Product Review: Geyser System Shower
In the unofficial Cool Tears and Tiny Campers survey in January 2022, when asked where they prefer to camp, 53% of the respondents reported that they prefer state or national forests campgrounds with limited amenities and 37% prefer camping on public land that allows dispersed camping. (Note that the survey allowed people to make multiple selections.) Why is this important? Because a large number of people in tiny campers don’t have access to potable water while out camping, it’s important to carry and conserve as much water as possible while on their adventures. This water is used for cooking, hand washing, dish washing, drinking, and maybe even showering. That water is heavy and takes up valuable space. The space and weight coupled with the ongoing (and growing) drought conditions across the United States means that every drop of water carried is precious and should be used wisely.
Last summer, while at a group campout in Colorado, we were introduced to the Geyser System shower. We highlighted this product in our 2021 Gift Guide for Tiny Campers in our November/December 2021 issue.
This review will focus solely on the Geyser System shower without the heater since that is the model we have and use. They do offer a different model that includes a heater. (Note: We were not paid for this review nor will we be paid if you choose to purchase your own.)
It’s important to note that we enjoy dispersed camping where there are zero amenities; we carry all of our water with us; and my preference would be to take a shower each morning, which wasn’t possible with our setup until we received our Geyser System shower.
We do use Venture Wipes and we’ve gone for dips in the northern Great Lakes (minus the soap) to at least get a clean-ish feeling. We also have a Road Shower mounted on our new teardrop, but we’ve not used it yet. We will do a review of the Road Shower in our September/October 2022 issue.
The Geyser System comes with the unit itself, a twenty foot 12v power cord, a five foot hose line and one replaceable scrub sponge. The sponges come in green, yellow, or pink and they have a soft side and coarse side. Having easily changeable different color sponges makes it a breeze for each person to have their own sponge, plus you can use one for doing dishes or cleaning gear too.
How it Works
Attach the sponge to the hose line by pushing together until the two arrows meet. Twist the fastener about a quarter turn to lock it in place. Turn the control valve off to prevent the water from flowing immediately once the unit is turned on. Place the Geyser on a flat surface, connect the 12v power cord and hose to the unit. The water hose fits via a quick connector that locks in place. Plug the unit into a 12v socket (if using a vehicle, turn the vehicle on), fill the unit with the specified amounts of cold and hot water, screw the lid on and flip the switch on. The water pump will start moving water from the chamber through the hose to the attached sponge. These are the basics of how the unit works. If you want to just clean your gear like a bike, kayak, canoe, paddleboard, etc there’s no need to add hot water. Below is our honest review of the Geyser.
Our Geyser System shower allows me to take a “shower” anytime I want because I don’t have to wait for the sun to heat my water like in a shower bag or Road Shower. This is a bonus for me since I don’t feel like I’m awake until I’ve had my shower.
The instruction booklet that comes with the Geyser explains how to get the best temperature shower which is great in theory. There is a table in the booklet that says how many liters of 50°, 60°, or 75°F (10°, 15.5°, or 23.8°C) water should be added first to the Geyser before topping off with a certain number of liters of boiling water. We don’t travel with a thermometer, so I normally don’t have any idea what our “cold” water temperature is. We also don’t currently carry an efficient method of quickly measuring in quarter liter increments. Granted, one quart is probably close enough to a liter, but I don’t want to measure out up to 2.5L of cold water using the one-cup measuring cup we do travel with. Getting the right measurements though of cold and hot water is key to achieving the warmest temperature shower. If you err on the side of too much cold to hot water, then your shower won’t be as warm as it could be. And considering you’re likely doing this either in the open air or in a pop-up tent, it may not be ideal. If you add too much hot water, then the Geyser will automatically disable the pump until the water cools down. So if your water is above 113°F (45°C) it turns off until the water cools to 85-95°F (30-35°C). Unless you dump out some of the hot water and add cold, it can take quite a while to cool down to a safe temperature. Even if you do swap cold for hot water, the thermostat takes some time to allow the pump to turn on. Because of the issues above, we normally err on the side of having a cooler than what’s possible shower which isn’t always ideal in the cool morning air temperatures.
It would be easy enough to carry a small thermometer to gauge our cold water temperature going into the Geyser so we could more accurately know how to achieve the warmest possible shower without disabling the pump. An improvement to the product would be to have a clear, vertical window with graduated measurements similar to electric kettles. Carrying a thermometer and having an efficient way to measure the water would provide a much better experience.
Is it really a shower? Maybe not in the purest sense of the word, but it nearly could be. It’s more like a sponge bath, where you control how little or how much water is in the sponge by turning the flow control valve up or down. Once I’m ready for my “shower,” I put some biodegradable soap on the sponge and start with just a trickle of water flowing from the Geyser. When using the pump on the lowest setting, the water will last about fifteen minutes. I wash my body on the lowest setting (or maybe one more click up) before I move to washing my hair. I have short hair, so it’s relatively easy to use to wash my hair by turning the control valve to allow more water to come through the sponge. With the sponge directly overhead, I wait a second for it to fill up with water, then I squeeze the water out (on my head) until my hair is completely wet. I turn the control knob to the off position, wash my hair, and then turn the control knob back on relatively high and rinse my hair by repeatedly squeezing the water out of the sponge onto my head. I can usually wash my hair and body before the “low water” light starts flashing on the top of the unit. This light flashes when you have about 10% of your water left, so it’s a good indicator that it’s time to wrap up your shower. I am always amazed that when I’m done with my shower that I still have water left. I successfully shower using only .8 gallons (or 3L) of water which still amazes me!
I must admit that the first time I used the Geyser, I thought it might be my last. When I put my cold and hot water in the unit, I screwed the cap on tightly, picked it up and gave it a shake. It seemed like a simple solution to quickly mix the hot and cold water to get it just right immediately. Once I set it down, I kept the cap screwed on tightly because I didn’t want to lose my water if I accidentally knocked it over while showering. Once I was done and I was getting the Geyser ready for the next person, I couldn’t unscrew the cap. We tried for several minutes with two people trying to get the cap off with zero success. Fortunately, we were at the TearJerkers Crossroads of America gathering and not out in the middle of a national forest by ourselves. I walked over to a neighboring campsite to get some additional help. I held the unit on the ground and kept it from turning, while a guy who looked like a bodybuilder finally was able to spin the cap a bit to release the pressure. There is nothing listed in the instructions or on the website about this issue. Last fall, I did exchange a few emails with the Geyser team about this and their advice was to not screw the cap on as tightly as I did. They did say that can happen and they are looking for a possible solution as a product improvement.
This Colorado company is on a mission “to transform people’s relationship with water one drop at a time.” For those of us that will use the product for camping, it means less water to carry, millions of gallons of water saved over traditional solar bag showers, and it provides us with an economical way to stay clean while out camping. Considering the expanding drought conditions in North America, knowing that I can shower for a week using less than 6 gallons of water (22.7L) instead of at least 35 gallons of water using a solar shower (132.5L) helps fuel my desire to live more sustainably.
Jonathan, the CEO of Geyser, wants to change the world. More than 2.3 billion people live in water stressed regions of the world. Water stress refers to the ability, or lack thereof to meet human and ecological needs for fresh water. Billions of people don’t have water that flows from a tap. They must either carry it from a distant well or have it delivered to them via truck. They don’t have the ability to just hop in the shower to wash up. On a recent trip to rural Mexico, the CEO visited with a woman who explained how she boils water on her kitchen stove, puts it in a large bucket, and then carries it to a shower area. Her family uses tupperware to pour water over themselves to shower. The family spends a large portion of their income on having water trucked in and on propane to heat it. He presented her with an affordable prototype of the Geyser shower and she saw how it could reduce their water consumption by 10x. She will also save a lot of time and money by not having to manage as much water.
The Geyser vision is to “empower the 2.3 billion people living in water stressed regions of the globe to be free beyond the limitations that come with little water.”
I’ve tried several other methods for staying clean while dispersed camping and the Geyser System provides the best options I’ve tried to date. The unit is compact, so it doesn’t take up much space in our tow vehicle. The water line and the 12v power cord stow nicely in the water chamber for ease of transport. The system uses so little water which results in being ready to shower or do dishes in less than five minutes. I feel so refreshed and clean while using less than .8 gallons (3L) of water. Plus using less water is best for the environment. I like that the sponges are affordable and easy to swap from one to another. Each person can have their own sponge and you can have a separate one for doing dishes too. The long 12v power cord allows us to shower away from the teardrop so we don’t create any muddy places near our tiny camper. We have used the Geyser with the battery from our teardrop as well as with our Jackery if we wanted to be further away from the teardrop.
Despite the potential issue of not being able to get the temperature just right, the Geyser System is a great product that we will continue to use. I can easily carry a small thermometer to measure the temperature of our cold water; however, I would love to see them make the small improvement of adding a clear, vertical window with measurement graduations to help us dial in the temperature better.
Overall, the Geyser System fits perfectly with our camping style. We love being remote, which also means no amenities. Being able to quickly take a shower while boondocking is a luxury well worth the price of the product.