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Reviews > Personal Hygiene > Showers > Handy Shower > Test Report by Brett Haydin
I started backpacking in Wisconsin as a youth, being involved in Boy Scouts programs. As a young adult, I worked at a summer camp leading backpacking, canoeing and mountain biking trips. I now generally take short weekend or day trips. I plan several longer trips each year in different parts of the US, where I typically carry about 40 lb (18 kg). I prefer to be prepared and comfortable, but I have taken lightweight trips as well.
Product Information & Specifications
Product DescriptionThe Handy shower is an, in my opinion, ingenious portable shower that is so much more than a just a shower. This "device" consists of a 2 L (68 fl oz) bladder with a hose, pump and combination of "shower heads" that serve as a shower, bidet, or other means of washing. Below is a list of the components that make up the device.
Initial ImpressionsFirst of all, this shower is really neat! The possibility to not only shower in the backcountry (I hate that layer of salt and sweat) but also to wash hands, other gear and have a bidet is really exciting. The package is fairly well-organized with the mesh pocket on the lid for the smaller components. The small nozzles are black as is the case, so I am actually concerned that those may get lost while backpacking. I have some small plastic bags that I will use to store them in as an extra precaution.
Weighing in at 14.1 oz (499 g), this is definitely a luxury item, albeit a relatively light one. There does not seem to be a need to take the magnet or the suction cup accessories into the backcountry, so that will save 1.7 oz (48 g) of weight if I leave those behind. The shower heads and nozzles are easily changed. I did manage to string it up in the backyard for some quick testing and it works great!
I have several bladders for my backpacks already and I was curious to see if this is compatible. I was happy to see that is it compatible with my bladders. I plan to keep them separate since there is no real reason to filter water for taking a shower in the backcountry. However, it is nice to know that this is an option. I also want to see if this is a practical tool for hunting as well. Field dressing game is a messy business, so bringing this along could easily prove to be worth the weight.
Reading the InstructionsThe manufacturer included a quick start sheet with 18 pictures on how to use the various attachments. I found this helpful, but it would have been nice if there were actual instructions on how to use the device. It is simple enough - just depress the top of the shower nozzle. Also included was a nice brochure about the company. Even more information is available on the website, including many videos and testimonials. While the Handy Shower is not yet available for purchase, I hope to be able to provide an update at the field report.
Field ConditionsOver the testing period, I was able to take the Handy Shower on five backpacking trips for (6) nights/ (11) days in the backcountry. I also took the Handy Shower on four days of hunting.
Dinosaur Valley State Park, Texas, USA: I took an overnight trip to a great hidden gem in Central Texas. I hiked a total of 5 mi (8 km) along dirt-packed trails to a primitive campsite. Along the way I saw plenty of neat fossils, including dinosaur tracks! There was a mix of meadows and hardwood forests. The temperature ranged between 65 and 85 F (18 and 29 C) with clear, sunny skies the entire time. No precipitation whatsoever.
Porcupine Mountains, Michigan, USA: This was a (3) day, (2) night backpack in the Upper Peninsula, Michigan. The terrain was quite hilly (I wouldn't call these Mountains, but they are steep!) through a mix of deciduous and hardwood forests. Sections of the trail traveled on rocky shores, but otherwise the terrain was dirt-packed and great spots for tent camping. Temperatures ran between 40 and 80 F (4 and 27 C) with a mix of showers, thunderstorms and sunshine. It rained most of the first night and was in the morning of day two so I had to hike with a wet tent. Total distance was 14 mi (23 km).
Blue Mounds State Park, Wisconsin, USA: I went on an overnight trip near home to a hilly park in central Wisconsin. The trails ran through steep hills in hardwood forests. I hiked a total of 5 mi (8 km). The sky was mostly cloudy and I saw some light rain in the afternoon, but otherwise the temperatures were warm and muggy - 70 to 90 F (21 to 32 C).
Redwoods National Park, California, USA: Checking off a bucket list trip, I took an overnight to the mighty Redwoods in Northern California. I was fortunate to get a last second backcountry permit that led me on a 6 mi (10 km) out and back gaining over 1,600 ft (490 m) in elevation gain through old growth Redwood forests and upland prairies. I had great weather with some light rain, but otherwise perfect temperatures between 55 and 75 F (13 and 24 C).
Lacks Creek Management Area, California, USA: I spent (1) night hiking over an out and back near a mountain biking mecca in Northern California. This trail led me down a dirt-packed trail shared with horses through alpine forests. Temperatures were cool - between 50 and 70 F (10 and 21 C). It was mostly sunny, but there was no precipitation. I hiked a total of 3 mi (5 km) with about 500 ft (150 m) of elevation gain/loss.
As for showering out in the woods, I found it to be a great way to finish a day. After hiking, being able to rinse off without having to find a stream deep enough to jump in was quite refreshing. The coolest it got while I was backpacking was 50 F (10 C), so I didn't really care about warming up the shower. I suppose if I needed something warm, I could warm up some water in a small pot and shower that way. But once suspended, the shower is actually really easy to use. I originally thought it would be nice to have a feature where the shower can remain on, but after realizing how much water I could use in one shower, I decided the way it is works perfectly.
I found the 9-hole small nozzle to be the most practical for my uses. It creates a nice pattern of water flow, while reducing the amount of water being used at once. This was especially helpful while washing dishes after meals. The longer nozzles are fine, but it is hard to find a great place to mount the shower, and since I have to hold down the trigger to let the water flow, I have to hold it while showering anyway.
I did use the bidet a few times. I don't normally use a bidet, so there was a bit of a learning curve for me here. But I can say that after practice, this is actually a really great addition to backpacking hygiene.
The packaging is the only drawback for me, and a minor one at that. While I appreciate having everything in one bag, it adds to the bulk and weight of my pack. While backpacking in Blue Mounds State Park, I decided to swap out the bladder that the shower came with for my own bladder I use for drinking. The long tube easily fit mine with no leaks. Easy is probably relative term here since it takes some effort to wiggle those hoses off any bladder. I can also leave a number of parts at home as I wish. There is very little reason to carry the magnet in the backcountry, for example. The prospects of finding metal to hang the shower from is quite minimal! While I thought I might, I did not lose any pieces!
SummaryI am quite impressed with the Handy Shower. It has been great addition to my gear closet and I plan to continue to use this product camping, backpacking and hunting.
Pros: Portable, lightweight and practical. Easy to use and interchangeable with other bladder systems.
Cons: Small parts may get lost.
This concludes my test series I would like to thank Handy Shower Sp. z o.o. and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to test the Handy Shower.
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Reviews > Personal Hygiene > Showers > Handy Shower > Test Report by Brett Haydin
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