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Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini


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I've bought both of these and my GF thinks I just like buying gear, which is true, but I was trying to tell her the differences.  I thought I'd share some of my thoughts regarding the similarity and differences. 

both lightweight
both are simple to use
.1 micron filter 

BeFree's flow rate is a lot faster. 2 liters per minute
Mini can filter 100,000 gallons vs BeFree's 264
Clean up is easier with BeFree just rinse it out, Mini can backflush
BeFree has a larger mouth (43mm) so filling it up is easier but is hard to find bag attachments.  Hydropak makes a large one.  Mini's mouth is smaller (28mm) but you can find lots of bottle attachments.
Mini comes with a straw, so in case you lose the bag or it gets damaged you can drink from the stream directly
Befree's filter fits inside the water reservoir, so you can pack it intact vs the Mini.

In summation, I told my GF is was necessary to buy the BeFree because it's great for day hikes- easy clean up, fast flow rate, easier to use.  I still use the Mini, I like the straw attachment and the longer life- I plan on using it for long hikes and backpacking.    

I made a video review comparing the two, in case you're interested:

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Good choice with the Hydrapak!  I hear people just buy the BeFree filter replacement and then the hydrapak.  I need to buy the Hydrapak next!  

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  • 2 weeks later...

I bought the BeFree and am pleased with it. The wide mouth makes it easier to use. The first one I received had a broken lid; I think it had been bought and damaged by somebody who then returned it.. This is the third item I've bought after reading about it here. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

I've used both. The Sawyer clogs much more rapidly but is effectively cleared by backflushing if you've brought a syringe.

I brought a 1L BeFree along with me on the northern half of the AZT flip-flop I just completed. The water sources on the Kaibab and Coconino Plateaus of AZ are challenging, to put it mildly - mostly cow tanks that are pretty turbid with silt, scum, bugs, cow poop and dead animals this late in the season.

Even with bandanna pre-filtering, it soon required a lot of effort. I'd say a liter every 3-5 minutes was the best I could manage, squeezing hard with both hands. Given that water sources were typically 10-30 miles apart, I'd have to filter 3-6 L at a time and that got old pretty quick.

Rinsing/swirling with clear water helped, but it was always a big chore to filter anything. I'd gotten this filter to replace alum flocculation, which is not much work but is slow (30-60 minutes), but I don't think I ended up saving very much time and certainly worked much harder.

This is an extreme case - I don't think you'll find many places with as consistently bad water as Arizona in the fall. It should work much better in the Rockies/Sierras etc. But then I usually don't even treat water in those mountains.

DSC02413 (1).jpg

Edited by HappyHour
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I'm not ashamed to admit that this was far from the worst water I drank. A little disgusted maybe, but not ashamed.

The water usually came out a bit discolored, and the taste reminded me of my Grandad's barn. Additionally treating it with Aqua Mira usually improved the flavor, presumably by oxidizing the indoles and other chemicals responsible for the taste and smell of poop. I also added True Lemon or True Lime citrus crystals to further mask the flavor.

But there's no getting around it - drinking from cow tanks in the fall is just a bad hydration experience. You don't hike the AZT for the water, especially not this time of year.

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