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Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L Review

Let gravity do the work by selecting this efficient and intuitive filter for your next backcountry base camp
Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L
Photo: Katadyn
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Price:  $100 List | Check Price at REI
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Pros:  Competitive flow rate, lightweight and packable, easy to use
Cons:  No separate bag for water storage, shorter filter life
Manufacturer:   Katadyn
By Trish Matheny ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 1, 2021
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72
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 25
  • Water Quality - 20% 7
  • Durability & Maintenance - 20% 7
  • Treatment Time - 15% 8
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 5
  • Ease of Set-Up - 15% 7
  • Ease of Filtration - 15% 9

Our Verdict

The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L offers a lightweight, intuitive design that is simple to clean and maintain. It removes waterborne pathogens such as bacteria and protozoa and offers a competitive flow rate compared to other gravity-fed, basecamp options available on the market. While this filter received competitive scores, we were ultimately disappointed with its lack of versatility and the cumbersome setup in order to filter at the maximum rate of flow.

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Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
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$109.95 at REI
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$32.06 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
72
75
74
72
72
Star Rating
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Pros Competitive flow rate, lightweight and packable, easy to useFast, easy, hands-free filtration, large volume, storageLightweight, adaptable, easy to use, lifetime guaranteeLightweight, inexpensive, kills all pathogens (including crypto), reliableEasy to use, fast flow rate, collapsible, lightweight
Cons No separate bag for water storage, shorter filter lifeA little expensive, can't gather from shallow sources, clogs with heavy sedimentNot great for group use, better if you replace the bagsTakes a long time to kill crypto, slight taste to the water, chemical treatmentLacks durability and reliability
Bottom Line Let gravity do the work by selecting this efficient and intuitive filter for your next backcountry base campA fast and easy to use gravity filter perfect for small groupsSimple filtration that is lightweight and reliable for individual useThese drops are a reliable and lightweight option to carry all over the worldOur favorite lightweight on-the-go filtration system
Rating Categories Katadyn BeFree Grav... Platypus GravityWorks Sawyer Squeeze Aquamira Treatment... Katadyn BeFree
Water Quality (20%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
5.0
8.0
Durability & Maintenance (20%)
7.0
7.0
5.0
10.0
1
Treatment Time (15%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
2.0
9.0
Weight & Packability (15%)
5.0
5.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Ease Of Set Up (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Ease Of Filtration (15%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
Specs Katadyn BeFree Grav... Platypus GravityWorks Sawyer Squeeze Aquamira Treatment... Katadyn BeFree
Type of filter/purifier Gravity filter Gravity filter Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go Chemical treatment Squeeze & on-the-go
Measured weight (entire kit, oz) 9.28 oz. 11.5 oz 5.7 oz 3.0 oz 2.1 oz
Number of liters (L)/gallons (gal) per lifetime 1,000 L 1,500 L/396 gal 378,541 L/100,000 gal 114 L/30 gal per package 1000 L/264 gal
Filter media or active ingredient Hollow-fiber Hollow fiber Hollow Fiber Chlorine Dioxide Hollow Fiber
Effective against bacteria? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Effective against protozoa? (Cryptosporidium, Giardia) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Effective against viruses? No No No Yes No
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 Yes
Filter pore size 0.1 micron 0.2 microns 0.1 micron N/A 0.1 micron
Advertised flow rate 2L/min 1.75L/min 1.7L/min N/A 2.11 L per min
Dimensions 15 x 9 in 9.4 x 3 in 11 x 6 N/A 9.05 in x 2.73 in
Storage capacity (L) 6 L 8 L 2 L 0 0.6 L

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.

Performance Comparison


The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L offers a simple and intuitive design.
The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L offers a simple and intuitive design.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Water Quality


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.

The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L produces potable water from various...
The Katadyn BeFree Gravity 6L produces potable water from various sources where bacteria, protozoa, and sediment are a concern.
Photo: Trish Matheny

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.

Easily maintained in the field, simply swish the filter around in an...
Easily maintained in the field, simply swish the filter around in an open water source in order to remove any excess sediment and debris.
Photo: Trish Matheny

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.

Treatment Time


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.

These clear side panel measurements were helpful as we timed the...
These clear side panel measurements were helpful as we timed the rate of flow per liter.
Photo: Trish Matheny

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.

At just 9.28 oz., the BeFree Gravity 6L is the lightest gravity...
At just 9.28 oz., the BeFree Gravity 6L is the lightest gravity filter we tested and easily packs into an accessible pocket on your backpack.
Photo: Trish Matheny

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.

Although the BeFree Gravity 6L contains many separate parts, the set...
Although the BeFree Gravity 6L contains many separate parts, the set up is intuitive.
Photo: Trish Matheny

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.

The hose clamp allows you to control the rate of flow.
The hose clamp allows you to control the rate of flow.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Value


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.

Conclusion


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.

Toby Swimmer sets up the Katadyn BeFree 6L in Indian Creek. The long...
Toby Swimmer sets up the Katadyn BeFree 6L in Indian Creek. The long hose and strap makes it tough to hang this filter high enough to get a fast flow rate. Other than that, we don't have many major gripes.
Photo: Trish Matheny

Trish Matheny

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