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Reviews > Personal Hygiene > Showers > Handy Shower > Test Report by joe schaffer

Handy Shower

Test Report by Joe Schaffer

INITIAL REPORT - May 20, 2018
LONG TERM REPORT - September 29, 2018

NAME: Joe Schaffer
EMAIL: never2muchstuff(at)yahoo(dot)com
AGE: 70
HOME:  Bay Area, California USA

     I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to exceed my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.

Product: partsHandy Shower

Manufacturer:  Handy Shower Sp. z o.o.
        Features: (from website)     
            • Patented self-closing valve mechanism to control amount of water used
            • Interchangeable nozzles washing hands, showering or bidet
            • Weighs only 14.1 oz (400 g) and folds easily to fit backpack, luggage or case
            • Setting up the device takes about 1 minute, changing the nozzle – few seconds
            • Kits cost 60, 80, 120 or 160 zloty (about US $16, $22, $32, $43)

My Specs:  Premium kit, 12 pieces (depending on how much breakdown)
       Total: Weight 14 oz (396 g); size 9 x 7 x 2 1/4 in (22.9 x 17.8 x 5.7 cm)
       Piece weight and size:
          Carry case: 4 3/4 oz (135 g); 9 x 7 x 2 1/4 in (22.9 x 17.8 x 5.7 cm)
          Bladder: 2 7/8 oz (81 g); 14 x 7 x 3/4 in (35.6 x 17.8 x 1.9 cm)
          Handle/Hose: 3 1/4 oz (92 g) 68 x 3/8 in hose; 6 x 1 1/8 in handle; (173 x 1 cm, 15.2 x 2.9 cm)
          Bidet nozzle: 1/8 oz (5 g) 5 7/8 x 1 in (14.9 x 2.5 cm)
          Six-hole stream nozzle: 1/8 oz (5 g) 5 7/8 x 1 in (14.9 x 2.5 cm)
          Three-hole stream nozzle: 1/8 oz (5 g) 5 7/8 x 1 in (14.9 x 2.5 cm)
          Shower nozzle: <1 g 1 x 7/16 in (2.5 x 1.1 cm)
          Stream nozzle: <1 g 1 x 7/16 in (2.5 x 1.1 cm)
          Bracket for wood: 3/8 oz (9 g); 4 x 1 1/8 in (10.2 x 2.9 cm)
          Magnet for metal: 1/8 oz (26 g); 15/16 in diameter x 3/4 in (2.4 x 1.9 cm)
          Suction cup for glass or tile: 1/8 oz (24 g); 3 in diameter x 5/8 in (7.6 x 1.6 cm)
          Nozzle hanger bracket: 3/8 oz (11 g); 1 3/4 x 2 1/8 x 1 1/8 in (4.5 x 5.4 x 2.9 cm)
Received: May, 2018

My Description:
    This hygiene kit contains an assortment of pieces to customize the unit to the duty at hand. The core parts are the bag, hose, handle and whatever nozzle desired for the handle. Two small black nozzles take up the least room and provide two different streams--diffused and single. The longer and larger three nozzles allow using the device as a bidet, for hand washing and for showering. Attachment devices allow the handle to hang hands-free from metal, wood or a flat, non-porous surface like glass or smooth tile; i.e., wood screw, magnet or suction cup; in conjunction with a not-provided foot pedal. Attaching to wood requires driving a screw. The bag appears to be about 1/2 gal (2 L). Gravity powers the system. For water to come out of the nozzle, the handle must be depressed at the top and held. It is not a pump, but rather a spring-loaded shutoff. Strength of the stream depends on height of the bag from the nozzle. No rope included.
    The five nozzles all insert and detach in the same manner: Push in and twist the nozzle tab under the handle-top retainer; vice-versa to detach. The nozzles seal with an 0-ring.
    The tubing presses onto a downward-facing nipple on the bottom of the bladder; which is better than the upward-facing nipple on bladders I have which are specifically intended for use as hydration bladders inside a backpack. The bladder is clear on one side to absorb sun rays.

      My key like for this unit is the versatility of pieces. Usually I am already carrying tubing, bladder and a hanging rope for water filtration. Thus in the very lightest configuration of parts that I would have to add to my kit, only the handle and nozzle would be additional, or about 1 1/2 oz (40 g). The unit's tubing is the right size for my filter, but a bit of engineering after the test will be required as the tubing appears to be fixed into the handle. I think this can be resolved easily enough with a splice tube, and will have to be as I cannot suffer the weight of two hoses in my pack. Another option would be to cut the tubing, using a longer piece for showering and shorter piece for filtering--then still carrying two hoses. Thus my first recommendation would be to change the tube/handle joint from fixed to detachable, allowing convenient interchange between filter and shower handle.
     Actually, my first impression was the strength of the magnet. The metal top of my scale snatched the magnet from my fingers and stuck to it with remarkable tenacity.
    As a one-sport guy (backpacking) I don't see that I would ever use any of the three handle hanger attachments and probably not ever any of the three longer nozzles.
    In my heavy years I carried a 2 1/2 gal (10 L) shower bag. I have slogged along OK by mopping off with a pack towel, but I have missed the feeling of getting soap-and-warm-water clean after a dusty day on the trail. One aspect of the test will be to see if that feeling can be achieved in only half-a-gallon (2 L). It did take quite a few hours of direct sun to warm up all that water in my retired shower unit. That unit conditioned me to familiarity with a valve that turns on or off with two fingers of one hand and without holding it. I have the underlying impression that this unit's handle/valve is more complex than necessary; and the test will determine whether I can get efficiently wet and rinse with only one hand while having to hold the valve open with the other. I recall many occasions of having to keep water streaming over me in order to deter swarms of mosquitoes.
    The multitude of handle-hanging accessories without a foot-pedal strikes me as odd, given that none of them would relate to moving around outdoors. The most logical use for them and the longer nozzles would be with a foot-pedal. And yet there is no rope to hang the bag. Of course the devices are specialized and any kind of cord can work.
    My key test points: A) Bag volume; B) Sun-heating time; C) Stream vigor; and, D) Ergonomic efficacy.
    Whether the one-pound (0.45 kg) shower unit I gave up can be effectively replaced by one that adds about the weight of a gel packet will carry the weight of the test.


Field Conditions:

    1. May 23-29, 2018: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. One night car camped; and five nights backpacked at 8,000 ft (2,400 m). 10 mi (30 km); leave weight 40 lb (18 kg). Temps 40-70 F (4-21 C), partly sunny to cloudy and raining, light wind, no bugs.
    2. June 15-21, 2018: Emigrant Wilderness, California. Seven days backpacking 25 mi (40 km) trail and three mi (5 km) XC. 7,150-9,300 ft (2,180-2,835 m). Leave weight 36 lb (16 kg)/return 30 lb (14 kg). Temps 35-75 F (2-24 C). No wind or rain. No bugs on the shower day.
    3. Multiple occasions carrying the nozzle and bag, but using only the bag.

    The chemical smell of a new bladder makes me always want to soak baking soda inside for a couple days at home. The cap required much tightening not to leak on the counter. I emailed customer service inquiring about the bladder material's suitability for use as a hydration reservoir and await their reply. Not knowing how many polyvinyl chlorides might leach into water--especially after the material has heated multiple times in sun--and not having great confidence in the cap's ability to provide a reliable seal (or for me to remember to tighten it enough) for contents under the pressure of being inside a backpack, at this point I would find the provided bladder not a priority choice of water vessels. Bladders aren't a lot of tonnage, but if I'm going to glow in the dark after using it or cannot gain double-use as a hydration reservoir, then it gets relegated to the car camping shelf, under the house. The hose notes that it is phthalate free (which may be why it kinks so easily?), but I've not yet spied anything about the bag.
    1. We car camped at Crabtree trailhead the first night, arriving late and opting to be in good position to start the fun next day. We enjoyed a sunny morning, but no time to shower. As we struck our first planned camp the clouds came to us and overnight wetted the granite, making continued progress to our destination an imprudent risk. For two days we sat out rain spells, and that was about as wet as I wanted to get. On days four and five the clouds lifted above us and provided ample sunshine to fire up the Handy Shower both days as we decided at that point simply to stay put. I collected water from a snow melt trickle and after three hours the temperature in the bag reached 94 F (34 C). That's warm enough in the sun to make a passable shower, but another 10 F (6 C) does a more satisfying job. I think if the bag was clear (instead of frosted, though perhaps that would require the clarifying demon BPA?) on the face and black on the back, 104 F (40 C) would have happened.
    With the bag hung as high as I can reach, probably seven feet or so (2 m) at the top, stream pressure was surprisingly good and even worked holding the nozzle at head-level. However, stream volume is not sufficient to get a good 'flushing' over the body. (High volts, low amps.) My protocol is to wet and soap the hair, wet the body, then rinse off the hair and let that soap do it's thing on the way down as I scrub with a PackTowel. I got impatient with how long it was taking to rinse the soap off; and was very glad there were no bugs to contend with. The kinks from wrapping the hose around the bag for toting had all worked themselves out as the bag heated. But as I wandered the shower head about the body the hose kept kinking and sstreamhutting off the stream. That was rather aggravating. I found myself wanting to use both hands, but of course one hand is occupied holding the shower head. I was standing on granite and did not want to drop the shower head, though I must confess to thinking that might serve a good test to see if it would tolerate the insult. I would suggest adding some type of docking device on the bag or hose. A marketing mind would put it on the bag to imply that the Handy Shower brand of bag is a must-have; though it may be much easier to add a clip to the hose. The length of the hose does allow directing the stream at close range to any area of the body.
    Means for hanging the bag seems insufficient for the long haul. The cap loop probably is the best anchor point, but refilling gets to be a little more cumbersome. (Water weight pulls the line to the upper end of the cap loop when the cap is off, and getting the line back to loop center to put the cap back on with the bag full invites a lot of spillage from a vessel already not over-size.) The hole in the top margin of the bag just doesn't seem like it wants to hold four pounds (1.8 kg) of water without a thin cord ultimately tearing through. I could use a cord thicker than 1/16th in (1.5 mm) tent guyline, but I'm thinking a plastic grommet would be more in order. (As I used the bag more I discovered that the plastic loop pulls loose from the cap fairly easily; and after numerous times hauling the bag up and hanging it only through the hole in the plastic, that part didn't fail.)
    It is possible to get by on two quarts (2 L), but that is less in line with comfort camping than survival deprivation. The company's website suggests three liters (3 qt) is generally required for a shower. Thus it strikes me as curious that Handy Shower does not offer a bladder big enough for a shower. Refilling the bag is an option, of course, but where does the sun-warmed refill come from? Does having to interrupt the luxury of my bathing to stand naked and afraid while being molested by bugs in order to refill the bag add to my overall enjoyment? No bugs this test, but I know the answer. A larger bag would also increase the initial nozzle pressure and output for a more pleasing dousing to start. As an outdoor shower buff and weight miser, I would never sacrifice the third quart (L) for the marginal savings of bag weight; and were I trying to promote my penchants to other persons I would supply a gallon (4L) bag to ensure a satisfying shower result from a multiple-use water lugger. I'd earlier opined that the lower-volume bag might heat faster, but my testing conclusion would be that it does not.
    I don't know if the soda treatment did anything; I forgot about it and did not notice any kind of odor from the bag or the output.
    I forgot I had the 'stem' shower nozzle and did not use it.

    2. Spending two nights at almost 9,000 ft (2,745 m) gave a free day to get enough sun on the bag to try the shower again. This time I had a little less luck. I purposely did not fill the hose or even unpack it. The hose will not coil, so it has to be kinked and I wanted to see if they'd work out just from warming in the sun. Pretty much they did not this time, and the shower experience was not as pleasing as I would prefer. I endeavored a bidet experiment with the shower nozzle about six ft (2 m) below the bottom of the bag. The pressure was enough to tickle, but, let's be as delicate as possible, it wouldn't work to blast any brush out of the gutter. I didn't attempt to wash my hair or shave (gallon jug for that), but I still ran out of water in what seemed a hurry, even with the kinky hose shutting off the stream with remarkable tenacity.
    Being solo I did use the bag daily for a dirty bag, hooking up with a six-inch (15 cm) piece of hose cut from my regular bladder. Even by myself I found it necessary to replenish the bag to complete my filtered supply for the evening and next morning. I find refilling any hanging bag to be a chore. For some reason I seem to struggle more with this bag getting the cap to screw back on straight. A three-liter (3 qt) bag lets me fill it on the ground and be done in one shot.

    I admire the Handy Shower's intent to help backpackers have a more enjoyable outing. For me, I ask why not just add a push-pull nozzle to my hydration bladder?
Offering four different kit options seems market friendly. For backpacking I would need only the Starter Kit of shower head and nozzle, applying those parts to the hydration hose and bladder I already carry.

SUMMATION: Light, versatile system for outdoor showering that works, but output is inadequate, the bag is too small and engaging the shower nozzle uses up a hand.

Thank you Handy Shower and for the opportunity to test this product. This concludes reporting for this product.

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