The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Katadyn BeFree Review

This lightweight collapsible bottle houses a filtration system that offers fast flow and on-the-go hydration.
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $40 List | $39.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy to use, fast flow rate, collapsible, lightweight
Cons:  Lacks durability and reliability
Manufacturer:   Katadyn
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 6, 2019
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71
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 18
  • Water Quality - 20% 7
  • Durability & Maintenance - 20% 3
  • Treatment Time - 15% 9
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 9
  • Ease of Set-Up - 15% 8
  • Ease of Filtration - 15% 8

Our Verdict

The Katadyn BeFree is our favorite lightweight on-the-go filtration system. It features a small filter that attaches to a high-flow nozzle that screws onto the body of a soft bottle. All you have to do is scoop up water from any source (including turbid water), softly squeeze, and start drinking. It filters out bacteria and protozoa including Giardia and Cryptosporidium, but not viruses. The flow rate is sufficient, without making you work too hard for water. Its lightweight profile is hardly noticeable, fitting nicely into the pockets of a hydration vest easily. Given that the bottles are soft, they don't stand up on end and need a pocket to sit in or should be carried by hand. Putting it into a backpack makes it susceptible to punctures, unfortunately.

The profile of the filter inside is super short, which makes it highly collapsable when you've finished the bottle. Unfortunately, like most soft bottles, its design isn't the most durable. The bottles we've tested have sprung leaks, and online users have reported the bottle completely breaking. Given that the filter is compatible with other soft bottles we'd recommend bringing an extra soft bottle just in case you need it. If these durability issues concern you, check out the Lifestraw Flex that is more durable and offers more filtration options. While this is a good alternative, it's not nearly as light or packable, making the Katadyn BeFree a favorite amongst our on-the-go athletes.


Same concept, larger capacity
We've also reviewed the 3 liter version of this bottle in the past. Head on over to that review if you're seeking a larger capacity bottle with the same system as this smaller bottle.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Katadyn BeFree
Awards Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Editors' Choice Award   
Price $39.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$89.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$22.36 at Amazon
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$49.51 at Amazon$29.84 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Easy to use, fast flow rate, collapsible, lightweightLightweight, great price, durable design, fast flow, high volume filtrationInexpensive, fantastic performance, great durability, versatile functionality, good water flow, lightweightHighly versatile, lightweight, in-line use, on-the-go useInexpensive, highly adaptable, lightweight, easy to use
Cons Lacks durability and reliabilityDoesn't filter out viruses, no additional storage reservoirClogs easily with lots of sedimentSlow flow rate, easy to lose small piecesSuction required, filter can come loose
Bottom Line This lightweight collapsible bottle houses a filtration system that offers fast flow and on-the-go hydration.The best value gravity filter on the market.This all-around awesome filtration system is the perfect personal use solution for water treatment.This highly versatile filtration system can be used with in-line systems and filters out viruses.This adaptor kit turns your favorite water bottle into an awesome water filtration solution.
Rating Categories Katadyn BeFree Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L Sawyer Micro Squeeze Aquamira Frontier Max LifeStraw Universal
Water Quality (20%)
10
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7
10
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7
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7
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8
Durability & Maintenance (20%)
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3
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9
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7
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7
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6
Treatment Time (15%)
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9
Weight & Packability (15%)
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9
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
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9
Ease Of Filtration (15%)
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Specs Katadyn BeFree Katadyn Gravity... Sawyer Micro Squeeze Aquamira Frontier... LifeStraw Universal
Type of Filter On-the-go (squeeze) Gravity filter On-the-go (straw & squeeze) On-the-go & in-line filtration On-the-go (bottle lid adaptors)
Time to Treat One Liter (Timed Test) immediate 64 seconds immediate 2.5 minutes (gravity set-up) immediate
Measured Weight (entire kit -- oz) 2.1 oz 11.65 oz 3.8 oz 3.15 oz 3.7 oz
Storage Capacity 0.6 L 6L Varies Varies Varies
Removes Bacteria? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Removes Protozoa? (Cryptosporidium, Giardia Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Removes Viruses'? No No No Yes No
Removes Chemicals? No No No Yes Yes
Removes Heavy Metals? No No No Yes No
Removes Particulates (sediment, microplastics)? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Filter Pore Size 0.1 micron 0.2 microns 0.1 micron Unknown 0.2 microns
Advertised Flow Rate 2.11 liters per min 2 L/min Varies 0.5 L/min Varies
Dimensions 9.05 in x 2.73 in 10 x 6 x 2.4 in 15.5 x 6 x 1 in 7.5 x 1.8 x 9.5 in 8.7 x 4.5 x 3 in
Filter Media or Active Ingredient Hollow Fiber Pleated glassfiber Hollow Fiber Unknown Hollow Fiber/ Carbon Filter
# of liters/galloons per lifetime 1000 liters/264 gallons 1,500 liters/396 gallons 378,541 liters/100,000 gallons 454 liters/120 gallons 264 liters/1,000 gallons
Water Bottle Adapter Yes No Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

This Top Pick for lightweight travel is a perfect option for those seeking a filter that fits right inside of a bottle. The soft bottle it comes with is collapsible, making it easy to pack away and store. Like most soft containers, its durability isn't the greatest, but the screw top filter is compatible with other soft bottles that you can stash with you. A favorite amongst long-distance trail runners and the like, it's perfect for solo on-the-go filtration.

Performance Comparison


The BeFree is a great choice for a day out where you don't want to carry a lot of water.
The BeFree is a great choice for a day out where you don't want to carry a lot of water.

Water Quality


The Katadyn BeFree protects against bacteria and protozoa; however, it does not remove viruses. It should be adequate for most streams in the US and Canada.


The filter does remove odd tastes and does a great job at producing fresh, clear water. It features a hollow filter design with 0.1-micron pore size. The filter is short with big open spaces and spindled tubes that are latticed overtop of one another. This design makes for quick guzzling on the go. It does well for all sorts of water sources from turbid to clear.

A look at the profile and size of the lightweight and effective filter used in this system.
A look at the profile and size of the lightweight and effective filter used in this system.

Durability and Maintenance


The filter and screwtop it's attached to is quite durable and lasts for roughly 1000 liters before needing replacement. However, the soft bottle is a different story.


If you're a runner or use soft bottles often, you'll know that it's hard to find a durable soft bottle in general. This bottle is no different. Online, several reviews say that the storage bottle burst on them at the seam around the rigid top collar piece after only a few uses.

The area where the bottle attaches to the neck or collar area is prone to ripping.
The area where the bottle attaches to the neck or collar area is prone to ripping.

We have not experienced it bursting, but after testing five of these bottles, each one has eventually sprung a pin-prick leak. In one case, these pin-prick leaks occurred on the first time out. These bottles are delicate and aren't very durable. While our experience didn't yield a filtration system that didn't work, it's possible that it might happen. If you plan on going long distances with this as your only filtration system, we'd recommend carrying a second soft bottle in case the first one does leak or break.

The EZ clean membrane is easily cleaned. Simply swish it around in a water source and continue on your way. This filter and top are compatible with other soft bottles as well.
The EZ clean membrane is easily cleaned. Simply swish it around in a water source and continue on your way. This filter and top are compatible with other soft bottles as well.

In terms of maintenance, it's pretty easy. You can easily clean out the filter by running water through it and swishing it around. Overall, this filter does not have the most durable soft bottle. If you plan on getting it, be sure to purchase a second soft bottle that you can use in case it does spring a leak on the trail.

Treatment Time


For an on-the-go filter, it is super fast. Just fill, sip, and move on. Instant water on the trail.


The wide nozzle provides a quick flow that makes drinking from it nice and easy.
The wide nozzle provides a quick flow that makes drinking from it nice and easy.

Weight and Packability


As an extremely packable and lightweight filter, it is our favorite option for activities like trail running or mountain biking where soft bottles are a huge plus. It weighs only 2.1 oz with both the soft bottle and mini filter inside. The filter itself is fairly short, making it easy to fit inside of a variety of compatible soft bottles.


When your water is gone, you can collapse the bottle and tuck into an area that'll fit into the palm of your hand. No other bottle filtration system has a profile that is as short, saving space in the bottle, and allowing you to fit more water and collapse the container more effectively.

The shorter profile of the filter allows this bottle to collapse to a tiny volume  making it ultra packable and lightweight.
The shorter profile of the filter allows this bottle to collapse to a tiny volume, making it ultra packable and lightweight.

It fits comfortably inside the front pockets of a trail running vest. Again, if you have a bottle that you prefer, check to see if the top is compatible with your favorite soft bottle.

A look at the lightweight profile of this fantastic niche filter.
A look at the lightweight profile of this fantastic niche filter.

Ease of Setup


Setup is pretty darn straightforward. Out of the box, it's ready. Scoop up water and screw on the top.


While this is a great setup, getting water from super shallow water sources is a little limiting. Since you have to scoop water into the bottle, you might have a hard time getting water from super skimpy and shallow sources. However, it works for most cases.

The BeFree's wide mouth makes fill-ups easy  except when the water is shallow and/or slow moving.
On long hikes and trail runs it's easy to fill up the BeFree at the nearby stream and have instant drinking water.

Ease of Filtration


Another super easy and straight forward process. The water filters through the hollow filter easily. Of all the "sucking" or "squeeze" designs, this is one of the easiest to use. Other filtration systems with a similar method take lots of effort to suck through the filter. When drinking from the Katadyn BeFree 0.6L, water flow is steady and easy to get. We even drank from this bottle just around the house because it wasn't cumbersome or annoying to use.


This system suits on-the-go travel. You can try to squeeze water through and put it into a larger storage bottle, but that takes a little more time and energy. Other sizes are available if you need more capacity than the 0.6-liter version we tested. Overall, this is our favorite on-to-go system because of how naturally water flows through the body of the filter to your mouth.

Providing instant drinking BeFree needs a bit of air in the bottle to squeeze out all the water.
Providing instant drinking BeFree needs a bit of air in the bottle to squeeze out all the water.

Best Applications


If you're seeking an on-the-go filtration system, this is a great go-to. It's perfect for day hikes, trail running, or mountain biking. The lightweight and collapsible design make it easy to store. Just be sure to bring a back-up soft bottle if it springs a leak. A great option for solo, lightweight missions.

Taking a break on a hiker  we take a moment to enjoy a cool sip of water...upstream of obvious water contaminants.
Taking a break on a hiker, we take a moment to enjoy a cool sip of water...upstream of obvious water contaminants.

Value


The Katadyn BeFree is a little on the expensive side ($40) but does offer optimal performance. The bottle's durability issues may have you being super careful if you want to optimize its 1000 uses. We recommend buying a second soft bottle as a back-up if you don't have any other filtration system handy.

Conclusion


This Top Pick is ideal for the traveler seeking a super lightweight and on-the-go filtration system. While it's not the most durable, it offers a fast flow rate that filters bacteria and protozoa including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The soft bottle is collapsible, fitting easily into the pocket of a hydration pack or vest. It's compatible with other soft bottles, adding to its versatility.


Amber King