12V Portable Shower / Washer


I don’t like to wash my wetsuit. This is usually the last step after wrap-up and it involves taking suit from the bag, going to backyard, hosing it inside out and the carrying it back to dry. Really kills your mood after the session.
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I don’t like to wash my wetsuit. This is usually the last step after wrap-up and it involves taking suit from the bag, going to backyard, hosing it inside out and then carrying it back to dry. Really kills your mood after the session.


Enter the portable garden hose. Wash your suit at the launch, on a hanger hooked to the rack, pack it clean, and, if you plan to sail next day, don’t even take it out of the bag.

Good idea. I searched the Net and could not find one to buy. I searched again, and came up with Big Kahuna. Expensive, but think about all the time saved!

It turned out that Big Kahuna does not deliver much pressure – water flows out of the nozzle, but that’s it – no throw. Not something you want to wash your 7.5 with. (They are using 12V bilge pumps, which are designed to deliver volume, not pressure).



I liked the can, but needed more pressure.

(This can looks awfully close, by the way. They also have something that looks like Kahuna’s lid. Cool paws print pattern, too :) ; but any paint bucket should do, really)

It turns out that Par Max series of freshwater pumps are pretty inexpensive for 35 PSI of water pressure, automatic pressure controlled on-off switch and sealed construction.



Just rig a drip-irrigation tee, with a strainer –



Add $11 coiled hose with plastic head from the Home Depot; 12V radar detector coiled cord from Radioshack for $10 and voila!



35 PSI is quite a throw.



Sustained water delivery. The pump delivers 1 GPM – 6 minutes of pressurized water, enough to wash salt off my 5.2 and 5.8, clean wetsuit, harness and booties.

If you are interested, and live in the area, but don’t want to build one, I would be happy to sell mine. I would like to experiment with 3 GPM pump, as I am impatient and would like to be finished in 2 minutes :) Your $100 would go directly to portable hose research.


7 thoughts on “12V Portable Shower / Washer”

  1. I’ve been thinking about making one of these for some time! Is the pump submersible? Or perhaps that’s just adding hassle to a simple idea. For that matter I’m wondering about storing the water in an insulated cooler, for the warm shower possibilities.

    How much water do you find you need for gear and wetsuit rinsedown?

  2. Pump is splash-protected, AFAIK, but would probably fail submersion test. I would say 3 gal are enough for wetsuit/booties, 1.5 gal per sail if you just wash salt off, more if you need to rinse sand/mud. If not sure, perhaps just jury-rig it to whatever container you can think of. Now, rinsing with hot water in winter, that’s an interesting idea :)

  3. You’ve really got me going with this…here’s my new silly idea: The power cord is switchable to two devices at the sprayer: The pump for when you want to rinse, and a heating element in the tank for when you’re driving to your location. Obviously you don’t want to run down your battery on a water heater, but while you’re driving the battery has power to spare.

    Crazy I know. I should focus on making my basic pump and sprayer, and THEN worry about the hot water!

  4. Well, “12V water heater” rings a number of things on UK ebay. “Cup in minutes” would mean smaller rise in a bigger tank, but this does not sound crazier than sailing in winter :)

  5. I use a hand pump pesticide sprayer from Orchard Supply for light cleaning at the beach. Get one of the more expensive ones with the brass tip, the plastic tips wear out really quickly. Works fine for spraying off mud and sand from equipment and wetsuit.

    There are also pumps that work with rechargeable drills but I have never tried one.

    If you really want a shower and hot water, Coleman makes a complete setup powered by propane and batteries. Not a whole lot of pressure and kind of a hassle to set up, though. It probabaly works better with the water preheated by the sun or whatever. Check RV supply stores like Camping World.

  6. This thing is sweet! I need one! I tried using a garden fertilizer sprayer, but it was way too weak. Some of the old school sprayers seem to get enough pressure though… hmmm…

  7. The Big kahuna Was not made to be a pressure washer .The old version Bilge pump has a upgraded Impeller not standard on the bilge pumps .They now use a German made Self priming high pressure pump which has twice the pressure as before. large pumps like this one empty the container out in 2 min and isn’t really what a camper wants .Nice steady stream and time is what the shower offers

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