Wet Baths or Dry Baths: Which One is Right For Your Camper?
One of the best things about RV camping is that you have your own bathroom with you. You have the best of both worlds – you get to see America’s wild places, but you don’t have to hike up to a public bathroom that was last cleaned who knows when, or worse, use a pit toilet when nature calls. You may think that the only way to get a luxurious RV bathroom is to invest in a massive Class A motorhome or a 5th wheel. But that’s not the case. You can have a nice bathroom in a travel trailer too.
When you’re shopping for a camper, you’ll find two different styles of facilities. Wet baths are basically a shower with a toilet and a sink in the same space. This compact design is typically found in very small travel trailers (like the Airstream Basecamp or the Scamp), teardrops, class B motorhomes (camper vans), and many pickup campers. A dry bath is what you’re used to at home. The shower is in its own separate enclosure and doesn’t share the same space as your toilet or sink. You’ll find dry baths in class A and class C motorhomes, as well as 5th wheels and many travel trailers (even some of the smaller campers).
Choosing between a wet bath and a dry bath is largely driven by personal preference (and the size of the unit you’re buying). To figure out which will work better for you, consider some of the pros and cons below. Also keep in mind that with a travel trailer like the Bowlus, you don’t have to sacrifice any quality of life to get a luxurious RV bathroom in your camper.
Pros and Cons of Wet RV Bathrooms
A lot of the small RVs on the market today come with wet baths. Some RVers love them because of their small footprint. By collocating the shower, bathroom sink, and toilet all in the same small space, the other rooms in your RV can occupy more of the limited floorspace. One big positive to wet baths is that your shower may be larger than many standard RV dry baths, simply because the entire room is your shower. You also have a place to sit (remember to close the lid first!).
Unfortunately, the space saving benefits may not outweigh the negatives that come from having everything in the same shared room. There’s a reason it’s called a wet bath – everything gets wet when you take a shower, including the toilet, the walls, the counter, and the mirror. And when we say everything gets wet, we mean everything. You’ll need to take steps to cover your toilet paper with a shroud or an umbrella (yes, they make such things) before you turn on the shower, because no one wants a wet roll of T.P.
One of the other big downsides to a wet bath is the lack of storage in the camper bathroom. Vanities and cabinets are typically made of wood. Because the constant water and dampness in that room would cause them to rot, you won’t find such amenities in a wet bath. Not that there’s space to include them if you wanted to. Wet baths are designed to be compact so that the living or sleeping spaces can be larger. All this means that your hand soap, towels, toothbrush, and all the other things that are a part of your bathroom routine need to be removed from the countertop and stowed away someplace else prior to your shower. With a wet bath, you need to be prepared to spend some time moving things in and out of the room.
You also need to invest in a good squeegee and some towels because you have to dry the room off after your shower. Leaving the room to air dry can lead to mold, mildew, and potentially hard water stains. It can also make for an unpleasant experience for the room’s next occupant (wet socks, yuck!). While this means your small RV bathroom will get cleaned more often, it’ll take some time and generate extra laundry.
Wet baths also don’t provide a lot of privacy if you’re camping with someone else. Wet baths have a glass or acrylic door like your shower at home, rather than a wood one, so others may be able to see into the bathroom. The doors are also often open at the top to allow for additional ventilation. Wet baths do come with a vent fan to help draw moisture and odors outside, but the humidity from your shower (and other unpleasant things) will seep into the rest of your trailer.
Lastly, wet baths tend to show wear faster than their dry bath counterparts. This is in part because the bathroom floor is the shower pan and you’re walking on it every time you use the sink or the toilet. This could lead to scuffs from shoes, cracks, discoloration and staining from standing water.
If you opt for a RV with a wet bath, you’re going to want to invest in a wet bath kit. Most come with everything you need to keep important things dry (like the toilet paper umbrella), and to dry out the room when you’re done.
Pros and Cons of Dry RV Bathrooms
Dry baths, as we noted earlier, are set up like the bathroom you’re used to at home. They’re larger than wet baths, and depending on the layout, you could have two people in the space getting ready for the day’s adventures at the same time. At minimum, you’ll have more room to move around in your bathroom.
With dry baths, the RV shower is in its own enclosure, and depending on the floorplan of your RV, the toilet may be in its own small room (no wet toilet paper!). This is the case with the Bowlus Endless Highways Edition and Terra Firma. The hotel style shower, complete with an Italian marine shower head and teak flooring and seating, is on one side of the trailer. The stainless steel sink and our best-in-class cassette toilet are on the other. With doors to close off the entire bathroom space or just the toilet room, you and your traveling companions will have all the privacy you need.
Because dry baths don’t share the moisture issues of their wet counterparts, you’ll also have all the storage you need, where you need it. Most dry baths come with a vanity and a place to store linens and other toiletries. Bowlus luxury campers also have a medicine cabinet, a full length mirror, and large yours and mine wardrobes with hanging bars in the en suite bathroom. To make sure that any humidity is quickly dealt with, the Bowlus bathroom also has two vent fans.
We haven’t found any cons to having a dry bath. But maybe that’s because we’ve taken great care to maximize every square foot of our campers. We’ve also integrated little luxuries like continuous hot water and a bathroom heating fan to make sure all of your time camping in a Bowlus is as enjoyable and as relaxing as it can be. We strongly believe that you can have a spectacular dry bathroom in an easy to tow camper. So why would you invest in a large motorhome or fifth wheel when you can have it all with a Bowlus?