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Old 01-10-2015, 11:38 AM   #1
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SHOWERING in the Boondocks...

Showers at home might use 15 to 25 gallons a water, per person.

Boondocking, my wife uses 1.5 gallons and I use... 2 gallons. How do I know? I will run the grey water into a plastic dish water pan and it holds 2 gallons. I pour the water into a five gallon bucket and find an area to toss the grey water. We turn the shower head on and off, soap up, turn on and rinse. I still wonder why these shower heads are made to "dribble", but someone might know. Also keeps the water pump from sucking electrons from your batteries.

You have to learn to conserve water when you have limited resources. Our number one purpose of fresh water is for drinking, food preparation and washing dishes... which amounts to stainless utensils. The "dishes" are paper or styrofoam. Showers... who needs a stinking shower in the desert or forest? Well, not ever day I should add.

Going in... you shower. While camped... be conscious of your water supply. We will bring up to 24 gallons in four 6-gallon water jugs. I actually like the red gasoline jugs that are squat and not "jerry cans". They fit into the plastic milk crates perfectly and stable when traveling. This is in addition to the full fresh water tank of the trailer, any beer/wine and water bottles in the cab of the tow vehicle.

If you do not like the idea of tossing grey water into bushes you like, or onto the desert or prairie grass... do what I do when north of Western Wyoming Boondocking at DuBois, Wyoming. I have a photograph of the "shower tent" that is 3 feet by 3 feet and seven feet tall and staked at each corner. I use a four foot square stiff rubber work floor mat, with lots of openings, that can be bought at a hardware store to sit the shower tent upon. WalMart sells these tents in their camping section. You will set the tent next to the exterior shower fixture, and arrange it so you can extend the shower head inside the tent. You preset the temperature. Private and then you never will know WHO is using up all of the water. Guys do not care. Women might tell you to where to go, but at least offer.

The exterior showering helps in several ways.

-No moisture within the trailer to deal with.
-No grey water from the shower if you prefer to haul it out

We, mostly I, like the competitive spirit of water conservation when camped away from any source of fresh water. The "bath in a pot" works as well. We have a plastic table that folds out. Warm water in the pan, a wash towel, shampoo and soap... and you can be as clean as your dogs that lick themselves clean. Those "baby wipes" work well for those of you that are more sensitive to wildlife watching the process of harder to get to areas... if you know what I mean.

Showering is a luxury. All of your family will look "frontier" after one day and two or three more days you will not look any better or worse for it. Run out of fresh water and your camping at one location will be shortened because of it.

The BONUS. When you are planning of packing up and leaving the remote location... everyone gets to shower. No sense hauling fresh water out of the forest. Keep an emergency supply in a plastic jug, but make the best of the water at this moment. See... conservation pays, some times. I call it "Driving in Heavy" and "Driving out Light". Thinking should be a National pastime.

Dogs... use more water than you would think. By keeping them from getting thirsty, they do not find stale ponds along the road to drink from. It could loosen their bowels... We have a dog back pack that carries two 16 ounce water bottles and two plastic cream cheese bowls for them to drink from while on long hikes. If we are along a western RIVER or an eastern CREEK... they will have their fill. No packs or carrying water for them needed.

Showers are the bane of "Rockdocking". Run out of fresh water and you need to drive into the nearest town and fill up all of the water jugs, that you emptied into the trailer's fresh water tank before leaving. Top off the fuel at the over priced gasoline station in town, get groceries, block ice for the ice chest... maybe have a breakfast at some mom and pop restaurant. Works for us. It will work for you.

There is no right or wrong way to conserve your showers for when you are leaving the campsite. We have perfected it. You would not know that we were digging trilobites for a week at a rock outcrop, eating dust to get there and just by washing your face will find you renewed and looking like you... well, looking tanned and that look which will prevent anyone from messing with you in the roughest of western towns. Outlaws and Inlaws are respected when coming into town... looking their worst.

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Old 01-10-2015, 12:03 PM   #2
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I draw the line at being stinky.

I can wash in a couple quarts of water out of a pan, and can do this more than once in succession.

Being a serious head-perspire-er, shampoos are more important than showers, to me. You just have to get creative.

Solar showers, filled from a clear, mountain river, warmed slightly in the sun....that will work for me if nothing else is feasible. Gets the fermenting sweat off my scalp, and I feel oh so much better.

These 2.5 gallon solar babies will also do a very nice shower outside....if you are one to strip nekkid in the woods. Me, not so much, but I have met some that proudly declare they do.


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Old 01-10-2015, 12:13 PM   #3
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My wife in the western wilds of the Nevada/Utah border digging trilobites, decided to shower outside without the "showering" tent. Stripped down to flip flops and shampoo... along comes an ATV along the opposite side of the canyon. He slows down. She slows down. Both seem to have 20/20 vision at 150 meters.

The sun set. The ATV did not veer off into the canyon. We still talk about it. She is still disappointed...
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:41 PM   #4
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Ray when I am solo I use about 5 gals of water per day. Shower (navy style) in the morning, save the cold water before the hot hits the head. Use that for washing dishes etc.

When I refill I bought an inline water gauge. Shows me how many gallons I put back in to the tank to get back to fill. Nice way to see what actual usage has been.
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:44 PM   #5
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while on a caving trip out west in a remote area of Wyoming. we came upon a couple bathing in a cattle water trough. We just drove on by and they didn't seem too concerned. I suspect they don't get too much traffic on that plateau.
Don't know how the cattle felt about it
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Old 01-10-2015, 02:04 PM   #6
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Rick... Caves of Wyoming by Chris Hill 1976.

Big Horn Mountains, Wyoming with the thick Pennsylvanian limestone has to be great caving country.

Use to cave in Missouri in the winter months... remarkable what a carbide lamp strapped to my head can light up. Sliding around on the mud and stepping outside at 20 degrees is an experience I do not want to repeat. I just would not cut it as a spelunker. Too easy to get lost. Most are now gated and locked, so there is a better control of who has access. Which is actually a good idea. Pack everything out... everything. Stood in my first pile of "guano" and thought it was a "cave formation"... of some kind.

We collect the cold water before the hot makes it to the shower head also. Fill the dog's water jug. The 25 footer has a larger fresh water tank. It will not change our shower time, yet.

Some "caverns" in western Millard County, House Range, Utah. They are about 700 feet above the valley after some major faulting brought them up to the surface. Flow stone and pretty much looted for anything loose, but odd to see them big enough to "camp out".
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Old 01-10-2015, 03:16 PM   #7
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get yourself one or more 2.5 gallon "solar shower" type kits -- and fill it with any water nearby - lake water, stream, spigot - its fine for the job. hang it off the roof of the airstream so it gets good and hot under the mid-day sun and setup your external shower enclosure off of that. Keep the potable freshwater system of the airstream for potable use. A good example is Sea to Summit Pocket Shower
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Old 01-11-2015, 01:04 PM   #8
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Weed Sprayer shower

I'm learning about Airstreams - after I sell the house, it's the life style choice to move on. I spent time living aboard a sailboat, west and east coasts, and fresh water was often scarce. We eventually stopped using the boat's shower and went to using a weed sprayer. Weed Sprayer needs to be dedicated to showers only, one or two gallon plastic sprayer, the type with a hand pump; don't use the battery powered type - as this will only lead to using too much water. Water was heated on the stove in a teapot, and added to the cold water in the sprayer. It takes practice but it can be done; first spray just to get damp, suds up, and then rinse. Sometimes a glass of water to rinse off the shampoo. It helps to use the combo shampoo/conditioner, instead of separate products. Other boats would often ask where we found a shower. As a bonus this technique was very useful in controlling the water consumption of guests. We also had a water collection system; a homemade tarp with a plumbing fitting and hose to fill the water tank - this requires rain - not always available. Please let me know if this was useful. Peace, Diane
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Old 01-11-2015, 03:55 PM   #9
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showering in the Boondocks

[QUOTE=Ray Eklund;1566053]Showers at home might use 15 to 25 gallons a water, per person.

"I still wonder why these shower heads are made to "dribble", but someone might know."

They "dribble" so that the hot and cold water keep mixing. Otherwise you might get "scorched" with a blast of hot water since that rises to the top.
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Old 01-12-2015, 01:54 PM   #10
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Fresh Water collecting off your Awning...

Diane... great post.

When off the grid we use the right side awning to control the temperature on the "sunrise side(s)" of the Airstream. We do that on cooler month trips to warm the interior in the mornings AND during hot weather to keep the trailer cool. Warmer months we park either "end" towards sunrise, when possible. Cool months we have the entrance directly facing the sunrise for free heat. I use my geologist's Brunton Compass to figure directions for different reasons.

Water... We carry usually four to six empty five gallon plastic buckets. If it rains, we leave the entrance side awning adjustment higher than the opposite end. This collects the rain water and runs it away from the trailer entrance. The low end we sit the empty five gallon bucket to collect the rainwater.

Great soft water for washing up and great drinking water for the dogs!

Never thought of my asking my wife about her sailboating days in the Great Lakes... maybe no shortage of fresh water in that area...
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Old 01-16-2015, 09:56 PM   #11
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Good topic, Ray.

With a small unit, we face two water issues: (1) conserving fresh water, and (2) avoiding filling up the waste-water tank/s.

We love to camp in the Utah desert, where we have to conserve water, both fresh and waste. Also, in the western national parks, boondocking is the order of the day. Even in that most congested of campgrounds (South CG in Zion NP) there are no campground showers or water and sewer hook-ups.

My strategy in Bambi the First (wet bath!) was to shower with two rectangular plastic wash-tubs: one to stand in on the floor, and one on the toilet lid. Bambi the Second (dry bath) has a sort of ledge, which can serve the same purpose. This dual tub system captured a lot of the water. In addition to using the water-on, water-off system described above, I showered with a coffee mug. I could fill it with the captured, relatively clean water from one of the wash tubs and do a preliminary rinse-off with it.

Len is OK with less frequent showers, but he would sometimes re-use the still-warm water captured in the tubs for a sponge bath.

We would then jettison the spent shower water outside in the sagebrush or in a utility sink (if available), to prevent the waste water tank from filling too quickly. With a swipe from a Lysol wipe and rinse, the plastic tubs were then ready for dish-washing.

Same system, almost, for dish-washing. Do a preliminary Lysol-wipe swipe to remove most of the food, and scrub the dishes with a brush that needs only one cup of hot soapy water. Rinse dishes in a plastic wash tub. Dump waste water outside or in designated utility sink.

Conserve toilet water by lining the toilet bowl with 2 new plastic garbage bags, filling about 1/4 up with ordinary garden peat moss (highly absorbent and light weight,) and disposing of the closed-up bags in CG dumpster as necessary. Use baby-wipes for hand-sanitizing.

We carry one or two large jerry cans of water. In the desert, it's good to have more than one container, as they can spring leaks and two smaller ones can be easier to lift than one big one. We've brought sun-showers, as well, but ours do need sustained hot sun to heat the water well.

We also try to carry a little laundry bleach, to be added as a few drops per gallon to any dubious water sources going into the fresh water tank or jerry cans.

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Old 01-17-2015, 05:52 AM   #12
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Has anyone tried those collapsible 5 gallon water jugs? Just wondering how durable they are.
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Old 01-17-2015, 06:57 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
Has anyone tried those collapsible 5 gallon water jugs? Just wondering how durable they are.
Been carrying one for about the last 5 years. No problem. Sal
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Old 01-25-2015, 08:30 PM   #14
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Diane, Thanks for letting us know about the sprayer. We're also looking, but in a previous life traveled and vacationed aboard our sailboat. The sun showers are great and I intend to have some with our trailer, but we changed out the nozzles that came with the sun showers with the kitchen sink type spray nozzles. One of the downsides with either is the lack of pressure and I can see how the sprayer would work great. Much better solution. Thanks!

We would also freeze gallon or more jugs of water to keep our food cool in the ice chests. As these thawed we'd pour the water into the showers or use it for drinking. This and dry ice were wonderful tools allowing time in uninhabited Bahamian island paradise.

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