Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Ask Dave: What is the best water purifier?

Dear Dave,
We are planning a few long trips in our Grand Design Imagine. I want to get a water purifier to use at the water source at our site. Can you talk about which brand/style works best? Thanks. —Leigh

Dear Leigh,
There is a difference between a water purifier and a water filter. Let’s start by talking about the condition of the water at a campground. Most campgrounds will have a well rather than a municipal water source, so they are required to conduct a certified water test once a year and post a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) (formerly MSDS – Material Safety Data Sheet) in the campground office. This test does not show what minerals and other components are in the water such as rust, lime, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and others.

Testing the water

I highly recommend testing the water with an Intellitec water purity tester that will show the parts per million and will identify minerals, inorganic chemicals, and other harmful contaminants.

This does not actually identify the specific components. However, you can get a more accurate test from most home improvement stores that have more than 17 different tests.

If you are planning to do a lot of dry camping or remote camping, you will also want to get an Arsenic Water Test Kit like this one.

Once you know the water quality is OK, then I recommend a filter to reduce the amount of rust, calcium, and lime that can get into your plumbing system and clog the water pump screen, pump, and faucets. There are several types such as the in-line version from Shurflo.

I use a water reducer on the faucet to limit the pressure to 40 psi so I don’t have a flooded RV the next morning. Another option is the residential version that can be purchased at any home improvement store such as this Omni version. This is what I use so I can replace the cartridge for just a few dollars rather than the entire canister. Our campgrounds have really hard water and literally get packed with what seems to be sand rather quickly.

Another option is a portable soft water conditioner that I have seen used at several campgrounds.

Water purifier vs. water filtration

The before-mentioned devices are all just filters and not necessarily water purification systems. Most filters are rated at 100 microns or not at all. They are designed to filter out sediment and some minerals. Water purification system filters are rated at 0.5 microns and some even lower that will filter out bacteria and viruses.

There seems to be a fine line between water filtration and water purification. According to our local water treatment plant technician, true water purification can only be accomplished by boiling, disinfecting (such as using a chemical introduction such as bleach or iodine), and reverse osmosis.

I personally have only used the filtration systems but have seen many RVers at campgrounds using a variety of systems such as portable reverse osmosis units. One product that I ran across recently is called Clearsource, which is a filtration system that has a 0.5 micron and 0.2 micron filter. I have not had the opportunity to test it as we are below freezing and even close to zero degrees here now. But I’ll test some local campgrounds and lakes when the weather gets nicer.

Let’s open up the discussion to our readers on what they have used in the past. Oftentimes it will depend on where you are going and how much room you have to store the equipment in your rig. Let us know what you are using in the comments below and over on my forum.

Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

Read more from Dave here


Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg
Dave Solberg is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club. He has been in the RV Industry since 1983 and conducts over 15 seminars at RV shows throughout the country.



5 1 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe to comments
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Jay Ward (@guest_215074)
11 months ago

Due to high iron content in the water in one campground we visit a lot, we have moved to the Clearsource 3 filter system: a first stage rust filter, second stage 0.5 micron filter for taste/smell and a third virus filter at 0.02 microns. Pricey but very effective. Very pleased with it. Also use bottled water for coffee and drinking.

Lori (@guest_165217)
1 year ago

Berkey, all the way! 🙂 … and because of the current supply-chain issues, they’re putting their prices waaaay up starting in March.

Bob p (@guest_165195)
1 year ago

Instead of spending hundreds to possibly thousands on high filtration and purifying, we go to Walmart or some other store selling purified water for 27-30 cents/gal for drinking purposes. We use about 1 gal/day between the two of us. Campground water suffices for every day use. I had the big filtration system on our previous motorhome and changed filters every season, then one rainy day I started crunching numbers and decided I could buy a lot of water at Walmart for what I was paying for replacement elements, especially since the filters weren’t removing the sulfur taste out of most of FL water.

Michael Galvin, PhD (@guest_165231)
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob p

Are you recycling all the plastic bottles you buy?

Robert (@guest_218791)
10 months ago

This article is about water filtration and safe drinking water. It’s really none of your business if Bob is recycling his plastic bottles. Hopefully he is but that’s His decision not yours, Mr. PhD. Why are there so many self-righteous people trying to force their opinions on others. Get a life.

Jesse Crouse (@guest_214931)
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

From a Plumber- Your skin is the largest organ in your body and therefore an easy path for contamination. We live close to Philadelphia, Pa. and Legionella can also be spread by taking a shower as your shower head will to a point “atomize” the water stream and enter your respiratory system as well as skin contact.

Don Baxter (@guest_214978)
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob p

I agree with your comment . We have been trailering for a lot of years and have always used water the way you do and we have never had any problems .

David Ozanne (@guest_165094)
1 year ago

Most reverse Osmosis systems require chlorinated water to function. With out the chlorine the filter grows some pretty nasty stuff!

John Green (@guest_165066)
1 year ago

Reverse Osmosis is very effective in removing contaminants from water. The down side is that it produces 3-4 gal. of “reject water” for every gallon of pure water it makes. I make a point of inquiring at the RV park office about their water source. If a municipal source, less precautions are required. If a well, even a SDS may be inadequate. One RV park told me that they “sanitize” their well monthly by dumping a gallon of bleach down the well. Duh!

Jeff Abrams (@guest_165011)
1 year ago

Zero water purification for drinking water. On Amazon and in various retail stores. The BEST !

Robin Deane (@guest_214958)
11 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Abrams

+1 on Zero Water. According to several tests that I read on various systems, it removes more of everything than Berkey, Brita, Pure and others. The filters are more expensive than the others, but they last a long time. Zero also reduces odors in the water. Sometimes there is an unpleasant odor even though we filter before it gets into our RV’s water lines. Zero removes it quite well.

TexasScout (@guest_164956)
1 year ago

For drinking and cooking I recommend the Royal Berkey water purifier. It filters out 99.9998% of darn near everything. I added the Floride/arsenic after filters also. The carbon block filters will last 10,000 gallons (cleanable) and the after filters 3-4000 gallons. We have had it for many years.


Mary Hazel (@guest_165051)
1 year ago
Reply to  TexasScout

I love my Berkeys! Have used for years at my cabin home. Recently I got a smaller one for my (very small) RV- works great

Diane Kenny (@guest_165067)
1 year ago
Reply to  TexasScout


Pat (@guest_165171)
1 year ago
Reply to  TexasScout

I love my travel Berkey!

Glenn (@guest_164955)
1 year ago

I always use a pressure reducer, 5 micron, and 1 micron filters inline. Also always check for hard water. Usually is. Run a portable softener then. This setup has served me well, coast to coast.

Joe Testa (@guest_164860)
1 year ago

I am currently talking to a few companies to get their take on the purification aspect for next virtual chapter in my book on Emergency Food/Water.

My plan is to take a trip to my favorite campground in southern Ohio, use the Ohio River water just from the shore and run it thru purification filters to see how they do and of course drink it.

It will be an interesting test for sure.

if you want will keep you posted. Results will be posted on


Sign up for the

RVtravel Newsletter

Sign up and receive 3 FREE RV Checklists: Set-Up, Take-Down and Packing List.