I’ve long been a fan of gravity-based filtration systems. Their simplicity makes them reliable, and they’re lightweight, easily packable, and versatile. The Katadyn Gravity BeFree 3.0 L filter fits this bill perfectly. It’s extremely easy to use: you just fill the reservoir and hang it using the included rugged bail handle and carry loop, and wait for it to filter at an impressive two liters per minute.

When you’re not using it, the filter packs down small; it collapses and then can be rolled tight, fitting easily into a day bag, backpack, or carry-on bag. It’s been tested to protect against harmful organisms, removing protozoa (99.99%) and bacteria (99.9999%), which means it meets EPA standards, so not only can you bring the Katadyn filter along on your next backpacking or kayaking adventure in the US, but it works well for trips abroad as well, when you need to be assured of potable water. Note that it does not meet standards for virus removal; it’s to ensure safe drinking water against bacteria only.

This filter is BPA-free of course, and the wide-mouth opening makes it easier to fill than most. I’ve learned this the hard way with other bladders, when trying to awkwardly fill them in shallow streams, hard to access lakes, or bubbling springs. I did notice that it was easier to fill the bladder by using a second container, such as a backpacking cooking pot or cup to help feed the water into the reservoir.

You should clean the Katadyn filter occasionally, which is simple: just shake or swish to remove debris. We actually do this every trip, and it’s worked out very well. So far, this filter has come along with us on a front-country and backcountry combination trip to Mt. Katahdin in Maine as well as a backpacking trip through Central America. Next, it will accompany my son through Indonesia.

You can pick up the Katadyn Gravity BeFree online at the official Katadyn site for $69 for the 3L option, or find it on additional sites and on Amazon, as well as in brick and mortar stores such as REI. Additional gravity-based filter options range all the way up to base camp models that provide 10L of water at a time.

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