Review of Mr. Heater Aqua Cube Water Heater

No holes to drill or pipes to plumb for this hot shower solution!

It’s the Christmas season and the plan was to pick up a couple of tires for the van.  It didn’t work out that way.  A new gadget had come along that had the potential to make camping a lot more fun.  I didn’t see anyone on the Cheap RV Living Forum website who had one so apparently this will be one of the first reviews for thhis device in the vandwelling community.  The tires can wait a bit!

What is the one thing that is nearly a universal desire among frequent campers?  A hot shower.  But not all of us who convert vans want to drill holes, run pipes and hoses, etc.  Plus, there isn’t always room in a tiny camper to add gas and water plumbing.  Someone recently mentioned the Mr. Heater Base Camp Aqua Cube on the Cheap RV Living Forum site and it has turned out be a perfect solution for the needs. 

The box arrived a couple of days ago and was packaged beautifully both by Mr. Heater and then tightly packed into a second carton by Amazon.  It arrived in just a couple of days.

The Aqua Cube is easy to use and setup takes very little time.  You spin on the 1 pound tank of propane, connect the shower (or swing out the dispenser tube (for washing dishes – just like a kitchen sink!), and connect the pump to a water source.  You can even connect the pump directly to your water tank (if it fits – mine didn’t).  I chose to use a 5 gallon bucket of water and, per the directions, submersed the pump assembly.

Then you press the “on” button, select the button for the desired output (shower or spigot), and dial the temperature adjustment to somewhere between minimum to maximum.  An on/off lever on the shower handle lets you start or stop the stream.  Also, a safety cutoff shuts the burner off if the water temperature gets too hot.  If it’s cold outside, you might need to run the output water through the input for a while to build up the temperature.

The inlet water pump runs on a rechargeable battery pack.  I’ve read that it lasts about 20-30 minutes per charge.  It will last less time in the winter if you have to take extra time to recycle and heat the water.  The shower I took did not drain the battery significantly.  It consumed about 3.5 gallons of water and took about 4 minutes, probably ten minutes total including heating time.  The temperature did vary a little bit but usually between hot and quite hot.  (By the way, did you know most people shower at 107.5 degrees Fahrenheit?)

Periodically the flow slowed a bit as more water was being heated.  But overall, the darn thing worked great and the pressure was adequate.  It’s not going to blast the skin off you but there is enough pressure to get the job done. 

Here is the video I made… At the end it does contain an amusing shower sequence though every effort has been made to keep it G rated… I might buy one of those little pop-up shower enclosures but for the time being, a person had to improvise just a bit.  

In addition to cleaning the body, there are other uses for this device that might make a person reconsider the need for hot water:

1)  Showering, of course!
2) Washing the hands after fishing
3) Washing the fish well after gutting them
4) Sanitizing the dishes and fillet knives
5) Defrosting foods such as frozen shrimp
6) Hot water for mixing with instant mashed potatoes, gravy packets, other cooking applications
7) Hot instant beverages (coffee, tea, spices cider)
8) Washing clothes

I’m not going to say this is a perfect solution for everyone or urge anyone else to rush out and buy one.  It does require a little setup time each time it is used.  You also have to make sure you’re in compliance with any laws regarding water disposal.  Also, the Aqua Cube is not cheap.. Then again, add up what it costs for an on demand propane heater, pump, and tubing.  With something plumbed in you still don’t have the flexibility that you have with the Mr. Heater version.  Though Coleman has a similar product, the Mr. Heater Base Camp Aqua Cube unit has received better reviews.

I hope this page helps others who are considering this product.  Check out the reviews and prices on Cabella’s and Amazon, as well as other retailers for camping products.

Thanks for visiting!

Brad, the Van Trekker

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

12 Responses to Review of Mr. Heater Aqua Cube Water Heater

  1. Kevin says:

    Nice set up with recycling the water until up to temperature. You can make an external shower with that with ease. Just take a shower with a bathing suit and you will be okay

    • Brad says:

      I did that last year with the “shower in a bag” thing on the roof. I showered next to some people while wearing swim trunks. They were in one of those Greyhound bus type RVs and looked kind of funny. Oh well… It works though!

  2. A friend gave us a propane shower for our remote property that never, ever worked. In frustration I searched the web, found the Basecamp by Mr. Heater shower and ordered it. It arrived (free shipping to Alaska) in less than a week and it worked! It worked first time, and so far every time. This makes a longer stay at our cabin so much more enjoyable. I am so glad we bought the Basecamp. The pump works just fine immersed in our rain barrel. The only drawback is the need to use small, disposable propane containers. I’d rather be able to use a larger, refillable, more environmentally responsible system. But I do love a hot shower on demand.

    Evin De Hagen

    • Brad says:

      Thanks Evin. I agree about the metal bottles… Dad’s got a waste can with a bunch of them in there. I’m not sure what to do with them.

      Yesterday I finished emptying 3 of them! A larger tank would work, I guess, but storage might be a trick.

  3. Anonymous says:

    absolutely love this! and your video, good job Bradford!
    Aunt Meg

    • Brad says:

      Thanks Aunt Meg! It was kind of fun to put the video together. One time someone gently told me that pictures / video helps to fill in the gaps should the text not give enough helpful information.

      It took a long time to get that “beaming” overlay to end up in the right place. I uploaded one version only to find the software put the sparkling image 1/4 inch to the left… Talk about scary! It went for “G” rated to “Oh, geez!” 🙂

  4. elderchild says:

    Not “instant heat” but a shower bag works very well (-;

    Can be tied to the limb of a tree or the ladder of a van or rv.

    And an old wooden pallet makes for a great platform.

    Better yet a smaller platform made from home depot scrap wood.

    But i still prefer pouring the heated water from the “shower” bag into a bucket and then using a cup, can, or ? to get the water needed, when needed, to lather up and then rinse.

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world……. francisco

    “The simpler life became, the more Life became”!

  5. This is an amazing review about a water heater equipment! Post more product reviews soon!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Vt, my aquacube wont ignite. Batt is fine, igniter clicks, but E3 ( ignitor) comes up. I just tried to use it ( 45 days after buying it, dammit) as i just went full time, and the manual is no help. Any ideas before i call the mfg or try to return it?
    Les H