Katadyn BeFree Water Filter Review
The Katadyn BeFree water filter has become one of our go-tos for ultralight backpacking. This microfilter has an incredible flow rate, and it can be cleaned in the field. You can drink straight from the top like a sports bottle, so you can spend less time squeezing or pumping and more time enjoying the trail. The BeFree earned a top spot on our Best Water Filters list for its low weight, convenience, and compact size.
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MSRP (includes 1L flask): $50
MEASURED WEIGHT: 2.3 oz.
The Katadyn BeFree filter comes with a 1l soft flask
AFFORDABLE – We’ve been using the same BeFree filter for two years while covering hundreds of trail miles, and it’s still going strong. It’s easy to clean, so you can keep bringing it back to life over and over again if the flow rate diminishes. We’re sure it has a limit somewhere, but we still haven’t found it after a lot of hard use.
We’ve been using the same BeFree filter for hundreds of trail miles, so it’s well worth the cost
ULTRALIGHT – The BeFree is amazingly light, weighing just 2.3 oz. including the soft bottle. The filter itself is only 1.2 oz. and it fits on some other bottles should you decide to swap out the stock soft flask for something a little more versatile. We like pairing the BeFree with a Hydrapak Flux 1L water bottle (2 oz.) from our Best Water Bottles list. We drink straight from the filter to eliminate the need to carry a separate bottle for dirty water. If you choose to go this route, you can save a few bucks by purchasing the replacement filter only which doesn’t include the BeFree bottle.
GREAT FLOW RATE – When the BeFree is brand new or freshly cleaned, it has an unbelievably quick and smooth flow rate. If you choose to filter water into a clean bottle – as opposed to drinking straight from the BeFree – it only takes a minute or so to filter a liter.
The Katadyn BeFree has an amazing flow rate for such a tiny filter
EASY TO USE – If you’re fine with drinking straight from the BeFree, which is how we typically use it, filtering water is as simple as finding a source, filling your bottle, and drinking. If you’d prefer to filter into another bottle, all you have to do is fill the soft bottle and squeeze water through the filter.
Filtering water with the BeFree is as easy filling your bottle from the source, screwing the filter back on, and drinking
FIELD CLEANABLE – It’s normal for the flow rate to slow down over time with water filters. When the flow rate starts to diminish on your BeFree, it’s incredibly easy to bring it back to life. Unlike other microfilters that sit in a plastic housing, the filter element of the BeFree is exposed in a perforated tube. This makes it easier to dislodge silt and other floaties that can cause it to clog. To clean it in the field, just fill your bottle about halfway with water, screw on the BeFree, and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds. This is usually sufficient to restore the flow rate until you can get to a sink to clean it more thoroughly.
Using the Katadyn BeFree and Hydrapak Flux on a JMT thru-hike
DOESN’T REMOVE VIRUSES – Because the BeFree is a filter, not a purifier, it won’t remove the smallest virus particles from your water. If you’re in an area where viruses are a big concern, you may want to bring a purifying chemical treatment such as drops or pills to use in conjunction with your BeFree.
The Katadyn BeFree is a .1 micron filter, so it removes all but the smallest water hazards
CAN LOSE FLOW RATE QUICKLY IN SILTY WATER SOURCES – The BeFree is a microfilter, and as such can be prone to clogging quickly if you’re filtering from particularly silty or debris-laden sources. If you find that you’re having trouble with a slow flow rate, just give the bottle with your BeFree attached a vigorous shake to restore a good amount of flow.
Katadyn BeFree VS Sawyer Squeeze
We used the Sawyer Squeeze for many years before switching over to the Katadyn BeFree. Both filters are affordable, ultralight, compact, and easy to use. But there are a few things we prefer about the BeFree over the Sawyer Squeeze. For one, the BeFree is much easier to clean in the field. We don’t have to worry about toting a backflush syringe, and since the filter element itself is exposed on the BeFree we can see when it’s time for a cleaning. We also prefer the silicone bottle that comes with the BeFree over the plastic squeeze pouch that comes with the Sawyer. We’ve had some durability issues with Sawyer’s pouches in the past, but the bottle that comes with the BeFree has held up a little better in our experience.
The Sawyer Squeeze (left) and the Katadyn BeFree (right) are both ultralight, easy to use, and affordable
The Katadyn BeFree is an excellent choice for backpackers looking to save money, weight, time, and pack space with their water system. This microfilter is affordable, it has an unbeatable flow rate, and it’s easy to clean in the field. We like to pair it with the Hydrapak Flux soft bottle, and together they make for a very convenient way to stay hydrated on trail. Check out how the BeFree compares to our other favorite water filters on our Best Water Filters list.
We hope this review helps you determine if the Katadyn BeFree water filter is right for you. As always, please leave a comment below if you have any recommendations, questions, or suggestions or visit our Facebook page and Instagram to join the community conversation. If you found this review helpful, please share on social media and click the little heart button below to give us a digital high five!
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