Katadyn’s newest gravity filter is easy to set up, filters water quickly, and collapses so you hardly notice it in your pack. We tested it in rocky mountain streams for this first look review.
After I filtered my first bottle of water with the Katadyn BeFree 3L gravity filter, I had to stop and ask myself, “Wait a second — is this thing actually filtering water?” It set up and did its job so quickly I needed to remind myself I wasn’t actually drinking raw river water.
This summer, Katadyn released the Gravity BeFree Water FIltration System 3L exclusively at REI. The filter will be available elsewhere in fall 2018. The reservoir has two loops in the top that allow it to be hung from a tree. Then, gravity does the work while you enjoy fresh drinking water.
The system’s 0.1-micron microfilter is tested to remove 99.99 percent of protozoa and 99.9999 percent of bacteria to EPA standards.
These are our impressions of the product after two weeks filtering water from a number of sources.
Katadyn BeFree Water Filtration System
First introduced in 2016, the EZ-Clean Membrane Filter is used across Katadyn products, like the 20-ounce handheld SoftFlask. As the name suggests, the EZ-Clean line boasts simple debris removal and declogging. More on that below.
And now, the brand releases a gravity-enabled version of the filter. It weighs 4 ounces and costs $70. The system works as a gravity filter, or users can drink straight from the end like a huge soft flask water bottle.
Included with the purchase are a filter, attachment points and strap for hanging, a hose, and what Katadyn calls an “ultra-durable” HydraPak 3.0L reservoir. The brand also sells the reservoir and filter only – without the straps or hose – for $60.
The reservoir’s opening is 43-mm wide and intakes water quickly.
EZ-Clean Membrane uses a 0.1-micron hollow fiber filter. Katadyn claims it’s suitable for clear and cloudy water and is tested to clean 1,000 liters.
This means it can rid calamities like Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. coli, and Salmonella from backcountry waters. But note, this filter will not remove viruses smaller than 0.1 microns. For that, look for a water purifier.
To clean it, all you have to do is swish water (clean or dirty) inside the reservoir with the filter attached. Easy!
Review: 3L BeFree Water Filtration System
The bail handle on the reservoir enabled me to efficiently gather water from running streams and lakes. And on the top, there’s a sturdy haul strap for carrying the bag from stream to tree.
Once suspended from a tree, attach the hose that comes with the filter. In the middle of the hose is a clip that can either open or close the flow.
If there aren’t trees around, it works fine to lift with your arms. Just expect a shoulder workout!
With a full reservoir, which is slightly more than 3 liters, we timed the flow — just under 2 minutes to empty. Katadyn touts 2 liters per minute on its site, which is a bit faster than my time.
The reservoir was easy to fill in streams and lakes. But we imagine it would require some ingenuity to gather water from still, shallow sources such as puddles.
Who It’s for: Katadyn BeFree 3L
Travelers, backpackers, or general outdoorspeople that need to filter water should definitely check out this system. The Katadyn Gravity BeFree Water Filtration System is affordable and should be suitable for solo adventurers or groups.
It filters water fast, sets up quickly, and lets outdoorspeople spend more time getting to the objective or enjoying their surroundings.
And thanks to its cleaning protocol, maintenance is a breeze.
While our first look review is cursory, we will update the article as we test the filter this summer on solo light-and-fast adventures and camping trips.