Updated: Nov 12
Back in the summer we spotted on the inter-webs what looked a very intriguing product. Shower In A Can kept popping up all over Instatweet, Facegram and Twitabook and we were drawn by the idea.
The makers claim:
"it's little antibacterial clouds of clean that can be used to freshen up here and there, or go for an all out clean with a head to toe Shower in a Can."
Now, as much as we love hiking up and down mountains and feel privileged to do so in Spain's glorious sunshine, the combination of those two does tend to leave us hot and sweaty. Not a problem if we're heading straight home but for our GR20in2020 challenge we won't be - Corsica in summer can get hot even above the 2000m altitude we'll be at. Sweaty and smelly is equally not a problem if staying at a fully-equipped campsite, refuge or hostal but, again, we won't be. Some nights we may camp in the grounds of a mountain refuge and be able to use their showers but certainly not all nights. Could Shower In A Can be the solution we hadn't even realised we're looking for?
Also, delivering the Duke of Edinburgh's International Award in schools often means being active outdoors then heading back inside to a classroom. There's rarely time and almost never facilities to shower, or at least freshen up in between. Again, what seems like an ideal case use for Shower In A Can. So, let's give it a try, right?
I put on my cheeky hat and barefacedly asked Shower In A Can for a free sample, via a private message on social media. Ben, who appears on their site as one of the founders, got back to me with a cheerful, positive reply and, following further cheekiness on my part, even posted it to Spain for us, free of charge. What nice people! Thank you.
About time we gave it a thorough review, then. We really should have done so sooner but we're great believers in real-world reviews, rather than contrived and artificial circumstances to 'test' products. It's therefore taken until now to really try out Shower In A Can.
I've used this for a waist-up wash three times, along with a clean t-shirt and spray of deodorant, to de-pong the dreaded pit stink and sweaty back syndrome that hiking with a rucksack inevitably causes on a sunny day of walking here in Spain. All three times I had to go from leading a DofE outdoor activity in to a classroom with another group and didn't want to be, or feel, dirty or sweaty.
The can, once shaken, produces from it's little plastic nozzle a white foam, similar in texture to hair mousse, though not sticky, or a thin, airy shaving foam. There's a faint smell to it but that doesn't linger. The company claims that it's mainly water, with a few detergents to dissolve oils and dirt which then evaporate with the water, and an antibacterial agent to prevent smelliness. Simply lather the product across the areas which need a freshen up and allow to dry - no towel needed.
I have to admit, I was sceptical. Very sceptical. However, I definitely felt fresher, cleaner and de-ponged. The third time I used I even washed what remains of my short, receding hair and a colleague genuinely asked me half an hour later if I'd had a shower. Really.
It is simple, quick and, seemingly effective. Is it as refreshing as standing under a piping hot stream of water? No. But it's not meant to be. The original idea was to help school kids do more sport by removing one of the perceived barriers which may put them off - being smelly afterwards. It's a quick and easy alternative to showering for when you can't get to an actual bathroom.
Speaking of which, that is the key thing which drew us to this product in the first place. Situations when we can't get to a bathroom but need to freshen up. Such as wild camping. In our Gr20in2020 training and preparation plans we had several weekend adventures planned. October's fell through due to personal commitments so by the time we got out in the wild in was the end of November. And cold. And wet. And blowing a gale. Steady winds at 45kmph with gusts up to 75kmph. Sideways hail stones. 4ºC overnight (not counting wind chill). Mallorca's worst weather weekend in quite some time and not what this island usually delivers, even in late November.
Our attempt to summit the first in a ring of four 1000m+ peaks, linked by two very long, exposed ridge walks, had to be abandoned and we were forced in to the shelter of a tiny stone mountain hut (refugi), to literally take refuge. A fire seemed like a great idea. We were sharing the bothy with a fellow hiker who had taken shelter and between us went to work on the very, very damp pile of firewood in the corner. Between the wet wood and the howling wind coming straight down the chimney we finally got warm and dry and very, very smokey. Like kippers. Sooty, smokey and smiling. All part of the adventure!
As soon as we judged it safe to do so we headed back out in to the weather and down into the tree line, accepting our ambitious route had to be cancelled and going instead to Plan B. A nicely sheltered camp spot. Pitch camp. Eat. A lovely hot meal from our official expedition partners Base Camp Foods. (Summit to Eat Veggie Chilli Chipotle. Delicious!) Bed, sleep.
Hot coffee at first light and feeling, well, grubby. Manky. Not clean or fresh. Miles and miles from anything vaguely resembling a bathroom. Perfect conditions to trial Shower In A Can. The photos are Alex, my fellow Adventurous Journeys Spain co-founder, and are genuine photos but, in the interests of decency, we have only posted the face and hand wash pictures. No-one wants to see more!
So, I've tried Shower In A Can in my work environment and given my review. I knew what to expect. I felt cleaner. What did Alex think of his first encounter in, let's face it, fairly extreme conditions? He liked it. He said he felt cleaner, fresher and less smelly. Seems it does what it says on the tin, then.
The tin itself is pretty small. It's hand luggage friendly at 100ml and weighs 150g. We're trying to get our pack weight down before GR20 but it's not proving easy. This product weighed 117g on our scales after 5 upper body and head washes. The makers claim up to 20 full body washes per can so I've really no idea how much is left. I'd like to know the empty can weight so I can calculate the content weight and work out how many times I can use it in my real world use.
As mainly water with minimal detergents and no rinsing or towelling required this seems to have decent eco-credentials as it conforms to our leave no trace philosophy by not requiring either burying (biodegradable wet wipes usually go in to our cat holes) or polluting water sources. Equally the can is aluminium and the cap plastic and both can be recycled, though there's no suggestion we've seen that either is made from recycled materials - perhaps an area for improvement. No propellants are used in the spray functionality. According to their website the makers are also working on a system for re-filling and re-using the same can - something we'd be very pleased to see. Furthermore, they claim there are no parabens, alcohol or SLS so it's eco-friendly, sensitive skin friendly and even carries the Vegan Society trademark. Lots of positive boxes ticked there.
Conclusion? We said up front that this is a product we received for free in exchange for a review. Here's the review. Does that mean we feel obliged to give it a good review? Absolutely not. We are always honest and impartial, whether reviewing products we've been given or bought with our own hard-earned cash. Shower In A Can does what it claims. At least that's how we felt. Cleaner, fresher, less smelly. As good as a shower? No? Good enough to carry out in to the mountains for days on end of no bathroom? Yes, definitely. Would we buy it now that we've tried it? Yes. We really would. Will it be in our bags for our next adventure? Absolutely. Will it come with us on GR20in2020. As of now, yes. Unless we accidentally stumble on an alternative we'll be taking Shower In A Can on our Corsica challenge next summer. But that alternative would have to be pretty darn good.
Have you tried Shower In A Can? Did you find our review useful? How do you keep clean in the great outdoors? Let us know in the comments. Thanks for reading and happy adventuring!