Best RV Water Filter for Vanlife
Having the best water filter for vanlife in your van or RV is really important when you travel. We’ve been traveling full time in our van for several years now, and we end up getting water from any random spigot that we can find. The quality of the water we get varies A LOT. From campgrounds to city parks to gas stations, we’ve *literally* filled up wherever we can. That means that we need a really high-quality water filter to put our minds at ease about consuming the water we get.
To be honest, for the first year of living in the van, we didn’t have a filter at all! No sediment filter before the pump, no stand-alone unit, nothing! We had done some campground-hopping in South Dakota in search of water and all we found was dirty, yellow water coming out of the spigots. That’s when we realized that we should probably get a proper water filter for the van.
We started with an inexpensive RV water filter that hooks up to the spigot and then goes into the rig. While it worked alright, we’re excited to say that we’ve upgraded the system a bit! Now that we are in our second (fully self-built) van, we enhanced our water system by adding the Essential Water Filter Kit from the RVWaterFilterStore.com. They reached out to us to see if we would do an open and honest review of their product in exchange for the Essential Kit. Always looking for new and exciting stuff to share with you guys, we happily agreed to find out if it would be the best water filter for vanlife! Check out the Essential Water Filter Kit and other options here.
It doesn’t take long to see that the Essential Water Filter Kit is much more legitimate than the small, cheap water filters you can buy at WalMart. It’s a 2-canister System, with a sediment filter and a carbon filter. The sediment filter extracts particles as small as 1 micron, which is impressive! The carbon filter is intended to remove chlorine, heavy metals, bad tastes and bad odors. It filters out particles down to 0.5 microns in size. In comparison, our backpacking water filter, which is intended to filter water from rivers and streams, goes down to 0.2 microns. In contrast, the basic RV filter from WalMart only extracts particles down to 20 microns in size. Given that information, we feel really confident that the Essential Water Filter from the RVWaterFilterStore.com will purify our water to a level that we’ve never had in the van before!
Installation is really easy. The Essential Water Filter Kit comes with 2 canisters that hold each filter. After adding an O-ring into each, the canisters are screwed into a head unit that comes already assembled. You only have to hand-tighten the canisters. The kit comes with a plastic pipe wrench that you use to give the canisters one final push to be tight enough. Once the canisters are screwed on to the head unit, you can use the system independently or you can mount it in-line in your rig.
The unit comes with a mounting bracket, so it would be incredibly easy to mount the filter to the wall of your rig, or in the same compartment as your water pump. If we had the Essential Water Filter Kit while we were building our van, we definitely would have designed our layout to accommodate it. However, since we have really tight tolerances for everything in our van, we won’t be able to add it in-line post-build.
When we fill our on-board water tank, we use a 7-gallon jerry can jug. Since our water sources can be anywhere, this gives us the ability to walk up to a spigot for a fill, rather than having to park right next to it. Once we find a water spigot, we take our 7-gallon water jug and the water filter over to it and fill up with water. Then we transfer that water into our van’s tank using a funnel and some tubing.
I know what some of you are thinking… “that sounds like a lot of work!” While there are some cases when it would be easier to just fill up the van’s tank on the spot, the benefits of our system outweigh the cons. Using the water jugs, our water system is very expendable and transportable. We can get water from basically anywhere. For example, we’ve carried 4 jugs into Whole Foods to utilize their FREE filtered water stations that are available in many places (Looking at you Oregon!).
In addition, using the water jugs allows us to expand our water supply. Our on-board water tank is 9 gallons. Which is plenty of water for us, because we don’t use it for showering. However, we like to expand that water supply when we go off-grid for extended periods or travel to places like Baja. Baja is a magical place to explore, but is not without risk. There are large stretches of road without fuel, shops or water. When we travel Baja, we carry an ADDITIONAL 3 water jugs with us for potable water and another for shower water. This gives us a total of 30 gallons of drinking water. Our jugs are clearly labeled so that we don’t mix up the potable vs. shower water, since we don’t filter the shower water.
If you are curious about Baja, check out some of our Baja blogs:
Border Crossings & Security Checkpoints
Every traveler will have their own solution for the best water filter for vanlife. That’s the beauty of this lifestyle. We know many people who live in their SUV or van that doesn’t have running water (i.e. no water tank and pump). We’re here to tell you that this water filter works great regardless of whether you’re going to have it built into your rig or use it independently like us.
We hope that this review is helpful to you! We’re always happy to help, so if you want to ask us a question, check out our Contact Us page and shoot us a message.
Happy Travels Friends!
Greg & Jess