I was recently in South Africa, overlanding through Mapungubwe in the north, which is settled along the border of Botswana and Zimbabwe. The Limpopo River flows through there, and the region is packed with mega-fauna. The goal of the trip was to test the new Hilux and also evaluate the cadre of new equipment from National Luna, Eezi-Awn, and others. Any good African camp includes a roof tent (because of lions and black mambas) and a braai (BBQ), but it was the new Eezi-Awn K9 Cube shower enclosure (privy) that stood out as particularly unique.
While traveling remotely, there are a few things that become immediately apparent. How do I sleep well, store good quality/healthy food, and maintain personal hygiene? For an overnight camp, maybe a shower is of less importance, but after days or weeks in the bush, it becomes critical for us and our companions. If you are solo, or with a partner, maybe an enclosure is less important (we are remote after all). But even then, there might be times when other campers are nearby or may drive by, or we are traveling as a larger family or group. Then privacy becomes a bigger consideration.
The most notable thing about the Cube is the size, which is likely the largest rack-mounted shower/changing/toilet enclosure I have seen. It is 52 inches wide (1.3 meters) and 41 inches deep (1 meter), which will easily accommodate any size of traveler, or several travelers (to save water of course). When closed up, it is only 55 inches (1.4 meters) wide on the rack and sticks out about 6 inches (150mm).
The enclosure is supported by a heavy-duty aluminum extrusion backing plate that will affix to most racks using the supplied brackets. After unzipping (with proper YKK zippers) the heavy-duty PVC cover, it just takes a few minutes to deploy the self-supporting aluminum rafter extrusions and connect them to the adjustable forward cross pole. With a few clips on the forward pole, the mildew-resistant ripstop nylon walls are secured and the unit is ready to use. In wind, it is a good idea to stake out the corners.
Once set up, it is easy to toss a solar shower bag on the rack or use a pressurized shower system to clean up. While we often see water tanks on the roof, it is important to verify the roof-load rating of the vehicle. Personally, I prefer a simple setup like the Nemo Helio or Kariba, which is not permanently installed, is collapsible, and also lightweight. Just heat up a liter of water on the stove and combine with water from the tank—warm shower, done.
Eezi-Awn now sells water tanks too, which can be secured to the interior of the vehicle, or mounted to the rack (assuming there is rating for it).
The Cube is also ideal for changing or using a toilet system. This can include a cassette toilet (PortaPotty), but the ones that really work in the backcountry are the Restop- style solutions. Yes, many times, just digging a hole is appropriate, but there are some areas where that is not permitted, or the traveler chooses to practice a full Leave No Trace ethos. The larger size of the Cube is ideal for these activities as well.
My experience with the Cube was a positive one, because it is true to purpose and built for long-term use. It sets up in a few minutes and takes up a small rack area. It does weight 25 pounds, so keep that in mind when calculating the total roof load. Depending on the height of the vehicle, the walls could be a bit short for toilet duties.
Large area permits comfortable showering, even for two
Quick setup and stowage
Quality materials and construction will last decades of use
Sides lack support, so staking is required in wind
For particularly tall vehicles, the walls will not go to the ground
A few tips on backcountry showers while overland:
There is no need to bring a fancy shower floor (although they are nice); just use the rubber floor mats from the vehicle.
Be sure to allow enough time for the walls to dry before stowing.
Use a sponge for showering, which will save a significant amount of water.
Be sure to use biodegradable soap.
Use the leftover hot water in the shower to clean dishes.
Wash your quick-drying socks, underwear, and base layers while showering, which conserves water.
For additional bathing tips and options, check out our detailed article:
A video Equipt produced on the Cube. We were not a part of the production of this video, so consider it informational, not editorial.