Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Competitive flow rate, lightweight and packable, easy to use
Cons: No separate bag for water storage, shorter filter life
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Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L
|Price||$82.39 at REI|
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|Pros||Competitive flow rate, lightweight and packable, easy to use||Fast, easy, hands-free filtration, large volume, storage||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|
|Cons||No separate bag for water storage, shorter filter life||A little expensive, can't gather from shallow sources, clogs with heavy sediment||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|
|Bottom Line||Let gravity do the work by selecting this efficient and intuitive filter for your next backcountry base camp||A fast and easy to use gravity filter perfect for small groups||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|
|Rating Categories||Katadyn BeFree Grav...||Platypus GravityWorks||Sawyer Squeeze||LifeStraw Peak Squeeze||Aquamira Treatment...|
|Water Quality (20%)|
|Durability & Maintenance (20%)|
|Treatment Time (15%)|
|Weight & Packability (15%)|
|Ease of Set-Up (15%)|
|Ease of Filtration (15%)|
|Specs||Katadyn BeFree Grav...||Platypus GravityWorks||Sawyer Squeeze||LifeStraw Peak Squeeze||Aquamira Treatment...|
|Type of Filter/Purifier||Gravity filter||Gravity filter||Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go||Squeeze||Chemical treatment|
|Measured Weight (entire kit)||9.28 oz||11.5 oz||5.7 oz||3.8 oz||3.0 oz|
|Number of Liters (L)/Gallons (gal) per Lifetime||1000 L / 264 gal||1500 L / 396 gal||378,541 L / 100,000 gal||2000 L / 500 gal||114 L / 30 gal per package|
|Filter Media or Active Ingredient||Hollow fiber||Hollow fiber||Hollow fiber||Hollow-core membrane microfilter||Chlorine dioxide|
|Effective Against Bacteria?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Against Protozoa? (Giardia,Cryptosporidium)||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Effective Against Viruses?||No||No||No||No||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||Yes||No|
|Filter Pore Size||0.1 micron||0.2 microns||0.1 micron||0.2 microns||N/A|
|Advertised Flow Rate||2 L / min||1.75 L / min||1.7 L / min||3 L / min||N/A|
|Dimensions||15 x 9 in||9.4 x 3 in||11 x 6 in||9.48 in x 4.8in x 2.67in||N/A|
|Storage Capacity (L)||6 L||8 L||2 L||1 L||N/A|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This filter allows for effortless water filtration with a flow rate ranging from 33 to 40 seconds to filter one liter of water. Its weight (9.28 oz) and simple design offer an intuitive setup as well as easy maintenance in the backcountry. While not receiving the highest marks throughout our extensive testing process, this Katadyn filter performed well for us during our testing period.
When considering this metric, we sought out various water sources to assess the level of quality each backpacking water filter could produce. We took these filters to a range of different locations, from brown and stagnant water in Indian Creek to the pristine mountain lakes found in the High Sierra. The filters that were able to remove the odor and unpalatable taste of the water received high marks.
The BeFree Gravity 6L utilizes a hollow fiber filter with a 0.1 micron pore size that is effective at removing bacteria, protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium, as well as particulates. This filter is not effective against viruses; best to select another option if this is a concern. The BeFree Gravity 6L holds its own amongst the competition in this category, producing fresh and clean drinking water that will keep you hydrated during your next trip into the backcountry.
Durability and Maintenance
When considering this metric, we gave higher scores to the backcountry water filters that were easy to clean and maintain in the field and also gave us confidence that they were durable enough to withstand a remote trip into the backcountry. No one wants to spend hours maintaining a filter during a trip, nor do they want to question whether or not the filter will be rendered useless if dropped or frozen.
The BeFree Gravity 6L is easily maintained in a remote setting. If you notice the flow rate slow down, simply remove the filter from the nylon bag and swish it around in the water source, removing any debris or sediment that has built up around the filter. Oftentimes, the agitation the water experiences within the nylon bag while walking from the water source to camp is enough to maintain the filter. Be mindful not to allow your filter to freeze as it compromises the integrity of the filter, rendering it no longer useful. We experienced no durability issues with this filter but noted that the life of the filter is significantly less when compared to the competition, offering a filter life of 1,000 liters vs. 1,500 liters of some other gravity filters tested. However, the simple technology allows you to stay focused on your adventure instead of spending hours performing maintenance in the field.
In this metric, we considered the amount of time it took to collect water from the source and filter that water into a drinkable state. We performed various tests throughout the life of the filter, noting the rate of flow to determine the average time required to filter one liter of water.
The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L delivered a competitive flow rate ranging from 33 - 40 seconds to filter one liter of water. We were never able to achieve the advertised flow rate of 2 liters per minute but found our results remained the same, even after cleaning the filter to remove any sediment that might be disrupting the rate of flow. Unfortunately, the hose is so long that it is challenging to dangle the dirty water reservoir high enough to filter water efficiently. Without extending the hose fully, the flow rate is significantly reduced. We didn't try it, but it is possible to shorten the hose by cutting it and re-inserting the quick-release adapter.
Weight and Packability
For this metric, we consider the weight of each filtration system as well as how much space they require in various packs. The products that weighed the least and packed down the easiest received high scores in this metric.
The Katadyn BeFree Gravity weighs only 9.3 ounces and packs down to the size of a Nalgene bottle. The trade-off for such a lightweight gravity-fed filter is that there isn’t another bag that allows for clean water storage. If not treating the water on the same day that it is collected, Katadyn recommends treating the water for overnight storage to preserve the water that has been collected.
Ease of Set Up
For this metric, we consider how easily each backcountry water filter is set up and whether or not we need instructions or if the setup feels intuitive. We also note how easily we could use the filter in different water sources, from shallow streams to deep lakes.
The BeFree Gravity 6L is an intuitive set up even though it comes with several separate parts such as the 6-liter nylon water bag, the filter, the BeFree adaptor ring that attaches the filter to the nylon bag, the quick-release valve and connector coupling (are attached to each end of the hose), the hose clamp, and the carrying strap. It may be annoying to keep track of several items, but it goes together easily and logically. In addition to an intuitive setup, the quick release found on the end of the hose allows you to attach the hose to personal hydration bladders for hands-free, effortless filtration directly into a personal reservoir.
Ease of Filtration
Ease of Filtration is a performance metric that makes a significant difference in normal use. For this metric, we consider how easily each filter allows us to process water, noting the amount of physical effort required to filter the water from the source.
A gravity-fed filter like the BeFree Gravity is often the simplest way to remove sediment and bacteria from your water source. Gravity-fed filters require no pumping or squeezing. However, the 6 liter capacity of this filter requires you to fill the nylon bag and carry roughly 15 pounds of weight from the water source to the campsite. The filter comes equipped with a strap that allows you to attach the bag to a tree, but we found it a bit cumbersome to lift the bag and hang it high enough to allow for enough room for the 46-inch long hose to hang straight below the filter. We noted earlier that allowing for the hose to hang straight below the bag provided the maximum flow rate. One attachment we found very useful is the hose clamp that allows you to control the flow rate of water and essentially stop the filtering process and store the remaining water inside the nylon bag.
While the Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L produces exceptional water quality, has a lightweight and durable design that is easy to maintain, it is an investment that doesn’t quite live up to the competition. For a similar price, we found other gravity-fed filters that offered a longer filter life, storage capabilities, as well as adaptors that allowed the filters to convert to showers or hand-washing stations. In summary, the BeFree Gravity 6L is a good deal but throughout our testing, we know there are better options out there that offer more options within the same price range.
While we were impressed with the Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L from the lightweight design to the ease of maintenance, we were also disappointed with the length of the hose that made it cumbersome to hang the bag high enough to allow for the maximum flow rate as well as the lack of storage if the water was not to be used the same day. The scores reflected our experience and prevented the Katadyn BeFree Gravity from beating its direct competition among gravity-fed filtration systems.
— Trish Matheny
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