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RV Podcast 299: The Best RV Water Filter System

| Updated Jun 17, 2020

The best way to make normally yucky-tasting campground water taste good and run clear is by using an RV water filter system that fits inline, right between the water spigot and tour RV's after intake connection. 

But note this: All inline RV water filter system inline cartridges are not alike!

Here's a player to listen to the full podcast. The interview of the week segment about the RV water filter system is about 29:08 in. 


This week on the RV Podcast, we learn about the new RV water filter system we are now using when we fill our RV fresh water tanks or when we connect to a campground spigot. It's from a company called Clear20 and this week on the RV Podcast we interview the company's CEO about a two-stage RV water filter system they sell that consists of an inline water filter and a the Dirtguard pre-filter device that takes out the sediment and particulates before they go through the inline filter.

Together this RV water filter system transforms your inline water filter into a two-stage filtration approach.  This makes the water taste good and ensures that you have the cleanest possible water. 

How is the bright green RV water filter system by Clear2o different than than the normal blue or gray inline filters you pick up from Walmart or a camping store? Three ways: Flitration medium, filtration efficiency and price.

First off, let me note that I have no financial interest or sponsorship relationship with this company. I sought out the interview with the Clear2o CEO  after being fed up with bad-tasting campground water and doing some research that led me to get both the Clear20 inline filter and the Dirtguard pre-filter 

Both units sell for $34.95.  The Camco inline filters we had been using cost $17 or so on Amazon, or two for $30. So the Cler2o inline filter is about twice as much. The DirtGuard pre filter is $39. That's the price difference.

The filtration medium difference is the way the water is filtered. The cheaper and more common inline RV water filter uses powdered charcoal. The Clear2o RV water filter system uses solid charcoal. 

And that leads to the efficiency of the filtering. The cheap carbon powder filters screen out particulates and sediment down to about 20 microns. The solid Clear2o inline RV water filter system screens those particulates down to 1 micron. It makes the star cleaner, clearer and it taste better.

See why I got this Clear2o RV water filter system?

Here's a transcript of the interview I did for Episode 299 of the RV Podcast with Keith Bernard, CEO of Clear2o on what to now about an RV water filter system:


Mike Wendland:           Well, to find out more about an RV water filter system to make that RV drinking water taste a little better and be a little healthier, I'm excited to have on the other end of the phone Keith Bernard, he is the CEO of Clear20, and I just came across this process, this product really this week. I should tell you we have no commercial relationship with these guys. This is just a really cool product that I think will benefit us and hence you guys, too, out there in the listening audience. So first of all, welcome to the program, Keith, thanks for making time for us.

Keith Bernard:              Thanks very much. I'm glad to be here.

Mike Wendland:           Let's talk in general about an RV water filter system. I mentioned at the top of this, on how hard it was for us to drink the water that was coming out of the campground spigot. Even though I use one of those little inline filters, I always have one of those, it just didn't taste very good. So maybe you could help us all understand it. What are some of the issues involved with campground water from that little spigot that they provided at the campsite?

Keith Bernard:              Yeah, absolutely. Well, quite often everybody's more comfortable with their water at home, but once you get out on the road, you nearly never know what you're going to be getting into. When you're traveling out at different campgrounds, you may find that they have well water, they may actually have treated well water, or they may be on a public system, as well. And being that there's all different types of water, all different areas of the country, you're going to experience lots of different kinds of water, and that could be bad, or it could be good, as well, but quite often, most people's experience is bad.

Mike Wendland:           One of the things many of us have done is we've put one of those inline filters in. I've never really given much thought to them. I just pick them up at a camping store and usually get, replace it once or twice a year. In general to start with, is that a good approach to making camp ground water better?

The complete Clear2o Rv water filter system, wit the Dirtguard and the inline filter
The complete Clear2o RV water filter system, witg the Dirtguard and the inline filter

Keith Bernard:              Well, using a filter is absolutely a good approach. And so the real question about an RV water filter system is, is the actual performance of the filter itself and what you're trying to do with it. Because when you're dealing with filters, there's a lot of misconceptions in regard to what a filter is and what it can accomplish.

                               And you really need to look for the right type of filter to be able to do the types of things that you're looking for. So you're using one of the most common, which is the inline, that actually works out really great for most people because it's easy to install, it's outside, and it's easy, and portable to take care of, as well as you can find them at numerous locations, as well.

                                    So it's a great filter to be able to come forward with. But the particular one you're using, that's the most common one, and it's made from granular carbon. That's what's actually inside it. And they have different versions, which are anywhere from 20 to a 100 microns in performance. So that's one key element there that you want to be thoughtful about when you're for a filter is, what is the micron performance? Micron is actually-

Mike Wendland:           Yeah, yeah. What is a micron? 20 to 100 microns, what does that mean? What's best? What's worst?

Keith Bernard:              A micron is a millionth of a meter, just in regard to size. So, give you an idea of what that is, the average diameter of a human hair is anywhere from say 30 to 75 microns. So a single micron is very tiny overall, but a hundred micron is actually large enough for a human hair. So just to give you some kind of idea between the two, so in microns, lower is better.

Mike Wendland:           All right. And I guess it's impossible to get everything out with a RV water filter system, but I just picked mine off the shelf at, usually Walmart is where I find mine, and there are different brands, there's those little blue filters, CampCo makes them, and a couple of others. I don't remember the brand names, but I've never really looked at them. I figured, well, those are great. Now you guys make a product, and you make two products, actually. And that's one of the things I wasn't to talk to you about, but you make an inline filter. You talked about that granulated charcoal, I think it was? Or granulated… What was the medium you talked about?

Keith Bernard:              That's right. It's carbon. That's correct. That's correct.

Mike Wendland:           So is that the best medium that we should always find in one of these? Or is there something better?

Keith Bernard:              No, carbon is great. Carbon is a really good material overall, and it comes in different formats. So it comes in granular, it comes in powder, and it also comes in a solid carbon block. So between the filters that you're using out there, the one that you're talking about picking up at Walmart is actually granulated carbon. So it's actual small granules of carbon that are actually inside, so if you hold it and you shake it, you can actually hear it shaking inside. That's the carbon granules inside.

Mike Wendland:           In fact, is that why when I turn on the spigot and I haven't hooked up the hose to it, I actually see the charcoal come out when I first put on the water?

Keith Bernard:              When you first start, you will generally see all the carbon powder. That actually is part of the process of loading it in the first place, come out, that's that black that you see. And quite often afterwards, if you don't flush it first, you'll see more come out over time. That's the carbon itself that actually is coming out of the filter in a more powdered form overall. (Heres a link to the Clear2o inline filter-

Mike Wendland:           So there's that medium, now you guys offer something called a solid carbon block filter, I guess-

Keith Bernard:              Correct. Right. So our RV water filter system is a little different. We use the same carbon, the only difference is in a powdered form, we actually compress it together to make a full solid carbon block. It basically is a tube that actually is created inside our filter. So ours inside is solid. So the difference between the two is when you have granulated carbon, water comes in one end of the filter and it has a tendency to flow through the filter, and it cuts small channels in the filter, because it moves the granules aside. So when you have high flow rate, that water is rushing through, and not necessarily always through the actual carbon itself.

The solid carbon block inside the Clear2o RV water filter system Dirtguard
The solid carbon block inside the Clear2o RV water filter system Dirtguard

                                    When we have our solid carbon block, the differences is in all the water has to pass through the actual wall of the filter itself to be able to go passing through to the entire filter. So now it has to actually touch the carbon directly. And so you get a lot more opportunity for ion exchange, as well as for the carbon to do its job and improve the water. So there's a vast difference between a granulated carbon and a solid carbon block in regards to the performance and the level of contaminants that we can pull out overall. The quantity of contaminants, as well as the percentage of contaminants that we can remove.

Mike Wendland:           So back to the micron level again, the ones in the market, you say range from 20 to 100, obviously 20 being a little better. What do you guys do when you use that solid carbon block? How much does that have?

Keith Bernard:              So our RV water filter system is one micron.

Mike Wendland:           One?

Keith Bernard:              So ours goes down all the way down to one micron. And so now you're getting down to a very, very, very low micron level, getting out the majority of contaminants, as well as this. So micron is always a measure of blocking, and then the carbon itself actually absorbs the contaminant. So you want to remain in the carbon as long as possible to give it the best chance of getting that absorption to occur. And when you have granules, they rush through, when you have solid carbon block, obviously it takes a little while longer to get through the filter itself, but then you have a better exchange and you can actually remove more. The technology end of it is just a much higher level.

Mike Wendland:           Now talk if you will about the issue of taste. We mentioned before, there's, some are on municipal water sources, others are wells, treated Wells, do these inline filters, do they help with taste in any way?

Keith Bernard:              Well they can. And if you have relatively clean water to start, then the granulated carbon can actually improve that. It actually will polish the water a little and actually just make it a little bit better to drink. But if you actually have any harsh smells, odors, color issues, etc., generally those pass through the blue carbon filters. And so this is where the solid carbon block then, and the technology actually start to shine, because being that the water takes a little longer to get through and through the wall of it, and it actually has to touch more due to the surface area, you're getting a much, much, much higher level of exchange. And in doing so, we're able to take out the color issues, take out the smell issues, take out the contaminant issues, even including lead, as an example, to be able to remove that from the water.

Jennifer with our new RV water filter system
Jennifer with our new Clear2o RV water filter system

                                    So, there's a lot of things that don't have taste, but there's a lot that do. And so in doing so, we're able to remove all of that, including all the volatile organic compounds, called VOCs. And those are the benzenes and atrazine and all of the zenes in the world are under that VOC. And those are actually all removed, including hydrogen sulfide, which if you ever had that kind of sulfur smell, that rotten egg smell or taste that's come through water, our filter removes that, as well.

Mike Wendland:           Now, we've talked about the micron filtration. We've talked about the medium solid versus powdered. There is another product that you guys offer that I saw that is actually sort of another filter, that goes even a little closer to the source that works on sediment. And this product, why don't you talk about that for a second and explain-

Keith Bernard:              Absolutely.

Mike Wendland:           I think it's called the DirtGUARD, and I noticed on the little spigot that I hooked up this weekend on our camping trip, when I turned on the spigot, there was kind of like a rusty, brownish little tinge there for a while that came out. It eventually cleared up, but that's sediment, I guess. Talk about this DirtGUARD that goes ahead of it as part of your complete RV water filter system. Makes it a two stage filtration system, I guess.

Keith Bernard:              That's exactly correct. And actually, I'm just to mention something that you just said, and it's a good habit for everyone to have, with whatever RV water filter system they have, is whenever you first get to a campsite, just turn the spigot on for just a second to flow the water out and clear the line out. A lot of what that brownish water you're seeing come out is rust. And it's actually iron oxide that comes out of the pipes and it just sits there, and then eventually it turns to rust. So you see all of that and you don't want to blow that into your filter. So just go ahead and turn the spigot on for a second, flush that water out, or flush that out, and that'll take care of it for most people. But obviously that iron oxide, the other sediments that are in the water, the sands, the silts, etc., they're there in the water stream, they're there in the pipes, and anywhere you have a hard water area, you generally have a high sediment level as well.

                                    And sediment is what we call the RV water filter system killers, because it doesn't matter if it's a granular carbon or a solid carbon block, anytime sediment in its fine powder form comes in, it can coat the carbon. And once that carbon is coated, then the water is flowing over and around, and it's not necessarily flowing through. And so your carbon filter is no longer as effective as it could be if that sediment was removed first. So we actually designed a new product it's called the DirtGUARD, and it acts as a pre-filter to your carbon filter. So now it will work in conjunction with most inline carbon filters. And it acts as that pre-filter. So we designed it so that they work together, they fit inside each other. The carbon filter actually fits up inside the pre-filter, and you place it on the spigot side, just like you normally would for any inline filter.

The complete Clear2o RV water filter system with various parts
The complete Clear2o RV water filter system Dirtguard has a flexible hose extension, a tool to open the lid when its time to replace the carbon block filter and a reverse hose connection to backflow the filter when its time to clean

                                    But now you have two stages. The first stage being the DirtGUARD, and it's going to be a 20 micron filter, and it's going to take out anything that's 20 micron and above, and that is going to get out the sand, the silt, the sediment, the rust, any of those particulates that are coming into your filter are now going to be removed by the DirtGUARD. We've created a special filter for that, as well. That is actually a polyethylene. It's a hard rigid filter, and we designed it that way so you could actually remove it, clean it off, and actually reuse it. We wanted people to be able to use this pre-filter over and over and over again, not just having to constantly replace filters. So we designed it so that it could be wiped clean, and then we also were including a backwash adapter so that you can actually reverse the flow, backwash the filter out.

                                    Now, it won't take it back all the way to new, and it won't take it back to perfectly clean, but it will continue to improve the flow rate and give you more longer life. And as long as you can have that on there, you're going to now protect your carbon filter and your carbon filter is actually going to last even longer. Because it's not going to have to fight that sediment that you were using before.

Mike Wendland:           How often should you clean that pre-filter, then? How often would you clean that? Once a season? Twice a season?

Keith Bernard:              Well, our recommendation is, is that every time if you move often that you would open it up, take a look at it and clean it before each use. You don't have to necessarily do that, but that would just be, if you already have it off, it's easy and easily designed to just remove, take a look at it, decide if you need to clean it, put it back in, and move on. The goal was that the entire filter would last at least six months. And you may have to clean it up to three times during that period of time, depending on your water quality. If you're in a really hard water, if you're in a lot of sediment, then you're going to want to clean it more often. If you're in an area that has relatively good water, it's going to last probably longer than six months for you overall.

Mike Wendland:           Now, because we're talking audio here in the podcast, we do have some photographs and we'll put those in the show notes that will accompany this blog post and the actual link to the podcast. But just to visualize what we've been verbalizing, we're talking about two different things here with the RV water filter system. First is a pre-filter. And by the way, you can recognize yours because they're this bright green. Really bright green, the Clear20 pre-filter and that screws directly onto the, with a little adapter onto the spigot, and then the traditional filter that we're all used to, that inline filter, in turn attaches to the DirtGUARD, the pre-filter, and then your hose attaches to that just as normal.

                                    So it's literally that two-stage system. And we'll put pictures up. Well, we are going to be using this, because I was not happy to taste the water this weekend, and I am going to be using this on every campout, and I will do a video on it as well, which we'll put on our YouTube channel later on. But Keith, you've opened up our minds. Just how prevalent is all those problems, the sediment problems in campground water? How big of an issue is it that people should want to know?

Keith Bernard:              Well, it's a lot larger than people really realize, because again, if you're in a hard water area, that's generally minerals that are in the water itself, and of course wherever they come from, but sediments. So if you're in the hard water areas which actually ring the entire U.S., and especially in the Southwest, the Arizona areas, certainly all over Florida, have hard water issues as well. And most of the U.S. actually has some type of hard water issue wherever you go.

So it's varying degrees, of course, but the sediment itself, if you've ever gone over and taken a glass of water and put it under the faucet, and then you just see a cloudiness, that's sediment. So you'll see that little cloud swirling in your water, wherever that happens, that's sediment it's in the water. And it gets stuck in your filters. Of course, it gets into your various different piping and your water heater, etc. So it's just best to keep it out as much as possible.

Mike Wendland:           All right. We're going to get the sediment out with the DirtGUARD, and then we're going to get the filter, the carbon solid carbon block inline filter to make the water taste better, and to filter it down to that one micron level. Last question, is there any difference in the type of RV you own and the options that you would use for these two things as our RV water filter system? Any options available besides these two?

Keith Bernard:              Yeah, absolutely. The one good thing on filtration is that there are multiple ways that you can get to it. And so we always try to get people to be thoughtful about how they're going to use their water. Certainly, the system we talked about using, the DirtGUARD and our Clear20 filter will give you down to one micron filtration, and will give you good quality water for your entire coach. But if you already have a canister system already on the rig as an example, then you can get one of our solid carbon block universal filters and be able to use that. If you're there more full time, and you want to be able to have higher flow rates, then we offer a canister systems as well, that can be mounted outside or inside, and you can then apply those universal filters, 10 inch by two and a half inch standard filters that go into those.

                                    Those are going to give you a little longer filter life than an inline filter, and they're also going to give you a little higher flow rate, as well. So there's various different choices for your RV water filter system. For drinking water we always recommend using the best quality filter that you can, but for some people who actually have the All aboards, sometimes they like to use a secondary system. So whether you use a water pitcher or a counter top system or your refrigerator filter, those are all good ways to get drinking water alone by itself, as well.

Mike Wendland:           Our guest, Keith Bernard from Clear20 is the name of the company, and again we'll put links to these products we've talked about, we'll put our Amazon links on them. They'll be easy to find, but Keith, if people want to learn more about this, where would you have them go? What's the best place for information?

Keith Bernard:              They can look at our website, which is, and they would be able to see all our various different products, and under the recreational vehicles tab, and to be able to see the different filter options that we have for that. And if they're looking around a campsite and they see a green filter, ask the people that are using our filter. If it's a green one, it usually is ours.

Mike Wendland:           All right, you can't miss them. Well, there'll be on our RV next camping trip. I'm sitting here looking at the box right now with both the DirtGUARD and the inline filter. No more yucky water for us. Keith Bernard.

Keith Bernard:              That's right, you'll be able to drink it.

Mike Wendland:           Thank you so much for being our guest on the RV Podcast and talking with us about our RV water filter system.

Keith Bernard:              Thanks a lot, guys.

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Mike Wendland

Published on 2020-06-17

Mike Wendland is a multiple Emmy-award-winning Journalist, Podcaster, YouTuber, and Blogger, who has traveled with his wife, Jennifer, all over North America in an RV, sharing adventures and reviewing RV, Camping, Outdoor, Travel and Tech Gear for the past 12 years. They are leading industry experts in RV living and have written 18 travel books.

2 Responses to “RV Podcast 299: The Best RV Water Filter System”

December 19, 2020at8:57 pm, Iris Thomas said:

Camco filters are an effective bargain in taking out junk like chlorine from city water. I need pure as can be water for my vegetable crops and not kill the microbiology in the soil. I have been using these filters for a whole year now and I would say that all my plants are doing so much better than before. I have had more fruit, vegetables, flowers, and nice green growth than ever before. I know these filters work because my son uses them for his garden and the bump up in healthy plants has been tremendous! We have noticed the difference!

August 24, 2020at7:48 am, The $8 part that will save your RV plumbing system [Water Pressure Regulator] | RV Lifestyle said:

[…] CLICK HERE to listen to a podcast we did on these water filters […]

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