WRITTEN by CHRIS & ANNE ENSOLL
Travelling light in the mountains is one of my obsessions, and one thing that can really add to the weight in your rucksack is water. Over the years I have tried various ways to cut down on carrying water whilst avoiding drinking straight from mountain streams – with sheep wandering freely you never know what might be upstream. My latest find is the BeFree Water Filtration System by Katadyn.
The 0.6 litres BeFree water filtration system weighs only around 60g, so it was definitely worth investigating (there is also a 1 litre model and a 3 litre model). It has won several awards: Backpacker Editors' Choice Award, Runner’s World Gear of the Year Award, and ISPO Gold Awards 2017 (ISPO, or the Internationale Fachmesse für Sportartikel und Sportmode, is the world's largest trade fair for sporting goods and sportswear).
This is what the Katadyn website says:
With the BeFree™ Filter, you no longer have to worry about where your next drink will come from. Just fill up the flask and let the EZ-Clean Membrane™ do the work. Gently squeeze the flask for instant refreshment. Maintain the EZ-Clean Membrane™ quickly and easily for longer life and more enjoyment. Simply fill the flask with water, attach the cover and shake free the debris. Or, remove the filter from the flask and swish in any lake, river or stream. And when you’re ready to “hit the road,” the collapsible flask packs small to fit into tight spaces. Just Smash, Stash and Go! Worry less, Discover more, BeFree.
If you love travelling light as well as staying hydrated the BeFree is a win-win. When it’s empty it packs small and only weighs about 60g. I used to use the Katadyn Pocket, which weighs in at a hefty 710g. Even my empty 1litre Nalgene bottle is heavier at 170g.
The filter is very simple to use. You unscrew the cap/filter, and the wide mouth makes filling quick and easy. Replace the cap/filter, and drink by sucking as you would from a standard sports bottle or squeezing the bag. Water is forced through the 0.1 micron filter and any sediment and beasties are filtered out (but not viruses as they are small enough to pass through the filter). The filter can cope with 1000 litres of water before needing to be replaced – that’s 1666 fills. I paid £43 (in August 2017) so just over 4p per litre of filtered water is good value. A replacement filter costs around £20, giving you another 1000 litres of filtered water for 2p per litre.
I have used this system on several Mountain Leader expeditions, and so far it seems to be robust enough and easy to clean. The only drawback that I have found is if you are staying on the mountain tops for a long day, 0.6 litre may not be enough. However if you are going to be up high for a while then you could carry an extra bottle to give you more volume to fill, or you could use one of the bigger versions.
This is a great piece of kit - it lives up to the marketing info and is deserving of the awards. I bought my BeFree water filter from the Climber’s Shop in Ambleside, and there are many stockists throughout the UK.