Katadyn BeFree Review

An in-depth video review of the Katadyn BeFree water filter.

By on December 30, 2021 | Comments

The Katadyn BeFree ($45 for the filter and 600-milliliter bottle, $27 for the filter only) is a water filter made for trail runners, ultrarunners, thru-hikers, and other backcountry users who want to maximize their efficiency and minimize their time stopped. You can purchase just the filter and screw it onto a wide array of wide-mouth soft flasks available on the market, or purchase it with a 600-milliliter or one-liter soft flask.

Using the filter is simple and speedy: you fill up the soft flask with water in the backcountry and drink straight from the attached nozzle, only stopping for as long as it takes to fill the soft flask with water. In the following video review, we discuss how the Katadyn BeFree works and how we use it while trail running.

You can also read our Best Water Filters for Trail Running and Best Water Bottles for Running guides where we named this the best filter for runners.

Shop the Katadyn BeFree

Katadyn BeFree Review Transcript

Hey, and welcome to Trail Trials, the video review section of iRunFar. My name is Travis Liles and in this video, we’re looking at the Katadyn BeFree water filter system.

Let’s start off by talking about what this is. It’s a really quick and easy way of being able to get water from lakes, streams, creeks, ponds, and other water sources, to quickly filter water while you’re on the move. It’s made up of two parts: a soft flask and a lid.

Quite simply, you dip this thing into the water, you get the water that you want, you drop your filter back in, you screw on the top, you flip the top, and you can either drink right from it or you use it to fill up other bottles.

Katadyn BeFree - filter only

The Katadyn BeFree’s soft flask cap, which contains the filter and a nozzle with a protective cover. All photos: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

I carry this 600-milliliter soft flask as a part of it, because I can fill up more of my other bottles that I generally carry, two soft flasks in a running vest. Then I throw this in a back pocket that’s with me and it’s ready to go all the time.

Why this versus a traditional way? Well, I used to park a car somewhere and do an out-and-back, just to have enough water. I’d have water in my car and then I’d go out and do another thing. Or perhaps I’d go out the night before and I’d stash water along the way.

The Katadyn BeFree has fundamentally changed the way that I do long runs. If I’m in a place where I know that I have access to streams, creeks, ponds, and lakes where the water is moving all the time and I feel fairly confident that it’s mostly clean, this gives me that extra layer of protection to bring with me and I can just filter water on the go. It’s relatively fast — a little bit slower than putting it in a bottle that doesn’t have a filter because you are passing the water through a filter.

But what is that filter providing? In this case, it’s a one-stage filter. That means anything larger than 0.1 microns — so super, super small — is going to pass through the inside of this filter as you’re drinking it. These tiny little threads inside … so the water is going to go in here; it’s going to pass through these threads, soak up all the gunk, and then it’s going to pass out this nozzle here, which again you can drink from or fill up your other bottles with.

Katadyn BeFree- filling in stream

The Katadyn BeFree’s 600-milliliter soft flask.

What does it block? Protozoa, bacteria, dirt particles. It keeps you from getting what I consider to be the thing that seems to be most common in our community: giardia.

How do I make the decision on using this versus another type of filter, like a LifeStraw? If I know that the water is moving and it’s continually fresh and for the most part is not stagnant, a just-sitting-there type of puddle or something really gross and something you wouldn’t want to drink out of, I use this. For the most part, those are the places that I go to.

I don’t have to carry a bunch of water with me all the time. I can actually just take this thing with me, and maybe a handheld, and I can have as much water as I have available to me, in a really quick and easy way.

In fact, it threads up so small that I can wrap this up into something smaller than my hand. I toss it in the back of my pack; I have two soft flasks on the front of my chest and this in the back, and then I can just fill up those soft flasks whenever I need to.

If I happen to be somewhere where it’s hot, or I’m worried that I might not find water for a little bit, I can also use this as a reservoir as well. So it adds extra capacity, gives me the ability to have that and also filter it as I’m going.

As a quick tip, this soft flask from BeFree is made by HydraPak. The majority of the soft flasks on the market are made from HydraPak. Here’s an example of an Ultimate Direction soft flask made by HydraPak. This threads right into that bottle so now I have a shorter type of smaller capacity bottle that I could take with me, or I can drop it right into the Salomon soft flasks as well.

I don’t have to go buy a bunch of new stuff. I buy one of these filters about once a year and all the bottles that I already use are already compatible with it. Your results may vary, but for the most part, I haven’t found any of these wide-mouth HydraPak soft flasks that this doesn’t fit into.

Katadyn BeFree - full water bottle

A filled Katadyn BeFree.

Katadyn BeFree Overall Impressions

The Katadyn BeFree is a no-brainer for me. If you’re going somewhere that you don’t want to carry a bunch of water with you all the time, you don’t want to do a bunch of work of dropping water ahead of time. You want to have a longer route, and you know that you’ve got access to some water sources, like lakes, rivers, streams from snowmelt, springs, and all those kinds of sources where you mostly feel comfortable about them.

But there’s always that off chance that you could get something from that water, I think this is an awesome choice. It’s so small, it takes up hardly any weight at all.

Where you don’t want to use this is in super-unknown water sources. Something gross, gunky, and stagnant, this is not the right place for that. You want to go with something that’s more hard-core, a two-stage water filtering system like a LifeStraw. Those are slower but they will add more protection.

Just like everything, it has a place and a time, and the majority of the adventures that I’m going on, where I know the water that I’m going to pass by is, for the most part, going to be okay, I take this and give myself that extra protection.

Be sure to check out our Best Water Filters for Trail Running and Best Water Bottles for Running guides where we named this the best filter for runners.

Shop the Katadyn BeFree

Call for Comments

Questions? Comments? Filters you’ve used? Place those in the comments below. Thanks for watching and we’ll catch you next time.

[Editor’s Note: If you’re affiliated (i.e., an employee, ambassador, etc.) with a shoe brand, please share your relation in each of your comments on this article. Thanks!]

Travis Liles

Travis Liles is a gear reviewer at iRunFar. He’s been reviewing trail running and ultrarunning gear (and occasionally penning an article) for over 15 years. He is married to his Junior High sweetheart, has two amazing daughters, and works as a solution architect for a large software company. Originally from the Midwest but now based in Portland, Oregon, Travis is an avid trail runner and ultrarunner. Over the past 18 years, he has competed in many ultra-distance races and has completed 15 100-mile races, including Ozark Trail, Leadville, Big Horn, and HURT 100. He is a recovering RD and enjoys pacing friends, trail work, and volunteering at local events.