One of the heaviest things we tend to carry in our pack, whether it is a backpack or saddlebags, is water. Eliminating water from our pack to reduce weight is not an option. What we can do is carry a water filtration system to replenish a smaller supply. I ordered a Katadyn Befree Water Filter to use on the trail or paddling trips.
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Katadyn BeFree Filter Features
- Easy to use
- Easy to clean
- Weighs 2.3 ounces
- Compacts easily
- Filters up to 2 liters of water a minute
- Can filter up to 1000 liters of water
- Wide mouth for easy collection
- Ability to drink directly from the filter
- BPA free
- Can be used with a Hydrapak Seeker 2L Water Storage Bag to create a gravity fed system
- Can be used to safely rehydrate unheated foods, such as powdered milk.
- Economically priced
I took the Katadyn BeFree filter on a day hike at Big Soddy Creek Gulf park. I was super excited to try it out; so much so that I grabbed the wrong kind of Smartwater for my initial bottle of water. Yes, I accidentally picked up the sparkling version. My first hint it was wrong was when I opened the cap and it sprayed all over me and my gear. If this were Facebook, the frowning face emoji would appear here. I took one sip and dumped out the entire liter of water.
Why the Smartwater you ask? It has become a popular thing for backpackers to use Smartwater bottles in place of Nalgene bottles. Smartwater bottles are fairly durable and withstand repeated use. They are free when you buy the water. They are also easy to get in and out of your pack with one hand because of their shape.
So, after dumping the fizzy water, I trudged over to the creek to retrieve my first bottle of BeFree filtered water. It was easy to collect because of the large opening on the dirty water side. I squeezed through my water while walking down the trail with my trekking poles under my arm, so this is super simple to use.
The filtered water tasted so much better than the water that came in the bottle, that it improved my outlook for the rest of the hike. I am so happy that sparkling water was not my only source of hydration for the entirety of the hike; I think I would have turned around and gone back to my truck otherwise.
Impressions of the Katadyn BeFree Water Filter
This is an all-around great filter; it is easy to fill, easy to use, and easy to clean. Simply dip the dirty water reservoir in the source or hold under a stream to collect, screw on the filter cap, and squeeze into your mouth or clean water container. To clean the filter, you can swish it through the water source or shake the collection bottle.
I found the dirty water collection bag on the Katadyn BeFree is easier to squeeze than that of the Sawyer Squeeze. I also prefer the cleaning method over having to back flush with a syringe.
This filter has a shorter lifespan than many of the competitors, but I do not consider that a deterrent, as the thought of keeping a filter around for that long is unappealing. You are more likely to break a filter before the end of its capacity anyway. Just be sure to calculate when you need a new filter for a dropbox on a thru hike.
The price on the Katadyn BeFree filter is lower than most in the genre. You can buy individual replacement pieces without having to replace the entire system.
Because the Katadyn BeFree pairs with the Hydrapak bag, I can add pieces to build a gravity-fed system in the event I need to supply water to more than one person. We all like to recruit new campers and they generally come with no equipment of their own.
My horse is going to thank me for not bringing six water bottles in my saddle pack. He will also appreciate the break when I get down to refill my bottle. Bonus is that he is more likely to take a good drink himself now that he doesn’t feel the urge to keep moving down the trail.
As with any filtration system that does not use charcoal, it will not remove bad flavors, such as sulfur. My workaround for this issue will be to discontinue the Smartwater bottle and pair the filter with a Brita Hard Sided Water Bottle as my clean water container. Between the two, I will have safe and pleasant tasting water.
If the filter freezes, it is ruined. My workaround is to keep the filter in my pocket if the temperatures drop too low.
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