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Thread: Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System review

  1. #1
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    Default Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System review

    A while back I did a review of the Pyramid SafeHydrate water bottle, http://www.songofthepaddle.co.uk/for...-Bottle-review In that I was very taken with the benefits of being able to just scoop water out of pretty much any source and just drink it. No boiling no chemicals no faff. the only downside was the size of the bottle even when empty and the resistance to suck the water from the bottle. The Katadyn BeFree system solves both these issues with only a few drawbacks.

    First a quick disclaimer. Iím not being paid for this review nor are there any conditions on what I can say about the products. I did receive both the filters you see in this review for free as review samples so probably about £60 worth. However, I asked for these to be sent as I thought these would be of interest and be different option from the SafeHydrate so this is not the supplier pushing for a review. Anyway on with the review.

    The technical information about the filters can be found here, https://www.katadyn.com/us/us/14946-...efree-0.6L_usa as with the SafeHydrate I canít really test the validity of the filtering claims. I can tell you I have used this product a lot in testing and not been ill. Also Katadyn are a well respected company in water treatment and filter technology for the outdoors so my feeling is their claims can be trusted.

    I got two filters to try. The one litre and the three litre. Empty and rolled out they look like this.
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    Both squished up in the hand.
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    One squished on not.
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    The filter unit is identical in both bottles and can be swapped between them. you can but replacement filter parts as shown for about £23 currently. The bottles and filters are about £30 to £40 if you shop around.
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    The mouth piece screws off for cleaning and also to let the filter dry out if you are going to store it for a long time.
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    The obvious advantage over the SafeHydrate bottle is the size when empty. The BeFree bottles take up almost no room when empty. The weigh is not nothing but as close to it to make no difference. Going out for a walk or a short paddle there is no commitment to sticking one of these in your jacket pocket to a pocket on your PFD just in case you get thirsty. For this small commitment of space and weight you have potentially thousands of litres of safe drinking water.

    You can fill the bottle fully when you want as below. Or only partly if you still want to save space.
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    The design of the filter also allows you to clean it to an extent. you can swish it about, even in dirty water to loosen some of the material from the filter and extend the life. As with the SafeHydrate these filters ďfail safeĒ in that at the end of there life they donít allow water through. Only filtered water can ever get through an unmanaged filter.

    The other great advantage for me with the BeFree is the flow rate. It is not difficult at all to draw water through the filter and drink. Indeed the three litre version is meant to be hung up and used like a tap. Just flip open the lid and out pours clean water.
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    If you happen to be a super lightweight camper (I am really not) you could take a large and a small sized bottle but only one filter unit. Fill up the small bottle to drink out of while canoeing then when you are at camp, fill the 3l bottle, put the filter on it and use it as a camp tap. Even from a money saving point of view I think I would buy the 1l bottle. When the filter eventually becomes clogged I would buy the 3l bottle and swap the filter into whichever bottle suited the situation. Then when that filter eventually clogged I would just buy replacement filters.

    As with the SafeHydrate what I really love about these portable filters is the ability to leave the shore without having to carry heavy full bottles of drinking water. When yu want you just scoop water into the bottle and drink.
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    Of course there have to be some drawbacks over the SafeHydrate system. The SafeHydrate system does filter out slightly smaller particles and also removed some chemicals, including chlorine if you are using that as an extra layer of treatment. In some situations this may be a critical difference makes the SafeHydrate the only option.

    In my situation I could probably drink the water straight from the lochs I paddle and be fine half the time (I donít and have always boiled the water up till now). Using the BeFree filter should ensure I am safe all the time. As a result it is a clear winner for me. My only condition on this would be that this is for the UK. I suspect when I go on holiday abroad it is the SafeHydrate bottle I would take with me just for that slight extra protection in a country where I am really unsure of the water.
    John

  2. #2
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    Interesting, thanks John.

    I've used their bigger BaseCamp Pro 10, which was extremely good for group use. This looks just as good, but more suited to small groups. In fact, in theory its better, in that has a pore size of 0.1 microns not 0.2.

    Looks like 1000 litres is the claimed capacity of the BeFree filters, which is pretty good. Its 1500 on the BaseCamp Pro's UltraFlow filters, which is designed for group use. So 1000 for small groups is a fair number of trips, perhaps 200 weekends for me!

    These bag type systems really work for paddlers on loch trips, as we have the luxury of filling them well off shore where there's very little debris. Mind you, I normally just drink it unfiltered when I can fill offshore in the wilder parts! The other joy is that you can just fill them, then take the water as and when you want to, whereas pump filters you tend to need to do the prep before hand.
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  3. #3
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    I have used a platypus 4l filter system for several years now, and always rated it highly. But this system looks to have an advantage in that the filter is integral to the bag/bottle giving a much more compact system.

  4. #4
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    Just ordered a 3 litre for the family Spey trip this summer. Cheers for reviewing!
    The early bird may catch the worm... but the second mouse gets the cheese!

  5. #5
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    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on it. It was on a Spey trip that the Ginger Paddler got quite ill from drinking the water straight from the river.
    John

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly View Post
    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on it. It was on a Spey trip that the Ginger Paddler got quite ill from drinking the water straight from the river.
    As did I!

    I suspect chemicals might have been involved, or contamination, I'd been using the Sawyer Mini filter and filtered some water, gulped a mouthful down, but as I did, the smell came to my nose and I stopped. Rank. Unfortunately I'd already swallowed some. 24 hours later, I was in trouble...the filter either hadn't removed whatever caused it, or somehow the bottle got contaminated. Dunno which. Ade blaimed the bio-organisms that live in my car.

    When I do the Spey again, I will only take water from good fast bits, and use the best filter I can! I'll also probably take a 5L container to fill up at various spots along the way.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    As did I!

    I suspect chemicals might have been involved, or contamination, I'd been using the Sawyer Mini filter and filtered some water, gulped a mouthful down, but as I did, the smell came to my nose and I stopped. Rank. Unfortunately I'd already swallowed some. 24 hours later, I was in trouble...the filter either hadn't removed whatever caused it, or somehow the bottle got contaminated. Dunno which. Ade blaimed the bio-organisms that live in my car.

    When I do the Spey again, I will only take water from good fast bits, and use the best filter I can! I'll also probably take a 5L container to fill up at various spots along the way.
    Mal are you saying the sawyer wasnít up to the job or that something else was in the water it didnít filter?? Iím asking as Iím thinking of using my sawyer mini for a trip instead of taking large amounts of water with me?? Would you trust it on rivers such as the Ouse? Thanks


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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Weekender View Post
    Mal are you saying the sawyer wasn’t up to the job or that something else was in the water it didn’t filter?? I’m asking as I’m thinking of using my sawyer mini for a trip instead of taking large amounts of water with me?? Would you trust it on rivers such as the Ouse? Thanks


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    I've used the Sawyer perfectly happily on numerous trips before and since. Something in the water wasn't filtered, maybe chemicals? Or the bottle/filter/tube got contaminated. I was a bit lazy too, and didn't go out into the faster flowing bit, wrongly assuming the filter would protect me in the slower pool close to camp. I cleaned it very thoroughly afterwards, including a boil wash, though think I replaced it with another one a few trips later, as the flow rates was slowing. The Sawyer is excellent, though with peaty loch water, you do need to backflush it on a regular basis or it simply doesn't flow well enough. I normally use it with a 2L Platypus Big Zip Hoser, a bladder type bag with tube, and then let it gravity drain from that hung in a tree or whatever, into whatever bottle I'm using. I'd recommend the Sawyer unless you're using it on a frequent basis. There's a new version that's just a little big bigger that might be worth a look, called something confusingly similar.
    Paddler,blogger,camper,pyromaniac: Blog: Wilderness is a State of Mind

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  9. #9

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    Thank you, I will have to have a look, Iíve got a couple of old bladder type water carriers in the garage might have a look at the gravity type set up.


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  10. #10
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    I used the smaller bottle on a trip for two weeks with noaccess to any other water than lakes. Itworked well although the water does not taste great once filtered but wasOK. By about day 10 my bottle developeda small split although I do not recall giving it any harsh treatment. On my return I got a refund although I wouldhappily have bought a replacement bottle, these are not sold separately fromthe filters.


  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Adrian Cooper View Post
    I used the smaller bottle on a trip for two weeks with noaccess to any other water than lakes. Itworked well although the water does not taste great once filtered but wasOK. By about day 10 my bottle developeda small split although I do not recall giving it any harsh treatment. On my return I got a refund although I wouldhappily have bought a replacement bottle, these are not sold separately fromthe filters.
    I looked at the reviews on Amazon and a lot mentioned the bottles splitting. I'd hoped they'd sorted that. Apparently not.
    Big Al.

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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    I've used the Sawyer perfectly happily on numerous trips before and since. Something in the water wasn't filtered, maybe chemicals? Or the bottle/filter/tube got contaminated. I was a bit lazy too, and didn't go out into the faster flowing bit, wrongly assuming the filter would protect me in the slower pool close to camp. I cleaned it very thoroughly afterwards, including a boil wash, though think I replaced it with another one a few trips later, as the flow rates was slowing. The Sawyer is excellent, though with peaty loch water, you do need to backflush it on a regular basis or it simply doesn't flow well enough. I normally use it with a 2L Platypus Big Zip Hoser, a bladder type bag with tube, and then let it gravity drain from that hung in a tree or whatever, into whatever bottle I'm using. I'd recommend the Sawyer unless you're using it on a frequent basis. There's a new version that's just a little big bigger that might be worth a look, called something confusingly similar.
    I've always had the Sawyer and found it slowed up relatively quickly... I thought it was just me not backflushing enough.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    I looked at the reviews on Amazon and a lot mentioned the bottles splitting. I'd hoped they'd sorted that. Apparently not.
    I didn't know that but the longevity of the bottles was my first thought on reading John's review.

  14. #14
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    While I have used filters (I freely admit there are plenty of filters I haven't used) my personal experience is that they don't quite live up to the marketing hype being a bit more bother than you expect... blockages, broken bottles/connections/charcoal bits, lost in the bottom of the bag, interminable squeezing/pumping to get an egg-cup sized drink... so I do just end up boiling water... and provided you bring it to a rolling boil for 30 seconds (assuming you are close to "sea level") you can be confident that critters have been killed.

    It does mean that I am "crazy water boiling guy" on trips though.... my companions water filters do invariably appear to work as they are meant to as represented in the adverts while every time time we stop for a brew/lounge around the campfire I am messing around boiling water as they recline drinking crystal clear water from their "magic bottle".

  15. #15
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    I think there was an earlier problem with bottle splittingat a seam or junction which seems to have been remedied. Mine had a small split next to a seam. Boiling water is great if it is convenientbut we were on a two week trip setting off early and finishing late, we couldn’tafford to be carrying a whole day’s supply of water and the flexible bottleswere a really convenient method for getting a drink at short notice. We would carry a Nalgene bottle for use withsteri tabs but not always convenient and would certainly not last a day


  16. #16
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    I’d imagine if you kept looking there would be bottles available with the right size of neck to take the filter even if Katadyn don’t sell them. failing that there is always duct tape or any puncture repair kit.
    John

  17. #17
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    Ah yes, the ubiquitous duct tape. Unfortunately the bottles are made of siliconso nothing seems to stick to them. Outin the field I was lost. Notwithstanding, I would be tempted to buy one again for a two week tripif I couldn’t find anything else with as good a filter.


  18. #18
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    I tried seeing if I could find bottles that would fit the filter round my house and a few were close but not quite.
    I sent the Katadyn rep an email to ask. First off he said these are guaranteed to if it fails send them back to Lyon, the distributor and they will replace them. He also confirmed the BeFree bottles are not sold separately but these are made by Hydropak and their other bottles should have the same neck size and thread, https://hydrapak.com/softflask-750-ml

    These bottles are available in the UK but I can’t guarantee they will fit but could be worth a try as spares.

    EDiT. Looking at the spec sheet for the BeFree and the Hydropak flask they both say they have 42mm openings.
    John

  19. #19
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    A little more digging and the HydraPak seeker bottle looks like a good option. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hydrapak-Seeker-Ultralight-Storage-Bottle 2l and 4l versions available. Even says on the website that the 42mm thread fits most filters.
    John

  20. #20
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    Thanks for looking into it John. As Adrian says there can be drawbacks to boiling water so it is good to have a decent alternative/backup.

  21. #21
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    I tried filters/bottles maybe 10 or 12 years ago (certainly not the one reviewed here coz they didn't make 'em yet...) and I have to say I gave up on them. Just too much time consumed and too much messing about, especially when I'm tired and a little cranky after a long day. I probably would use them anyway, if the water I paddled was clouded or full of particles etc etc, but the waters I travel are always clear and cold - the only worry I really ever have is giardia, in beaver country. Boiling is just too fiddly & takes a long time to cool enough to be drinkable. So I use Katadyn's tablets instead of their filter system. I use a 5 liter collapsible container. They work really well, ready to go in 30 minutes for most water, and I can use that time setting up my spot before the light fades.... Horses for courses, as you folks say...

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