40 days hiking in the wilds requires that you think hard about the gear you do and don’t take along for the ride. Our through hike of the Australian Alpine Walking Track (AAWT) in Sept 19 – Nov 19, even for a seasoned hiker, was going to be a challenge not only of Trish my wife and I but of all our equipment.
Every and I mean ‘every’ piece of kit was scrutinised and evaluated even gear we had relied on and been happy with for years. Key aspects we needed were efficacy, durability and low weight.
Being in possession of a katadyn mini filtration unit and a steripen both of which had provided lasting and reliable service for some years I was a bit skeptical when Darren from Untamed Flies and Tackle showed me the new ‘Befree’ from Katadyn. A filtration unit and bottle coming in lighter than most 1lt water bottles - and what was the go with the squishy bladder style bag.
Offering a respectable weight saving of over 300g plus a bottle from the previous setup it was worth a try. Especially when your carrying your gear on your back for around 700ks.
So how did it go? On a hike as long as the AAWT you are bound to have some gear challenges and gear failures (tired and sore bodies, solar chargers, communications, spork,…. Anyway you get what I mean) but I’m glad to report the Befree didn’t miss a beat, it performed flawlessly for the whole adventure filtering countless liters of water.
The squishy bottle which is a little strange to start is surprisingly durable, we didn’t coddle any of our gear and the squishy bottle put up with all the dings and mistreatment any bottle would have and probably more. It was also great to be reducing the volume of your bottle as you go too, taking less room in your pack every time it got used (until you refill of course). The squishy bottle is of course necessary to effectively use the filter system.
The speed at which the unit filters is amazing and also effortless. Moving from the Katadyn mini to this system was an incredible step change – I used to joke about the process making you more thirsty than the water it rewarded you with the mini, this was the reason I also had a steripen in my kit (only clear water can be treated with a steripen without filtration).
Needless to say a year or so on from tackling the AAWT the Katadyn Befree is still getting plenty of use, hiking, fishing and hunting never see me leave home without it.
The Katadyn Befree is a dream come true for light weight hiking, fishing, hunting or just about any outdoor pursuit. Get onto Darren from Untamed Flies and Tackle and get one.
By Dion Stevenson – 30.9.19 snowshoeing across the Baw Baw plateau whilst walking the AAWT
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