Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

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Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby wildwanderer » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 6:53 am

I bought this micro filter having seen a friend use it and was impressed by its flow rate in the bush and how light and compact it was.

However my bush use has been far less impressive. Seemingly clear creek water and the filter flow rate was a trickle. I did another walk at a different location and another person bought along their be free and it has the same issue, clear creek water and barely a trickle of flow. The stated filter field cleaning methods didn't improve the flow rates.

Both of us then used ours at our homes and the flow was back to the stated 2 litres per minute. So it's obviously the creek water (which was seemingly clear) that the filter can't cope with.

How have others found theirs in Australian bush use?
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby icefest » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 9:31 am

I've been using mine for off track canyoning, and whitewater kayaking for the past year.
Not had any issues with flow, though I haven't used it in muddy water.

I prefer it to the sawyer if there is a lot of water available, though if I'm filtering once a day the sawyer is easier as it's more a set-up and leave kinda thing.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby crollsurf » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 10:56 am

The only time I've seen what you are talking about, my BeFree was already getting on but it did come good again (for a short while) after a clean at home. Before that it had been working well for years. Maybe there is, what looks like clear water, that clogs these things but it would be the same for the Sawyers as well.

BTW the field cleaning method doesn't/didn't state that you need to discard the rinsing water. Hopefully you did otherwise the contaminants are just going to go and get stuck in the filter again.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby Last » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 3:45 pm

They don't work properly until the filter is properly wet, in my experience. This takes a little time. Once it was wet, when you were back home, it works perfectly. The filters don't last forever.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby warnesy » Thu 23 Mar, 2023 8:52 pm

I've always found the flow rate better than any other filter I've used. As others have said towards end of life it slows down, but still my go to out bush.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby wildwanderer » Fri 24 Mar, 2023 5:55 am

Thanks All.

It's encouraging to hear the successful reports.

I'll give the wetting technique a go Last.

I also wonder if it's dissolved tannins, especially after rain, in the creek water that impacts the filter.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby McGinnis » Sun 26 Mar, 2023 11:08 pm

I've owned two BeFrees and probably won't get another.

Filter 1: From new, first use on Overland Track in dry weather; all water appeared clean, only taken from sensible locations (running streams and tanks at the huts). About 3 days in to the OLT the flow rate really started to suffer; to the point where it became extremely inconvenient and difficult to use. I figured it was just doing its job, and that the water must be more turbid than it appeared. A friend of mine also had a BeFree on the OLT and didn't have this problem; his is still working well. Whether it's batch inconsistency or something else I don't know. The only difference in how it was used is his was kept wet, whereas mine was stored in a ziplock (still moist but not saturated). It was not visibly dirty.

Filter 2: From new, first use on the Green Gully Track. Same as above - on the third day it was basically unusable. I also had the old one (Filter 1) as a backup, and kept it saturated as a precaution. It also became so slow that it was unusable. In this case, by day four, the filter was visibly extremely dirty (likely as a result of the water at the final hut; I don't think any water before that was particularly bad).

The problem, for me, is that they have consistently become unusable, whether saturated or not. I'm confident they're doing their job, as they are restricting water flow as the filter collects particulates. They just seem to block too easily, and I've had maybe 100 L max out of each of them, and probably less.

I've not had this problem with my MSR Trailshot which I use on shorter walks.

I'll be buying an MSR Guardian or Sawyer Squeeze next; I'm unsure which.

The BeFree flow rate is good when it's new (and wet), and they are very convenient, but... YMMV.
Last edited by McGinnis on Mon 27 Mar, 2023 7:15 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby McGinnis » Sun 26 Mar, 2023 11:09 pm

wildwanderer wrote:Thanks All.

It's encouraging to hear the successful reports.

I'll give the wetting technique a go Last.

I also wonder if it's dissolved tannins, especially after rain, in the creek water that impacts the filter.


The tannins are unlikely to make a significant difference without any kind of polymer dosing in the process.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby Chrispy » Mon 27 Mar, 2023 6:04 pm

I used a BeFree last year for my 600km Heysen Trail trek. I used it every day for 1 month with water quality ranging from muddy trickles to clear tank water. By the end the flow rate was slowing quite a bit, but still usable. I was happy with its performance.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby Tantell » Tue 13 Jun, 2023 9:31 am

I've just come back from a long weekend hike. Mine was OK for a little bit and then slowed to basically an IV drip (regardless of pressure on the squeeze). Really disappointing. I've used it on 3 trips and has been stored dry (which might be an issue, but even over the weekend and being soaked it still wasn't great at all). I've probably filled about 20L in total. Not sure if I'm doing something wrong but really disappointing.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby slparker » Tue 13 Jun, 2023 1:24 pm

Can you backflush them, like the Sawyer? I've noticed the flow rate dropping in my sawyer over time but a backflush usually restores the flow.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby JohnnoMcJohnno » Thu 15 Jun, 2023 7:33 am

slparker wrote:Can you backflush them, like the Sawyer? I've noticed the flow rate dropping in my sawyer over time but a backflush usually restores the flow.


It's not made to be backflushed like the Sawyer's, but theoretically you could. The trick would be to get something to fit sufficiently tight over the mouth of the filter to be able to force water back through it. So far I've found swishing the filter in luke-warm water has been enough to get the flow back to an acceptable level.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby Saffrett » Thu 21 Sep, 2023 10:15 pm

I have had the same problem on my last hike where the flow rate was almost nothing. I gave up and set it up to gravity feed over night. I now have a Solomon one. Very similar except it has the bit valve top instead of the water bottle cap. I have the straw attachment that I have a qd on so I can use it in a gravity feed system still. Haven't used it much yet but the small amount I have has been in my running vest and it's almost no restriction of flow compared to the non filtered flask.
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby craigprice » Mon 25 Mar, 2024 3:35 pm

I only tripped over this post a year later.
Belatedly, and as of this 2024 season - still a long time user and fan of befree filters. The sawyer and lifestraw are more robust but I go cross eyed sucking them for water (or blow out the sawyer bags). Backflushing them never works well.
I replace my befree filter every season (or after a particularly gruesome water trip) and always always clean it and test for tube failures per instructions, and then sterilise - after each and every trip. Every time.
Mine always have good flow. Never had an issue. Even after using in late autumn in muddy water. I fish often in areas where cattle roam and the befree is a godsend. Befree just works.
I never want to experience livestock giardia or people ecoli infections on a remote trip again thanks (or anywhere for that matter).
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby Kott » Mon 24 Jun, 2024 12:02 pm

I have to say that I've been a fan of Befree for a while but my latest one got really slow after only 3 uses from a clear stream.

Now I'm considering to try Platapys quick draw or whatever that is. Does anyone have any experience with this one?
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Re: Katadyn BeFree filter thoughts?

Postby craigprice » Mon 24 Jun, 2024 1:16 pm

Nope I’ve never had this with the befrees, and I used them for the past 5-6years or more fishing - usually at least one outing a week, two filters per year. Never any issue in the clear.

Maybe you got a dud?
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