Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System Review

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The Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration system is a soft flask style water bottle with an integrated water filter in the spout. It’s also extremely inexpensive insurance for those of us that enjoy long mountain bike rides in the backcountry.

We ditched our backpacks for waist packs some time ago, and other than long distance XC riding, (or coaching) haven’t looked back. With more riders running waist packs, finding solutions for hydration becomes more and more imperative. Many riders have taken to using waist packs that carry an additional bottle, (or two) but crashing on a hard plastic water bottle could be detrimental to your lower back and spine.

One solution: a waist pack with an integrated bladder like the Camelbak Palos. (see our review here.) Another option? The soft flask body made by HydroPak. The soft body allows you to compact it as you use the water, and a unlike hard plastic bottle, it potentially could aid in softening impacts with the ground.

The Katadyn BeFree takes things to the next level with the addition of a water filter to the soft flask, Katadyn calls the EZ-Clean Membrane. Lightweight and easy to carry in a waist pack, the water filter is designed to be effective against microorganisms that make drinking from rivers and streams a bad idea. The microfilter works on organisms down to .1 microns in size which covers protozoa, e-coli, salmonella and cholera to EPA standards.

To filter water, just fill and drink. You can also turn it upside down and let water run through to refill a bottle in your cage. It can filter up to a liter of water a minute.

To clean it you just shake or swish it to remove debris.

  • Easy to fill from all water sources
  • Works by shaking then drinking
  • Easy to clean
  • Small and compact; can stuff into jersey pocket or into bag or pack

At $40, the Katadyn is lightweight insurance for adventures, and it comes with us on every trip, earning not just a spot in the pack or waist pack but in the van as well. It’s compatible with larger volume HydraPak SoftFlaks, making it a great alternative to strapping a hard bottle to your waist.

Learn more at Katadyn.com

Get one at Amazon.com

Supplemental Questions and Answers

I’m 100% sold on the concept of a portable filter, and at $40, the Katadyn is inexpensive enough that having one for emergencies is a solid investment and a no-brainer. In theory, I was stoked to have one along for the ride. But when it came to testing one for the purposes of this post in the middle of the wet season when I’m not stranded and out of water was a slightly different proposition. Seeing as there was a trust element on testing a product with untreated water without knowing what I’m getting myself into, I had a few questions before I was about to risk a night of “beaver fever” (or “Montezuma’s Revenge” as we used to call it in the Boy Scouts) for a product review. A bit of additional research was my first step, so I came up with some questions I needed to have answers to first.

Question #1: what does a water filter need to filter out?

  • Parasites like protozoa and cysts
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses

According to Katadyn, the BeFree is designed to filer microorganisms, which should suffice while playing in the mountains and filtering running water. It’s definitely not a product I’d use in a 3rd world country without adding additional safeguards. But for mountain biking in the mountains it should do the job.

Question #2: What is the difference between a water purifier and a water filter?

A filter uses well, filters for removing small particulates and parasites as well as bacteria, depending on the rating. A chemical treatment is required in addition to the mechanical filtration to kill viruses.

Some kits use tablets. UV light is also an effective method for killing microsized “bad” things. You can also boil water, which is a proven method of disinfecting water.

Question #3: what does the Katadyn BeFree filter out?

Filters remove very fine particles. They don’t eliminate viruses. If that is a concern adding purification tablets should cover all the bases.

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