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.
Similarities: both lightweight both are simple to use .1 micron filter
Differences: 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.
Edited by aimless (10/01/1701:37 PM) Edit Reason: removed link to commercial site
I bought the befree. It is my first gravity filter and I am very happy with it. Not having a set method to back flush it is a bit worrying to me. I've heard some reports of people having loss in flow problems but not many.
Unfortunately there is no source of distilled water when backpacking in the wilderness, and if a filter clogs, it will certainly happen in the middle of a trip!
I tried the Sawyer Squeeze and had a lot o trouble with it clogging. I may go back to using a Katadyn replacement filter with my homemade gravity filter setup. I never had a problem with that.
lol yeah, distilled water is hard to find in the wilderness. I prefilter water or filter clear water if possible, rinse the filter out as best as I can and then when I get home clean it with distilled water before storing.
So as far as I know there is an unresolved question as to whether the BeFree filter could get damaged by back flushing. If they don't include backflushing instructions simply because they don't provide hardware for it, then it is pretty easy to jerry rig a system. The cheap plastic cap on the BeFree unscrews and the Sawyer adapter fits the threads. From there you can run a hose to another bottle to backflush. Again... this is all predicated on the assumption that backflushing will not damage the BeFree filter. I've heard mixed positions from Katadyn themselves, so it is not clear to me.
Well catch me out, you'll get caught out by hepatitis, why not go for something with a virus killer on it too like the hydropure or aquapure, filters or kills all nasties, removes metals etc.
As for the back flush distilled water, why not use the water you have filtered?
Good point on viruses. I hike in Southern California mainly and usually go for springs and that's usually pretty safe to drink as is. But I totally agree with you, better safe then sorry. If i'm really concerned then I would drop some water purification tablets or boil it.
As for cleaning out the filter, you're right again about using the freshly filtered water!
Loc: Illinois(I just live here)
just took the mini backpacking in Utah. I now hate the sawyer mini. clogged constantly in clear water. my gravity system didn't work. Back to my Kadatyn Vario or Sawyer Squeeze. I know they work. last time untested gear goes afield.
I loved my Befree until I actually had to use it!. I bought it a few months ago, tested it, and was amazed at the flow rate. Last month I took it on a short backpacking trip as a backup in case I needed to augment the tap water I carried on that short trail. I didn't need to filter from the creek but ran some more tap water through it before I left and was again amazed at the flow. Last week I took it to Phantom Creek in the Grand Canyon. The water there was crystal clear. From the very beginning it barely dripped no matter how much I squeezed or waited. It would consistently drip even with minimal pressure and we had a base camp so we ended up hanging the Befree with a 2-liter source and changing out the bottles every few hours. For immediate needs I used the same Sawyer that I'd cursed on the last trip because it's meager but dependable output suddenly seemed pretty good. The Mini never clogged or required back-flushing this trip whereas in the past I've had to back-flush every few liters sometimes, so I don't think that there was a huge amount of invisible silt in this water.
I've heard in another forum about mysterious clogging failures with the Befree, and it looks as though I experienced that. Something locked it up tight: maybe mineral content in the last tap water? Whatever it is I definitely don't trust it anymore. I might try vinegar although others have said that Katadyn has warned that that could damage the seals. If it's that susceptible to clogging and hard water but not tough to withstand back-flushing or vinegar it may not work out. I guess it's on to the Squeeze next.