Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sawyer Mini Water Filter versus the Katadyn Befree

I've had the Sawyer mini now for about 2 years and it has, without fail, served me well for the parts I choose to use.  One minor [and I mean minor] complaint with the Mini that I have is the Squeeze Pouch that's included with the purchase.  Other than that [and there are some really easy workarounds], the Mini earns a solid 10/10 for price, reliability and pack weight/volume in my opinion.

Whenever I'm on the trail and need to fill up from a non-potable water source, I always use my Mini with a disposable water bottle and my Nalgene.  My disposable bottle is always easy to identify as my 'dirty' water and the Nalgene always as the 'clean.'

I long ago replaced the Squeeze Pouch that came with the Mini with a smartwater bottle.  I've tried other bottles but the smartwater is the best because of it's thicker wall and higher water volume.  Sturdy is a good quality to have out on the trail because if the water bottle fails, I'm out of luck for purifying water - at least with the Mini.

I chose the disposable water bottle over the Sawyer Squeeze Pouch because it's much easier to fill.  The Pouch packs up fabulously and weighs next to nothing, but it doesn't lend itself well to filling up in a slow moving stream or brook.  I've tried it more than a few times and I can only fill it to about 50% capacity.  If I had any input on the design I would have increased it's volume by at least 50%.  That would have added marginal cost to the product but would have given it much higher marks in my opinion.

My setup here on the right is my absolute standard any time I hit the trail [less that Squeeze Pouch].  For me, the Sawyer Mini has proven itself to be a really great, low-cost option [~$20] that should last me a lifetime since it treats over 100,000 gallons of water.  That will produce more clean water than I'll ever drink on the trail.

But like with any new invention or product enhancement, the Katadyn Befree has certainly got my attention.  I already own a low cost, reliable solution so the BeFree would have to seriously tip the scales to have me reaching into my wallet.

I'm not entirely sure when these came out but one look and I can see my biggest complaint against the Sawyer Mini is solved.

The BeFree does come in three sizes - 20oz, 1L, and 3L so I'm certainly not limited to go with the 3L option.  But the price tag of $40 plus tax & shipping on the 20oz has got me a little hesitant.   

That's a fairly good investment over the Sawyer Mini and it's got me wondering if the BeFree's solution to my one little complaint about the Mini is worth the extra cash.  

My first reaction was to add one of these to the cart immediately and check out before they are gone.
But, after some careful consideration, I've decided to hold off.  The filter does has a noticeably faster rate than the Mini which is a slight advantage.  But as I've said before, I'm in no rush once I'm out in the woods.  If it takes me another 3-4 minutes to filter my water, that just doesn't add up to spending another $40 for a very similar setup to what I have now.

And one other serious question I have is the 'toughness' value of that bottle.  I didn't see any info on any manufacturer warranty.  I know that REI would stand behind it forever so that's not a major concern, but unlike the Sawyer Mini that fits most any disposable water bottle, I don't have an endless supply of water containers.  If the BeFree container springs a leak I'm up the proverbial creek until I can get a replacement from the distributor.  

So I guess I'm in a holding pattern for now.  If my Mini fails me or gets lost then the BeFree would be a contender for replacement for sure.

Use another filter system or have some comments about my take on these two?  Let me know in the comments section.

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