The secrets of "drinking water safe" hoses

Airstream Interstate with water hose in campground


While there are dozens of "drinking water safe" hoses on the market, only a few of them are good choices for RVers.

We've tested many brands of drinking water safe hoses over the years, and sadly the bulk of them are terrible. 

Sure, the initial purchase price is low. But you end replacing them over and over because they simply don't hold up to the elements, regular travel, summer sunshine, and occasional smashing when you run over them with your tow vehicle. In the end, buying cheap water hoses ended up being really expensive.

So, although there are a lot of “drinking water safe” hoses - also called "white hoses" - available at local hardware and big box stores, we don't recommend them for RV owners. They just don't hold up.

The most common problem with cheap hoses is pinhole leaks.

The typical RV hose is made of thin vinyl that can’t take being dragged across the ground, or isn’t UV stable. That means eventually the sun or the earth will cause cheap hoses to start leaking.

Also, thin vinyl often kinks, or forms bulges (like an aneurysm) that eventually burst.  Sometimes people try to avoid this problem by using a water pressure regulator on the end of the hose, but that’s just an extra expense to protect a disposable (read: poor quality) product. And if you drive over the hose while it has water in it, it will usually burst anyway.

The ice next to this hose was caused by pinhole leaks spraying all night.

Avoid fabric, roll-up hoses.

If you’ve ever tried those white fabric roll-up hoses (sold on a reel) you know they’re even worse than cheap vinyl. With just normal use and abrasion on the ground they’ll spring pinhole leaks like a sprinkler.  See the ice in the photo above? It’s from pinhole leaks spraying all night long.

So cheap hoses are really not cheap, because you’ll be replacing them every year or two.

Invest in something with quality fittings.

Another common weak spot with drinking water hoses is their fittings. There are three typical fitting types:

  • Plastic. The worst choice. These tend to crack or leak quickly.
  • Aluminum. Because aluminum is soft, the fittings eventually bend out of shape from repeated screwing on and off the hose bib, which causes leaks you can’t stop.
  • Brass. Brass is traditional because it’s durable and non-corrosive, but brass also often contained lead in the past. This can leach into your water. To prevent this, look for “lead-free brass” with nickel or trivalent chrome plating.  This is a good choice.

Ultimate RV water hose fittings - will not leak or break
Look for “lead-free brass” fittings, with nickel or trivalent chrome plating. 

We don't like hoses that stiffen up in the cold. When it’s chilly outside we don’t want to be wrestling to coil up the water hose. That’s why we like hoses that stay flexible in all temperatures. 

 Ultimate water hose - self coiling
Self-coiling hoses are super convenient.

We like pre-coiled hoses like the one pictured above. These things are awesome because they never “forget” how to coil back up. We've stretched this one out until it was entirely straight, and it sprang right back to its original shape afterward.  Plus they’re much lighter and pack smaller than traditional hoses, so we can carry a longer hose with less weight and bulk.

The final consideration: is the water safe to drink? 

All drinking water hoses are supposed to be free of lead, phthalates, and BPA. They should never be made from poly-vinyl chloride (PVC), and they should be completely light-blocking so algae can’t grow inside.

They should also be rated as safe for hot water use, because that tells you the hose won’t deteriorate or leach chemicals when it is sitting in the direct sun all day.

There are a few hoses that meet most of our requirements. But we’ve found only one that meets ALL of them. That’s the Ultimate RV Drinking Water Hose - which is the only drinking water hose we sell. 

We back it up with a 5 Year “No Hassle” Replacement Warranty. 

By the way, you might be wondering why we sell a narrower hose than most others on the market. (Our Ultimate Drinking Water Hose is 3/8″ inside, versus 5/8″ in most hoses.) It’s because the 3/8″ size coils up better and is easier to handle.

Sometimes people will think that the hose has to be big in order to get good water flow, but that's not true in the case of our hose. 

All of the plumbing in your RV is 1/2″ diameter and the fixtures are designed for a maximum flow of 2.5 gallons per minute. Our 3/8″ Ultimate Drinking Water Hose can deliver nearly 5 gallons per minute, so it’s still more than adequate.

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