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cartman
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cartman
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PostMon Jul 31, 2017 4:07 pm 
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Looking for a lighter filter to replace my very reliable Katadyn Hiker (12 ounces with carry bag), I've now tried all three of these lightweight filters.  Here are a few thoughts.


Sawyer Mini

This is the first one I tried.  It has several characteristics I found to be problematic.

1)  The squeeze bags were very unreliable.  Delaminating and tear problems.  There are other bags that are compatible with this filter that are more reliable.

2)  The mouth of the bag is only 1" wide which requires bringing a cup to add water to the bag, even from a good flowing water source.  This is an extra step requiring an extra piece of gear.

3)  I had to use a brackish water source on one trip, and the filter would thereafter pump at only half the previous rate even after backflushing with the syringe, though it was less than six months old.

For all these reasons, I returned the filter.  IMO, this was a very disappointing effort from Sawyer, esp. selling a filter with known bag problems and advertising that it was good for 100,000 liters when it didn't last for even 50.


MSR TrailShot

I was very interested in this option after the disappointment with the Sawyer.  It had several characteristics I liked:

1)  No bag to fill.  Simply a filter inside of a squeeze bulb with a hose attached.  Very simple to use, requiring no other items to use other than a bottle.

2)  Good flow rate.  Though the bulb has a smaller capacity than a single pump with the Katadyn Hiker, I can squeeze faster than I could pump so the time to fill a 1L bottle was about the same.

3)  Light at 5.5 oz.


But this filter has one fatal flaw:  the water is unpalatable.  Even after pumping several gallons of water through it, the water had a strong rubber taste to it, presumably leeching from the material the bulb is made from.  The REI rep I returned the filter to confirmed this is a known problem; however the MSR rep I called seemed to be surprised and said he had not received a similar complaint.  Online reviews do not seem to mention a palatability issue much.

Regrettably I returned this filter too.  Good try from MSR; if they can fix the palatability issue, this would be a great filter, an ideal lightweight replacement for heavier pump filters.


Katadyn BeFree

This is for now my go to lightweight water filter for the following reasons:

1)  Though like the Sawyer this also uses a bag, the mouth on this is 2" wide, making it much easier to fill, so no cup needed.  Very easy to use.

2)  More reliable bag than the Sawyer, though customer reviews have noted some problems with these as well, mostly around where the hard plastic near the mouth joins the softer plastic of the bag.  I have found so far that if I squeeze the bag gently near the end the flow rate is still at maximum and the bag has had no issues.  Hydrapak makes BeFree compatible bags in various sizes and at a good price that are less expensive than buying extra BeFree bags, and reports are that these are more durable.  I have ordered several to test.

3)  Good flow rate, better than the Sawyer and with less effort.  Comparable to the TrailShot.

4)  No syringe required to backflush, simply swish the filter assembly in clean water.

5)  This filter can also be used as a gravity filter, at about half the rate as the flow rate when squeezing.  However, the stock bag has no hang loop for this option.

6)  Advertised as good for 1000 liters or whenever the flow rate decreases, a much more realistic claim than the claim made by Sawyer.

7)  One of the lightest filters on the market at 2.5 oz.


I purchased each of these products myself and have received no compensation from any of the manufacturers or from any other source.
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HitTheTrail
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PostMon Jul 31, 2017 4:50 pm 
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I have been using the BeFree this season and like all the things you mentioned. However, every time I boil water that has been collected in a Hydrapak bag (filtered with BeFree or not) I get a layer of white foam in the water. It will sometimes boil away and sometimes not. I suspect it is coming from the Hydrapak bag. Anyone else notice this?
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texasbb
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texasbb
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PostMon Jul 31, 2017 5:23 pm 
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HitTheTrail wrote:
I have been using the BeFree this season and like all the things you mentioned. However, every time I boil water that has been collected in a Hydrapak bag (filtered with BeFree or not) I get a layer of white foam in the water. It will sometimes boil away and sometimes not. I suspect it is coming from the Hydrapak bag. Anyone else notice this?

Nope.
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InFlight
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InFlight
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PostTue Aug 01, 2017 6:12 am 
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On the Sawyer Mini.
I have had no issues with the squeeze bags failing at all.  I'm on the original large bag I picked up two years ago.  I use a 2 quart (used Ziploc) bag with a small corner ripped out of it.  It's very quick to scoop a lot water and fill the squeeze bag opening in a shallow stream.


I've ordered the Katedyn BeFree, I look forward to trying this out soon.

I always carry some foil package chlorine dioxide tablets as a backup treatment.  Literally weights a fraction of an ounce.  It's also a quick way to kill any viruses if the only available water source is a bit to "iffy.

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I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately...  ― Henry David Thoreau
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Malachai Constant
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PostTue Aug 01, 2017 6:41 am 
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I use the miniunless going someplace with a lot of silt then I use an old sweetwater. The Sawyer bags are crap, if I want a squeeze I use a Smartwater one liter bottle. The 750ml bottles can substitute for the syringe. Usually I use the mini as a gravity filter with an old pelican 3 Lin zip as the top bag connected to the filter with a long tube.

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"You do not laugh when you look at the mountains, or when you look at the sea." Lafcadio Hearn
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DIYSteve
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PostTue Aug 01, 2017 6:54 am 
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IMO pump filters are obsolete.

cartman wrote:
The mouth of the bag is only 1" wide which requires bringing a cup to add water to the bag

Easy improvement: Funnel made from Tornado Tube and a chopped off soda bottle. Nice upgrade (although not necessary) for your Squeeze kit. You can also use a Tornado Tube to connect the Sawyer Squeeze outfeed with a bladder. Credit to DaleW and rossb for Tornado Tube/Sawyer Squeeze DIY ideas. I chop my Tornado Tubes and turn them down to get them as light as possible.

Evernew 2L bladders work great as primary bags.

Our Squeeze is 3 y.o. with lots of use, flows like new. I backflush it regularly.

Nonetheless, at the insistence of my wife we just ordered a Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L filter system, although IMO it's not necessary because the Squeeze works fine.
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HitTheTrail
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PostTue Aug 01, 2017 11:37 am 
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texasbb wrote:
Nope.

texasbb, are you referring to the bag that came with the BeFree or an after market larger bag made by Hydrapak? Because in another thread hetrekker says the Hydrapak comes with a residue that requires treatment to get rid of.
hetrekker wrote:
....and breaking them in: the plastic smell and taste (even though 100% BPA and PVC free) is covered and eventually leaves when using blue Gatorade powder. You can remove the taste faster by using a small amount of dill pickle brine or strong mix of Gatorade, sucking all the air out, and leave set out for a few days.

Maybe I need to dump some pickle brine or Gatorade in to dissolve the inside coating!
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texasbb
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texasbb
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PostTue Aug 01, 2017 1:33 pm 
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HitTheTrail wrote:
texasbb wrote:
Nope.

texasbb, are you referring to the bag that came with the BeFree or an after market larger bag made by Hydrapak? Because in another thread hetrekker says the Hydrapak comes with a residue that requires treatment to get rid of.
hetrekker wrote:
....and breaking them in: the plastic smell and taste (even though 100% BPA and PVC free) is covered and eventually leaves when using blue Gatorade powder. You can remove the taste faster by using a small amount of dill pickle brine or strong mix of Gatorade, sucking all the air out, and leave set out for a few days.


I was referring to the Hydrapak bag.  I haven't noticed any odd taste or any foam on my boil.  I rinsed the thing out at the sink when it was new but otherwise didn't do any special washing.
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xrp
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xrp
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PostSat Aug 05, 2017 1:28 pm 
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I connected my Sawyer Mini Squeeze to my 50 oz Camelbak reservoir and have no problems with filling with water or water flow.
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contour5
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contour5
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PostSat Aug 05, 2017 2:37 pm 
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I've had good luck with the Mini using cheap 750 ml bags from Fred Myers. Popped one by squeezing too hard, and I've ripped the little carabiner out of a couple of them but I always carry at least 3 or 4. The little blue bag that comes with the Mini is junk. I much prefer the offset spout on the FM bags.

I often need 3 or 4 liters of water at a time- to make camp on a waterless ridge or some other place without easy supply. So I pretty much have to carry the bags. There's a redundancy factor in carrying several small bags- you can blow up one or two without serious consequence. Failure of a single large bag might be more serious. And I always carry a cup...plus a Jetboil and a spoon... I've collected water with the spoon, too.

I had an earlier incarnation of the squeezy bottle design. It worked fine as a drinky bottle, but leaked unfiltered water when inverted. So, not really suitable for clean cooking- I like to filter and boil whenever possible.

I reckon squeeze bottles are ok for hiking, but not so good for camping.

The Mini has been pretty economical compared to my old Katadyn Hiker. I just buy a new one each year ( $20-$25)  compared to like $50 for a Hiker filter replacement.

Tried the gravity thing. Bought a bunch of hoses and valves and stuff. Pffft!
Turns out I don't mind sqeezin'. I want my water now!
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DIYSteve
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PostThu Aug 17, 2017 5:25 pm 
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contour5 wrote:
I often need 3 or 4 liters of water at a time- to make camp on a waterless ridge or some other place without easy supply.
*  *  *
I like to filter and boil whenever possible.

Consider the Katadyn Gravity Camp 6L system. Last week we did a 6-day/5-night trip with one. Very fast and easy to fill and set up, and the fastest flowing filter (pump, gravity or squeeze) I've ever seen. It's 5 oz. heavier than a minimum Sawyer Squeeze kit, but the delta might be less if you're carrying extra primary bags. I will likely continue to carry the Squeeze for a 2-person trip and pack the Gravity Camp for parties of 3 or more.
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cartman
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PostFri Aug 18, 2017 5:28 am 
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I've now had four trips to use the Katadyn BeFree, and am totally sold on this filter.  This filter has been far more reliable and easier to use than the Sawyer Mini, and no bad aftertaste unlike the MSR TrailShot.  Just fill the bag and squeeze gently, flow rate is quite good.  The wide mouth bag is great, no extra cup needed unlike the Sawyer with its narrow mouth bag.  The bag for the BeFree even has some insulating capability, keeping water cool for a while when used as a water carry bag.
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HermitThrush
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PostSat Aug 19, 2017 10:20 am 
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I use the late model Katadyn Basecamp gravity filter with the new and improved ultra-flow filter that is guaranteed anti-clog for a year. The old filter was junk. Katadyn's new replacement was expensive but has held up to the warranty, it has not clogged in the year I've had it with lots of use in Washington and Minnesota. We'll see how much longer it lasts. The flow is excellent and water delicious.
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texasbb
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texasbb
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PostFri Aug 25, 2017 6:54 am 
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texasbb wrote:
HitTheTrail wrote:
I have been using the BeFree this season and like all the things you mentioned. However, every time I boil water that has been collected in a Hydrapak bag (filtered with BeFree or not) I get a layer of white foam in the water. It will sometimes boil away and sometimes not. I suspect it is coming from the Hydrapak bag. Anyone else notice this?

Nope.

Okay, well maybe.  I hadn't noticed anything before, but on my recent Wind Rivers trip I did see a few small, thin bubbles.  Then when I shook the bag with the filter attached (per instructions to clean the BeFree), it foamed up pretty good inside.  Mind you, I've never used any bag other than the Hydrapak, so I guess the filter could also be the culprit based on my evidence, but maybe I'll try giving the bag a good cleaning and see what changes.
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JeffreyH
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PostMon Aug 28, 2017 1:46 am 
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I personally like Katadyn BeFree. Agree with all of your points.
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