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#199212 - 10/01/17 08:30 AM Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini
HikeVibes Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
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 (10/01/17 01:37 PM)
Edit Reason: removed link to commercial site

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#199217 - 10/02/17 01:43 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: HikeVibes]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 907
Loc: Torrance, CA
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.

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#199220 - 10/03/17 12:55 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: BZH]
HikeVibes Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
I've also heard that some people had slow downs, I've heard letting sit in water overnight might help. I'd probably use distilled water.

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#199221 - 10/03/17 01:59 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: HikeVibes]
OregonMouse Offline
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6560
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
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.
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#199223 - 10/03/17 07:33 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: OregonMouse]
HikeVibes Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
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.

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#199225 - 10/03/17 11:58 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: HikeVibes]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 907
Loc: Torrance, CA
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.

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#199227 - 10/04/17 02:09 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: HikeVibes]
Petro1234 Offline
member

Registered: 10/27/16
Posts: 28
Loc: engeland
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?

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#199245 - 10/07/17 01:39 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Petro1234]
HikeVibes Offline
newbie

Registered: 09/29/17
Posts: 6
Loc: CA
Originally Posted By Petro1234
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! smile

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#199399 - 10/29/17 09:46 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: HikeVibes]
DanielShunn Offline
newbie

Registered: 10/27/17
Posts: 3
Loc: Midwest
I've always used a Sawyer and they have been trouble free and really not that expensive, plus you can get them anywhere.

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#199458 - 11/10/17 07:14 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: DanielShunn]
orclwzrd Offline
member

Registered: 08/11/09
Posts: 82
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.

john

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#200815 - 04/21/18 01:27 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: orclwzrd]
41253 Offline
member

Registered: 12/28/14
Posts: 89
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.

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#200818 - 04/22/18 11:43 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: orclwzrd]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 50
Loc: London, UK.
Originally Posted By orclwzrd
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.

john


John, just because water looks clear to the naked eye does not mean it does not contain tiny organic particles, protazoa or bacteria that are of course invisible to the human eye and are only visible under a microscope. The Sawyer mini will filter down to 0.1 microns, and anything that small is definitely invisible without a microscope. So if your Sawyer mini appears to be blocked, then you have either failed to back-flush it enough or the clear water you speak of is obviously not as clear and pure as it looks!

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#200819 - 04/22/18 12:19 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: 41253]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 50
Loc: London, UK.
My main concern with the Sawyer Mini is the lack of an Activated Charcoal filter (an ACF) to go with it, so even if you can filter out harmful bacteria and Protazoa with it, it is not going to improve the taste of the filtered water or remove toxic chemicals or heavy metals. An ACF can do both. I cannot understand why Sawyer do not sell an optional ACF for the sawyer Mini to address these concerns, as they would sell rapidly and make them a lot of money. As they don't offer that option, users have no choice but to try and make their own. One user on youtube made an ACF for his Sawyer mini using PVC tube and epoxy adhesive, but as both of these are potentially toxic I have sought to make one with non toxic materials. My first attempt is made with about 4 inches (100mm) of 7/8"(22mm) diameter clear, but green tinted, flexible Aquarium tubing. Then I cut the threaded ends off two PET drinks bottles, that have a thread that matches the mini's dirty water squeeze bottle...They fit over the tube nicely. They are secured in place with a little clear silicone adhesive. Sawyer sell female to female thread adapters (I have one on order) that will allow me to fit my homebrew ACF between the dirty water bottle and the Mini. A cotton wool ball is pressed into one end of the tube, then activated charcoal granuals are poured into the open end leaving enough space for another cotton wool ball to seal the other end. So not only will this ACF improve the taste of the filtered water but it will also pre-filter the dirty water of most tiny particulates before they get to the Mini (via the cotton wool balls), hopefully reducing the amount of clogging and back-flushing needed. The activated charcoal granuals will only need to be replaced when they stop improving the taste of the filtered water (if Britta water filters are anything to go by, the charcoal granuals should last about a month) and the cotton wool balls can be replaced quickly and easily at any time when they start to look dirty, or they can even be washed and reused in the field if you don't have spares with you. Well, that is the plan anyway...I'm waiting for the Silicone sealant to fully harden, and the Sawyer thread adapter to arrive, before I can finally try it out but I am confident it will work as expected. As for the weight...My ACF on it's own will weigh a little more than the Mini does on its own, as the aquarium tubing has a fairly heavy wall thickness (at least 2mm, perhaps even 2.5mm) and because of the amount of activated charcoal it can hold. For the gram counters among you...My completed empty AC filter body (without the charcoal or cotton balls) weighs in at 27g (0.9oz).


Edited by Alf (04/22/18 12:35 PM)

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#200820 - 04/22/18 02:02 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Alf]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 105
Loc: Portland, Oregon
That's interesting. I've never felt the need for the charcoal filter, but I'd like to have a prefilter. Up until now I've only used the PUR (Katahdin) hiker, which has both carbon and two prefilters, but is heavy at 12oz. I have the mini now but haven't used it in the field, and after hearing stories of how easily it clogs, I'm thinking a prefilter is a good idea. I'm wondering if the silicone sealer will adhere well enough to PET plastic, as it normally requires special adhesives.

Let us know how this works.
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#200821 - 04/22/18 02:36 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1800
Loc: Napa, CA
Originally Posted By Bill Kennedy
That's interesting. I've never felt the need for the charcoal filter, but I'd like to have a prefilter.


That's what your bandana is for!
_________________________
balzaccom

check out our website and blog: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/home

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#200822 - 04/22/18 03:09 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
4evrplan Offline
member

Registered: 01/16/13
Posts: 741
Loc: Nacogdoches, TX, USA
Clogging with the Mini isn't really an issue if you get in the habit of giving it a quick backflush squeeze after every liter or so, otherwise yes, it will clog easily.

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#200823 - 04/22/18 03:55 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 50
Loc: London, UK.
Originally Posted By Bill Kennedy
That's interesting. I've never felt the need for the charcoal filter, but I'd like to have a prefilter. Up until now I've only used the PUR (Katahdin) hiker, which has both carbon and two prefilters, but is heavy at 12oz. I have the mini now but haven't used it in the field, and after hearing stories of how easily it clogs, I'm thinking a prefilter is a good idea. I'm wondering if the silicone sealer will adhere well enough to PET plastic, as it normally requires special adhesives.

Let us know how this works.


I will. I went ahead and filled the filter body, as I mentioned before, and it's actually still a fraction lighter than the Mini (5g lighter in fact...33g vs 38g) ), but after I fit the Sawyer thread adapter and the cotton balls and charcoal inside get wet for the first time it will of course weight several grams more than the Mini. I purposely made it the same length as the Mini so can be kept in small storage bag with it. I have also had an idea about trying to get rid of the undignified need to kneel in the mud on a riverbank in order to dunk the Sawyer dirty water bag by hand...By using an aquarium syphon pump, to sort of mimic the Katadyn, but for a lot less money and weight. An Aquarium syphon pump is only about £3 (about $4) on ebay, so if it works it will cost a mere fraction of what a Katadyn costs. Here is a pic of my prototype ACF/pre filter for the Sawyer Mini: [img]https://flic.kr/p/GLVndD[/img] and here it is attached to the Mini: [img]https://flic.kr/p/23F11vq[/img]


Edited by Alf (04/22/18 03:58 PM)

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#200829 - 04/23/18 03:33 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Alf]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 105
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Pretty clever. I wonder if the cotton will reduce the flow too much once it's wet and the fibers cling together. If it does, you could try adapting the fine mesh screen that's found in the aerator of a sink fixture. It might even be the right size.

The aquarium pump definitely has possibilities if it has enough capacity. That's kind of what the MSR Trailshot is like. Of course, there again, you'd be adding a few ounces. You'd need some tubing, too. The food grade silicone tubing is nicer than the polyethylene (and more expensive). I got some to replace the hoses on my PUR filter here:

https://www.freshwatersystems.com/
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#200958 - 05/11/18 07:47 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
41253 Offline
member

Registered: 12/28/14
Posts: 89
After my dissapointing Befree unexplained clog in the Grand Canyon where I was glad to have a slow but dependable Sawyer Mini as backup I wrote Katadyn. I sent it back and they replaced it. It was a nice gesture but I'm not sure what I'll do with it. Maybe I'd trust it on a day hike, but not overnight. The Befree seems at least as susceptible to silt and minerals as any hollow fiber model but is unable to handle the backflushing and vinegar treatments that are the only cures. I bought a Squeeze, it seems like a safe step up from the Mini and still far lighter than my old Pure Hiker.

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#200970 - 05/14/18 07:02 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 50
Loc: London, UK.
Originally Posted By Bill Kennedy
Pretty clever. I wonder if the cotton will reduce the flow too much once it's wet and the fibers cling together.


Does not seem to...When I put it all together, and was finally able to try squeezing some water through the ACF, I suddenly had washer gushing out from the input end of the thread adaptor (the bottle end)...Clearly it wasn't sealing properly, so I wasn't able to put enough pressure through it to properly test it. I immediately looked online for food grade Silicone washers and found a company called Silex that offered Silicone washers in virtually every possible size...They had a minimum order of 50 washers per size, which meant I had to pay about £35 just to get one washer! Desperate to get the ACF working I ordered fifty 25mm x 15mm x 3mm washers and then I had to wait a couple of weeks or so for them to arrive. A single washer was enough to seal the leak and I was able to squeeze water through the cotton balls easily but then I had another problem...Water was leaking out of the Silicone sealant between the PET bottle tops and the Aquarium tubing. I gave up as I don't know of any adhesives that could glue the two different materials together and form a water tight seal. I am thinking of alternative solutions such as replacing the aquarium tubing with clear Perspex tubing instead, as I already have a adhesive that can glue Perspex. I am busy on other projects at the moment, so that may be a while away.

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#200979 - 05/14/18 11:36 PM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Alf]
Bill Kennedy Offline
member

Registered: 02/27/18
Posts: 105
Loc: Portland, Oregon
Polyethylene and polypropylene are very difficult to bond. This stuff has an activator to prepare the surface, and might be worth a shot. I haven't tried it myself, but I found it when I was toying with the idea of making a pump out of a big syringe, like the one for backflushing the Sawyer.

http://www.loctiteproducts.com/p/sg_plstc/overview/Loctite-Plastics-Bonding-System.htm
_________________________
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead

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#200980 - 05/15/18 05:25 AM Re: Katadyn BeFree vs Sawyer Mini [Re: Bill Kennedy]
Alf Offline
member

Registered: 04/15/18
Posts: 50
Loc: London, UK.
Thanks for the recommendation...I find it odd that they state it is water resistant and resists freezing temperatures, yet then they state it is not suitable for use outdoors? Maybe UV breaks it down?

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