Written By Lisa Conant
Published Oct. 6, 2021

If you’re a regular RV traveler, you probably already know that one thing that’s tough to predict when traveling to various campgrounds is access to consistently clean drinking water that doesn’t smell strange as it’s leaving your faucet. A lot of people who like to travel by RV choose to buy copious amounts of bottled water in order to combat this but we all know the drawbacks to purchasing single-use bottles of water. This is where investing a small amount in a reusable RV water filter can be a game changer. It gives you access to clean and reliable drinking water without all of the plastic bottle waste. If you’re considering getting a high-quality RV water filter for your rig, we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and came up with our list of top picks as well as a handy buying guide that will help you know exactly what to look for.

Best RV Water Filter Reviews & Recommendations

Camco is one of those companies that has been a leader and top competitor in the RV industry for more than 50 years, so it’s no surprise it’s got our top overall RV water filter. The Camco 40045 TastePURE Water Filter uses granular activated carbon to efficiently remove odors, poor taste, chlorine, and sediment from your drinking water and this pack of two filters will each last an average of three months, depending on how frequently you visit your RV, giving you six months of clean, safe water.

One of the great things about this lightweight and compact filter is that it can be attached to any standard garden or water hose quickly without the need for a large, extraneous setup. This makes it a great option not only for RV use, but also for boats, campers, cabins, etc. It’s rated to remove particles greater than 20 microns. It’s also low-lead certified and made in the USA. Keep in mind though, that depending on where you are, these filters have some limitations and aren’t going to produce miracle results in some circumstances.

Specs
  • Brand Camco
  • Model 40045
  • Weight 1.6 pounds
PROS

Relatively affordable

Attaches easily to any regular size hose

Versatile enough for multiple use scenarios

CONS

Can’t filter clay or smaller toxins

Only lasts about three months

Only rated for a max PSI of 60

The Aquacrest RV Inline Water Filter is an ideal combination of functionality and affordability.
This pack of two filters is certified by NSF 42, and like our top pick, it uses GAC to filter anything over 20 microns. This upgraded model features a food-grade plastic housing that has been designed to prevent bursting and improve user safety and ensure that no toxins get leached back into your water supply.

It can be quickly and easily attached to any standard garden or water hose, making it a versatile option with lots of uses. Some people even use it to cut down on water spots when they wash their cars. Depending on your usage, this filter can last an entire camping season, or about three months if you use it daily. It’s not as thorough as a whole house filtration system, but it will greatly cut down on damaging sediment, foul odors, and strange tastes to give you drinking water you can rest easy about.

Specs
  • Brand Aquacrest
  • Model AQU-RV2
  • Weight 1.98 pounds
PROS

Super affordable

Can be used for many different purposes

Constructed using a durable, food-grade housing

CONS

Not the most effective filter on the market

Can be difficult to thread onto certain hoses

Not rated for high pressures

If you’re looking for a filter that’s going to remove some serious contaminants, the Watts POE12DSA1KDF Dual Exterior Water Filter Kit is our pick to click. This is a more serious set-up than most inline hose filters, so it takes some more time to install, but the results are worth it. This filtration system is capable of removing up to 99.9 percent of contaminants including chlorine, foul odors, build-up, bacteria, poor taste, and sediment. The GAC/KDF (Kinetic Degradation Fluxion) filter serves to remove inorganic matter before it reaches the carbon bed, which helps to prevent bacteria overgrowth.

This filter comes with a premium price tag, but in its defense, you should only need to change the filter cartridges every 12 months, or when you notice a significant change in odor, taste, or water flow rate. It’s designed to work universally with most number 5 and number 7 filters, making it relatively easy to find replacement options. It’s backed by a 90-day warranty for added peace of mind. During installation, make sure you have enough room around the filter housing to be able to easily remove it for replacing filters.

Specs
  • Brand Watts Water Technologies
  • Model POE12DSA1KDF
  • Weight 8.25 pounds
PROS

Removes 99.9 percent of contaminants

Only needs to be replaced every 12 months

Backed by a 90-day manufacturer’s warranty

CONS

Pricey

Installation is somewhat time consuming

Requires more dedicated space than an inline hose filter

The Culligan RV-800 Water Filter is a great option for those who camp in places that have a well-known, relatively clean water supply, or for those who are occasional campers that don’t want to invest a ton of cash in a more rugged and thorough option. This inline hose filter is good for one RV season, or three months, and it’s capable of filtering out bad tastes, foul odors, some sediment, and chlorine.

It attaches easily to the exterior of your RV, trailer, camper, or boat so that you can filter contaminated water before it gets into your holding tank. This helps eliminate mold and bacterial overgrowth inside the tank, keeping you and your family safe from extraneous toxins. This filter is IAPMO certified to work effectively and meet American plumbing standards. This filter is made in China, and while it’s not the most thorough filter on the market, it’s offered at an excellent price point and still provides a good level of water cleaning.

Specs
  • Brand Culligan
  • Model RV-800
  • Weight 1 pound
PROS

Easily connects to the outside of your

RV Provides a noticeable difference in water taste and smell

Can last an entire RV season

CONS

Not the most thorough filter on the market

Housing is not as durable as some other options

Not made in the USA

The Hydro Life Inline Hose Water Filter is a great offering from Camco that serves as a straightforward, easy to install exterior water hook up that can be used in your RV, travel trailer, camper, and boat. You can also use it to eliminate contaminants to help improve your gardening efforts, or use it when washing your car to help eliminate hard water stains left over after washing. The filter is small, compact, and discreet and is a great supplement to any under-counter RV filter kit. It can filter water before it gets into your tank, extending the life of your water tank.

This model uses patented KDF media to limit bacteria and mold growth in conjunction with GAC filtration to remove contaminants, bad odors, yucky taste, and chlorine. The filter media is EPA-approved. This filter offers a solid working pressure range of 20-100 PSI and a max flow rate of 2 GPM. It’s not the toughest filter on the market, but works great for the mid-level RV user or those who are looking to supplement their under-the-sink filter.

Specs
  • Brand Hydro Life
  • Model 52133
  • Weight 1.53 pounds
PROS

EPA-approved GAC/KDF filtration

Removes contaminants that cause bad tastes and odors

Can be used for multiple purposes

CONS

Not the toughest housing

Threads can sometimes be difficult to twist on securely

Doesn’t last as long as some other options

How We Selected RV Water Filters 

As you can imagine, there are dozens of different options for RV water filters on the market. In order to narrow down and select only the best options, we chose products that came from reputable manufacturers with a solid history of producing reliable and innovative RV products. We wanted to offer a diverse selection of versatile options that would work for a wide range of RV sizes and models. For pricing strategy, we also wanted to offer a wide range to suit any budget, so you’ll see products ranging from $20 to the upper end of the spectrum.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look For 

When choosing the right RV water filter, one of the most important things is to decide ahead of time what you want. Do you want a simple, easy-to-install, seasonal option that will mainly filter out bad smells and tastes, or do you want a more comprehensive, larger, and thorough filter that will remove all sorts of contaminants? This will narrow your options quickly. Following are several other factors to consider to help you select the ideal RV water filter.

Types of RV Water Filters

As mentioned above, there are different types of RV water filtration systems that have various capabilities and features. The type you choose for your RV should be based on your specific wants and needs, your geographic location, and how often you use your RV. 

Inline filter

This system fits directly to your RV’s water entry point on the exterior of your rig to filter all the water supply coming into your vehicle. This is a good economical, all-round filter for sediment and contaminants, as well as improving taste and odor, depending on the type of filter material it uses. You can also get an inline water filter that fits to the pipe leading to your kitchen tap. Look for filters that are EPA approved and include GAC media as well as KDF antibacterial technology. These filters are usually good for one RV season, or three months, depending on how frequently you use your RV.

Compact canister

Similar to the whole unit used in homes, this canister is designed to fit on to the water hose or inside your RV, often under your counter. Depending on the model, it can also be customized to your specific needs. The compact size is a bonus too. Canisters are also a good option if you want a better water flow and can also come in dual or even triple canister systems for specific filter tasks. This system is usually capable of filtering up to 99.9 percent of contaminants, making it a much more thorough (and usually pricey) option than the more simplified inline filters.

Reverse osmosis

This is one of the least popular and most expensive RV filtration setups. RO is a good option if you want to completely purify your water (although a word of caution, it also removes important minerals from your water supply).

RV Water Filter Materials

  • Activated Carbon. This is the most common and popular filter media. Made from charred wood, coal, or coconut shells, it pulls toxins and impurities out of your water and absorbs them.
  • Catalytic Carbon. This is a form of activated carbon that has been enhanced to improve its catalytic ability. It’s mainly used to rid water of chloramine, a common chemical used in water treatment facilities.
  • Kinetic Degradation Fluxion. Commonly known as KDF, this is mainly made from copper and zinc particles. It’s primary purpose is to remove water-soluble heavy metals, such as chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and iron. It works best in conjunction with carbon to extend the life of the carbon filters.
  • Mixed Media. As the name implies, this can be a mixed bag of whatever the manufacturer chooses, including gravel. It’s used to filter a wide variety of impurities. 

Installation

Ease of installation and the amount of space you have to fit an RV water filter may be deciding factors for you. If you have a smaller RV that can’t fit a dual- or triple-canister system, then your best bet is to go with a simple, easy-to-install exterior inline hose filter.

However, if you’ve got plenty of room and want to rid your water of all but the tiniest, most microscopic contaminants, then perhaps investing in a larger, more complicated filtration system makes sense. Whatever you decide, be sure the system can actually fit where you’re thinking about putting it. Measure twice, just to be safe.  

RV Water Filter Tips and Tricks

As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. That’s the case with us and RV water filters. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Be sure that the size of your filter is compatible with the size of your RV. If you have a massive motorhome, a small inline filter isn’t going to cut it.
  • Regularly sanitize your fresh water tank and plumbing lines using 1 cup of bleach per 10 gallons of tank size in order to prevent an overgrowth of toxic mold and bacteria in places you can’t see. 
  • Be sure to only fill your RV water tank with a dedicated drinking hose that isn’t used for any other purpose. This will also cut down on contaminants entering your water tank.
  • Drain out all unused fresh water at the end of every RV season if you’re going to leave your RV sitting unused for extended periods of time.

FAQs:

Q: How often should I change my RV water filter?

Most inline filters are designed to be changed every three months, or once per RV season, depending on your frequency of use and the amount of contaminants in your water. Most larger canister filters require changing once every 12 months.

Q: How much water should I filter?

This is up to personal preference. Some RVers choose only to filter drinking water at the faucet. Others prefer to filter any and all water that comes into the rig. And still others combine the two options and do both. Consider the amount of heavy metals and contaminants in your water when deciding what’s right for you.

Q: Can I use an RV filter for hot water?

Most manufacturers do not recommend running hot water through their RV filter units, as they’re only designed for cold water. Hot water can actually reverse the process of chemical absorption, releasing contaminants back into the water.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for a reliable, easy-to-install, RV filter that will remove foul odors, taste, and chlorine, our top overall recommendation is the Camco 40045 TastePURE Water Filter. This two-pack of filters uses granular activated carbon to efficiently remove odors, poor taste, chlorine, and sediment from your drinking water.

For a great budget-friendly option that will still provide excellent filtration results, consider the Aquacrest RV Inline Water Filter. This pack of two filters is certified by NSF 42, and like our top pick, it uses GAC to filter anything over 20 microns.

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