The Best Ultralight Water Filter For Backpacking
Whether you are a seasoned ultralight backpacker, or just starting out on the trail, this article will give you insights into our favorite ultralight water filter and why!
Often backpackers have to balance whether their pack weight or comfort is most important.
One of our goals at Outdoor Vitals is to solve these issues by offering functional lightweight gear that is ultralight, comfortable, and effective. While water filters aren't something we design or manufacture, we do have a suggestion that will help you enjoy your experience on the trail significantly more. Recently we've been using the Katadyn BeFree water filter, and it has quickly become our favorite!
At A Glance
The Katadyn BeFree filter is relatively new. It hasn't been on the market nearly as long as filters by companies like Sawyer or MSR. However, it was quickly gained popularity in the backpacking industry.
The BeFree is a squeeze style filter that consists of a water bladder you can use to scoop up dirty water. The design of the BeFree makes this easy with a wide mouth at the top of the bag. All you need to do then is squeeze the water through the filter that you screw onto the bladder. You can filter water right into your mouth, or into other bottles or bladders.
One of our very favorite things about the Katadyn BeFree is the flow rate. What we mean by flow rate is how quickly water can move through the filter. On some filters we've used like the Sawyer Squeeze, the flow rate is fine, but after a lot of use was reduced to drips, no matter how much pressure we put on the bladder above the filter.
While the Katadyn BeFree's flow rate does decrease over time, it still just blows our minds how quickly it can filter water safely. It's almost like turning on the faucet in a kitchen sink!
One good rule of thumb is to try to filter from clear flowing water wherever possible. If it looks cleaner, then it is cleaner as far as sediment and minerals go. By filtering murky water, which is sometimes necessary, your filter will get clogged more quickly.
Cleaning the BeFree is incredibly easy. By putting clean water in the bladder, screwing on the filter and then just shaking it around, the filter gets cleaned. Doing this regularly (we recommend doing this after every trip, if not after every use) will make sure the flow rate doesn't slow down as much.
Flow rates decrease because sediment and other impurities in unfiltered water get stuck during the filtering process, which clogs up the filter. Many filters such as the Sawyer Squeeze require backflushing by blowing into the filter piece in the opposite direction of the flow. This is difficult, and not always very effective when a filter has been significantly clogged by dirty water. But the BeFree doesn't need to be backflushed!
Being able to adapt how we use the BeFree is super nice! Like mentioned before, you can fill the BeFree bladder at a water source, and then use it as your water bottle to drink from. Just squeeze clean water right into your mouth, or fill any of your empty bottles!
There are also other brands that make larger or different shaped bladders that the BeFree can screw onto! This can allow you to carry more water in a bigger bladder, which is great when there are fewer water sources on your hike!
It Doesn't Have To Cost Much
To top it all off, another perk about the Katadyn BeFree is that it doesn't have to cost much. Like mentioned before, Outdoor Vitals wants to help our followers enjoy the outdoors and live ultralight. As part of this effort, we offer items that we don't make at lowest prices. These items are all vetted products that we personally use ourselves, and feel comfortable recommending to our followers.
The Katadyn BeFree is one of those items. In fact, by joining our new Live Ultralight Membership, you can get an additional 10% off the listed price of any gear, free Priority shipping on any order any time, and a rebate for non-Outdoor Vitals brand products! Basically you'll be getting the lowest possible price around for the Katadyn BeFree.
The best part is, the $10 membership fee is automatically given back to you each month as store credit that never expires. You get a savings account for your gear, along with all the benefits and discounts of the membership. You also get access to the closed Facebook page with expert coaching and access to limited edition & members only gear!
You don't have to join our membership to pick up a Katadyn BeFree filter, but it will definitely eliminate more costs and give you more bang for your buck.
To learn more about the BeFree, watch this video below that covers more details of why it is the best ultralight water filter for backpacking!