The BeFree 3.0 Liter Water Filter is a high-capacity, gravity fed water filtration system that includes a washable filter, hanging loop and collapsible body. This is my review.
The BeFree 3 is fully collapsible, weights just 4 oz, and retails for about $60. The kit includes the soft body, the removable/washable filter itself and the built-in hanging loop. The .1 micron filter is capable of filtering protozoa, bacteria, but not viruses, and is rated for clear/foggy water. It’s also washable with clean water by simply filling the bottle, screwing on the filter, and swishing the water back and forth. There is also a cap that clicks over the nozzle to protect it from getting dirty and contaminated.
Rated to filter about 1000 liters of water, depending on the quality of the source, it is capable of filtering about two liters per minute. This makes the BeFree 3 a good solution for those who want to filter large amounts of water, often, with minimal effort. The reinforced hanging loop allows it be attached to a tree branch, clipped to a backpack, or just held in place while it filters. This can be pretty convenient as it can be dangled over a pot or bottle, and gravity will do all the work for you. A gentle squeeze can speed up the process if you’re in a hurry, but I haven’t found that the improvement in filter speed was worth the effort really. Initially, the filter speed was pretty slow, but it improved greatly after a few liters.
The actual process of filtering is as simple as just turning the bottle over. It’s great if you have something to hang it from and a bottle or pot with a wide opening so that you can just let it trickle in. A narrow bottle can be used if you’re able to hang it directly above it, but finding a suitable condition to do that seems rare in my experience and you will lose some water as it doesn’t drip down in a straight line consistently. However, it’s quite convenient to fill up the bottle, head back to camp and just set it up to do all the hard work. There’s no real reason to squeeze and it’s fast enough that leaving it to gravity isn’t terribly slow, even if you’re cleaning for an entire group of people. You can also drink directly from it, but at 3 liters in size with a floppy body, that can be a bit of a pain.
The only real problem comes up if you don’t have something to hang the filter from or if you have a small opening on your bottle, or prefer some sort of bladder solution. There is no included tube to direct the flow, and any situation that requires some precision will likely result in just holding the filter in place while it does its thing. A full three liter bottle can get pretty heavy over the course of a few minutes time. If you’re doing a large group in this situation, it’s best to take turns. If it had an attachable hose, you could foreseeable just attach, place the filter anywhere above the target and direct the flow with the hose, but sadly this seemingly obvious inclusion is missing. I’m sure it could be rigged up though.
Still, the bottle packs up tiny when not in use (about the size of a snack size ziplock), weights just 4 ounces, and does a great job of filtering clear water. The flavor of the water, after the first 8 liters or so, was pretty good too. I did enjoy the ability to fill it up, take it to camp, and filter it as needed. Having trees basically everywhere in my area, I always found a nice spot to hang it from, even if I had to hold the second bottle in place while doing it. Having a washable filter really helps to add to the longevity of the device, and the pricing seems decent as well.
Overall, despite a few flaws, I still quite like the design and actually prefer it over both pumps and squeeze style filters, even if it’s not perfect.
For more information on Katadyn and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://www.katadyn.com/us/us
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I want to extend a huge thanks to Katadyn for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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