Last weekend I tried out a DIY camp sink when I participated in the Third Annual Tennessee Correction Executive Association BBQ contest. This cookout was to raise money for Correction Officers in need.
It is a worthy cause, but the competition is brutal. We set up on the grounds of “The Walls” more accurately known as the Tennessee State Penitentiary. If you want power bring a generator, and if you need water you have to share a hose.
Because I was cooking for people I wanted a better method to wash my hands. Additionally, I am truing to get my non-camping wife interested in camping so I had extra emphasis on easy.
I saw this portable fish processing table and thought it would be a great start to make a battery powered camp sink. Now normally I would have bought a table and cut out a hole for a large Tupperware tote and rigged up a sink faucet, but the Chief Cook on my team would not approve of any jury-rigged solutions. He is a serious BBQ pit master. This meant I had to spend more money and ensure the finished product looked nice.
This $65.99 table is designed to hook to a water hose, but since all the 20+ teams share a single hose, and there are no hoses in the woods, I wanted to make it independent of a water hook up.
I looked at all manner of solutions. I wanted battery powered. My budget said it needed to be simple and relatively inexpensive. I thought about this for several weeks, and the internet was no help.
When I can’t find a solution on the internet my semi-modern brain starts to think that others tried my idea and found it unworkable. However, I am stubbornly optimistic and decided the lack of information online meant that I am innovative. After much scouring of the internet and all the Camping stores in Nashville, I decided on a small battery powered camp shower. I decided against a sump or boat bilge pump because of looks – but a handy person could definitely use something like that.
There are several battery powered showers online – but only one in stock in Nashville. Bass pro has one from a “Boss” brand for $49.00 but it is almost identical to the $29 Camp Shower I have linked in the picture. Matt at Bass pro was awesome enough to open the box and see how the shower head connected while on the phone with me so I did not have to drive an hour on hope. The shower head is 1/2 inch and is identical to the handheld shower heads you can buy at the store. Luckily the faucet on the processing table is also threaded the same way.
I went ahead and bought some brass fittings to go from 1/2 to 3/4 so I could plumb it to a garden hose because I did not open the box first.
I wanted to buy it all and install it without any additional trips to the store. This cost me n additional $15.00 in brass fittings that I did not use. I also bought some Teflon tape that was unnecessary. What was needed, however, was two 5 gallon buckets. One for clean water, and one for dirty water.
Installing the Drain
Putting the table together was pretty simple, but the amazon and bass pro reviews showed that many people did not read the instructions and had problems putting the drain in. However, if you ever installed a sink, it is a no-brainer. This is basically just a plastic folding table with normal kitchen fittings added. For those without kitchen remodel experience, I have a short video explaining the process.
Final Thoughts on the Camp Sink
For ease of use I tied a reused a mesh onion bag with a bar of soap in it to the side of the table, and bungee corded a roll of paper towels between the legs of the table.
Using this was pretty easy. All you need to do is press the on switch on the show pump and drop it in the clean water bucket. After a few seconds to prime you can turn on the faucet and have running water. Because this is battery powered, when not in use, you should remove the pump from the water. Additionally, the battery only lasts an hour or so on continuous running. For intermittent use, I got through all day Friday until early afternoon Saturday (with battery power to spare).
I like how this did not require any permanent modifications, so I can still use the shower as a shower. Which is important if I want my wife to go camping.
What I did not like about using the shower in my camp sink is that to turn on I had to press the button on the side of the pump. A newer version has the batteries and switch on a cord which I like much better. I will probably buy that later and attach the switch to the table itself.
Besides the inconvenience of having to turn it on and off, my only complaint is the depth of the sink. It really did not work well to wash pots. However, washing silverware and hands it was perfect.
In case you are wondering, I won first place in my division, same a last year. I won’t tell you what I made because I am entering it next year, but the first year I won third place in the anything goes BBQ category with my mountain dew apple dumplings that I smoked on the grill.