Author Topic: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters  (Read 237 times)

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Offline ThoseWhoWander

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Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« on: October 07, 2017, 04:31:04 AM »
He guys, I bought the Sawyer Squeeze water filter 5 years ago and then I bought the Sawyer Mini a couple of years ago and most recently got the Katadyn BeFree with my REI dividend. Believe it or not, they're all really different.

Similarities:

1) both lightweight
2) both are simple to use
3) .1 micron filter
4) Excellent choices for day hikes, trail running, mountain biking


Differences:
1) BeFree's flow rate is a lot faster. 2 liters per minute
2) Mini can filter 100,000 gallons vs BeFree's 264
3) Clean up is easier with BeFree just rinse it out, Mini can backflush
4) 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.
5) Mini comes with a straw, so in case you lose the bag or it gets damaged you can drink from the stream directly
6) Befree's filter fits inside the water reservoir, so you can pack it intact vs the Mini.

Just in case you want to see a video review:

Offline xj35s

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2017, 06:51:27 AM »
I really appreciate the review and comparison. I'm not a gram weenie and carry a hiker. I know it's large and bulky But I trust it.

What are the pros of a smaller filter other than size and weight? It seems to be the new big thing. Katadyn is a brand I trust, so now I'm interested.
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2017, 10:28:27 AM »
I really appreciate the review and comparison. I'm not a gram weenie and carry a hiker. I know it's large and bulky But I trust it.

What are the pros of a smaller filter other than size and weight? It seems to be the new big thing. Katadyn is a brand I trust, so now I'm interested.

 While I don't consider myself a gram weenie I have become allot more conscious of my pack weight over the last couple of years, advancing age and PAD have taken it's toll on my upper body strength and legs,  five years ago I was hauling a pack that weighed about 30 ~35 pounds on average including food and water,  I cut that down to 20 pounds about a year ago and now my average for my day pack is about 12 pounds not counting water,  some of the things I cut out were things that I didn't regularly use but carried "just in case",  another was getting rid of redundant items, I know the two is one and one is none rule,  but if you're careful and don't loose your stuff one usually works fine.
 Two items which made a noticeable difference were shelving my Stainless USGI mess and Canteen kits and replacing them with a Toaks Titanium bush pot and bowl, with a savings of a little over a pound and a half, and going from a Katadine Hicker Pro to a Sawyer Mini filter, saving me another pound of carry weight and bulk in my pack,  and also shifting to a lighter weight pack helped a little.
 I don't own a postal type scale so I can't tell you what I actually saved on all the individual changes I made in my pack and gear, but holding the pack and getting on my bathroom scale did show the overall weight difference that I saved by making those changes.
 Ten ~ fifteen pounds may not sound like much to a younger man in his prime,  but it's enough to allow me to keep enjoying the outdoors, and that's huge.

 As an aside,  where I live and play in New England there's no shortage of clean water or seasoned fire wood,  I carry a quart or two of water with me depending on where I'm going and how long I'll be out,  usually that's enough to take me into where I'll camp, from there I boil what ever water I need,  I only carry a filter in the event that I run out before hand and can't take the time to boil,  so I don't use it very often.
 My Hiker Pro did a good job and at the time I bought it it was the best I could find for the money,  but it did need allot more attention and maintenance than the Sawyer mini does,  but it was faster,  but I've modified mine to work as a gravity filter so I just hang it with the straw over my water bottle or other container and let it do it's thing, I did pick up the Sawyer 32 ounce roll up bottles which improves flow time.
 So, when you consider the price, the volume that it filters, the ease of use and cleaning, and the lack of having to replace filter parts regularly, it all makes the Sawyer squeeze or mini allot more attractive.
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Offline hunter63

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2017, 11:46:52 AM »
I like the Sawyer Mini's

Small enough to stash in bags and pockets.....

I was to depend on long term water filtration I would look at the MSR SweetWater Purifier System or similar.
https://www.backcountry.com/sweetwater-sweetwater-purifier-system
Geezer Squad, Evoking the 50 year old rule..First 50 years, worried about the small stuff, second 50 years....Not so much

Offline ThoseWhoWander

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2017, 01:01:39 PM »
I really appreciate the review and comparison. I'm not a gram weenie and carry a hiker. I know it's large and bulky But I trust it.

What are the pros of a smaller filter other than size and weight? It seems to be the new big thing. Katadyn is a brand I trust, so now I'm interested.

My buddy has the Hiker model too but he hardly ever brings his.  For me personally, the appeal of these smaller systems is that it packs easier, less profile, and I get to  carry more knives! lol  I live in southern california and if I want to experience wilderness I have to hike at least a few miles with at least 1,000 feet elevation gain.  I admit, I'm not good at hiking uphill so weight is a concern of mine.  I like to bring bushcraft toys, food, and cookware. 

Smaller profile, lighter weight, simpler, and cheaper.  For me at least. 

I really appreciate the review and comparison. I'm not a gram weenie and carry a hiker. I know it's large and bulky But I trust it.

What are the pros of a smaller filter other than size and weight? It seems to be the new big thing. Katadyn is a brand I trust, so now I'm interested.

 While I don't consider myself a gram weenie I have become allot more conscious of my pack weight over the last couple of years, advancing age and PAD have taken it's toll on my upper body strength and legs,  five years ago I was hauling a pack that weighed about 30 ~35 pounds on average including food and water,  I cut that down to 20 pounds about a year ago and now my average for my day pack is about 12 pounds not counting water,  some of the things I cut out were things that I didn't regularly use but carried "just in case",  another was getting rid of redundant items, I know the two is one and one is none rule,  but if you're careful and don't loose your stuff one usually works fine.
 Two items which made a noticeable difference were shelving my Stainless USGI mess and Canteen kits and replacing them with a Toaks Titanium bush pot and bowl, with a savings of a little over a pound and a half, and going from a Katadine Hicker Pro to a Sawyer Mini filter, saving me another pound of carry weight and bulk in my pack,  and also shifting to a lighter weight pack helped a little.
 I don't own a postal type scale so I can't tell you what I actually saved on all the individual changes I made in my pack and gear, but holding the pack and getting on my bathroom scale did show the overall weight difference that I saved by making those changes.
 Ten ~ fifteen pounds may not sound like much to a younger man in his prime,  but it's enough to allow me to keep enjoying the outdoors, and that's huge.

 As an aside,  where I live and play in New England there's no shortage of clean water or seasoned fire wood,  I carry a quart or two of water with me depending on where I'm going and how long I'll be out,  usually that's enough to take me into where I'll camp, from there I boil what ever water I need,  I only carry a filter in the event that I run out before hand and can't take the time to boil,  so I don't use it very often.
 My Hiker Pro did a good job and at the time I bought it it was the best I could find for the money,  but it did need allot more attention and maintenance than the Sawyer mini does,  but it was faster,  but I've modified mine to work as a gravity filter so I just hang it with the straw over my water bottle or other container and let it do it's thing, I did pick up the Sawyer 32 ounce roll up bottles which improves flow time.
 So, when you consider the price, the volume that it filters, the ease of use and cleaning, and the lack of having to replace filter parts regularly, it all makes the Sawyer squeeze or mini allot more attractive.

Good points brother!  I've been switching out my stainless steel cookware to titanium too.  On flat ground, ounces don't tend to add up fast, but ounces become pounds when hiking uphill for miles. 

I like the Sawyer Mini's

Small enough to stash in bags and pockets.....

I was to depend on long term water filtration I would look at the MSR SweetWater Purifier System or similar.
https://www.backcountry.com/sweetwater-sweetwater-purifier-system

I hear lots of good things about that model.  Thanks for posting the link.

Offline xj35s

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #5 on: October 07, 2017, 05:19:19 PM »
This is more my price range but I don't think I would be able to trust it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYC4XZ0?psc=1

I wonder what else the katadyn will thread onto? The filter replacement is only $24.95!
pessimist complain about the wind. optimist expect the wind to change. realist adjusts the sails.

Offline ThoseWhoWander

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #6 on: October 09, 2017, 12:26:27 PM »
This is more my price range but I don't think I would be able to trust it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYC4XZ0?psc=1

I wonder what else the katadyn will thread onto? The filter replacement is only $24.95!

I notice lots of chinese companies are getting into portable water filtration, and I agree with you- I wouldnt' trust it.  We can pay a little extra and go with companies we can trust.

The Katadyn BeFree fits the Hydrapak.  They have 1L, 2L, and 3L bags.

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2017, 10:25:20 AM »
 Not to belabor the discussion, but then again, discussion is what keeps forums alive,  personally I don't use a water filter very often,  These days I mostly day hike or I'm out for a day of fishing or small game hunting, I can usually get by with a 38 ounce water bottle and I boil whatever water I need for coffee or simple meals,  however I like to carry a filter "just in case".
 As I mentioned earlier my first water filter was  Katadyn Hiker Pro,  when I bought it it was the state of the art, small, light weight, effective, and affordable,  but it was bulky and heavy compared to todays new technology, so it didn't take too long to start leaving it at home to save weight and bulk.
 Another consideration with water filters is volume, cleaning, maintenance, and having to replace filter cartridges periodically which can be a PITA and depending on the make and model of the filter it can be expensive,  my old Hiker Pro cost me $75.00,  had to be taken apart to clean it, and if you weren't careful about drying it out was prone to growing mold, then it had a pre-filter, filter cartridge, and a charcoal filter to keep the water sweeter tasting,  the replacement parts kit was about $30.00 bucks.
 Today, as has been mentioned there's a flood of small portable water filters on the market from straw type to bottle type and gravity filters that service hydration packs, and prices run from about $12.00 dollars and up, many of the newer filters being offered are made in China and have brand names nobody has heard about, not all Chinese made outdoor gear is junk, but allot of it is and while you can't get hurt too bad by purchasing a Chinese made knife, compact stove, or water bottle,  products like foods and water filters should always be considered suspect when it comes to what we are putting into our bodies.
 I've been carrying a Sawyer Mini for a couple of years now and my experience has proved that I can trust it to do what Sawyer claims it will, it's easy to use and clean, it's small, only weighs four ounces in total, and costs about $20.00 bucks.
 I've tried to research the Katadyn Be Free filter but so far I haven't found some details that I think are important to making an informed choice, for example,  how many gallons of water will it filter before the cartridges need to be replaced and are there any optional parts that allow it to adapt to conventional water bottles and hydration packs ?
 I did read the ProMo's from Katadyn's web site, it says that clean up is easy,  just fill the water bottle with clean water and shake it, then dump the water and let the filter air dry,  or,  separate the filter and bottle and shake it around in the stream, pond, lake or other water source, dump and dry,  this bothers me a little,  anything I've ever read about using or cleaning water filters include strict instructions about not letting contaminated water to come in contact with the out flow part of the filter or container, maybe I'm missing something, but rinsing your filter and container in unknown wild water is going to leave traces of bacteria all over it that could and usually will come back to bite you on the backside.
 In my opinion I'd trust almost any product from Katadyn,  but when one compares the Be Free filter with Sawyer's Squeeze or Mini for volume of water it can treat before being replaced, ease of use and cleaning,  size and price,  IMHO Sawyer comes out way ahead.
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Offline wolfy

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2017, 11:49:24 AM »
The clarity of the water to be filtered and how many particulates are in suspension has a great deal to do with any filter company's gallonage claims.  Most of the time the filter's capacity to produce a potable water supply can be enhanced by allowing time for the particulates to settle out before running it through the filtering system.  :coffee:
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Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2017, 08:01:09 AM »
The clarity of the water to be filtered and how many particulates are in suspension has a great deal to do with any filter company's gallonage claims.  Most of the time the filter's capacity to produce a potable water supply can be enhanced by allowing time for the particulates to settle out before running it through the filtering system.  :coffee:

 Debris in the water is a problem for most filters,  my Katadyn Hiker Pro had a pre-filter that did a very good job of dealing with particulates,  the Sawyer filters and others of the same type are very sensitive to particulates,  it doesn't take much to clog them up,  I carry a small square of cheese cloth to place on the mouth of my collection bottle to catch debris before it can get into the bottle.
 If my Sawyer does start to clog up back flushing with the syringe that comes with it pretty well clears it out and gets the water flowing again,  all water filters have their failings,  some work perfectly but are too heavy and bulky to be pack worthy,  the smaller filters while doing the job lack the refinement found in the bigger and more expensive models.
 I'm lucky in that respect because in my area of the country most of the water sources like running streams and small pools are fairly clean so if they aren't disturbed while you're collecting the water is not a problem,  stagnant waters however are a last resort thing and do pose problems with particulates,  the biggest problem we run into with wild water in my area is in the late fall and early spring when runoff leaches allot of Tannin out of the fallen leaves and deposit it in the smaller bodies of water,  even after filtering the water has a bitter chemical taste.
 If
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Offline theJman

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2017, 06:36:53 PM »
This is more my price range but I don't think I would be able to trust it.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LYC4XZ0?psc=1

Legit point, as water filtration is not a good place to save a few pennies.  I'm getting suspicious about most of them though, at least some of the claims they're making anyway.

3 years ago I bought a Survivor Filter and used it for an entire season.  It seemed to work well, but I don't have any feted and festering pools to drink from so it really didn't have any big issues to over come.  While it wasn't terribly large I decided to try a Sawyer Mini because of its compact size, so 2 years ago I bought one of those and used that for a full season.  Definitely very small and portable, but the flow rate is not great.  I also started to wonder about Sawyers claim of 100,000 gallons, which seems highly unlikely to me, so for this season I bought a Hydro Blue Sidekick.  About the same flow rate as the Mini, and it's not at all obtrusive to carry, but like the Sawyer I started feeling uncomfortable about the claims the manufacturer makes.  Supposedly it removes pesticides, gasoline, herbicides, lead, iron, cadmium, nickel and chromium, among other things.  It's about the size of a Sharpie, and to me that sounds like an awful lot of filtration from a 1oz straw.

I suppose if my water sources were particularly bad I would opt for something else, but in all likelihood I'll stick with one of these devices as most of what I encounter is not highly questionable.  I still feel a few of the claims are questionable though.
« Last Edit: Yesterday at 04:02:47 PM by theJman »

Offline Moe M.

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #11 on: Yesterday at 08:50:55 AM »
 There have been many good pieces written on the topic of personal packable water filters over the last couple of years and although I don't use one all that often I still pay attention to reviews both good and bad whenever I run across one that seems to be valid, if I'm going to carry a piece of gear that I might have to risk my health or survival on just having it in my pack or on my person is not enough,  I have to have confidence that it's going to work and that all the claims by the maker are in fact true.
 I trust makers like Katadyn, Sawyer, Life straw, and a few others because of their reputations built up over a number of years, whether I carry their brand or model depends more on how it fits my needs and my pack than the claims that company makes.
 However, with so many outdoor and survival gear products being made off shore these days one has to be allot more cautious about what they buy,  some name brand filter systems claim to remove pesticides and other toxic chemicals like oil and gasoline leached from surface water and run off, but those usually involve in line filters on home or commercial water systems, no legitimate makers that I know of that offer small packable or pocket sized water filters claim to remove those kinds of contaminants, just the opposite, most caution that they don't and that users should always be aware and look for tell tale signs of their presents in water sources,  in my opinion any company (especially unknown makers) that make such claims should be suspect that all of their product claims are either false or greatly exaggerated.
 One product that's been around for a few years that isn't discussed much is the Steri-pen, it's not a filter, it purifies your water using UV light,  the way it works as I understand it is that you fill a collection container (soda bottle, zip lock bag, or other,  then turn on the switch on the Steri-pen and dip the clear light rod in the water and move it around a bit for about a minute or so and you have safe drinkable water, however, it doesn't have any filtering capacity and doesn't remove any particulates, so if you are collecting water with any debris in it you'd have to prefilter the water in some way.
 Those I've seen are about the size of an average electric tooth brush handle and have a clear polymer rod that emits UV light, the unit runs on double or triple A batteries,  it may be something to look into if you are contemplating purchasing a new personal water purifier. 
 
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Offline theJman

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Re: Sawyer Mini vs Katadyn BeFree water filters
« Reply #12 on: Yesterday at 04:18:09 PM »
UV light is purported to eradicate certain biological (not man-made) nasties. Conventional wisdom suggests that even some pretty unpleasant pools of water might be OK to drink from provided they are exposed to intense direct sunlight, the type you get on the Serengeti Plains for example.  The safe zone consists of perhaps the first inch or so as an further down and the UV loses its ability to neutralize the stuff likely to get you sick, so the Steri-pen may indeed do as claimed.  I live in NJ, where the sun doesn't have enough strength for me to comfortably test that theory, so I don't know for certain.