Katadyn BeFree Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Easy to use, competitive flow rate, collapsible, lightweight
Cons: Lacks durability and reliability
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|Pros||Easy to use, competitive flow rate, collapsible, lightweight||Lightweight, adaptable, easy to use, lifetime guarantee||Excellent design and quality, durable and lightweight, versatile filtration options, extended filter life||Lightweight, inexpensive, kills all pathogens (including crypto), reliable||Easy to use, lightweight, packable|
|Cons||Lacks durability and reliability||Not great for group use, better if you replace the bags||Extra maintenance to maintain microfilter||Takes a long time to kill crypto, slight taste to the water, chemical treatment||Not safe to use long-term, lower value than other chemical treatments, poor taste|
|Bottom Line||One of our favorite lightweight on-the-go filtration systems, ideal for hiking and running||Simple filtration that is lightweight and reliable for individual use||This filter is an excellent choice for lightweight and durable collapsible bottle filtration||These drops are a reliable and lightweight option to carry all over the world||This can be used as an emergency treatment system, but not much else|
|Rating Categories||Katadyn BeFree||Sawyer Squeeze||LifeStraw Peak Squeeze||Aquamira Treatment...||Potable Aqua Purifi...|
|Water Quality (20%)|
|Durability & Maintenance (20%)|
|Treatment Time (15%)|
|Weight & Packability (15%)|
|Ease of Set-Up (15%)|
|Ease of Filtration (15%)|
|Specs||Katadyn BeFree||Sawyer Squeeze||LifeStraw Peak Squeeze||Aquamira Treatment...||Potable Aqua Purifi...|
|Type of Filter/Purifier||Squeeze, on-the-go||Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go||Squeeze||Chemical treatment||Chemical treatment|
|Measured Weight (entire kit)||2.1 oz||5.7 oz||3.8 oz||3.0 oz||2.3 oz|
|Number of Liters (L)/Gallons (gal) per Lifetime||1000 L / 264 gal||378,541 L / 100,000 gal||2000 L / 500 gal||114 L / 30 gal per package||25 L / 6.6 gal|
|Filter Media or Active Ingredient||Hollow fiber||Hollow fiber||Hollow-core membrane microfilter||Chlorine dioxide||Iodine and Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide|
|Effective Against Bacteria?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Against Protozoa? (Giardia,Cryptosporidium)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (Giardia = yes; Crypto = no)|
|Effective Against Viruses?||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Against Chemicals?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Effective Against Heavy Metals?||No||No||No||No||No|
|Removes Particulates (sediment, microplastics)?||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Filter Pore Size||0.1 micron||0.1 micron||0.2 microns||N/A||N/A|
|Advertised Flow Rate||2.11 L / min||1.7 L / min||3 L / min||N/A||N/A|
|Dimensions||9 x 2.7 in||11 x 6 in||9.48 in x 4.8in x 2.67in||N/A||N/A|
|Storage Capacity (L)||0.6 L||2 L||1 L||N/A||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Katadyn BeFree is a great option for those seeking a filter that fits right inside 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 stashable soft bottles. Notable amongst long-distance bike riders trail runners and the like, this is perfect for solo on-the-go filtration.
The BeFree removes odd tastes and does a great job of producing fresh, clear water. It protects against bacteria and protozoa; however, it does not remove viruses. That said, it should be adequate for most streams in the US and Canada. It features a hollow filter design with 0.1-micron pore size. The filter is short, with big open spaces and spindled tubes 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.
Durability and Maintenance
The filter and screw-top attachment on the BeFree are durable and last 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. This bottle is no different. Online, several reviewers shared their experience with the storage bottle bursting at the seam around the rigid top collar piece after only a few uses.
We have not experienced it bursting, but after testing five of these bottles, each one 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, thereby defeating the purpose of ultralight. Alternatively, you can also carry a more durable bottle option.
In terms of maintenance, this filter is pretty easy. You can easily clean out the BeFree by running water through it and swishing it around. Despite our durability issues with the soft bottle, we do really like this filter.
The BeFree boasts a competitive flow rate for this type of filter. Just fill, sip, and move on — instant water on the trail.
Weight and Packability
As an extremely packable and lightweight filter, the BeFree is one of our favorite options for activities like trail running or mountain biking, where soft bottles are a huge plus. It weighs only 2.1 ounces with both the soft bottle and mini filter inside. The filter itself is fairly short, making it easy to fit inside a variety of compatible soft bottles. After you quench your thirst, you can simply collapse the bottle and tuck it into an area that'll fit into the palm of your hand. Not many other bottle filtration systems have a profile that is as short, which saves space in the bottle, allows you to fit more water, and effectively collapses the container. 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.
Ease of Setup
Setup is pretty darn straightforward for the BeFree. Out of the box, it's ready. Scoop up water and screw on the top, and you're good to go. While this is simple, since you have to scoop water into the bottle, you might have difficulty getting water from super skimpy and shallow sources. However, it works in most cases.
Ease of Filtration
This process is also super easy and straightforward. The water filters through the hollow filter efficiently. Of all the "sucking" or "squeeze" designs, this is one of the easiest to use. Other filtration systems with a similar method can take lots of effort to suck through the filter. When drinking from the BeFree, 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 one of our favorite on-to-go systems because of how naturally water flows through the body of the filter to your mouth.
The Katadyn BeFree is a little on the expensive side but does offer great performance. However, the bottle's durability issues may have you being super careful if you want to optimize its 1000 liter uses. We recommend buying a second soft bottle as a backup if you don't have any other filtration system handy.
The Katadyn BeFree 0.6L is a good option for travelers 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, and it's compatible with other soft bottles, adding to its versatility.
— Amber King
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