In 1834, the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously wrote the line, “Water, water everywhere, but the stuff in my RV tastes funny and kinda smells, too.” Okay, so that might be a bit of a paraphrase, but the fact remains that many RV enthusiasts deal with stinky, possibly contaminated water while out on the road.
That doesn’t have to be the case, though. A good water filter can ensure that the water coming out of the tap in your RV is just as clear, clean, and delicious as the stuff you have at home — even if it originally came out of a suspicious-looking hose at an unkempt campground.
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To help you find a water filter that you can trust, we looked at over 30 of the most popular options we could find, comparing them based on filtration method, effectiveness, ease of use, and more.
We ultimately decided that the Clearsource Premium is our favorite filtration system, as it provides considerable purification power in a sleek and impressive package. To see which other models made our top picks, read on.
1. Clearsource Premium RV Water Filter System — Best RV Water Filter System
If you’re willing to sacrifice a little space for clean water, this is the system for you
It’s definitely big and bulky (and a little expensive), but the Clearsource Premium is definitely worth it. This is a top-of-the-line filtration system that will provide the cleanest water possible, even if you’re fond of staying in sketchy campsites.
Fortunately, even though it will take up a good amount of space in your kitchen, it will look good doing it. This machine looks like something astronauts will be drinking out of when intergalactic space travel finally gets off the ground, so you’ll be more likely to want to show it off than to try to hide it. Everything from the stainless steel fittings to the powder-coated chassis scream that this is a quality machine. The manufacturer even says it has “bullet-proof construction,” but we don’t recommend testing that.
Its performance lives up to the promise of its appearance as well. There’s a hospital-grade 0.2-micron filter inside capable of removing bacteria (including E. Coli), cysts like Giardia, and all kinds of metals and sediments. Your water should be crystal clear and delicious.
There are actually two different filters on here, so the few particles the first one misses should be picked up by the second. The first is a 0.5-micron coconut shell carbon block, and after that the water gets sent to the hospital-grade filter mentioned above. Both filters are large and intimidating-looking, which probably doesn’t do much for the water but should give you some peace of mind.
Actually, the size of the filters does have an important purpose: it means you’ll get more clean water out of the unit. This thing creates a powerful water flow, so you won’t have to worry about dealing with a little trickle when you’re thirsty or trying to cook.
If you have any issues with the unit, Clearsource’s customer support has a reputation for responding promptly and going above and beyond to solve your problem (with the filter, anyway — you’re on your own with the issues you have with your mother).
What I Liked:
- Looks futuristic and impressive
- Hospital-grade filtration
- Creates powerful water flow
- Two filters eliminate sediment, heavy metals, and bacteria
- Company provides top-notch customer service
What I Didn’t Like:
- Takes up a lot of space
- On the pricey side
2. Camco 40043 TastePure RV/Marine Water Filter — Best Inline RV Water Filter
This basic inline filter has everything you need for clean, clear water
You might not expect much in the way of bells and whistles when shopping for a water filter, but even with those lowered expectations, you’ll likely find the Camco 40043 TastePure to be a very bare-bones unit.
However, if you think that bare-bones equals poor performance, this filter will surprise you.
This is an in-line filter that attaches directly to your hose, and it has a flexible protector that will keep the hose from cracking, breaking, or kinking. That makes it extremely convenient to use, even in tight spaces, and it’s small enough that it won’t be in the way when not in use.
It’s not just convenient, either. It has a large-capacity filter that lasts around 3 months on average, but that’s with regular use. If you’re only using it sporadically, it will last much longer than that. The filter uses granular-activated carbon to weed out chlorine, sediment, and odors, leaving only pure, nearly-tasteless water.
Anything larger than 20 microns will get filtered out, which means things like heavy metals, mercury, calcium, lead, and similar unwanted particles won’t get invited to the party. It claims to eliminate hard water spots as well, although that wasn’t the case for us, so if you’re planning on washing your car with it, you may be disappointed.
As for bacteria and other microscopic creepy-crawlies, it utilizes kinetic degradation fluxion (KDF) to prevent microbes from growing inside the filter. This means you can store it pretty much anywhere without worrying about the filter itself becoming contaminated, which is good news if you only use your rig seasonally.
While this filter is unbelievably easy to attach, getting it to sit properly is a pain. As a result, you should expect some leaking every time you use it, but that’s a small price to pay for such convenience and utility.
What I Liked:
- Easy to use and install
- Hose protector prevents kinking and breaking
- Eliminates chlorine, odors, and heavy metals
- Prevents bacterial growth when not in use
- Compact and easy to store
What I Didn’t Like:
- Does little for hard water spots
- Tends to leak
3. Aqua Crest RV Inline Water Filter with Hose Protector — Best Inline Filter for High Water Pressure
This filter is extremely versatile and easy to use, making it a good choice for virtually all of your water needs
Like the Camco, the Aqua Crest is an inline model that’s easy to install and remove. However, the Aqua Crest is an industrial-strength option that can process an impressive amount of H2O.
Seriously — this thing is massive. You could kill a water buffalo with it, if you were so inclined. That makes it unwieldy to store, but it also ensures that you get a sizable flow of water out of it. It’s great for showers, use on your lawn, and other heavy-duty applications.
Despite the generous output it offers, it has a long lifespan — around 3 months on average. Given that this is one of the more affordable units on the market, that represents some serious value.
It has a 20-micron filter that can effectively reduce chlorine, sediments, and bad tastes and odors. Even more impressively, though, it boasts a fluoride reduction function, ensuring you won’t get too much in your glass. Don’t expect it to remove every tiny microbe, but it should do a good job of eliminating the vast majority of dangerous bugs.
If you have hard water, you’ll find that it’s remarkably good at eliminating spotting, which is good news for both your dishes and your car. The plants in your garden will appreciate the softer water as well (not to mention you killing all those pesky water buffalo).
What I Liked:
- Offers a generous flow
- Long lifespan
- Works well for heavy-duty applications
- Great at removing hard water spots
- Offers a fluoride-reduction function
What I Didn’t Like:
- Large and cumbersome to store
- Doesn’t remove as many microbes as some other systems
4. Beech Lane External RV Dual Water Filter System — Best External Canister Water Filter
This powerful permanent filter system is surprisingly affordable and easy to remove
If you want a system that can be permanently attached to your rig, the Beech Lane External is the way to go. It’s very durable, thoroughly cleanses incoming water, and won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
The system attaches to the outside of your RV using the included steel mounting bracket. It will take a little bit of effort to install, but once you’re done, you’ll have a filtration solution that will last as long as your rig does.
It’s designed to handle the rough-and-tumble outdoor life, too. The canister filters have thick walls, tight seals thanks to their lead-free brass fixtures, and durable internal components that can handle the jostling that occurs during life on the road.
This system isn’t just sturdy, though — it’s capable of really decontaminating some water. It offers both 0.5-micron and 5-micron filtration, ensuring that particles like sand and heavy metals never make it into your mouth. Meanwhile, the smaller filter also snags bacteria, cysts, chlorine, and other tiny particles that the larger filter may miss, giving you extremely clean water.
That thoroughness comes at a cost, however. You’ll likely witness a noticeable drop in your water pressure, so you may want to reserve this strictly for drinking water.
The reduction in water pressure is the steepest price you’ll pay, though, as the actual price of this unit is extremely low. You probably won’t find a better deal on a permanently-installed unit of this quality, and the replacement filters are cheap, too.
What I Liked:
- Offers a permanent solution to your filtration problems
- Durable equipment can handle abuse from the road
- Dual filtration system leaves water extremely clean
- Very affordable for what you get
- Brass fixtures create tight seals
What I Didn’t Like:
- Installation is a bit of a pain
- Tends to reduce water pressure
5. Kohree RV Marine Inline Water Filter — Best Budget Inline Water Filter
This inexpensive unit works quickly, giving you clean water without sacrificing pressure
This inline unit from Kohree is simple and unobtrusive, so you can quickly install it and start enjoying clean water without having to completely rearrange your rig to do so. It’s small enough to be easily stashed out of the way when not in use, and it’s impressively durable, thanks to its thick plastic shell.
That shell is made from food-grade material, and it’s completely BPA-free, ensuring you won’t get any stray plastic particles leaching into your liquid. This also helps create water that’s odor-free and delicious, rather than tasting like it was filtered through a Hefty bag.
It’s the filter’s ability to quickly purify water that sets it apart, however. It can clean half a gallon of water per minute, ensuring that you can go about your business without having to spend all day waiting on your faucet to catch up. You won’t get a sand-blasting of a shower with this installed, but you won’t be desperately trying to wash your hair under a dripping showerhead, either, as it’s capable of reaching up to 60 psi.
It’s able to work this quickly thanks to the 5-stage filtration process it uses. Sediment and other large particles are the first things removed, then the KDF process kills bacteria and reduces heavy metals. After that, fluoride and arsenic are taken out before the coconut shell carbon filter improves the water’s taste and odor. Finally, a post-filtration layer gives the water a once-over to remove anything that was missed.
These filters do tend to leak, so expect quite a bit of trial-and-error when installing one. Also, if you’re dealing with extremely contaminant-heavy water, don’t expect the filter to last very long before it gets clogged.
What I Liked:
- BPA-free plastic shell
- Won’t reduce water pressure too much
- Powerful 5-stage filtration system
- Durable construction
- Small and unobtrusive
What I Didn’t Like:
- Prone to leaking
- Clogs quickly when filtering especially dirty water
What We Looked For in the Best RV Water Filters
Deciding on a water filter for your RV is the sort of thing that you likely haven’t given much thought to, but it can have a dramatic impact on your ability to enjoy your campervan vehicle. After all, if your drinking water has bits of stuff floating in it, it’s hard to have a good time out on the road.
With that in mind, we looked at the following criteria when assembling these rankings:
Filtration power: Filters that were able to really dig deep and clean out even the tiniest particles were favored in these rankings.
Capacity/water pressure: No one likes having to wait for their filter to catch up as they stand there waiting with an empty glass, so systems with larger capacities were favored here. Also, we valued those that didn’t negatively impact water pressure too much.
Size: Ideally, your filter shouldn’t impact your ability to enjoy your RV at all, so we gave some filters bonus points for being unobtrusive
Ease of use: While not a dealbreaker, it’s always nice when your filtration system is easy to install and operate.
How to Choose the Right RV Water Filter
It’s easy for us to tell you that the Clearsource Premium is the best water filter system you can buy, but it’s quite another thing to tell you why that’s the case. Spelling out exactly what you should look for in an RV water filter not only helps you understand what a good unit can do for you, it also forces you to think about what you really need in a water filter.
In the brief guide below, we’ll look at some of the things you should ask yourself before choosing a filtration system, so that you can be sure to get the best option for you right off the bat.
Type of Filter
There are 4 basic types of RV water filters you can choose from, each of which has its own pros and cons:
Inline: these are very cheap and simple to use, and they attach to your water tank directly so that any water you pump into the tank gets filtered along the way. When one stops being effective, you simply throw it away and buy a new one. However, they’re not the most efficient option, and they may not be the most thorough either.
Standard canister: these filters take water and send it through canisters designed to catch and remove contaminants. The system itself is a fairly permanent option, as all you’ll have to do is replace the canisters as needed. The biggest downside is that they often reduce water pressure.
Jumbo canister: these are just like standard canister models, except the canisters are larger (we bet you didn’t see that coming). They tend to be more expensive, but they’re less likely to slow down your water supply.
Reverse osmosis: these are very expensive, high-end systems. They also tend to be the best at removing contaminants, but it’s up to you whether that additional effectiveness is worth the hefty price tag that comes with it.
Not all filters are equally good at removing everything that could be in your water. That means that, before you decide on a system, you should do some research to determine what exactly is in the water that you’ll be drinking.
The best filtration systems should remove pretty much everything, but you may want to pay particular attention to things like heavy metals, chlorine, and bacteria, depending on where you’ll be getting your water from.
The price of a water filter for your RV can range from less than $20 for an inline model to several hundred dollars for a reverse-osmosis or jumbo canister model.
While the more expensive systems are usually better, you may not need all that filtration power. Before you buy, think about how often you’ll use it and decide what you’ll use it for; if you’re using it once or twice a year, or just using it for drinking water, you won’t need nearly as powerful (or expensive) a system as you would for full-time use.
You’ll also want to think about where you’re going to put it. Some filters attach to the outside of the RV; these include inline models as well as some canisters. While this frees up space inside the cabin, it may reduce the lifespan of the unit, as it will be subjected to wear-and-tear from the road.
On the other hand, if you have an internal unit, you’ll likely have to sacrifice some space in your kitchen. How much space depends on the size of the system; some jumbo canisters can take up a big chunk of your counter space.
Also read: RV Water Hose Storage Ideas
If you’re in the market for a water filter for your RV, we recommend the Clearsource Premium. It’s a larger unit, but it’s also extremely powerful, providing you with some of the cleanest, tastiest water you’ll find anywhere.
Regardless of which option you choose, make sure that it’s capable of handling the kind of water you’ll encounter at your preferred destinations. After all, a water filter that removes 97% of particles won’t do you much good if the water you’re dealing with is full of the other 3%.
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