Value Rating: 10
Durability Rating: 10
Overall Rating: 10
Location of Test: Taylor Mountain in Jackson Hole
Duration of Test: 1 day (initial test) regular gear use for 2 years
Product Name: BeFree 0.6L Water Filter
Product Brand: Katadyn
Best Use: Hiking or fresh water paddling when you need some extra water

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

The Full Review:
I was introduced to the Katadyn BeFree water filter on a 6-mile loop hike (3100’ elevation gain) up to the summit of Taylor Mountain in Jackson Hole. It was an early July hike, which proved to be warmer and more humid than I anticipated for the area. Despite finishing several similar hikes in previous weeks without emptying my 2L hydration bladder, this day I was dry by the time I hit the summit.

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

I usually carry some water treatment tablets in my pack for emergencies, but for some reason, I couldn’t locate them when I needed them. With the warm day and plenty of melting snowpack, there was quite a bit of water to be found. Despite the hike being in the backcountry, with the relative popularity of the area in summer, water treatment was advisable.

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

Fortunately, one of my fellow hikers had a Katadyn BeFree 0.6L water filter as a backup in her pack and was happy to lend it to me. Using it could not have been easier. Unscrew the top (leaving the cap on the spout to protect from contamination) and fill the squeeze bottle with water. Replace the top, pop the cap and squeeze like a sports bottle. It takes a bit of pressure and squeezing or rolling from the bottom up (like a toothpaste tube) to keep the water flowing from the clear, rubbery bottle.

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

It’s a robust setup, that’s pretty forgiving of cloudy water and debris. With the top attached you can shake the bottle to remove larger debris from the filter membrane, or just remove the top (again with the cap in place to cover the spout) and rinse or swish the filter in clear water.

Katadyn BeFree 0.6L Water Filter

Katadyn claims a flow rate of 2 quarts/minute, but given how it’s used, that’s about 20 seconds per cycle of fill and treatment. I find that to be more than a bit optimistic given actual use. Even at a rate of one 0.6L bottle per minute, compared with a 35-minute wait for the Potable Aqua tablets I had used in the past, it’s a no brainer to have for when water filtration of a moderate amount of water is all that is needed, rather than purification. Katadyn claims it removes bacteria, cysts, and sediment with its pore size of 0.1 micron (0.0001mm) with a capacity up to 1000L, depending on the water quality.



Thankfully I was hiking with a good friend who on that day was a bit more prepared than I. Lesson learned, I went out that afternoon and picked one up for my pack. With its very small packable size and lightweight design, it’s easy to stash in a pack pocket (or even cargo pockets on shorts or pants) to make sure you’re not left high and dry.

The Good: 
Great for solo use
Removes bacteria, cysts, and sediment
Up to 1000L of water can be treated
Easy to use
Treats water quickly
Lightweight
Packs small
Durable
Cost is very low, under 3 cents per use

The Bad:
Not ideal for treating a large volume of water or for group use
Requires grip pressure to force water through the filter, people with joint or other ailment affecting their hands may have difficulty
It's a microfilter, not a purifier (not effective against viruses)
Price may appear steep given the size and simplicity of the design

The Bottom Line: 
You should have a BeFree in your pack, or in your boat, I do.