This post is an unsponsored review of the Katadyn BeFree water microfilter. The BeFree was a game changer for me. Before buying it, I was carrying the Katadyn Vario on trips and while that’s an okay filter, it is heavy and packs large.
My trips are often solo or include one additional person who I’m filtering water for. Having a smaller lightweight filter has proven to be more practical. The BeFree weighs only 63.5 grams (0.14 lbs)! It’s BPA-free, collapsible, and easy to use.
How it Works
The Katadyn BeFree has a 0.1 micro filter which removes 99.99% of harmful bacteria and protozoa like Giardia, Cryptosporidium, E. coli, and Salmonella. The filter will handle 1000 litres of water before it needs to be replaced. Replacement filters will cost you around $30 CAD.
To use the filter, unscrew the cap (which is attached to the filter), scoop water into the bladder, and replace the cap. You can now drink directly from the bottle or squeeze the water into another vessel.
The manufacturer says the BeFree filters 2L per minute and I got similar results. That said, the speed of filtration will decrease as the filter nears the end of its life.
If your filter is moving slowly, the manual offers suggestions for troubleshooting. A slow filter could be due to debris buildup, which a simple swish in a lake or river should remove. Another culprit is trapped air, which can be solved by filling the bladder with water, closing the cap, swishing, and then squeezing the air out.
Cleaning and Maintaining the Filter
One of my favourite things about the BeFree is how easy it is to clean and maintain. After your trip, fill the bladder with filtered water and a water purification tablet, run this through the filter and disassemble to dry. If you don’t have purification tablets, you can use 4 drops of ordinary household bleach.
What it Doesn’t Filter
This filter does not protect you from viruses, chemicals, and industrial runoff. That said, protection from bacteria and protozoa is generally considered enough if you are travelling backcountry in Canada and United States. If viruses worry you, a water purifier should take care of them. Learn the difference between water filters and water purifiers here.
The BeFree is not meant to be used with salt or brackish water. Also, the filter and water bladder can be negatively affected by freezing temperatures. Check out my post on finding drinking water in the winter months.
The BeFree comes in three sizes: 0.6L, 1L, and 3L. The filter I’m reviewing is the 1L. I’m considering purchasing the 3L bag for trips when I’m filtering both my own and another person’s water. The 3L weighs 113 grams and has a handle so it can be hung.
Cons and Precautions
Like any lightweight water bladder, you’ll have to be careful not to puncture the BeFree. I suggest carrying a small amount of product to repair pinholes and tears should they happen. Additionally, it’s good practice to carry backup filtration. I tuck some water purification tablets in my first aid kit.
While I have nothing but good things to say about the BeFree, some online reviews complain of the bladder blowing at the seams, being prone to pinholes, and having a flimsy cap hinge.
Have You Tried the Katadyn BeFree?
Have you tried the Katadyn BeFree Water Microfilter? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.