The Best Compact RV Water Filter for Frugal RVers Like Us

The longer you live on the road, the greater the odds are that you’ll encounter terrible tasting and potentially contaminated drinking water. It’s happened a few times to us because we don’t have the storage space usually required of RV water filtration systems. We’ve tried to protect ourselves with an exterior RV water filter on our hose and a Brita filter on the kitchen sink faucet, but still never get the best quality drinking water. Now after 11 years of doing this, everything’s different now that we have the ApaPure2, the best compact RV water filter on the market.

Head’s up readers: LifeSource sent us a complimentary ApaPure2 unit in exchange for an unbiased look at how it works for our full-timing life. They are not responsible for the content in this post.

Bye Bye Water Quality Blues

best compact RV water filter

If the ApaPure 2 fits under our sink, it can fit under yours too!

There’s something wrong about getting your drinking water just a few steps away from where you dump your poop water. But that’s the dump station reality we as RVers have to accept. Jim and I can’t count the number of times we’ve put such bad tasting, discolored, or over-chlorinated water in our holding tanks that we question its safety. And buying bottled water is not something we care to do.

When we began planning our 2018 Alaska road trip (and considering a winter snowbirding in Mexico when we return), water safety became paramount. Our camping choices usually put us in rural locations that rely on wells for drinking water. Since Alaska is the most rugged and remote destination we’ve tackled, it got us thinking we need a better filtration method. Once we headed north, we discovered we were right. For instance:

Brittish Columbia Canada Highway

Way out in the far Northern Rockies!

Three weeks ago while traveling through the Washington and British Columbia borderlands, we went through the Okanogan Valley. The area had just experienced epic flooding caused by rapidly melting snow. Local water wells got contaminated and residents were warned to boil their water. Thankfully we didn’t have to refill our tanks during our visit. If we had, it would have been a gamble.

Tukaluk Campground Water Supply

From the mountain to our tank, right in the campground.

Then last week while staying at a rural RV park in Northern BC we tasted some excellent drinking water, but got a little uneasy when we noticed the source was straight from the mountain stream diverted to the campground water system. Nobody got sick, but it lit the fire for Jim to install the ApaPure2 that we had just received in the mail.

Introducing the Best Compact RV Water Filter for Full-time RV Living

Best compact RV water filter

The ApaPure2 water filtration system for RVs

LifeSource Water Systems has built its reputation on whole house water systems. If anyone knows how to make an effective RV water filter, they do. The LifeSource ApaPure2 is an American-Made water filter that:

  • Removes over 99.9% of bacteria and viruses.
  • Lasts an average family one year and protects their water for 10,300+ gallons.
  • Requires no maintenance, chemicals or electricity.
  • Fits in tight spots like RV kitchen cabinets
best compact RV water filter

It doesn’t take long to install this filter.

Don’t let the $299 price tag freak you out. I’ll admit, it caught me off guard. But when I did the math I was thrilled to discover that it costs less than three cents per gallon. So with our 50-gallon fresh water tank, we are paying just $1.50 a week for the cleanest, safest drinking water we’ve ever enjoyed.

There is no comparison to the $15 Brita faucet-mounted filters we’ve been buying. Those non-recyclable, plastic filters do a decent job with water safety, but they don’t get rid of bad taste. Plus, Britas are expensive! They’re only good for 100 gallons, at 15 cents per gallon. To filter the same amount of water as the ApaPure2, we would need to purchase 103 Brita filters for $1,545!

How to Install the ApaPure2 RV Water Filter

I’m not the most qualified person to cut into RV water lines. I let Jim handle those duties, but I can tell you the project didn’t take him very long and it looked pretty straightforward. Here’s what he learned during the ApaPure2 installation process.

best compact RV water filter

Jim takes the fear out of cutting your RV water line.

1. Measure twice, cut once. The ApaPure2 has a wall-mounted inline filtration head designed to fit 1/4” Pex flexible plumbing lines. The installation instructions state: Product includes 3/8” QC connections for inlet and outlet valve head ports. It is important to note that 1/4” Pex has an OD (Outer Diameter) of 3/8”. Pex plumbing sizes are specified by ID (Inner Diameter) so 3/8” Pex with an OD of 1/2” will not fit the ApaPure2 filter head without adapters and extra tubing.

best compact RV water filter

Pay attention to the Pex plumbing sizes.

2. Make sure you have enough slack. If you’re lucky enough to have enough flexibility in your plumbing, you can simply cut the cold water line to your faucet and attach each side to the ApaPure2 valve head ports (paying close attention to the indicated water flow direction). Our kitchen sink plumbing was installed pretty tight, so Jim had to add an extension to bend the Pex enough to reach the outlet port without kinking it. Finding bulk 1/4” Pex in the small town where we were staying proved difficult. See note #1 about Pex sizing. Jim was finally able to find 3/8” OD flexible water filtration tubing and a Pex compression connector at a local plumbing supply.

best compact RV water filter

He used an OD flexible water filtration tubing extension.

3. Pressure test the system before cleaning up. The Quick Connect ports on the ApaPure2 are simple to use. Simply insert the tubing into the port, remove the retainer clip from the compression fitting, and firmly seat the Pex in place. It is important to ensure a square cut of the tubing, so using a razor blade is best. Connect both the inlet and outlet ports and have someone turn on the water supply while monitoring for leaks.

4. Installation of the ApaPure2 is as easy as 1, 2, 3.

1) Mount filter head to wall.

2) Cut cold water line and insert into valve ports

3) Attach replaceable filter cartridge.

Installation Tip: The ApaPure2 did not include mounting screws for the filter head. Since Jim could not get a screwdriver into the mounting location behind our sink, he used 1” x 3/8” hex head lag screws to attach the filter head to a stud for a secure mount. He also removed the filter cartridge to make mounting the filter head easier, and made note of the water flow direction since the illustration in the manual is pictured in reverse.

best compact RV water filter

You will need mounting screws for the filter head.

Once You Taste It, You’ll Never Go Back

The ApaPure2 puts us light years ahead of our old RV water filter system. With a 1.67 gpm flow rate, the water pressure from the kitchen tap is 1,000 times better than before.

best compact RV water filter

Our cocktails taste even better now!

It used to take minutes to fill our teapot from our old faucet-mounted filter—which only got slower as it reached its expiration date. Plus, we feel much better knowing we are covered against contamination whether we’re pulling water from a mountain stream or a dump station in Mexico. We’ll never be without safe, fresh tasting water ever again.

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8 Responses to “The Best Compact RV Water Filter for Frugal RVers Like Us”

  1. I totally agree with the need for a serious water filter, we have a 3 filter Sterling system mounted on the cold water under the sink in our motorhome for all the reasons you mentioned as well as the fact that there are many ways water systems in a RV park can get contaminated. A lot of RV park don’t even have back flow preventers on the stand pipes.You mentioned wintering in Mexico. We spent a few winters in Mexico and always added 1 teaspoon (5cc) of chlorine bleach per 5 gallons of water tank capacity when filling the fresh water tank in Mexico. That will purify the water and prevent your tank and hot water lines from being contaminated. Then your filter will remove 100% of the chorine in your drinking water. Not only don’t you want to contaminate your tank, but then if you forget about the “Mexican Water” and brush your teeth with water from the bathroom or swallow some water in the shower, Montezuma won’t take his revenge on you.
    Travel Safe

    • Larry thanks for sharing that knowledge, you’ve totally given me extra confidence in using the ApaPure and keeping our water safe whenever we make it down to Mexico. We’ve been playing roulette far too long with our drinking water. You figured this important part of RVing out much faster than us!

  2. What about the hot water coming to the sink? Is that filtered too?

    • Greg, thanks for reminding me to mention this. No, hot water is not filtered, just the cold water coming into the kitchen sink. But if you want to filter your hot water you can just buy a second unit.

  3. Good to know! We have a Berkey right now which is fine but bulky. Will definitely look into this one for the van conversion we plan to do in the future.

  4. Is there a bypass or something so that you do not use filtered water for washing dishes?

    • Diana, thank you for reminding me! I forgot to mention that the ONLY drawback to this filter is that no, there is no bypass. I wish there was! But since we mostly dry camp and use very little water to wash dishes anyways, I don’t feel we are wasting water or the money we spend on replacement filters by not having the bypass.

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