|Rating:||8.8 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
|Ease of use||2.0 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Speed||1.8 / 2|
|Durability||1.6 / 2|
Carrying water on the trail is only half the equation. In many places we hike, at least in western countries, we take for granted we will have access to good quality supplies of clean water right? While the answer is usually yes however this is not a guarantee and what we see is not necessarily all that we get.
I travelled through India a few years ago and managed to pick up a severe case of Giardia that took me six weeks on a fairly strong course of antibiotics to get rid of; an experience that I never, never, ever, want to repeat. Don’t be fooled here, Giardia, and other water born pathogens exists in Australia and there have even been outbreaks in town water sources in the past. As a result of this I am extremely cautious when collecting water on the trail and no matter how clear the water may appear, I will always use some form of water treatment just to be on the safe side.
The Katadyn BeFree performs two tasks. It’s a soft flexible water bottle (600 ml) as well as being a filter that will remove all impurities aside from viruses. Due to its size the Katadyn BeFree 0.6 Litre is ideal for day hikes when you are guaranteed of finding water along the trail and the weather is reasonably mild. In 2017 I hiked the Canberra Centenary Trail (145 km) over three days in temperatures around 35°+ celsius and was drinking on average about 7 litres of water a day. For this hike, and for that matter all other hikes I prefer to use a hydration bladder as my main water source as it allows me to take small sips of water about very ten minutes. I personally find that I don’t drink as much with any type of water bottle as it becomes a chore to get the bottle out to have a drink and in excessive heat this can be a problem even when there is plenty of water around. This may not be an issue for you if you are conscientious with drinking water. For milder days when the water consumption is not as high, the Katadyn BeFree is a good option limiting the water weight that you will carry.
The other quirk with this unit is that it is a soft water bottle and can be a bit ‘floppy’ particularly when half full so you need to think about where your are going to store it. It its empty I will just roll it up an d it sits in the large stretch pocket on the back of my pack. If it has water in it then it lives in one of the side storage pockets along with other random assorted items that live there. If you are using this as your main water supply then you are less likely to get it out and drink.
Something to be mindful of with this product is if you are doing hikes that require you to carry two days of water, you are going to have to carry a storage bladder and top up the BeFree as you need to which means that your are using the Katadyn BeFree as a water filter which is how I use mine. Given that empty it weights under 60 grams this is not a big impost and when rolled up in your pack it takes up almost no space.
Originally I had concerns about durability given how lightweight this product is but I’ve now been using my Katadyn BeFree for about around 3 years and it’s going well, lasting beyond what I expected its lightweight construction to survive. Just remember to keep it away from sharp pointy objects. Whether it lasts the 1650 refills will be interesting to see, particularly if you are rough with your gear. In reality I ended up getting 3 years from this filter bottle but that was after a very large amount of use.
I am on my second unit and use the Katadyn BeFree as my back up filter on solo hikes finding that when dealing with dirty water its a hand back up.
Katadyn BeFree filled with water
Katadyn BeFree 0.6 Litre with cap unclipped
Katadyn BeFree 0.6 Litre with filter/cap unit unscrewed. This filtration unit is good for 1000 litres which for this unit means approximately 1650 refills. The filter unit/cap can be replaced at a cost of just under $50 AUD
Katadyn BeFree 0.6 Litre rolled up to save space and only 59 grams in weight
This combined water bottle and filtration unit is about as quick as it gets. If the water is dirty the speed of the water availability will be slower. Pre filter dirty water using a commercial available filter or a cloth buff
Katadyn BeFree filled with dirty dam water. I had no other option on this particular hike
Clean water coming out of the bladder. There was no way I would have drunk the dam water without filtration and I was amazed at the results have clear, clean and good tasting water.
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This is a great option for solo hikers when there is regular water on the trail, ideally in mild weather. I use a similar system to this as a means to filter water into my three litre bladder
AUD $99.99 RRP
This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by Australian Hiker