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Katadyn BeFree Review

One of our favorite lightweight on-the-go filtration systems, ideal for hiking and running
katadyn befree backpacking water filter review
Credit: Katadyn
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Price:  $45 List | $32.13 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Easy to use, competitive flow rate, collapsible, lightweight
Cons:  Lacks durability and reliability
Manufacturer:   Katadyn
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  May 23, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
75
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 28
  • Water Quality - 20% 8.0
  • Durability & Maintenance - 20% 3.0
  • Treatment Time - 15% 8.0
  • Weight & Packability - 15% 9.0
  • Ease of Set-Up - 15% 9.0
  • Ease of Filtration - 15% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Katadyn BeFree is a competitive lightweight filter for when you're on the move. It features a small high-flow nozzle and fibrous filtration unit that attaches to a soft bottle. All you have to do is scoop up water from any source, softly squeeze, and start drinking. It filters out bacteria and protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium, but not viruses. The flow rate is sufficient, and its lightweight profile is hardly noticeable. Unfortunately, the bottles do leak and break. Thankfully, the filters are compatible with more durable bottles. Overall, this is a solid choice for trail running and other sports that require on-the-go hydration without the weight.

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katadyn befree backpacking water filter review
This Product
Katadyn BeFree
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award  
Price $32.13 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$29.08 at Amazon
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Overall Score Sort Icon
75
78
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Star Rating
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Pros Easy to use, competitive flow rate, collapsible, lightweightLightweight, adaptable, easy to use, lifetime guaranteeExcellent design and quality, durable and lightweight, versatile filtration options, extended filter lifeLightweight, inexpensive, kills all pathogens (including crypto), reliableEasy to use, lightweight, packable
Cons Lacks durability and reliabilityNot great for group use, better if you replace the bagsExtra maintenance to maintain microfilterTakes a long time to kill crypto, slight taste to the water, chemical treatmentNot safe to use long-term, lower value than other chemical treatments, poor taste
Bottom Line One of our favorite lightweight on-the-go filtration systems, ideal for hiking and runningSimple filtration that is lightweight and reliable for individual useThis filter is an excellent choice for lightweight and durable collapsible bottle filtrationThese drops are a reliable and lightweight option to carry all over the worldThis can be used as an emergency treatment system, but not much else
Rating Categories Katadyn BeFree Sawyer Squeeze LifeStraw Peak Squeeze Aquamira Treatment... Potable Aqua Purifi...
Water Quality (20%)
8.0
9.0
8.0
5.0
2.0
Durability & Maintenance (20%)
3.0
6.0
6.0
10.0
10.0
Treatment Time (15%)
8.0
9.0
6.0
2.0
2.0
Weight & Packability (15%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
9.0
10.0
Ease of Set-Up (15%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Ease of Filtration (15%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
10.0
Specs Katadyn BeFree Sawyer Squeeze LifeStraw Peak Squeeze Aquamira Treatment... Potable Aqua Purifi...
Type of Filter/Purifier Squeeze, on-the-go Squeeze, in-line, on-the-go Squeeze Chemical treatment Chemical treatment
Measured Weight (entire kit) 2.1 oz 5.7 oz 3.8 oz 3.0 oz 2.3 oz
Number of Liters (L)/Gallons (gal) per Lifetime 1000 L / 264 gal 378,541 L / 100,000 gal 2000 L / 500 gal 114 L / 30 gal per package 25 L / 6.6 gal
Filter Media or Active Ingredient Hollow fiber Hollow fiber Hollow-core membrane microfilter Chlorine dioxide Iodine and Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide
Effective Against Bacteria? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Effective Against Protozoa? (Giardia,Cryptosporidium) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (Giardia = yes; Crypto = no)
Effective Against Viruses? No No No Yes 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 No No
Filter Pore Size 0.1 micron 0.1 micron 0.2 microns N/A N/A
Advertised Flow Rate 2.11 L / min 1.7 L / min 3 L / min N/A N/A
Dimensions 9 x 2.7 in 11 x 6 in 9.48 in x 4.8in x 2.67in N/A N/A
Storage Capacity (L) 0.6 L 2 L 1 L N/A N/A

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Katadyn BeFree is a great option for those seeking a filter that fits right inside a bottle. The soft bottle it comes with is collapsible, making it easy to pack away and store. Like most soft containers, its durability isn't the greatest, but the screw top filter is compatible with other stashable soft bottles. Notable amongst long-distance bike riders trail runners and the like, this is perfect for solo on-the-go filtration.

Performance Comparison


katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - eddy runs it out in early fall up in the high country. even though...
Eddy runs it out in early Fall up in the high country. Even though water sources are scarce, this lightweight filter kept us hydrated while on the move.
Credit: Amber King

Water Quality


The BeFree removes odd tastes and does a great job of producing fresh, clear water. It protects against bacteria and protozoa; however, it does not remove viruses. That said, it should be adequate for most streams in the US and Canada. It features a hollow filter design with 0.1-micron pore size. The filter is short, with big open spaces and spindled tubes latticed overtop of one another. This design makes for quick guzzling on the go. It does well for all sorts of water sources, from turbid to clear.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - a look at the profile and size of the lightweight and effective...
A look at the profile and size of the lightweight and effective filter used in this system.
Credit: Amber King

Durability and Maintenance


The filter and screw-top attachment on the BeFree are durable and last for roughly 1000 liters before needing replacement. However, the soft bottle is a different story. If you're a runner or use soft bottles often, you'll know that it's hard to find a durable soft bottle. This bottle is no different. Online, several reviewers shared their experience with the storage bottle bursting at the seam around the rigid top collar piece after only a few uses.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - the area where the bottle attaches to the neck or collar area is...
The area where the bottle attaches to the neck or collar area is prone to ripping.
Credit: Jessica Haist

We have not experienced it bursting, but after testing five of these bottles, each one eventually sprung a pin-prick leak. In one case, these pin-prick leaks occurred on the first time out. These bottles are delicate and aren't very durable. While our experience didn't yield a filtration system that didn't work, it's possible that it might happen. If you plan on going long distances with this as your only filtration system, we'd recommend carrying a second soft bottle in case the first one does leak or break, thereby defeating the purpose of ultralight. Alternatively, you can also carry a more durable bottle option.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - this shows the katadyn bottle top filter attached to a different...
This shows the Katadyn bottle top filter attached to a different, more durable soft bottle that also comes with a 100% lifetime guarantee. An awesome feature of versatility that we love.
Credit: Amber King

In terms of maintenance, this filter is pretty easy. You can easily clean out the BeFree by running water through it and swishing it around. Despite our durability issues with the soft bottle, we do really like this filter.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - the ez clean membrane of the befree is easily cleaned. simply swish...
The EZ clean membrane of the BeFree is easily cleaned. Simply swish it around in a water source and continue on your way. This filter and top are compatible with other soft bottles as well.
Credit: Amber King

Treatment Time


The BeFree boasts a competitive flow rate for this type of filter. Just fill, sip, and move on — instant water on the trail.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - the wide nozzle provides a quick flow that makes drinking from it...
The wide nozzle provides a quick flow that makes drinking from it nice and easy.
Credit: Amber King

Weight and Packability


As an extremely packable and lightweight filter, the BeFree is one of our favorite options for activities like trail running or mountain biking, where soft bottles are a huge plus. It weighs only 2.1 ounces with both the soft bottle and mini filter inside. The filter itself is fairly short, making it easy to fit inside a variety of compatible soft bottles. After you quench your thirst, you can simply collapse the bottle and tuck it into an area that'll fit into the palm of your hand. Not many other bottle filtration systems have a profile that is as short, which saves space in the bottle, allows you to fit more water, and effectively collapses the container. It fits comfortably inside the front pockets of a trail running vest. Again, if you have a bottle that you prefer, check to see if the top is compatible with your favorite soft bottle.

The shorter profile of the filter allows this bottle to collapse to...
The shorter profile of the filter allows this bottle to collapse to a tiny volume, making it ultra packable and lightweight.
The BeFree is a great choice for a day out where you don't want to...
The BeFree is a great choice for a day out where you don't want to carry a lot of water.

Ease of Setup


Setup is pretty darn straightforward for the BeFree. Out of the box, it's ready. Scoop up water and screw on the top, and you're good to go. While this is simple, since you have to scoop water into the bottle, you might have difficulty getting water from super skimpy and shallow sources. However, it works in most cases.

The BeFree's wide mouth makes fill-ups easy, except when the water...
The BeFree's wide mouth makes fill-ups easy, except when the water is shallow and/or slow moving.
On long hikes and trail runs it's easy to fill up the BeFree at the...
On long hikes and trail runs it's easy to fill up the BeFree at the nearby stream and have instant drinking water.

Ease of Filtration


This process is also super easy and straightforward. The water filters through the hollow filter efficiently. Of all the "sucking" or "squeeze" designs, this is one of the easiest to use. Other filtration systems with a similar method can take lots of effort to suck through the filter. When drinking from the BeFree, water flow is steady and easy to get. We even drank from this bottle just around the house because it wasn't cumbersome or annoying to use.

This system suits on-the-go travel. You can try to squeeze water through and put it into a larger storage bottle, but that takes a little more time and energy. Other sizes are available if you need more capacity than the 0.6-liter version we tested. Overall, this is one of our favorite on-to-go systems because of how naturally water flows through the body of the filter to your mouth.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - the befree needs a bit of air in the bottle to squeeze out all the...
The BeFree needs a bit of air in the bottle to squeeze out all the water.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Value


The Katadyn BeFree is a little on the expensive side but does offer great performance. However, the bottle's durability issues may have you being super careful if you want to optimize its 1000 liter uses. We recommend buying a second soft bottle as a backup if you don't have any other filtration system handy.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - run, hike, explore! this lightweight filtration bottle is perfect...
Run, hike, explore! This lightweight filtration bottle is perfect for long days on the trail.
Credit: Amber King

Conclusion


The Katadyn BeFree 0.6L is a good option for travelers seeking a super lightweight and on-the-go filtration system. While it's not the most durable, it offers a fast flow rate that filters bacteria and protozoa, including Giardia and Cryptosporidium. The soft bottle is collapsible, fitting easily into the pocket of a hydration pack or vest, and it's compatible with other soft bottles, adding to its versatility.

katadyn befree backpacking water filter review - we take a moment to enjoy a cool sip of water...upstream from...
We take a moment to enjoy a cool sip of water...upstream from obvious water contaminants, of course.
Credit: Ian McEleney

Amber King
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