The best hiking water bottle

Just before we left on our trip, I was given the opportunity to trial the Katadyn BeFree water bottle, complete with in-built water filter. At first I wondered if it would come in handy at all, given it’s small size – compact with its collapsible bottle and only holding 600ml of water. Was it going to be worth the effort as it wasn’t really enough to hydrate a family of four?

How wrong I was. The handy little bottle was a blessing for our hikes through the Kimberley, some of Australia’s most rugged and remote terrain.

Hiking with two young kids comes with plenty of paraphernalia to cart. There’s snacks, lunch, swimmers, towels, floatation devices, sunscreen, water shoes, camera, go pro, and not to mention water. Now, water is heavy and when you have to carry several litres all that weight adds up. Plus, Red goes in the carrier, so there’s another nine or so kilos. The Husband is the poor sod that is loaded up the most with Red and all the water in the base of the carrier. I take a backpack with all the swimming gear and food.

So, by taking the Katadyn BeFree bottle we just took enough water for the hike in. Once we arrived at the swimming hole, usually complete with waterfall, we were able to refill for our return leg, and rehydrate while we were there.

Filling up the Katadyn BeFree at Manning Gorge in The Kimberley.

It’s super easy to use and the soft bottle takes up no room in the backpack. There is a filter in the lid so as you drink the water it is filters right then and there, making it safe to drink. In fact, it removes 99.999 per cent of the bacteria and protozoan cysts commonly found in lakes, rivers and streams.

D-Man and Red loved drinking from it too. It’s a bit of a novelty, and a little strange at first, even for the adults, given the soft bottle. My only nervous tick with the kids using it was worrying they would snap off the lid. It seems a little fragile, and if it breaks you can't carry water, only drink then and there. The lid also requires some force to close it - another worry about breaking it!

You’ll probably baulk at the, $69.95 RRP, but if you’re hiking longer distances where there will be waterways along the way, it is worth every penny. Plus, with regular cleaning, which is as simple as swishing clean water around the bottle and through the filter, you can filter 1000 litres of water before it needs replacement.

This nifty bit of kit will be a regular feature on our hikes to waterholes in the future – and lucky for us we have heaps to explore here in the Top End. We will just have to mind those damn crocs!

The Katadyn BeFree water filtration system is available at all good outdoor retailers.

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