Enjoy the Perfect Shower Anywhere in the World…for $2.96

38 Comments

It never fails. After a day of hiking in the mountains, or sightseeing in a new city, you return to your hotel to clean off the smog and assorted grime and… drip, drip, drip. I’ve had crappy, low-pressure showers in every country I’ve visited, except Japan.

What’s so special about Japan? Their design is, above all else, simple. Simple = few things can go wrong. In most other countries, especially the US, shower heads have followed the Gillette approach to product innovation: complexity. “Now you can experience the ultimate in shaving technology: the Ultra-XL5000 with 15 razors!” Shower heads now have dozens of tiny holes that get clogged with minerals and decorative hoses that get kinked and knotted.

About one month ago, I had what would be the last frustrating shower in my new house. I have just come home from jiu-jitsu training and had to scrub myself for about 30 minutes under a drizzle of water to get soap off of my mat-burned body. No fun. I headed straight to Home Depot the next morning and bought three shower heads to test. All of them took up to 45 minutes to install, with assembly and hardware; two of them were too cumbersome and long to be practical (the pipe for my shower is at near-Hobbit height for some reason); and the last barely increased water pressure, despite having “increase water pressure up to 10x!!!” on the package.

I returned to Home Depot and asked for the smallest showerhead they sold, which brought me to an odd little gadget the size of a wine cork.

“Oh, you don’t want that one,” said the employee.
“Why not?”
“I’ve never seen anyone buy it. Too simple and ugly.” I was sold.

The Alson’s Incredible Head (TM) Power Shower showerhead has been one of the best investments in my home and travel life. I installed it in 10 seconds with no more than hand tightening, and my first shower was like going from Chinese water torture to a fire hydrant. Those of you who played sports in high school will find it pleasantly reminiscent of high school power showers. There is a small ball-bearing that increases pressure, much like when you put your thumb over a hose to increase spraying distance. This design also cuts down on water use 30-40%! The Japanese would be proud.

showerhead1-wince.jpg

I have since bought another Incredible Head (TM) (I’m not kidding) showerhead for traveling, and it has fit almost every shower I’ve encountered abroad.

Go simple and be clean. Two rules to live by.

Posted on: April 3, 2007.

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38 comments on “Enjoy the Perfect Shower Anywhere in the World…for $2.96

  1. Close. They don’t so much dilute the water as focus the volume in a specific stream. Since the water is being pressurized around a ball, the water comes at you in a circle. Thus, the pressure is much higher, but you don’t get a center stream of water, so the total volume is less. Since the diameter of the stream is quite small, though, it feels like a huge gush of water. Pretty cool.

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  2. Love it! Totally related to this (and couldn’t help laughing at your passion about this) and replaced the master shower and its great. Lowes had a copy cat and the last two were both returns – no thanks. Sure enough, home depot had the exact one you mentioned at $4 but still worth it IMO. Thanks. Good luck with the book launch, looking forward to it! Caught you in Austin @ SXSW and immediately unsubscribed from 15 mailing lists already saving me tons of interuption time. You remind me of a young Anthony Robbins.. Good stuff.

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  3. Thanks so much for the kind words, Matt! A brilliant woman in Panama once told me that there were two things in your home more important than all others: a good bed and a good pair of shoes. “If you aren’t in one, you’ll be in the other,” she said. So, so true. BUT, there is an inbetween step: the shower ;)

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  4. Alson also makes another model for a few dollars more with a shut off valve that reduces water to a trickle. Great for stopping water flow while I shave in shower without affecting temp. Found on Amazon as well. Great blog, can’t wait for preordered book to fully digest and implement the lifestyle! Take care.

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  5. Thanks for the kind words, RC! I’ve seen those models as well, and I know a few women who use them in full baths precisely for the reason you cited: shaving without changing water temperature. The book is officially out as of one hour ago and should be in your hands any moment. I hope you enjoy it!

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  6. Hey Tim, wow I went to Amazon and purchased the showerhead and noticed at the bottom that it gave a stat that 60% of the people that bought the book also bought your book. That is incredible. Congrats on the book, it’s gonna be huge. The wife and I are planning a month (!) long vacation to Buenos Aires on your recomendation and have already found an 1300 square foot apartment for $850 for the month. Thanks for all of the tips. I’ve also found a MMA studio just miles from my house.

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  7. Went to Amazon to buy the showerhead and noticed that 60% of the people who bought the showerhead had bought your book, wow! I love your book, thank you so much for putting it together. I have already found an apartment to rent in Buenos Aires for only $850 a month @ http://www.buenosaireshabitat.com, double wow. Hope to be going by the end of the year.

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  8. I’ve been using “The Incredible Head” since the early 1990′s and have found it to be excellent. Not only does it deliver good water volume/pressure, it conserves enough so that my wife, son, daughter and I can take consecutive showers without running out of hot water.

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  9. You just saved my sanity. I was going crazy trying to take a shower w/o pressure. Somehow I found your website, saw the article on this wonder device. I ordered it, just took my first real shower in over two years. Thank you soooo much.

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  10. You can also find these little things under the name or sales slogan of a Navy shower head. Anyone that was in the Navy can tell you why. I had many over the years and it’s all I will buy.

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  11. Heh, just read this for the first time (I seem to get notified of all your blogs, not just the specific ones I’ve subscribed to) and I can relate.

    I swear the variation on Amazon with the on/off valve is one of two products I used to see heavily promoted at home shows in the Toronto area back in the 90′s. Thing is, these folks also sold an even more expensive version (if memory serves, the on/off variant was quite a bit more than $5) which had this thick gauge wire thingy attached to a shaft which you would use to adjust the stream from anywhere from a trickle to full blast.

    Also as memory serves, I was becoming disenchanted with the one we’d bought, so at a subsequent home show, I asked them about it. They explained that minerals can accumulate and clog the jets, that it just needed a soak in vinegar or a demineralization product. Took that advice to heart, and it was as good as new!

    In retrospect, the on/off model would have been more than sufficient (I think we thought we’d be able to save even more money if we just left the lever at some modest point less than “full blast”), so I’ll be swinging by our local Home Depot this week to see what I can get (otherwise will be ordering from Amazon).

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  12. Tim, one question I had for you: I noticed the product you endorsed has a knurled grip and not something you would be able to grab on with a spanner (adjustable wrench). You also don’t mention using any Teflon tape.

    So my question is, while travelling, did you also bring some Teflon tape with you, and did you bring any tools along to remove the existing showerhead (and to install the one you brought along)?

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  13. So two days ago we went to Home Depot. Couldn’t find it.

    Ended up at Lowe’s. They had 3 of the version with the on/off button, and 1 with the wire lever for on/off and any position in-between. We decided to get them all, as we’re planning to relocate halfway round the world and didn’t know if we’d be able to find these there. :)

    Installed one of the on/off variants as soon as we got home. The blast seems softer and less direct when compared to the showerhead which was there before, but still quite comfy. While we don’t seem to get dinged with any water bills here (we live in an apartment community), at least we’re doing our 0.0001% bit to reduce water consumption. ;)

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  14. Tim (and anyone else who travels),

    If you ever find yourself in Lima Peru, stay at the Miraflores Park Plaza hotel. Not only is it a great hotel, but they have the BEST showers I’ve ever experienced. Picture those big disk showerheads with hundreds of nozzles (the ones you hate), except that instead of a little trickle, it’s like standing under a waterfall! You actually have to hold onto the shower handles to keep from being knocked over. The best wake-me-up-in-the-morning shower I’ve ever had!

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  15. Most shower heads have “restrictors” to reduce water usage. You can take any cheap shower head and drill out the water restricting plastic (usually) disk. You won’t call it a shower head, you will call it a power head. Showers won’t take as long as thus it might be a wash (no pun intended) as far as usage is concerned.

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  16. Been using mine for at least five years now. First saw them in the Navy, and tried four years to find again. Nobody believes how much pressure the little thing gives out!

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  17. Interesting, it never would’ve occurred to me to bring one along to replace showers in hotels. Mind you, if you catch yourself doing it in friends homes when you’ve been invited you probably are going too far… :)

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  18. Hello sir. I am experimenting with wordpress and I like you blog layout. Can you tell me what template you used? Thanks in advance. Scott.

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  19. Interesting article, Tim. Have you ever been in Brazil? I´m travelling through South America and I discovered that brazilian showers work with electricity. Weird! When I saw it for the first time, I said: “ok, that´s it. It was a good life… I had some happy moments”. But nothing happened! Anyway, the pressure of brazilian shower are weak, sad, not good at all. Now, It´s time to Argentina. I booked a couple of nights in a hostel (http://www.charlieshostel.com ) and I´m not expecting the best shower ever, but I will rent an apartment (http://www.charliesapartments.com ). When I´ll rent it I will ask for the pressure of the shower. They will laugh at me but I think that a good trip is defined by little things like that. Great bloq again!
    Earl

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  20. Tim, I came over from Facebook, where you say, “Holy #$%&. If some think my last blog post (http://su.pr/4HNdvm was controversial, my new book is going to get me crucified. Fun awaits.” Your link sends us here.

    What’s so controversial about this post?

    And now, of course, I have to go look up your new book. How did I miss that it was coming out?

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  21. Hey Tim, I totally agree with your post. After trying many smart, well-designed shower heads over the years, I came back to this cheap, unsophisticated one, also. It is a pleasure to have a power shower. Have fun!

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  22. Tim,

    What can I say? Great post! Short To the point, interesting and useful information that all of us can use. Great! I look forward to more posts like this!

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  23. I purchased this showerhead shortly after the original posting in ’07 and haven’t used anything since. It’s great!

    Incidentally, I just purchased the scanner (Mac version) you recommended in 12/2009, and can’t wait for its arrival and to go completely paperless.

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  24. Tim, I have to try this – but I also have to try to rig it for use with a hose. I have dogs and other ground-level objects to spray wash in the tub. But I’ll bet it can be done.

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  25. Brilliant,

    The link goes to a $8.08 showerhead on Amazon, but still definitely worth it to get it while travelling.

    @Tim: I missed a signed copy of the book due to travel internet, is there any way you can help me around this so I can boost your pre-orders?

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  26. Hello Tim. I’ve always admired you for The 4-Hour Workweek, but when I discovered your blog and read some articles, I started seeing you as some kind of superhuman lifestyle designer. I’m completely amazed. Could you tell me, or even better, write a post on how you discover so many wonderful things? It could be also something like “Tim’s routine”. I guess it’s kinda obvious, you just search and experiment, but I feel you do it differently and already know the way things work.
    Regard from a brazilian paulista.

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  27. They’ve got 1.25 gallon shower heads out there now! Very important for me since the hot water tank only holds 19 gallons! It’s torture with a 2.5 gallon shower head. Goodness.
    And the more efficient one ended up being cheaper!

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  28. Nice blog post. first timer at getting my handheld shower head replaced. Like the sound of the incredible head.. can it replace just the showerhead portion of my handheld??
    thanks!

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  29. I have a showerhead made by the company Melard. I think they were in new jersey. I love my showerhead but cannot find it anywhere! Melard co is no longer in business. Help! I love the pressure except does not work as well when others in apt. Building are taking a shower at the same time that i am! Wah!

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