Wouldn’t it be nice to always have a steaming hot shower when camping? The Zodi is a camping shower that runs on batteries and propane that is used outside. You don't need an RV shower, bathroom shower or one of those hot-water bag showers like campers used to use where the bag of water gets heated up by the sun. The Zodi uses propane to heat up the water and a battery to run the pump and it makes a hot shower anywhere you have a source of water or a bucket of water.
For a long time Zodi Outback Gear has been making its highly portable propane-powered hot showers. One of the newest and the model we chose to test is the dual-propane-canister Hot Tap HP Double Burner. All you need is a couple of 1-pound propane canisters, four D-cell batteries and an adequate freshwater supply to create all the hot showers your heart desires.
It all starts packed in a box a little larger that a good-sized automotive battery. But inside the sturdy plastic case with snapping side locks and a good-gripping easy-carry center handle, we found a large steel cage-like head unit housing the double stainless-steel burners and copper-coil heating elements, piezoelectric ignition system, brass valves and brass gas-bottle connections. In addition, the box contained the showerhead and its 8-foot hose, and the pump and battery case with the on/off switch that acts as the controller with its integrated 8-foot hose and siphon fitting (with internal debris filter) that goes in the now empty box case that becomes a 4-gallon water container.
Zodi suggests fresh batteries for best pump performance on all occasions, and we started our test with a fresh set. One gas cylinder was nearly full, the other about half full. As soon as the water was flowing (you must always have water flowing when the heater is on), the gas valve nearest the ignition button was opened and a fireplace match used to ignite the burner. Why a match? Because the instructions that came with the Zodi Instant Hot Shower mentioned that the first use of this camping shower might require manual ignition because of oils used in production. We wasted no time. Ever after that, it never failed to light within a few sparks. Zodi also mentions the piezoelectric system may be troublesome when wet, and suggests always allowing the system to completely dry before reuse.
As soon as the first was going strong, the second valve was slowly opened and that stainless steel burner was ignited too. We allowed a few seconds for the heater to warm up and tested the water. It was not warm—it was hot, and temperature control was dependent upon flame and valve control. We could have hot water, not lots of it blasting hard like at home, but enough to have a nice hot shower. The control unit with the batteries is sealed and watertight, but it’s probably best to keep it high and dry as much as possible; and the on/off button clicks and stays in the on position for hands-free operation.
During our test the Zodi shower’s head unit became very hot and a good deal of condensation formed and water dripped from the unit. This is normal and occurred every time we used Hot Tap. Zodi offered that the 4-gallon case held water for up to a 10-minute shower. At its brim, it barely held 4-gallons and with the pump on, we drained the tank in about 9 minutes. The unit’s case is handy, but any large container of water will do. According to the manufacturer the debris filter will handle larger sediments, however it would advisable to use a nylon or sock or some other sort of filtering media over the siphon if used extensively in a creek, lake or stream. Both it and the showerhead can be removed for cleaning.
Overall, my impression of the Zodi was good. The construction quality of the Zodi Hot Tap HP Double Burner was exceptional, and it was relatively easy to use. It’s pricey, carrying an MSRP of $260, so that hurts a little, but this is a well-engineered piece of equipment. The single-burner model lists at $160. Our biggest concern at first was that all that weight (the head unit weighs about 10 pounds) would be unsteady atop two propane bottles standing in the removable case lid turned propane tank base. Of course, we set it upon flat level ground that we had smooth out, and the propane bottles are snugly nestled next to each other when attached to their respective fittings and their bottoms fit tightly down into the pre-molded ribbed holes in the base stand. It was quite sturdy during the entire operation. Still you should be cautious around the unit during operation and while it’s cooling after it’s been turned off. The head unit does feature a bail if you choose to hang the Zodi shower from a pole, hook or other overhead structure, just be cautious about what is directly above the head unit as the Hot Tap does produce considerable heat during operation. The entire device packed in its box weighs about 14 pounds. A number of accessories are made for the shower including the Zodi Hut, a self-supporting privacy enclosure.
Zodi Outback Gear: 800-589-2849