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Hot water in a jar?
The black bucket gets plenty hot for showers, I used to work on this farm where a garden type hose ran through a very large green house, if we were quick several of us got very hot showers at the end of the day.
I found quart jars at Rural King in the chicken feeder department. Paint them black? The jars are made from a soft type plastic so I wonder if it would be safe if you heated water in it. Melt if too hot? May be ok for showers but drinking? Take a lot of jars for any decent shower. The cool thing about the jars is that a mason jar lid fits it as does a blender blade kit. 99 cents for the jar at one RK and $1.99 at another.

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This is currently my hot water source.

I use a wood dowell 3/4 inch diameter, instead of the PVC tube with the provided rope and handle. If hung in the sun the PVC pipe will bend and start ripping the plastic of the bag at the edges, and once the ripping starts it is near impossible to stop, It can only be slowed.

I've extended the length of the hose to about 4 feet total with common parts available at home stores. This is paramount to its usefulness, in my opinion/experience.

These are not for potable water but I have snorted some and rinsed my mouth with its water and there is not a pungent plastic taste and smell.

There is a clear side which is to face the sun, the other side, inside the bag, is black, but the clear side will turn whitish with time and be less effective at absorbing solar radiation.

Put on my black dashboard it heats quickly, when parked facing southish. Some reflectix can be arranged to concentrate solar energy on it for hotter water faster.

i also use it atop a 45 watt 12v seat heater when plugged in to the grid, or have solar excess, or don't care about its electrical consumption.

Reflectix under the heating pad, jackets towells clothes whatever handy above for insulation. uses about 30Ah to get from 65f to 100f. I'd prefer 110f as 114.5 F is about the max comfortable temp I can handle.

The Advance elements 5 gallon bag was also good. These sunshower bags, of which there are many options available, need to have a screw on Cap or they will leak from the cap whan laid down. Beware of the cheapo versions, even if they have a screw on cap. i wasted money on one. i wasted time fixing its leaks and trying to get the cap to seal properly more than once. It mets its final demise at the end of my Machete with a flurry of violent curses which are still orbiting the planet only slightly diminished in intensity.

I have no issues throwing a full bag atop my conversion van 'TV top' roof after a surf session, but obviously this is not possible for all. It is a clumsy motion. It has also fallen from these heights without issue, if that gives you some idea as to how durable these higher quality shower bags are.

Also the plastic hose can all too easily leave the 'spigot', on the bag itself. I use 'amazing goop' to hold mine in place.

4 gallons is more than enough for washing myself, i could likely get 3 full showers from it if I had to. I can wash my sheepdog on just one, if I have to when her fur is cut a bit shorter

The screw type nozzle is nice as it will not leak and will not inadvertently open, like the Advance Element branded bag nozzle will, but the AE nozzle is much easier/faster to use with soapy hands until it wears out.

Perhaps not so obviously, how hot and how fast the water gets hot, depends on the ambient temperature and the amount of solar radiation hitting it, as well as the temperature of whatever the bag is resting upon, and how quickly this surface can either suck the heat from it, or impart heat to it.

In a Stearns vs Advance elements 5 gallon comparison, I got to give the edge to the Stearns, though it is close.

One of my 12v 45 watt seat heating pads was damaged by connecting it directly to a 100 watt solar panel, and the portion of the pad not in direct contact with water filled shower bag crisped the heating wires. It was pulling close to 80 watts at 17+ volts. I cut out te damaged heating wires, and rebuilt the heating pad and it went from 45 watts to nearly 70, at 12.8v. More voltage more wattage consumed. It did not seem to heat any faster with the higher wattage, and it used more energy to get the water to the same temperature. This modified heating pad had the stock Bimetal switches to open the circuit at a certain temperature.

Recently one of these bimetal temperature control switches failed on my modified bag, and I pulled off the clothes and towells from atip it post surf session, to find it overwhelmingly hot. I rolled it off my front passenger seat nearly burning my hands in the process, and it stunk like hot plastic. My IR temp gun read 168f!!!

The Stearns bag now seems to hold 5 gallons or more, having stretched out at htis ridiculous temperature. that was 2 months ago, still use the bag nearly daily.

I am now using my unmodified 45 watt heating pad, well it is slightly modified in that I cut off the contemptible ciggy plug, which has a voltage (thus wattage) dropping diode inside of it. It initialy draws about 72 watts at 14.7v but drops to the 60 range once it has run for a minute or so.

This specific '45' watt Obbomed branded heating pad is no longer sold, but they do sell a 30 watt one It is made just for the seat bottom, not the backrest too. There are other products available for electrical seat heating which are likely better suited for this task of electrically heating a showerbag. I've not yet clicked purchase on any, as while I would prefer to use less electricity to heat water, it is not all that big a deal, other projects take precedence, and keeping hot water hot, uses about 1/4 the electricity as heating it to 100f, as long as one insulates it well.

I also have a 5 gallon shower bag of a different make and model, but forget name of it and cannot find a link. It uses an open top design that is supposed to be rolled and then folded together with a quick clip to form a carrying handle . I doubted this one could be laid on its back, and was right, it needs to have the top side kept upright and as such it not very useful, in the van.

Trust me, if one goes this shower bag route, to not waste their money on any product less than 20$, ( there are dozens on Amazon) and the Stearns and the Advance Elements bags are likely the onely ones worthy of purchase, and I prefer the Stearns. If there are other worthy showerbag style products, I apologize. I consider my search over with these two brands, and will not search for others, or cheap out again.

I get about 2 to 2.5 years from the AE ones, before the clear plastic turned white and brittle. If one uses the provided PVC pipe and rope method to hang them they will get a fraction of that amount of time from them with regular use. Get a ~ 3/4 inch diameter wood dowell before hanging it for the very first time Please trust me on this particular recommendation. I've had the Stearns for over a year now and it is holding up very well.

The little temperature gauges on the clear plastic side are basically useless in about a week. Disregard their presence.

These bags when filled with 4 to 5 gallons are a lot of awkward weight to move around as water weighs 8.34 lbs per US gallon. One can obviously fill them with less water if its weight/ awkwardness is an issue.

What is nice about the shower bags is they take up little to no room when empty.
Before i had a dog, and if it was a cold night, and i had collected heat from the sun that day, I could sleep with the warmed bag under the covers, and it would still be pretty warm come morning, and then be easier to reheat to temperature for a post surf rinse the next day. Though truthfully I only did this twice, and once was when i had a fever and could not seem to get warm.

When i had no solar radiation available for heating or not enough time, i would heat water on my propane stove and use a funnel to pour the pot with steaming, but not boiling, water into the bag and refill the pot from the bag and could get 114f water in a relatively short period of time.
[-] The following 3 users say Thank You to sternwake for this post:
  • Scott7022 (05-11-2019), GypsyDogs (05-11-2019), Kaylee (05-15-2019)
I have one of those shower bags.  What a heavy, awkward, inconvenient waste of money!  It is much easier to bathe out of a bucket.
We used a shower bag when camping but it was out doors not in a van. The bag never seemed to warm up enough on its own by following the instructions on the bag. Mr Snik filled it with cold water, then added boiling water to obtain the shower temp.

Wouldn’t the 12 v seat warmer also warm your bed if needed? Run the motor, heat both the van and the seat warmer. Make a donut run?
The 45 watt seatwarmer does work nicely in the bed as a heating pad. It cycles on and off and only gets to about 110f though. I've a 115vac heating pad i coud run on the inverter, but it is a modern one with the pesky timer and I hate using the inverter. Used to have a 12v mattress heating pad too. That was a 6.2 amp draw but made crawling into a 120f bed quite luxurious. Lasted 2 winters and I never bothered replacing it.

I've only used my showerbag for bathing my body, outside the van, and washing dishes in side of it. I don't bother heating water to wash dishes though. More the convenience of gravity feed.

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