The 10 Best RV Water Filters to Buy 2021

The 10 Best RV Water Filters to Buy 2021

Water is the essence of life—a critical molecule no known creature can live without. It hydrates cells, dissolves toxins, and nourishes our entire organism to allow nutrients to flow.

Unlike at home, you can’t always expect to encounter a clean supply of pleasant-tasting water while on the road. Excessive chlorine, sediment, and bacteria lurk within freshwater refill points, especially in far-flung regions without access to a city water supply. And not only will these contaminants cause your water to become murky and foul, but they can also provoke significant health issues.

The good news is there’s a relatively simple, cost-effective solution: the RV water filter. Sold in various shapes and sizes, these indispensable devices turn odorous water fresh—and in some cases, they can even eliminate nasty water-borne compounds.

RV water filters aren’t all one and the same; some designs are only suitable for specific situations. To help you wrap your head around the technology, we’ve put together an in-depth RV Water Filter Buyer’s Guide.

What’s more, to help you pick out the perfect product for your needs, we’ve researched and reviewed the top 10 RV-friendly water filters on the market.

Features To Consider in an RV Water Filter:

Several different types of RV water filters are available, each specially designed to cater to distinct users. Certain filters excel in certain areas—what’s right for one RVer mightn’t be the best option for you. Factor the following considerations into your final decision to find the ideal filtration solution for your needs.

Filtration System

RV water filters work in different ways, and the optimal filtration system depends on your usual water source. RVers who rely entirely on city water could buy a simple carbon filter, while remote adventurers will need something more extreme.

Installation Type

RV water filters can be installed under the sink, on your countertop, or at the end of your freshwater hose. If you’re not an avid DIYer, then consider opting for one of the easier-to-install options (i.e., inline) to save on installation costs. 

Time Spent in RV

Full-time RVers will need a comprehensive filtration system that performs well in various conditions. Weekend warriors, on the other hand, might prefer to stick with something simple (and cheap).

Price

Our recommended RV water filters range from $20 to $400+, with the upper end producing clear water with impeccable taste. Devices that eliminate harmful metals and bacteria are more expensive; consider whether your water source warrants extra protection.

Maintenance/Replacement Costs:

Every RV water filter has a limited shelf life, whether that means replacing a cartridge, a bulb, or the entire system. You should factor longevity into your decision-making process to determine the real, on-going cost of a filtration unit.

Dimensions

If you’re looking at an under-the-sink or countertop filter, you must first measure the available space. There’s no point purchasing a fantastic water filter if it doesn’t fit in your rig. Dimensions are less critical for external inline filters, which tend to be small anyway.

Micron Rating

All filters are rated at filtering particles of a specific size, referred to as microns. Basic carbon/sediment filters might only filter out large particles of 20 microns or more, while advanced models could catch particles smaller than one micron.

Gallons Per Minute

Gallons per minute, or flow rate, refers to how much water can pass through the filter at a time. A high GPM rating means the filter will cleanse a large quantity of water over a short period. Flow rate becomes especially important for RVs with a direct connection to a city water supply.

Water filters are just one way to keep your RV safe and clean. Don’t forget to check out our guides on the best RV air conditioners and toilets to buy as well.

Top 10 Best RV Water Filters 2021

1. Best Overall Pick: Camco 40043 TastePure RV Water Filter

Camco 40043 TastePure RV Water Filter

Why we like it: The Camco 40043 is a highly effective and affordable inline filter that’s super simple to use.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Inline
  • Longevity: 3 months / 500 gallons
  • Micron Rating: 20 microns

If you’re just after something quick and easy that works, Camco has got you covered with its widely popular 40043 model. This simple inline filter clips into your hose (we recommend putting it on the RV side of the line) to filter out foul-tasting chlorine as well as sediment particles larger than 20 microns. Once you’re done filling up, just pop it out again and store it with your hose for next time.

You’ll get about 500 gallons of use out of this unit, enough to last a full-time RVer an entire camping season. And when it comes time to replace it again, the reasonably priced filter won’t break the bank. Although it’s specifically designed for RV use, nothing is stopping you from using the system in your garden or boat as well.

KDF technology helps protect against nasty contaminants such as hydrogen sulfide, iron, and heavy metals. As always, however, KDF isn’t a fail-safe solution, so only use this device on a potable water supply.

Most RVers use it to turn the dank tasting water at the campsite into something more palatable, and Camco certainly delivers in this respect. It’s an American-made product, too, so you can feel good about supporting the economy with each purchase.

If you’ve already got a flexible hose extension nozzle, consider opting for the Camco 40045 model instead. In essence, it’s the same great inline water filter, but sans the hose extension nozzle, thus cheaper.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Comes with a hose nozzle
  • Carbon filter with KDF
  • Filters large sediment particles
  • Long shelf life

Cons

  • Can’t filter small sediment particles
  • Doesn’t offer full protection against bacteria

2. Best Budget Pick: AmazonBasics Inline Water Filter, 4 pack

AmazonBasics Inline Water Filter, 4 pack

Why we like it: You get four individual inline water filters for one low price—talk about affordable!

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Inline
  • Longevity: 1350 gallons / one camping season
  • Micron Rating: 20 microns

Full-time RVers who live out of their rig need to filter gallons and gallons of water each week. And those using an inline filter (which cleans all the water that enters the tank) will find it needs to be replaced rather quickly, costing you both time and money.

One of the most cost-effective solutions to this conundrum is to buy in bulk—specifically, this four-pack from AmazonBasics costs a fraction of the competition. Each filter can last a good three months with heavy use (1,350 gallons each), so four will do you for a full year. Additionally, you could save a couple of bucks more by opting for the bigger four-pack if you prefer.

Although the filter isn’t specially designed for RV use, it does the job just fine. The granulated carbon filter works well at removing foul odors and taste from a chlorinated city water supply. Meanwhile, built-in KDF technology helps protect against bacteria, fungus, aluminum, and other metals.

Be aware that this one doesn’t come with the flexible hose nozzle, so you’ll need to create one yourself (cut your hose into a small piece). It also only filters sediment particles over 20 microns and isn’t all that powerful against microbes, so look elsewhere if you plan on filling up from wells or streams.

Nonetheless, it’s a reliable option at a low price that appeals to the heavy-use RVer on a budget.

Pros

  • Bulk buy discounts
  • Each filter is suitable for 1,350 gallons
  • KDF technology helps protect against bacteria and metals
  • Inline design filters entire freshwater tank

Cons

  • Doesn’t come with a flexible nozzle
  • Only suitable for city water

3. Best Premium Pick: AQUA TRU Countertop Reverse Osmosis

AQUA TRU Countertop Reverse Osmosis

Why we like it: It uses advanced reverse osmosis technology to create delicious water that’s 100% safe.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Reverse osmosis
  • Dimensions: 18 x 18 x 15 inches
  • Installation Type: Countertop
  • Longevity: 1 filter set per 4,500 bottles (16.9 oz.)

It doesn’t come cheap and takes up a considerable amount of space on your kitchen bench, but if it’s crystal clear and impeccably tasty water you’re after, reverse osmosis can’t be beaten. And while there are several competing countertop systems out there, we rate this model from AQUA TRU as the best for its compact design.

Coming in at 18 x 18 x 15 inches, you don’t need to sacrifice an excessive amount of space to make the most of this beast. For health-conscious users concerned about carcinogens, toxins, heavy metals, and other contaminants, the lost bench space is a worthy investment indeed (if you’re traveling in a roomy RV, anyway).

The unit complies with strict IAMPO Standards and removes up to 82 contaminants, bringing you safe and delicious tasting water that’s just as good as the bottled stuff. As it’s a countertop unit, there’s no tricky installation required—just plug it in and fill it up with water.

The downside to a reverse osmosis countertop system is it’s just not as convenient as other types. You’ll need to load up a gallon of water each morning to last the day (only using it for drinking), and the reverse osmosis process takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Nevertheless, if you find yourself frequently forking out for “clean” bottled water in the gas station, this reverse osmosis system is the ideal solution for your RV. And should you balk at the hefty price tag, it’s nice to know the unit comes with a one-year warranty.

Like other reverse osmosis systems, it’s intended for domestic use and runs on 110V. Therefore, you’ll need an inverter to use it with a 12V RV system.

Pros

  • Compact countertop system
  • Filters out 82 contaminants
  • Creates clean and delicious water
  • Filters one gallon in 15 minutes
  • Suitable replacement for bottled water

Cons

  • Less convenient than other filter types
  • More expensive than other filter types

4. Best Single-Canister Inline System: Camco EVO Premium RV Water Filter

Camco EVO Premium RV Water Filter

Why we like it: It’s easy to use and does a better job at removing sediment than an inline filter.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Sediment and carbon
  • Installation Type: Inline single-canister
  • Longevity: One camping season
  • Micron Rating: 5 microns

If you like the sound of a simple inline system but want the security of a fine sediment filter, then a canister system is your best bet. And this superb model from Camco is the finest single-canister water filter on the market.

Designed specifically for RV use, the device filters out sediment particles of 5 microns or larger, far finer than a standard inline filter (usually 20 microns or so). You still get all the added benefits of a granulated carbon filter—think fresh-tasting water that’s free from chlorine.

Canister systems are just as easy to use as inline filters. All you need to do is plug it into an ordinary-sized hose and use it to fill up your RV. This model comes with a flexible hose extension you can slip into the fresh water tank with ease—a truly turn-key solution.

It’ll last a full season, and you can replace the cartridge rather than the whole system when the time comes. In-built KDF technology helps protect against hydrogen sulfide, iron, lead, and other nastiness while also inhibiting fungus and mold growth.

Although it comes in at about twice the price of our favorite inline filter, the Camco 40043 TastePure, we feel it’s a worthy investment for a full season of crystal clear, pleasant-tasting water.

Pros

  • Excellent mid-range solution
  • Fine 5-micron filter
  • Works well with sediment
  • KDF technology inhibits fungus and mold
  • Comes with a flexible hose extension

Cons

  • Much more expensive than normal inline filters

5. Best Long-Lasting Inline: Culligan RV-800 Exterior Water Filter

Culligan RV-800 Exterior Water Filter

Why we like it: It does a top job at filtering out chlorine and boasts an impressive shelf life.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Inline
  • Longevity: 2,000 gallons
  • GPM: 1.0

Culligan is a great alternative to Camco and a fantastic solution when you want clean water with minimal fuss. This particular inline model is the brand’s flagship and is commonly seen in RV parks all around America.

The secret to its success is its simple inline design, which doesn’t require any installation whatsoever. Just plug it into a normal-sized tap and hose, and you’re good to go. Like most inline filters, the sediment option isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly better than nothing. The granulated carbon filter works wonders, however, as you won’t notice any unpleasant chlorine or algae after tones.

A big reason to opt for this model is longevity. While many competitors are only suitable for 500 gallons or so, the Culligan RV-800 is rated for a whopping 2,000 gallons—a massive difference. It’s worth noting the precise shelf life depends entirely on the quality of the water you’re filtering. Nevertheless, we’re confident you’ll get through an extended camping season with the Culligan RV-800.

Another neat little bonus is you can purchase the unit without the flexible connector hose to save money (we recommend getting one if you don’t have it already).

Remember, though, that inline filters are only suitable for use with potable city water.

Pros

  • Good for 2,000 gallons
  • Works with sediment
  • Filters chlorine and algae
  • Can purchase without hose extension

Cons

  • Only suitable for potable water

6. Best Under-The-Sink Water Filter: Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System

Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System

Why we like it: It fits nicely under the sink and does an outstanding job at filtering drinking/dishwater.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Under-the-sink
  • Longevity: 8,000 gallons
  • Micron Rating: 0.01 micron
  • GPM: 2 GPM

Under-the-sink RV water filters have an undeserved reputation for being more trouble than they’re worth. Terrified DIYers discount them for the mere fact an installation is required—even if the process requires no special skills and takes under three minutes to complete, as is the case with this model from Waterdrop.

The Waterdrop 10UA is the best under-the-sink filter on the market for its impressive filtration power and its easy-to-install design. Push-to-connect fittings and a twist-and-lock layout let you install and replace the filter easily, even without any previous plumbing experience. Plus, it uses the universal 3/8” standard sizing, making it compatible with most RV sinks in America.

The filter itself is far superior to a standard inline filter as well. Boasting a four-stage filtration system, it’ll remove 99% of contaminants from your drinking water, including chlorine, odor, sediment, rust, and heavy metals. The micron rating is equally impressive; it’s capable of filtering tiny particles as small as 0.01 microns. And that makes it safe enough to drink untested water from wells or even natural sources, providing there’s no heavy metal contamination.

As an under-the-sink filter, it’ll only work on the water coming out of that specific faucet. But so long as you remember to fill your cup or bottle from the same sink, it shouldn’t be an issue. The filter flows at up to 2.0 GPM, which is more than enough to do the dishes.

If you’ve got space to install this one under your sink (it’s 3.6 x 3.6 x 12.3 inches), then there’s no need to rely on an inferior inline filter ever again.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Superior to inline filters
  • Works on particles of 0.01 microns
  • Removes most contaminants

Cons

  • Requires sufficient space under the sink
  • Requires installation

7. Best UV Water Purifier for RVs: HQUA-OWS-6 Ultraviolet Water Purifier

HQUA-OWS-6 Ultraviolet Water Purifier

Why we like it: It uses the power of a 25W ultraviolet bulb to sterilize nasty bacteria in your water.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: UV
  • Installation Type: Under-the-sink
  • Longevity: One year
  • Micron Rating: 5 microns
  • GPM: 6 GPM

If you’re hoping to source water from natural streams, then you can’t afford to rely on an ordinary sediment and carbon filter combo. Bacteria and other ghastly microbes can lurk within even the clearest water and pose a serious threat to your health.

While reverse osmosis does a beautiful job at killing off the nastiness, a more comprehensive option is ultraviolet. This unit from HQUA sits under the sink to cleanse water for drinking, cooking, and cleaning, safeguarding your family from harmful microscopic organisms. Compare that to reverse osmosis, which is only viable for treating the water you drink.

Before you get too excited about UV, there are a few things to know about the tech. First, this model isn’t specifically designed for RV use as it runs off 110V. Therefore, you’ll need an inverter to run it on your off-grid 12V electrical system, which means you’ll lose efficiency and chew through your battery in the process.

You’ll also need an effective sediment filter because bacteria are known to hide behind particles smaller than 5 microns, thus won’t be affected by the UV rays. We recommend using the Camco EVO Premium RV Water Filter as an exterior inline filter to complement the HQUA-OWS-6.

The HQUA-OWS-6 excels at RV use for two key reasons: size and ease of installation. Coming in at a petite 22.8 x 2.5 x 2.5 inches, it’s small enough to squeeze under most RV sinks (we recommend checking first). Furthermore, you don’t need a plumber as the horizontal installation is easy enough to pull off yourself.

As a nice bonus, it comes with an extra UV tube. Aim to replace your original one after about 12 months or so.

Pros

  • Great at killing bacteria
  • Easy to install without a plumber
  • Small enough for most RV sinks
  • Comes with a replacement UV bulb

Cons

  • 110V appliance requires an inverter
  • Needs strong sediment filter

8. Best for Fluoride Removal: AQUA CREST RV Inline Water Filter

AQUA CREST RV Inline Water Filter

Why we like it: Aqua Crest offers a superb inline water filter to achieve optimal cleanliness at a reasonable price.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Inline
  • Longevity: One camping season / three months
  • Micron Rating: 20 microns

Aqua Crest is the biggest competitor to Camco in the inline water filter field, and their flagship model performs exceptionally well for the price. The cost is one of the main reasons to consider investing in this brand, which offers similar benefits for a substantially lower price than the Camco 40043.

Both products use carbon and sediment filtration systems along with KDP technology to create clean and safe water for your entire freshwater tank. The Aqua Crest goes one step further by adding a fluoride removal function, which is great if you would rather not ingest the controversial monatomic anion (but not so good if you would).

Both products also have an identical micron limit of 20 and a similar shelf life of around three months, depending on usage.

So what’s the difference between the two, apart from cost? Well, the Camco 40043 delivers better-tasting water on the whole; it just feels more fresh and easy on the palate. The included hose protector extension on the Aqua Crest is also rather flimsy and tends to break easily.

Speaking of the hose extension, if you don’t want one, you can purchase a hoseless two-pack or four-pack to save even more money.

Pros

  • Low-cost inline filter
  • Filters sediment larger than 20 microns
  • Carbon filter with KDP technology
  • Removes fluoride

Cons

  • Water doesn’t taste as good as Camco 40043
  • Hose extension is flimsy

9. Best Dual-Canister System: Beech Lane Dual Water Filter System

Beech Lane Dual Water Filter System

Why we like it: Beech Lane incorporates two separate filters into one for optimal cleansing action.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Sediment and carbon
  • Installation Type: Inline
  • Longevity: 6 months
  • Micron Rating: 0.5 and 5 microns

“Two RV water filters are better than one,” as the ancient proverb goes. And Beech Lane brings truth to this age-old adage with its coveted dual water filter system.

The twin-canister approach works similarly to an inline filter: you plug it into the hose and fill up your entire RV fresh water tank. As a result, no special installation is required, making it an attractive option to RVers who aren’t confident with DIY installs.

The big advantage of a dual filtration system is the extra small micron rating. With a standard inline system, for example, you’d be lucky to get rid of anything under 20 microns. But with Beech Lane, two filters work in conjunction to catch sediment under 5 microns and then again under 0.5 microns. The result? You won’t have any unsightly and potentially harmful particles floating around in your freshwater tank—perfect for when you don’t rely entirely on the city water supply.

The unit comes with a durable design to handle the rigors of the road. Sturdy brass fixtures hold it firmly in place, while the universal ¾” pipes and connections aren’t prone to leakage. The company even throws in a wrench so you can quickly assemble and pack down the device.

On the downside, the dual-canister system is larger and more expensive than a simple inline filter. But if clean and delicious-tasting water is a top priority for you, these are small sacrifices to make.

Pros

  • Filters out fine particles
  • Dual carbon and a sediment filter
  • Strong, robust design
  • No installation required

Cons

  • Much larger than an inline filter
  • More expensive than an inline filter

10. Best for Permanent RV Hookups: Hydro Life HL-200 External Filter Kit

Hydro Life HL-200 External Filter Kit

Why we like it: This reliable canister model from Hydro Life is specially designed for permanent use.

Editor’s Rating:

Quick Facts:

  • Filtration System: Carbon and sediment
  • Installation Type: Single canister inline
  • Longevity: 3-6 months
  • GPM: 2.5 GPM

Not every RV owner is out there exploring the country on a whim; some of us are permanently sitting pretty in a trailer park, paying a fraction of the monthly rent compared to a normal house. And for permanent campers and trailer dwellers, the HL-200 from Hydro Life offers the ultimate filtration solution—it’s effective and cheap.

This exterior single-canister model has been adapted for permanent use. Consequently, you can hook it up and forget it for 3-6 months until it’s time to change the cartridge. Installing the device is easy and doesn’t require any special skills or tools, nor does changing the filter—no need to hire a pricey plumber to help you here.

Another key feature that makes it ideal for permanent users is its high flow rate. Filtering up to 2.5 GPM, you can run multiple faucets or even a shower through the unit. Heavy-duty fittings keep it lodged firmly in place, so it’s suitable for a direct and continuous connection to the city water supply.

The filter itself works rather well, with both granulated carbon and KDF media protecting against bacteria, chlorine, and more.

On the downside, it’s not convenient if you like to move around a lot—opt for an inline filter instead for maximum portability. It’s also not fantastic at filtering out sediment, so give this one a miss if you’re sourcing water off the grid.

Pros

  • Great for permanent trailer park dwellers
  • Suitable for continuous connection to the city water supply
  • Long-lasting cartridge doesn’t require frequent replacement
  • Carbon and KDF filtration

Cons

  • Doesn’t filter sediment very well
  • Bulkier than an inline filter

RV Water Filters Buyer’s Guide


A mind-boggling array of RV water filters are available to choose from, each specializing in filtering out different things. To help you wrap your head around the technical complexities, we’ve put together this in-depth buyer’s guide.

Why You Should Purchase an RV Water Filter

Even if you always get your freshwater from a safe city water source, there’s no guarantee it’ll taste great. Excessive chlorine, fluoride, and particles burrowed inside your water hose or tank can emit a foul odor and taste, forcing you to retch every time you drink from the faucet. And should you top up your tanks with well water (AKA bore water) or from a natural river or stream, there’s a good chance it’ll be full of nasty contaminants that could make you sick.

An RV water filter will serve one of two purposes: restoring a pleasant taste and/or removing harmful contaminants. Having unlimited access to tasty potable water means you’ll save a fortune on bottled water and reduce unnecessary plastic waste.

Understanding Contaminants

Several different contaminants can affect the taste, odor, color, and safety of your water.

Chlorine and Fluoride

Treated water contains chlorine and fluoride to kill off any harmful bacteria, thus rendering it fit for human consumption. While these chemical elements aren’t harmful, they do taste rather unpleasant.

Treatment: Carbon filters

Sediment

Sediment refers to tiny particles of dust, dirt, or sand that float in the water or settle on the bottom. These may or may not be safe for human consumption; sometimes, they’re contaminated with heavy metals or PCBs. In either case, sediment will negatively affect the taste and color as well as potentially clog up the plumbing in your rig.

Treatment: Sediment filters

Bacteria and Other Microorganisms

Bacteria and other microorganisms can contaminate water through the fecal matter of animals or humans.  These spread dangerous water-borne diseases that lead to nasty gastro illnesses.

Treatments: Reverse osmosis, UV radiation, boiling the water

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals can contaminate water through the runoff from industry and urbanization. Although the consequences aren’t immediately obvious, these contaminants are highly hazardous. Ill effects include cancer, organ damage, and stunted growth.

While several methods can treat heavy metal contamination on an industrial scale, the only practical solution in an RV is reverse osmosis. Nonetheless, we recommend avoiding water with any potential heavy metal contamination entirely.

Treatments: Precipitation, ion exchange, electrochemical treatment, solvent extraction, adsorption, reverse osmosis

Understanding Your Water Source

sign saying not to fill campers

Where you usually source your water not only affects how tasty and safe it will be, it also determines what kind of water filter is best for your needs.

City Water

Most RVers fill their tanks from the city water supply, usually from the local RV park faucet. Also known as town water, this is the same water that’s pumped into houses and businesses around the region. Generally, city water is safe to consume.

As a highly developed first world country, even the smallest American towns tend to have a potable water supply. Nonetheless, if you’re ever in doubt while venturing through a remote area, it’s best to double-check with the townsfolk first.

We recommend the Camco 40043 if you only intend to treat city water.

Well Water

Well water, also known as bore water, is sourced directly from deep under the ground and may contain water-borne diseases that provoke diarrhea and other gastro illness. Aside from these nasty microorganisms, well water often has sediment that leaves an opaque color and unpleasant taste—plus, excess sediment can clog up the piping in your RV. Worse yet, bore water sometimes comes with trace amounts of heavy metals that can be extremely harmful if consumed.

Well water is generally reserved for irrigation, livestock, and washing. On some occasions, it may be potable without treatment, but you’ll need to confirm whether the landowners have done the appropriate laboratory testing.

When well water is free of heavy metals, you can still drink it if you filter out the sediment and bacteria. A good option for filtering well water is the Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System. Or, if bacteria are likely to be present, try a UV filter or reverse osmosis system instead.

Rivers and Streams

Hardcore RVers who do remote boondocking for extended periods may prefer to extract water from a natural stream rather than heading back into town every time they run dry. Contaminants like bacteria live in stream water and could make you sick, so you need to ensure you’ve got an adequate filtration system.

Most of the time, a combination sediment filter and UV light filter will do the trick—although reverse osmosis is the only way to be 100% sure.

If you plan to treat stream water, then the HQUA-OWS-6 Ultraviolet Water Purifier (for bacteria) combined with the Camco EVO Premium RV Water Filter (for sediment) is an excellent combo.

RV Water Filtration Types

Now that you’re well versed in water sources and contaminants, it’s time to examine the four main water filter types found in RVs.

Carbon Filters

Granulated carbon filters are the most common as they’re cost-effective and highly efficient at eliminating chlorine. Government authorities add chlorine to the city water supply to disinfect it, cleansing bacteria and other harmful contaminants. Chlorine works through oxidation, penetrating the wall of harmful bacteria to neutralize adverse health effects.

The downside to chlorine is it leaves an unpleasant, acrid smell and chemical taste. The carbon filter will remove chlorine and the associated odor through absorption, restoring its clean and crisp taste. And as chlorine has already had plenty of time to neutralize bacteria in the water, the carbon filter won’t compromise safety.

Who should purchase a carbon filter: Carbon filters are good for RVers who fill up exclusively from the city water supply and want to improve its taste. Because they filter sediment or bacteria well, they’re not suitable for well or stream water.

Our favorite carbon filter: We recommend the Camco 40043 for treating the chlorine taste associated with city water.

Sediment Filters

Water from wells and natural streams may take on a murky brown appearance due to sediment, tiny particles of debris floating in the water. Not only does sediment look and taste terrible, but it’s detrimental to the health of both you and your RV.

If sediment becomes contaminated with pollutants like pesticides, heavy metals, or PCBs, it can cause an array of adverse health effects, including congenital disabilities, hormone imbalances, and enhanced cancer rates.

Even if sediment is pollutant-free, the debris can clog your RV plumbing system, especially the more sensitive components like water heaters and pumps. These clogs will reduce water pressure and eventually entail higher maintenance costs.

Sediment also reduces the efficiency of other water filter types. Carbon filters, for example, will clog up and quickly stop functioning if exposed to a heavy residue. UV light filters will struggle to see through the murkiness and disinfect bacteria and germs.

Note that carbon and sediment filters tend to overlap: they can perform both functions to an extent.

Who should purchase a sediment filter: Because sediment has already been removed from city water, you don’t need a sediment filter when filling up from the town water supply. Sediment filters are essential for anyone who fills up from another source, be it well water or a natural stream.

Our favorite sediment filter: We recommend the Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System for optimal sediment filtration.

UV Water Filters

Bacteria and other pathogenic microorganisms are common in well water and streams; they can spread water-borne diseases upon consumption. Ultraviolet Light (UV) filters work by neutralizing microscopic organisms through exposure to powerful ultraviolet wavelengths. A strong dose of germicidal UV radiation scrambles the genetic code of unwanted microbes, thus preventing them from reproducing in your tank.

While UV filters can make non-potable water safe, it won’t improve the taste. Therefore, it’s worth using a UV filter in conjunction with another filter type.

Who should purchase a UV filter: Invest in a UV filter if you expect to rely on a water source that’s potentially contaminated with bacteria and other microbes.

Our favorite UV filter: We recommend the HQUA-OWS-6 Ultraviolet Water Purifier for a potent UV filtration system.

Reverse Osmosis Water Filters

Reverse Osmosis filters are the crème de la crème of the filtration world, although they’re not particularly practical for RV use.

The state-of-the-art technology pushes water through a semipermeable membrane to dissolve contaminants. A comprehensive system, it includes a pre-filter that removes sediment before it passes through the membrane and a carbon post-filter that neutralizes chlorine. The result is crystal clear water that tastes great and is free from both sediment and bacteria.

The catch is these systems are expensive and take up a tremendous amount of space. Reverse osmosis generates vast wastewater quantities—up to 80%—called brine that must be flushed away through a drainage tank. Consequently, you’ll chew through your freshwater faster than usual and will have to seek out suitable spots to dispose of the brine.

The best reverse osmosis filters for RVs come in a countertop system, so you only filter the water you intend to drink.

Who should purchase a reverse osmosis filter: Because reverse osmosis creates the cleanest and safest water possible, it’s ideal for RVers happy to sacrifice counter space for optimal water.

Our favorite reverse osmosis filter: We recommend the AQUA TRU Countertop Reverse Osmosis if you’d like to pursue RO filtration in your RV.

Installation Types

RV water filters are designed for use in one of three places: your hose (inline), under the sink, or on your countertop. The type of filter you use (carbon, sediment, etc.) and how much water you want to filter (the whole tank, sink only, etc.) determines the ideal installation type.

Inline / Canister Filters

An inline RV water filter

Inline and canister filters are attached directly onto a hose and filter water as you pump it into your fresh water tank. As no installation is required—you simply clip it in place—these are the most common and cost-effective RV water filter types.

Because inline filters cleanse water before it enters your hold, it won’t help improve taste from algae and other contaminants lurking inside your freshwater tank.

The inline design only works well with carbon and sediment filtration. If you want to eliminate bacteria, you’ll need to upgrade to an under-the-sink or countertop filter.

Compatibility: Carbon and sediment

Filtration: Your entire freshwater tank

Our favorite inline filter: The Camco 40043.

Under-the-Sink Filters

Some water filters are installed directly underneath your sink to cleanse the water running out of that specific faucet. If you’re not handy with the tools, you may have to leave the installation to a professional.

It’s possible to install many inline filters underneath the sink when space permits. However, as you’re only filtering one specific faucet, these filter types won’t improve the water coming out of the shower and other taps.

Compatibility: UV, carbon, and sediment

Filtration: Filters water from one specific faucet (the sink) only

Our favorite under-the-sink filter: The Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System

Countertop Filters

The countertop method is popular with reverse osmosis filters, which would be impractical to use on your entire RV water tank. A coffee machine-sized device sits on the countertop and filters the water intended for drinking and nothing else. You’ll need to top it up manually to ensure a constant supply of fresh drinking water.

Compatibility: Reverse osmosis

Filtration: Filters water in the holding tank on the countertop

Our favorite countertop filter: The AQUA TRU Countertop Reverse Osmosis

Micron Ratings

Water filter manufacturers use microns to describe how fine their sediment filters are. Devices with a low micron rating can filter out smaller particles and contaminants than those with a higher rating. For example, a micron-rating of 1 will remove particles 1 micron or larger, while a 20-rated unit will filter out particles 20 microns or larger.

Micron ratings can either refer to a precise or average measurement, making them challenging to compare.

Some water filters, such as the Beech Lane Dual Water Filter System use dual canisters to achieve a highly refined micron rating. Under-the-sink filters also tend to offer exceptional sediment filtration, such as the Waterdrop 10UA Water Filter System.

Gallons Per Minute

Gallons Per Minute (GPM) refers to the flow rate that water can pass through the filter. A low GPM will inhibit how fast you can refill your fresh water tank. Aim for at least 1.0 GPM, so you don’t have to wait around all day while topping up.

If you’re filtering water as it’s pumped directly out of the city water supply (you’ve got an external water hookup), look for a device with at least 2.5 GPM. In this instance, we recommend the Hydro Life HL-200 External Filter Kit.

Longevity and Replacement Costs

All water filter types require regular maintenance to continue functioning correctly. Carbon and reverse osmosis filters process a certain amount of water per canister, sediment filters eventually clog up, and UV filters require the occasional bulb change.

Maintenance and replacement costs have a massive effect on the overall price you’ll pay for a system. To help you understand how much a filter will cost in the long run, we include replacement information in our Quick Facts section of each review.

RV Water Filters FAQ

If you’ve still got a few questions about RV water filters, take a look through our FAQ.

What Is the Best RV Water Filter?

Although the best RV water filter depends on your budget and individual requirements, some models perform exceptionally well overall. The Camco 40043, for example, is our favorite water filter altogether for its simplicity, affordability, and effectiveness.

How Long Are RV Water Filters Good For?

The amount of time an RV water filter will last depends on how frequently you use it. For example, the Camco 40043 has a shelf life of 500 gallons. If you filter 40 gallons per week, you can expect this filter to last approximately 12 weeks.

How Often Do You Change RV Water Filters?

Most RV water filters should be replaced every three to six months. However, the exact shelf life depends on the type of filter and how often you use it. Consult the instruction manual for more information.

Do RV Water Filters Remove Chlorine?

Carbon water filters will remove the chlorine taste from a city water supply. If you’d like to remove sediment or bacteria, then you need to invest in a different filter as well (or instead).

Which Water Filter Removes the Most Contaminants?

Reverse osmosis is undoubtedly the most effective water treatment solution available. However, these large and expensive countertop units will only treat the water you manually pour into them; they’re laborious to use and only suitable for drinking water.

Why Does My RV Water Smell Bad?

If the water in your tank has been sitting idle for over two weeks, it will start to smell and obtain an unpleasant taste. Clean the tank with bleach, vinegar, or tank cleaner before thoroughly flushing it out.

How Often Should I Clean My RV Water Tank?

Over time, algae will begin to grow in your RV water tank and give the water an unpleasant taste. You should aim to clean the tank using an RV tank cleaner every six months if you’re living in it full time or after two weeks of disuse if you’re reclaiming it from storage.

How Can I Make My RV Water Taste Better?

Rather than using an RV tank cleaner, you could try putting vinegar and bicarbonate soda through the system. Add a quart of vinegar and a few tablespoons of bicarb soda to the tank, fill it with water, drive the RV to swish the mixture around, and let it sit there for a day or two before draining it.

Can I Filter Hot Water in an RV?

No. Filter water before it enters your RV hot water system, not after. Hot water can damage a water filter, while murky unfiltered water can damage an RV water heater.

Final Thoughts

Now you’ve made it to the end of our in-depth RV water filter guide, you’ve learned just about everything there is to know about this fantastic technology. You’ll never have to sip through murky or foul-tasting campsite water again—the perfect filtration solution is only a mouse click away.

Of course, you still need to grab an RV water filter for your rig. So take another gander through our top 10 recommendations to pick out the perfect product for you.

May your water be free of unsightly sediment for many happy camping trips to come.