The best cure I’ve found for surfing-related cold water exposure is hot water. Some winter sessions, just the thought of the jug of hot water in my car is enough to keep me going for one more wave even when my teeth are chattering.
Described as “life-changing” by some and “the greatest invention since sliced bread” by others, to say that pouring hot water on yourself after cold exercise is a transcendent experience is hardly hyperbole. In winter, surfing becomes a ritual, from struggling into your thick neoprene, to brief moments of glory in pumping surf, to thawing out in the parking lot. That last part is often long and painful – but with hot water, it can be quick and blissful. And in summer, or more tropical locales, there’s nothing like a refreshing fresh-water rinse to get the salt off post-surf, and any of these options will function just as well (and in some cases, better) as a cold shower as well.
Try one of them, you won’t be sorry.
What Are The Best Surf Showers?
Best Overall/Best Luxury Surf Shower: RinseKit Cube
Best Human-Powered Surf Shower: Nemo Helio
Best Hot-Water Flow: Insulated Surf Jug
Best Budget Battery-Powered: KEDSUM Portable Camp Shower
Best Budget Human-Powered: RazorReef Portable Surf Shower
The Dirtbag Classic: DIY Insulated Jug
Best Overall/Best Luxury Surf Shower
RinseKit Cube ($389)
Pros: A hot, fully electric shower wherever you might find yourself.
Cons: A pricey option to say the least.
If you’re looking for the heaviest hitter in the surf shower category, the buck stops here. The Rinsekit Cube features battery-powered pressurization, as well as insane insulation to keep that shower water hot. This is as close to a shower-at-home as you can get out in the wild, with water pressure that might even rival your at-home shower. Four gallons gives you eight minutes of continuous shower time, which is more than sufficient to be considered “luxurious.”
That said, if you’re looking for hot water on demand as well, and are willing to spend a pretty penny for it, it’d be worth checking out Rinsekit’s Hyperheater which delivers steaming hot water in 30 seconds.CHECK PRICE ON RINSEKIT
Best Human-Powered Surf Shower
Nemo Helio ($129)
Pros: Foot-pump power, good pressure, packs up small.
Cons: No insulation.
Nemo changed the portable shower game when they released their Helio, which is pressured by a simple foot pump instead of being gravity-fed like many of its competitors. The Nemo Helio provides 5-7 minutes of continuous water flow and doesn’t need to be hung from a tree or your car.
The only downside is the insulation, or lack thereof. The website suggests that you let it “sit in the sun for a hot shower,” which might be fine if you’re out on a hike during the summer, but doesn’t really cut it while surfing in the winter. That said, you could definitely fill it up with hot water and go for the old wetsuit insulation trick (see the DIY Jug, below).
Best Hot-Water Flow
Insulated Surf Jug ($50)
Pros: Works a treat to keep water hot for even extended winter surf sessions.
Cons: Not great for extended showers or the like.
While you could spend a couple hours of your life looking for an appropriately-sized jug around your house and trying to stitch together a neoprene sleeve for it, you could just buy a ready-made surf jug online. And let me say, these things are freakin’ awesome. The form-fitting neoprene sleeve keeps the water warm for hours, and the wide mouth jug makes for easy filling and provides a prodigiously strong flow of water. My favorite method is to open the front of my suit and fill it with hot water while it’s still on me.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Best Budget Battery-Powered
KEDSUM Portable Camp Shower ($43)
Pros: Rechargeable, two batteries lets you keep the flow going.
Already have a surf jug but finding yourself eyeing the higher-end surf showers where you can take a bit more time rinsing off? Check out this rad little guy. Battery powered and waterproof, just put one end in your water container and rain hot water on yourself with the other. It’s also rechargeable, so you don’t need to worry about pesky disposable batteries, and coming with two batteries means one can charge while you use the other. I keep a backup fully charged at all times, so I’m never at risk of being showerless. While it might not replace the glorious flow of the surf jug, this one is a bit more multi-purpose. Keep in mind that you will need a jug with a wide enough mouth to drop the pump into. I recommend (and use) this one myself.
The unit also comes with various accessories such as a hanging hook, shower and sprayer head, charger, and more.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
Best Budget Human-Powered
RazorReef Portable Surf Shower ($38)
Pros: Easy to fill and use, keeps water warm.
Cons: Low pressure.
The insulation of a surf jug married with the convenience of a shower head at a very low cost. The catch? Don’t think you’re getting more than what you paid for – it’s an insulated pump sprayer with a shower head, so the pressure is better than the fine mist you’ll get out of a garden sprayer from your hardware store, but not that much better.CHECK PRICE ON AMAZON
The Dirtbag Classic:
DIY Insulated Jug ($0-15)
Pros: You already have something at home that will work.
Cons: Can’t control the flow, and who knows what else lives in the jug.
I can almost guarantee that there’s something lying around your house right now that would make an excellent post-surf water jug. Laundry detergent containers are a good one, as are milk jugs, bottled-water containers, your mom’s iced-tea container. The only problem with all of these options is the lack of insulation. But an old wetsuit can easily fix that. Wrapping your makeshift surf jug in neoprene will miraculously take its warmth-retention from 20 minutes to long enough to get a good session in. And I’m no scientist, but I’m pretty sure chopping that old suit up to make a form-fitting sleeve for your surf jug will make the heat last even longer.
What Makes a Good Portable Surf Shower?
Believe it or not, searching “best portable shower” on Google won’t find you the best surf shower unless you know what to look for. There are a few features that make a portable shower a surf shower. The first aspect is insulation. A surf shower needs to be able to keep water hot for a couple hours, maybe even more, while you’re out surfing. That doesn’t mean getting back in from the surf and heating water – it needs to be ready as soon as you get to the car.
The second important factor is water pressure. There’s nothing worse than trying to take a hot shower but finding it doesn’t heat you up because the water flow is so paltry. While some activities like doing the dishes might be better suited to a longer but slower flow of water, getting warm after surfing should be a quick process. We took this into account in naming our picks for the best surf showers.
Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.