Going off the grid usually means there will be little access to the creature comforts such as showers and toilets, so to make sure we still have a few basics we purchased the Smarttek hot water system for a lovely shower at end of the day. We have to manually set the system up on the outside of our van and connect to the water and gas which only takes a couple of minutes, but this means we also needed an ensuite for a bit of privacy. We started with the single ensuites which are easy to set up and only take up a small amount of room in the van, but it didn’t allow anywhere to put your toiletries or hang a towel without getting it wet so we decided to go bigger and opted for the double ensuite from Smarttek – you can see from the images and there’s even a few Youtube videos that show how easy it is to set up.
It’s not a cheap product – we paid almost $200 for ours, but there are some glaring flaws I found in this product.
- There are 4 pockets inside the ensuite – 2 in the shower and 2 in the dry area. All 4 pockets are at the bottom of the tent so you have bend over each time to find your soap or other items.
- The material is not strong – be gentle when setting up! The poles bend so you can pack them, which means the elbows get caught in the fabric and all it takes is a bit of enthusiasm to rip.
- There are no instructions on how to pack this down – it may look like a food cover with the string pull in the middle, but trust me – you need a bit of patience when packing down (it’s probably better to do it on your own so you’re not fighting with anyone else!).
- Again – make sure the material is out of the way when packing down as this also makes it difficult for the arms to bend and stops the product from collapsing correctly.
- The only opening for the shower head is at the bottom! which means you need to get an extra long shower hose to reach through the bottom of the tent to reach the velcro straps at the top.
- Another problem with the location of the opening for the shower head is it means when you turn the ensuite door toward the van (so you have more privacy from your neighbours it means the shower head is on the other side of the tent – you need to allow for a 2 meter hose if you want to take all of this into consideration.
- I’m pleased to say that it has a floor built in the shower and dry area so you don’t have to carry additional matting, but there is only a small amount of mesh on the perimeter of the shower floor to allow the water to escape, so be prepared for more sand and mud to come into your shower than water flows out.
- I recommend elevating the floor from the middle either during or after you’ve used it so the water can flow out through the mesh, alternatively dig a small channel on one side to make the floor drop so the water can run out that way.
In review, I do like the double ensuite, it’s good to have the extra room that’s not wet and you can get changed, it also doubles as a place to put our toilet so there’s another bonus. Once I’ve used it a few times and made my own alterations I think I’ll like it. I’m just a bit baffled about what product testing these companies do before mass producing an item.
I rate this product – 5 out of 10.