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Reviews > Personal Hygiene > Showers > Handy Shower > Test Report by Brett Haydin

HANDY SHOWER

Initial Report - May 31, 2018
Long Term Report - November 25, 2018

TESTER INFORMATION


NAME:  Brett Haydin Tester
EMAIL:  bhaydin AT hotmail DOT com
AGE:   45
LOCATION:   Madison, Wisconsin, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT:   5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 200 lb (90.70 kg)
CHEST: 44 in (112)
WAIST: 36 in (91 cm)
SLEEVES:   33 in (84 cm)
SHOE:   10.5 US (wide)
 
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.

Initial Report

Product Information & Specifications

Manufacturer: Handy Shower Sp. z o.o. Handy Shower
Year of Manufacture:   2018
Manufacturer's Website: www.handyshower.org
MSRP: 160 zloty ($43 US as of date of report)
Listed Weight: 17 oz (500 g) is the max weight for the Premium+ kit
Measured Weight: 14.1 oz (400 g) for the complete package
Case: 4.7 ox (133 g)
Bladder: 2.9 oz (82 g)
Hose and pump: 3.4 oz (96 g)
Model Tested:  Premium+ Kit
Material: Water container is PVC. Nozzles are ABS/PP
Warranty: None listed The Handy Shower

Product Description

The 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.
bladder Water Container/bladder: The bladder is quite similar to other bladders I would use for drinking from. It is a listed as a 2 L (68 fl ozl) bladder which should be plenty. According to the instructions, if I want the water to be warm, I should use the sun - assuming it is out! The bladder has a 2 in (5 cm) wide mouth that has a screw-on lid. The bladder material is sealed off about 1.5 in (3.8 cm) from the top, where it is sealed off. On the top "tab" there are three holes from which I can hang the bladder - for me most likely from a tree! But I can certainly tie some cordage through the holes if needed. Water exits the bladder via a small plastic spout that the hose attaches to. 
nozzles Nozzles: There are actually 5 nozzles that attach to the device. Three are long and two are short. The long ones measure 6.8 in (17.5 cm) long and have 1, 3 or 6 holes in them to provide different amounts and patterns of water to flow through them. They are considered the bidet, handwashing and long shower nozzles respectively. The two short nozzles measure 0.5 in (1.4 cm) long. One has 1 large hole while the other has 9 holes arranged in a circle. The first is considered the focused shower while the latter is the short shower nozzle. They attach to the pump by inserting the back end into the hole in the shower head and twisting to lock the nozzle in place.
shower Hose and Shower Head: The hose is 74 in (188 cm) long (including the shower head) and is made of flexible plastic tubing. Attached to the end of the hose is the shower head. The tubing is permanently attached to the shower head and I see no way to remove it. The shower head itself is a grey, tubular pump with a blue plastic "head: that i can press down to allow water to flow. The device relies on gravity to feed the water through the tubing and through the shower head, so the bladder will need to be hung some distance above the shower head to function.  
hanging Hanging Accessories: There are several means to hold the pump and shower heads in place. All of the accessories use the same clip that the shower head slides into. There is a round suction cup that measures 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter for use in a flat, smooth surface. There is also a screw in holder for use on trees. There is a heavy-duty magnet for use on metal. And finally there is a plastic hanger, in the shape of a triangle for use on just about anything else you can hang things on!
Pouch Pouch: To keep it all together, there is a handy soft, padded, nylon case that measures 6 by 9 by 2 in (15 by 23 by 5 cm). The zipper wraps around three sides of the cover. There is the manufacturer's logo embroidered in large letters on the cover as well. Inside, the case is lined with smooth nylon. On the inside of the cover is a mesh, open pocket for storing small parts. There is also a small label inside with care instructions for cleaning the pouch.

Initial Impressions

First 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 Instructions

The 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.




Long Term Report

Field Conditions

Over 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.

Observations

Showering
Showering in Lack Creek, California
I really enjoyed using the Handy Shower while backpacking. I found it easy to use, and while it has some quirks, it is overall a great product. For starters, I had no major issues or failures while using the shower in the field. That isn't to say I had no problems, this product did have a little learning curve. Since this is a gravity fed device, it took a bit of planning to be able to use the Handy Shower. At the Dinosaur Valley trip in Texas, I was camped out in a meadow. While the views were great, it was a little hard to find a place to hang the Handy Shower in order to get a good, steady stream. I was hesitant to use the screw-in holder on a tree in order to practice Leave No Trace ethics, so I cannot really comment on how effective that would be. So finding the right tree, with branches at the right height proved to be the biggest challenge with this device. In the Porcupine Mountains, I tied some cordage to the bladder and tossed one end over a tree branch to haul it overhead. That seemed to work pretty well.

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!

Summary

I 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.

Read more reviews of Handy Shower gear
Read more gear reviews by Brett Haydin

Reviews > Personal Hygiene > Showers > Handy Shower > Test Report by Brett Haydin



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