SandyCats TrailWash Scepter Can Shower – A Versatile High-Quality Water System For Overlanding & How It Compares To WaterPort & Geyser
On the road to achieving a perfect camping/overland setup, having some sort of on-board water system is a must. I’m not talking just about drinking water but rather, water to rinse dishes, wash your hands, hose off gear or a pet, and most importantly, shower.
Camping often involves activities that can leave you sweaty, dirty, or covered in mud. A portable shower system allows you to maintain personal hygiene and feel better overall. I usually prefer to travel to remote places where traditional facilities aren’t available. Having a portable shower gives you the freedom to shower at your convenience whenever and wherever you choose. There is something about taking a shower in the middle of nowhere that is hard to beat!
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Full disclosure, I already own a couple of water systems. While they work fine to dispense water, they also have a few drawbacks (more on this below). So, I wanted to try something else, because who doesn’t like buying new gear?
A couple of years ago, I came across Scepter, a leading manufacturer of high-quality portable fuel and water containers. They were intended to be used for various applications, including outdoor activities, emergency preparedness, and military use. These tanks are made of durable materials such as high-density polyethylene (HDPE) to ensure durability, longevity, UV rays, and corrosion.
I have been super happy with Scepter tanks and started researching to see if there was a way to turn them into a functional water system. Eventually, I did find a detailed article with a step-by-step tutorial and a detailed parts list. The instructions were clear, and the assembly didn’t seem too difficult so I was ready to start buying all the components. Then, I found out that you could purchase the whole kit pre-assembled and ready to go. The price difference between the components and the full kit was minimal, so I decided to purchase the kit.
The selling point of this product is its ruggedness, high-quality components, and the off-the-shelf replaceable parts. Plus, the entire system is self-contained in the lid. This allows you to just move it to another tank if you run out of water or if the tank gets damaged. There’s no need to buy the whole kit again!
Note: If you buy this system, you also need to buy the actual water tank. SandyCats recommends Scepter tanks.
- The water pump is operated with a custom battery back that can be attached to the side or top of the tank
- Great flow rate
- Can be mounted on a tire carrier or any standard jerry can mount, saving valuable interior space
- Medical grade bulkhead and connectors for durability and longevity
Other than the modified lid and water pump, the SandyCats TrailWash can be paired with three different accessories: faucet, hose coil, and shower. Each serves a different purpose. All the attachments use the same medical grade fitting which is solid and easy to use; they simply snap in and out with the push of a button.
To operate, just plug in the battery and switch it on. Depending on the accessory, you can either regulate the water flow or just turn it on and off.
This is the smallest and simplest of the accessories but also very versatile. It comes with a valve that you can use to regulate the flow. When fully open, it puts out an impressive amount of water. It also has a barb fitting to connect a garden hose which is useful if you need to fill the water at camp and don’t want to constantly move the tank.
Overall, I find the faucet is great for washing hands, rinsing off food, doing dishes, or filling up a water bottle.
This accessory is your standard garden nozzle adapted to work with the TrailWash fittings. It feels solid and offers the usual different spraying patterns. One of these is the shower pattern, so in theory, you could shower with this accessory without having to buy the RV shower attachment. However, that will result in you (or someone else) holding the sprayer with one hand while washing with the other. While doable, it’s certainly not very convenient!
RV Shower Head System
The final accessory comprises an RRV-style shower head and a suction cup mount to hold it. The custom shower head has a quick connect fitting, an on/off switch, and a long hose
This might seem like the usual shower head, but the main difference is inside. The problem with generic shower heads is that they are designed to work with pumps that have a high flow rate (like the one installed in RVs). When you use them with a portable water pump, you get weak water pressure. The SandyCats shower head has been tweaked with a smaller water flow (to conserve water) while providing larger water pressure. This results in longer, more enjoyable showers.
Provided you have a clean and smooth surface, the suction cup holder works well and provides a strong hold on either metal or glass.
SandyCats TrailWash vs. Waterport
My first shower system was a Waterport day tank. Two of the major differences between the two products is the way water is released.
The Waterport uses pressure: unless you filled the tank with a garden hose, you had to either use a compressor or a pump to manually build pressure. The compressor works well but unless you have one hard mounted, I don’t think it’s worth having to set that up to just pressurize the water.
As mentioned above, the TrailWash comes with a battery-powered electric pump which I find more convenient and easier to use. The battery provided in the kit has four LED indicators for battery level. During my testing, a fully charged battery lasted for about a week with normal usage.
The second main difference is the form factor, and I think the SandyCats wins here.
The Waterport has an odd shape which makes packing it in the trunk tricky. There are several mounting options but I’m not a fan of them and they aren’t cheap. SandyCats uses the standard jerry can which can be mounted easily onto any jerry can mount. The rectangular shape also makes it easy to pack inside the vehicle, I usually put mine behind the fridge.
SandyCats TrailWash vs. Geyser System
The second shower system I bought was the Geyser System. Specifically, the version with the integrated water heater.
I’m not sure the Geyser directly competes with the TrailWash, but for the sake of this article, let’s compare it anyway.
The first big difference is the water capacity. The Geyser is very small at only 0.8 gal versus the 5.28 gal of the Scepter. This means that whenever I bring the Geyser, I also need to bring an additional water tank.
Instead of a traditional nozzle, the Geyser system pushes water through a sponge. It’s a clever idea that allows you to save a lot of water but the shower ‘experience’ is not comparable to a traditional shower. It gets the job done but with such a small amount of water, you need to be quick.
A neat feature of the Geyser is the included heating element that can take the water up to about 100F in less than an hour when connected to a 12V power source. The TrailWash doesn’t have an embedded heating system but you boil water and pour it directly into the tank. Though the boiling method is faster, it requires more effort.
The area where I think the TrailWash is superior to the Geyser system is the quality of the fittings and variety of accessories. I don’t like the hose line included with the Geyser and the control valve is finicky and hard to operate.
The hardware of the TrailWash is superior and more robust.
This is an excellent product that works very well for what it was built for, but there is always room for improvement.
For example, I think having an embedded heating solution would make the shower experience even more enjoyable. That’s especially true for those who often travel in colder climates. SandyCats does mention a third-party heating element to automatically heat the water, but you’d have to buy it separately. A self-contained system would be great in my opinion.
Another nice to have would be the ability to choose from different power sources. I have no complaints about the battery pack but I think offering a 12V option would be handy for someone who would rather use onboard power or a solar generator.
Lastly, I would like to have an additional shower head mount option, maybe a clamp-style mount or something that can be attached to a roof rack.
Overall, I like the TrailWash shower system. It’s rugged, well-built, versatile, and easy to use. Is not the cheapest on the market but the quality and performance of the components used is high. I have been running the system for about six months now with no issues.
SandyCats’ customer service is also very good. I had a couple of questions about the product and got a prompt reply. The warranty is also great and in the event that one of the components fails or does not work as supposed to, SandyCats will have no issue in providing a replacement.