Forward Operating bases in Afghanistan were often very basic, with few home comforts such as running water. Men still needed to keep clean and regular showers were essential for hygiene and comfort. To remedy this problem, the army found a very simple and cheap solution from the civilian camping market and purchased standard camping portable showers. These consisted of a black bag to hold the water, the dark colour absorbing the heat from the sun (no shortage of this in Afghanistan) which heated the water to a comfortable temperature for a shower:
This bag could then be hung up with a small plastic hose and nozzle to allow a quick shower to be taken:
The actual shower is identical to camping shop items, with no sign of military ownership. Indeed, the only indication that this is a British military shower rather than a civilian one is on the outer bag:
Although very worn now, the label is clearly a military stores label complete with NSN number on it:
One squaddie explained why he needed the shower:
Am currently on Ops in BASRA, and as the weather is getting hotter the QM in his infinite wisdom has cut off the water supply to our mobile showers.
Another soldier explains the value of the solar shower:
Solar showers are great. The best way to use them is to put the water into a bowl first. Then throw the water. around with a mug, wash down and finally tip the whole lot over yourself. One of the best things that I have bought. Just be careful though because the water will come out hot enough to take the skin off your back
One of the standard tests during leadership courses here was to ‘set up a shower for an infantry platoon arriving within the hour’.
If nobody had any experience at all with this sort of thing, so much the better.
It was the ‘Kobayashi Maru’ of challenges and you were marked on your ability to come up with a plan and keep your team working more than actually implementing it.
It generated a lot of friction among the team and that was the intent.
I’d have loved to have had one of these in a pack to pull out and finish the job in record time.
So far as I remember, there wasn’t much provided except for some ropes, a hose, some jerry cansd of water and a canvas tarp that most trainees used for a ‘privacy curtain’ instead of hoisting it up over a tree limb for a makeshift water bag, which was otherwise conspicuous by it’s absence, trying to rig a jerry can at a height to use as a shower by tipping it isn’t impossible, but unless you’re skilled with ropes, it isn’t easy and the siphon effect seems to slip from memory first anyway 😉