Why was this product recommended over others with better reviews? We try to find out. 

As you probably know, Amazon has an algorithm that will provide product recommendations to you based on your shopping history and previous product ratings. What results is often variations of something you just bought (and thus no longer need), but from time to time, it also results in the discovery of new products you didn’t know you needed.

That’s what happened to our Japanese-language reporter Masanuki Sunakoma the other day (whose recent Amazon Japan purchase history includes things like a possibly cursed lucky cat statue and the cheapest clothing he could find). Amazon recommended a “portable shower” that sold for 7,800 yen (US$61), but only had a two-star rating. There must be better-reviewed portable showers out there, so why did Amazon recommend him this one?

Well, the item only had two reviews, so he could only assume it just hadn’t been tried and tested much. And the one written review simply said, “The pump wasn’t very good, so I opened the lid and used it.” Masanuki wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but he thought maybe this product had promise regardless. In any case, there was nothing to do but buy it and try it out.

The item in question is called the “Portable Shower Solar Shower 20 L High Capacity Outdoor Shower Emergency Water Supply Bag with Upgraded Lifesaving Buoy Fit, Leak Prevention and TPU Water Resistance for Car Washing, Saltwater Bathing, Camping, Multiple Purposes, Disaster Preparedness, Portability“. It was a mouthful of a name that touted its many qualities and purposes. In this article, we’ll refer to it as the PSSS20LHCOSEWSBULBFLPTPUWRCWSBCMPDPP.

To Masanuki’s surprise, the product was neatly packaged and arrived in very good shape.

And when he opened it up…

He found that the PSSS20LHCOSEWSBULBFLPTPUWRCWSBCMPDPP actually looked pretty nice in spite of its two-star rating!

Despite the fact that it came from China, a Japanese user guide was included in the box. The Japanese was a little off, though, which made Masanuki worry he wasn’t going to be able to understand the instructions. However, it came with pretty clear pictures, so that gave him some hope.

The user guide called the PSSS20LHCOSEWSBULBFLPTPUWRCWSBCMPDPP a “comfortable and convenient rucksack”, and true to its name it comes with two removable straps to sling over your shoulder.

So after filling up the bag with water,

Masanuki took it out…

Into the yard…

Wearing it like a backpack! It actually looked pretty snazzy.

The shower is operated by a pump, so to use it you first have to attach the air pump hose…

And use your foot to pump air into the bag until it’s full to bursting.

Then all you have to do is attach the shower hose, and it’s ready to go.

Simply squeeze the lever…

And out comes the water!

It wasn’t too bad! Masanuki thought it was perfectly good for using as a shower while camping, but also as a shower in emergency situations. It fits 20 liters (5.3 gallons), which is equal to 20 kilograms (44 pounds), so even when full it’s not too heavy for older children to carry. It might even be good for gardening, though Masanuki noted that the water pressure wouldn’t really be strong enough for washing a car.

The bag also apparently warms up the water using solar power. Masanuki didn’t have much of a chance to test out that particular attribute, but as he wore it, he noticed that the bag itself got pretty hot. He would say that if you plan to heat up the water in the bag, it might be better to leave it hanging somewhere out in the sun instead of carrying it on your back. It has a nice handle for carrying that could double for such a purpose.

In browsing reviews of other similar products on Amazon, Masanuki found that the chief complaints about portable showers were leaking and low water pressure. His PSSS20LHCOSEWSBULBFLPTPUWRCWSBCMPDPP, however, had no problems with leaking. Plus, you can use it as a shower without the need for batteries, so Masanuki thought it should be rated higher than it is. Perhaps if it was a little cheaper, it would get higher ratings?

Masanuki rated it a four out of five and was grateful to Amazon for recommending it, because now that he has a portable shower and a portable bath, Masanuki is all set for camping this summer!

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[ Read in Japanese ]