectangular trays are 25% lighter than fiberglass-coated shower trays, they can help reduce your vehicle’s total weight.
Icon Shower Pan
The icon shower pan is a white, square-shaped shower pan that blends in with most RV interior decors. The shower tray measures 24 x 23 x10 inches and has a drain already molded into the pan (however, it needs to be drilled before the installation).
Frigo Shower Trays and Supplies
Frigo Custom Designs specializes in building unique stainless steel showers, camper van shower bases and materials for RVs. You’ll find a wide range of bathroom-related products from their company, including high-quality shower pans. They also provide installation services.
Completed Van Shower Examples
If you’re on the fence about whether a cargo van conversion with a shower is the right choice for you, it might be helpful to look at a few completed examples. Here are some popular van models, complete with high-quality, fully functioning showers.
Van With Shower and Toilet
One of the most popular van shower set-ups is a van conversion toilet shower. It saves space by combining a toilet and a shower, essentially killing two birds with one stone. The standard camper van shower toilet features a fully functioning toilet inside a shower. However, if you’d rather keep the toilet separate, you can invest in a foldable unit that pops up over the van toilet. Here’s an example of an actual camper van with a bathroom and shower:
ProMaster Van Conversion With Shower
The camper van toilet and shower is proof that you can enjoy quality showers in tiny areas. Considering that ProMasters are known for their compact size, this is one of the smallest vans with a shower and toilet that you’ll find. Here’s an example of a small yet comfortable shower toilet combo.
Stealth Camper Van with Shower
A stealth van features full living quarters but is designed to look just like a regular van. Depending on the size of your vehicle, you can install a comfortable stealth van shower right in the interior. Here’s an example of a cozy, interior van shower that uses a tank.
VW Camper Van With Shower
A Volkswagen, or VW van, is a sleek, modern van that’s perfect for long road trips. Of course, if you’re traveling extensively, you’ll need a VW van shower — you can also save space by investing in a VW camper van with a toilet and shower. Here’s an example of this shower model.
144 Sprinter Van With Shower
If you’re wondering whether you can fit a shower inside a 144 sprinter van, the answer is yes. Some sprinter vans have space for a van life shower toilet, while others offer enough space for an individual shower set-up. Here’s an example of a full van shower.
Outdoor Shower Model
For smaller vans, it’s often more practical to invest in a portable or outdoor shower set-up. A popular model involves opening the van back doors to create a small space, then showering using a water supply that’s attached to the van roof. A curtain or barrier is then attached to the doors for privacy. Here’s an example of this type of set-up.
Van Shower With Shower Pan and Curtain
If you want an interior van shower but are worried about leaking, then a shower pan is the way to go — it will direct water towards your drain and away from your van bathroom floor. It’s also a good idea to pair it with a curtain for extra protection. Here’s an example of this van bathroom model.
Retractable Van Shower Door
A van shower door is sturdy and solid, which offers more protection than the average curtain. Of course, doors tend to take up more space than curtains. To conserve space and prevent water leakage, many van owners select retractable doors that can be folded and stored away when not in use. Here’s an example of this type of shower.
Tankless Van Shower Options
If you want to save as much space as possible, then you’re probably interested in a van shower model that doesn’t require the use of a tank (such as a portable unit or solar shower). Depending on your unique needs, as well as the capabilities of your van, you can have an indoor or outdoor tankless shower set-up. Here are a few examples of this type of shower space.
How Do I Choose Between Van Conversion Shower Ideas?
When it comes to decorating your shower for van conversion, it’s safe to say that there’s no shortage of off grid shower ideas out there. Whether you have a portable shower camper van, a van life recirculating shower or a sprinter van outdoor shower, it’s important to take the time to decorate your bathroom space to your liking. By choosing the right design elements, you can improve the overall look and feel of your RV.
If you’re having difficulty making a choice, you’re not alone. Maybe you’re unsure how to shower in a van, or perhaps you can’t decide on a camper van shower toilet combo. Whatever the problem is, our team is here to help. If you have any questions about your van life journey, contact us today!