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Reviews

Great choice for every outdoor pursuit! The award…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $31.95

Summary

Great choice for every outdoor pursuit! The award winning Katadyn BeFree water bottle and filter gives you the freedom to drink anytime, anywhere. The collapsible .6 liter flask packs small and fits into tight spaces. It’s a great backup water filter, but can readily be converted into your primary water filtration system.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Convenient
  • Fast
  • Compact

Cons

  • Small included bottle
  • Not compatible with standard bottles
  • Cannot freeze

Description:

The Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System, a compact water bottle with integrated hollow fiber filter, makes a great choice for outdoor pursuits. The Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System allows you to drink from creeks, alpine lakes, or mountain streams quickly and easily.

Instead of hauling along a full day's worth of water, just bring this lightweight, compact bottle with you. Simply fill the flask and let the EZ-Clean Membrane do the work. It's effective against microorganisms. And when it's not filled, the collapsible bottle packs up small so you can stash it in tight spaces.
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                              Katadyn BeFree Filter, drink nozzle, .6-liter bottle


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                                      Closeup of Katadyn EZ-clean membrane

Features/Specifications:

  • 0.1 micron hollow fiber micro filter is tested to protect against harmful organisms, removing protozoa (99.99%) and bacteria (99.9999%) to EPA standards
  • Collapsible 0.6L flask packs small to fit into tight spaces
  • Lightweight a 2.3 oz. (filter and .6l bottle)
  • 42 mm, wide-mouth opening makes for easy filling from any water source
  • Easy to clean: simply shake or swish to remove debris (no back flushing)
  • Tested to 1,000 liters; dependent on water quality and maintenance
  • Filters up to 1 liter per minute

Testing:

I bought this at the local REI co-op to use as a backup for my primary filtration system for a five-night trip into Hell’s Canyon. As it turns out this system was so convenient and fast that the primary system was never used. I primarily filtered water out of small creeks flowing into the Snake and Salmon Rivers. I did from time to time filter from the Snake River itself and one time out of the murky/muddy Salmon. I’m guessing that I filtered around 20 to 25 liters of water with this little filter without a hiccup. 

Observations:

The 42 mm bottle mouth allowed for quick, easy fills even from standing water pools. What really amazed me was the flow rate through the filter, or membrane, as Katadyn chooses to call it. With just a gentle squeeze I could drain the entire bottle in 15-20 seconds. 

Let me say that it was an absolute pleasure to drink COLD water from this filter as opposed to warm water that I was also lugging along in a bladder in my backpack. I was diligent about cleaning the filter element on a daily basis and only observed a slight buildup on the filter element when I filtered from the muddy Salmon River. It was easy to clean the filter by swirling or swishing it in the clear streams.

The 0.1 micron hollow fiber filter element (membrane) is made in Switzerland. The .6 ml Hydrapak collapsible bottle is made in China. The 42 mm threads on the filter inlet are NOT compatible with any other bladder currently on the market. It is only compatible with the Hydrapak Seeker 2- and 3-liter storage bottles and a collapsible Hydrapak Stash 750.  


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                      BeFree system with replacement Smart Water bottle nozzle


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                         BeFree shown with generic water bottle cap in place 

The drink cap on the top of the filter is exactly the same as the drink cap on a Smart Water bottle, so if you were to lose or break the one on your filter it would be easily replaceable. You can also cap the filter with the lid from any standard water bottle. 

Given the fact that I was able to use this filter for a week with no problems I decided to test the feasibility of making it my primary system. To that end I purchased a Hydrapak Seeker 2 liter bottle. This bottle weighs 2.5 ounces and is able to fit into an included 4"x4"bag. It is fairly easy to fill from a standing water source because of its relatively wide mouth. I attached the Katadyn filter to the Seeker and was able to squeeze a liter of water through the filter in a little less than 30 seconds! 


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                      Katadyn BeFree shown attached to Hydrapak Seeker 2-liter bottle


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                        Katadyn BeFree Filter attached to Hydrapak Stash 750 bottle

I found the included hydrapak .6 liter bottle to be quite durable. I capped it and gave it a very hard squeeze to see if it would fail at the seam at the top of the bottle. I noted no leaks or indication of seam failure on these tests. 

Also, I noted that on the original instruction manual with the .6 l bottle cleaning instructions included back flushing under a faucet or flowing water. With the newer model, back flushing is no longer a recommended procedure. 

As with all hollow fiber filters, the Katadyn BeFree cannot be frozen—it would damage the hollow tubes rendering the filter useless. 

Katadyn does have an integrity test. If you suspect that the filter may have been damaged in any way (i.e. frozen, dropped, stepped on, etc, first filter .6 liters of water through the filter. This test MUST be done with a wet filter.  Next, blow gently through the drink nozzle. If air passes through the filter the fibers are broken and you should not use the filter. 

Recommendations:

My main complaint for this system would have been the small size of the bottle. Katadyn has apparently paid attention to its customers as it now offers the BeFree with a 1-liter collapsible bottle! The cost is about $6 more than the price of the .6-liter system and, in my opinion, would be money well spent. 

One could also forego purchasing the stand alone “system” (filter and included bottle) and just purchase a replacement filter element for $24 and add it to a Seeker bottle and use it as your primary system. 

I am thoroughly impressed with the BeFree and highly recommend it with one caveat—lack of compatibility with other bottles. Should you lose your bottle or have it fail you’re not going to find a quick replacement in the backcountry. For me, however, this is not a deal breaker so I'm rating this as a five-star because it's light, fast, convenient. 

Rob R

I just picked up one of these filters. Seems to work really well. I've been using a Sawyer Mini when I go fly fishing, hiking or backpacking. Flow isn't that great however. The flow with the Befree is fantastic. I also picked up a 1 liter Hydrapak Seeker to use with the Befree. The .6 liter Hydrapak bottle that comes with the Befree seems more durable than the bottle that comes with the Sawyer Mini and the Hydrapak is easier to fill. And yes there is no need to backflush anymore. For extended storage, just run a bottle of clean water treated with Katadyn micropur tablets through the filter and it should be good to go.


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, schifferj. I've been intending to use a small, collapsible option like this as a backup if I run out of water on a longer hike/trail run. The small size of the bottle has been a concern though.


2 years ago
Dr. Bryan Ryles

Thanks for the great review, Schifferj. I also purchased the BeFree, and used it in the Los Padres National Forest last month; worked excellent, and the flow rate is outstanding. For about 2 ounces, it outshines the Sawyer Mini, which I bought and never used...the reviews of low flow rate said it all.


2 years ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

I just added one to my gear arsenal, but haven't had the chance to use it yet (though I thought about bringing less water on a run just so I'd have a reason to do so). Bryan, I hope you'll add your own Katadyn review based on your experience too.


2 years ago
G00SE

Nice review. Sorry I didn't comment earlier!


1 year ago

This is a nice simple water filter option that has…

Rating: rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $19.98

Summary

This is a nice simple water filter option that has great flow, is simple to clean, and is very light at only two ounces. The only negative is that the cheap flip top cap selected for use with the BeFree is the same as what you find on a typical disposable water bottle.

Pros

  • Great water flow
  • Light
  • Compact for storage
  • Simple filter cleaning process
  • Eco packaging

Cons

  • Cheap throw away flip top cap
  • Expensive

I've been using a Sawyer Mini water filter for over a year and it initially had adequate flow. It has gradually decreased (and I have been back flushing) to where I decided I wanted something that weighed about the same, but had much greater flow. After looking at what was available, I decided to give the BeFree a try.

Here is the basic packaging that the BeFree comes in.

5OnHsjF7QGynJ84CaJdhmw.jpgWithin the package you get the filter and bottle assembly along with a set of instructions.

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I found the overall assembly, filter, bottle and cap, to only weigh 2.1 ounces.

When you breakdown the assembly you have the filter assembly, a nice 0.6 liter Hydrapak bottle, and simple cap that has a nipple and flip top cap.

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The filter assembly is nicely made and has a blue rubber like material around the rim that makes it very easy to hang on to the filter and not have it slip away while you are swishing it around in a creek using the recommended cleaning procedure. The thread on the top for the filter for the cap is the same that is found on a typical smart water bottle, so those caps could be used instead of the included cap.

The 0.6 liter Hydrapak bottle seems well constructed and has markings on the back side to reflect the level of water in the bottle and also simple pictorial instructions on the filter cleaning procedure.

The nipple/cap included with the BeFree was a big disappointment for me as it is the same as you would find on many sport drink bottles like you would buy at 7 Eleven. While the cap functions as it should, and the nipple is a nice size for drinking, the flip top cap has a cheap plastic hinge that is bound to break in a short period of time. Given how expensive the BeFree can be, Katadyn could have provided a cap that is more durable instead of providing a cheap throwaway cap like what was included.

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From a functional standpoint, I have had the BeFree out on a number of hikes and it works well. It is easy to fill the Hydrapak bottle and the filter flows great. I live in the Northwest and almost all the water you find on a hike around here is crystal clear, so I really haven't had to do any serious cleaning of the filter, but the rubber trimmed rim of the filter does make it very easy to hold on to when I have dipped it into a creek to go through the cleaning process.

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While the soft Hydrapak bottle is a needed feature so you can squeeze it to force water through the filter, it does make for a funny feeling water bottle and can almost be a two-handed process to try and drink from the BeFree.

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Overall, I think the BeFree is a good filter option especially if you can find it at a reasonable price. I'll try and provide an update in the future on if the flow starts to decrease like it did with my Sawyer Mini, but for right now I plan on keeping the BeFree in my pack as it's a nice light, high flow filter, that is easy to use. 

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Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Great review, Mike!


11 months ago
FlipNC

Nice review Mike. I haven't had a chance to review mine, but found a couple of other negatives...the soft bag doesn't protect the filter very well. More importantly the bag developed a leak after a few trips...I went back to the Sawyer standard. Hope yours holds up.


11 months ago
Mike Mineart

Thanks Alicia! & Phil! I hope the bag with my filter holds up and based on your comments Phil, I'll be more careful with how I pack this away in my pack. I really like the flow of this filter and don't want to go back to my Sawyer mini, and I don't want to spend any more $$$ on water filters for this season if I can avoid it.


11 months ago
FlipNC

The flow is excellent. I think the leak was from stowing it in my side pocket and heading off trail so hopefully not a big issue


11 months ago
_Christine

Hi mike - I've been considering trying this filter out. For my sawyer mini I en ended up using caps from one-time use bottles on it anyway, so I'm not sure if the cheap hinge/cap is too much of a drawback if you can just switch it out. Outside of that


11 months ago
_Christine

Do you know if it has to be coddled in freezing temps in the same way sawyers do? Thanks!


11 months ago
Mike Mineart

Hi Christine, I assume the actual filter material is the same or at least the same type as what is in the sawyer mini, so it would have the same issue potentially at below freezing temps.


11 months ago
Dr. Bryan Ryles

Hi, Mike, and thanks for the review. I have had great success with two long trips with the BeFree, and no issues with flow or the bag leaking. I never used the Sawyer, as I did not want to mess with back flushing, and there were too many stories online of clogs. For the same weight, the BeFree works really well for me and the filter is super easy to clean. I just used it in the Los Padres NP, and all the water from the river was brown from recent rains. The filter clogged a bit, and flow was down, but there was some serious sediment in that water! It flushed out easy between uses, and I'm sold on this filter!


11 months ago

Instant water filtering—but be gentle! The filter…

Rating: rated 3.5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $48 CAD

Summary

Instant water filtering—but be gentle!

Pros

  • Fast—filter as fast as you can drink
  • Light
  • Simple to use

Cons

  • The flask is easily punctured
  • Flow will slow down as filter gets used
  • Cost of filters
  • Company support unresponsive

The filter itself is a great piece of gear. Yes, the flow will be reduced as it gets used, but I can overlook that shortcoming due to the convenience of simply squishing the flask for a drink of clean water.

What is not acceptable is that my first trip out the flask developed a pinhole leak at a seemingly random location—not on a seam nor corner. Thankfully, it didn't affect my ability to use it. I just learned where the leak was and put my thumb over it.

Upon my return, I used Katadyn's "contact us" page to inquire whether I should contact the store where I bought it (MEC) or if they themselves would be handling the issue. No response and none to this day. MEC (a Canadian outdoor equipment co-op similar to REI) has a very good return policy. I called them and they gave me a return shipping label and refunded my purchase. So Katadyn, you owe MEC a beer.

I have since purchased a separate Befree filter and a Hydrapak Seeker in hopes that the Seeker provides improved durability. Time will tell.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Thanks for the review, scratchypants!


8 months ago

Small, compact and easy to use. This filter is also…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $39

Summary

Small, compact and easy to use. This filter is also fast and can be backwashed to clean out the filter.

Pros

  • Size
  • No need for extra bottle

Cons

  • Bladder yellowed

I used this filter while section hiking 500 miles of the AT. I could filter a half liter of water in seconds into another bottle or bag but also drink straight from the BeFree.

It stores in the side of my pack. You just roll it up when not using so it's small and lightweight. It only weighs 2 oz. I never had problems with durability. It was great when the stream was low or slow moving because it has a wide mouth and the bladder is flexible.

The only negative, but it's really not a negative, is the bladder yellowed a little over time.

It's my favorite water filter I have every used.

JRinGeorgia

"can be backwashed"


1 year ago
JRinGeorgia

oops..."can be backwashed"...I don't believe that is correct. I have looked at this filter and one of the biggest drawbacks is that to clean the filter you can rinse it or swish it around, but you cannot apply force back against the filter membranes from the clean end (backwash) or they will rupture. Many reports of that and the reason I haven't taken the plunge yet. There also is a significant number of incidents of parts breaking. Beyond that, though, you are right that this is reported to have a much greater flow than the "squeeze" filters. Did you experience any problems? 500 miles is a pretty good shake-down. Did flow rate diminish? Any problems with clogging? Anything break? Thanks.


1 year ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Jan, and thanks for the review! The BeFree has become a popular lightweight option. I believe JR is correct about not being able to backwash the EZ-Clean Membrane though. Katadyn says "Easily clean the EZ-Clean Membrane by simply shaking or swishing. No backflushing or tools necessary." https://www.katadyn.com/downloads/katadyn/factsheets/filters/factsheet_befree_en.pdf


1 year ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Forgot to ask, where on the AT did you section hike?


1 year ago
Jan Brown

My bad on the backwash. You are correct that you can swish and shake clean. I never had any problems. I was able to get by only carrying about a liter to 1 1/2 liters at a time. I would be back on the trail hiking by the time some hikers got through filtering. I never had clogging issues. The only thing that broke was the cap and I figured out you could take the flip cap of a smart water bottle and it worked the same. Easy, easy , easy.


1 year ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

That's great, Jan! Thanks for the update. I hope it keeps working well for you.


1 year ago
Jan Brown

Alicia, I hiked from Springer Mt, Georgia to Damascus, Va. Hardest but best adventure I have ever done.


1 year ago
Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Sounds like fun, Jan! Good luck with your future hikes too.


1 year ago

This handy water bottle and filter allows you to hydrate…

Rating: rated 5 of 5 stars
Source: tested or reviewed it for the manufacturer (I received a sample of this product from Katadyn for the purposes of review.)

Summary

This handy water bottle and filter allows you to hydrate on the go, literally, and allows you to drink from any water source. Water tastes great and flow rate is good.

Pros

  • Convenient
  • Portable
  • Good flow rate

Cons

  • Replacement filters are costly

This is a new on-the-go water filtration system. The Katadyn purifier is a personal and portable water filtration system designed to give you safe drinking water on the go.

Now I am a believer in occasionally drinking unfiltered mountain water from very specific sources (and man is glacier fresh water tasty), but now with this handy little water filter, I'll be taking it with me in case I get stuck in an area where I'm not comfortable with drinking unfiltered water. This is essentially a plastic bag with a filter on top. It's so light and easy to use. It filters water as you drink. Literally, on the go. 

This is a personal size bottle that fills 0.6 L (or 20 ounces) of water. This is a great size that you can literally take anywhere, since it weighs next to nothing. In fact, it's so light and small, that I would also recommend stowing it in your backpack as a safety item, which will be helpful in case you get stuck in an area with questionable drinking water. 

The only downside is the filter costs almost $25 to replace, however, it lasts for 1500 L, so you don't need to buy them very frequently. I'm a big fan of this filter and now take it everywhere with me.

Disclosure: The reviewer received a sample of this product from the brand or its representatives in exchange for a review.

Alicia MacLeay TRAILSPACE STAFF

Welcome to Trailspace, Alicia G. Do you have any pictures you could show us from testing out this product? Thanks!


2 years ago

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