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GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Review

A great ultralight backpacking option, as long as you pour carefully and aren't too rough with the contents of your pack.
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Price:  $10 List | $9.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  No filter needed, tiny and light
Cons:  Must pour carefully for bold flavor, delicate clips
Manufacturer:   GSI Outdoors
By Penney Garrett and Chris McNamara  ⋅  Aug 28, 2019
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66
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 20
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is the most compact camping coffee option we tested. It ties with the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy as one of the lightest — both weigh just 1.1 ounces — but the GSI is so small it can nest beneath a fuel canister. Just a bit lighter is the MSR MugMate — 0.7 ounces alone or an even 1.0 ounce with its lid/trivet. Of these three we prefer the Primula, our Top Pick for Backpacking, because it's the easiest to use and clean, but we like that the GSI Ultralight sits above your vessel while brewing instead of requiring you to lift it out of the cup to avoid steeping.

While we find the flavor from the Ultralight Java Drip to be just fine, our Editors' Choice Hario V60 fared better all around. We also like the Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over for a non-plastic cone that doesn't require a filter.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $9.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$7.48 at Amazon$15.99 at Amazon$6 ListCheck Price at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros No filter needed, tiny and lightGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useNo filter needed, great taste, stylishLight, simple, affordable, design allows you to see level of coffee while brewingPacks down flat, produces a good cup, lightweight for non-plastic, works on top of many different-sized vessels
Cons Must pour carefully for bold flavor, delicate clipsSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsExpensive, requires water and more time to fully cleanNot as refined a flavor as the V60, bulkyCan collapse while brewing if not careful, certain filters hang very low due to large bottom hole
Bottom Line A great ultralight backpacking option, as long as you pour carefully and aren't too rough with the contents of your pack.The iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavor.The best model that does not require filters and one of the few that does not involve hot water on plastic.This is a very light and inexpensive pour over option that provides solid taste and stellar value.This collapsible stainless steel dripper is a bit on the heavy side but it folds down flat for easy travel and brews a nice cup.
Rating Categories Ultralight Java Drip Hario V60 Plastic Dripper Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over Collapsible Coffee Drip
Taste (40%)
10
0
7
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Ease Of Use (25%)
10
0
5
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Group Cooking (15%)
10
0
5
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Portability (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
8
Weight (10%)
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
9
10
0
7
Specs Ultralight Java Drip Hario V60 Plastic... Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup... Collapsible Coffee...
Weight 1.1 oz dripper alone: 2.95 oz, dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz 3.3 oz 2.01 oz 4.8 oz
Brew Type Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over
Main Material Nylon filter Hard plastic Stainless steel Hard plastic Stainless steel
Filter needed? No Yes No Yes Yes
Notable Features Collapsible to fit under fuel canister Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side No filter pour over Can see cup without lifting dripper Collasible cone filter
Notes Not sturdy or durable Makes strong, smooth coffee Requires some water to clean between uses Doesn't brew as well as the Hario dripper Folds down flat for easier transport than most other cone drippers

Our Analysis and Test Results

If space is at a minimum and you're counting every ounce in your pack, the GSI Ultralight Java Drip is a solid option. At just 1.1 ounces, this dripper is so compact it will nestle under a fuel canister.

Performance Comparison


The GSI Ultralight is the most portable filter we tested. Just fold the little plastic legs and this fits under a fuel canister.
The GSI Ultralight is the most portable filter we tested. Just fold the little plastic legs and this fits under a fuel canister.

Brew Features


This is a nylon filter supported by three light plastic legs. The clips are a little delicate, and you need to be careful to avoid spilling the filter, but the whole dripper weighs less than half an ounce without it's included cup and just 1.1 ounces with it.

Taste


This filter can produce great taste, but it requires a careful and slow pour. Add water too fast, and the coffee will likely be weak. When we used a gooseneck kettle, it was easy to offer a precise pour and achieve a good flavor, but out of a JetBoil, it was much harder.

Be careful how you pour into the Ultralight Java Drip - if you get impatient you might end up with a weak sub-par cup.
Be careful how you pour into the Ultralight Java Drip - if you get impatient you might end up with a weak sub-par cup.

Ease of Use


The Java Drip is relatively easy to use but, like all filterless cones, it requires a bit of cleaning after each use. This one takes more cleaning than the Primula because there is physically more surface area. You also need to have the right cup to ensure that the legs attach securely. If the rim of the cup is too thick, it's hard to attach the legs. Or if they do attach, they are not as stable when holding a lot of water. While we appreciate the compactness and diminutive weight of this brewer, we also find it rather finicky and don't recommend it if weight is not your primary concern.

While cleaning this nylon filter is straightforward  it does require more water than other models because of a larger surface area.
While cleaning this nylon filter is straightforward, it does require more water than other models because of a larger surface area.

Group Cooking


The Ultralight Java Drip is so-so for group cooking. With a secure attachment, you can load up the filter with grounds and pour enough for 2-3 people. However, if your mug or carafe doesn't securely attach to the filter, it will tip over. Overall, this is best for just 1-2 cups at a time. Detaching and reattaching the legs to various cups in between uses also takes a bit of time and attention.

Portability


This is certainly one of the most portable options in our entire review. Once you fold in the legs, the filter is small enough to fit under any fuel canister. The legs are a little delicate, so you have to be extra careful when packing up, but for those that need small and light, this hits the mark.

Light and compact  this is an easy (though delicate) brewer to consider for your next backpacking excursion.
Light and compact, this is an easy (though delicate) brewer to consider for your next backpacking excursion.

Weight


At 1.1 ounces, the Java Drip ties with the Primula and is just a little heavier than the MugMate. However, its weight includes a little cup, something the other two do not. That said, we ended up using more coffee in the GSI to get the same taste as with the Primula. You'll have to decide what features are the most important to prioritize for your adventures.

This dripper is certainly light  but it's finicky and delicate nature means it may not be the best for everyone.
This dripper is certainly light, but it's finicky and delicate nature means it may not be the best for everyone.

Value


It doesn't get much cheaper than this for a dripper AND a cup! You won't even have to purchase filters. Granted, the GSI Ultralight isn't the most robust coffee maker and breakage is a real possibility. Some people will prefer to spend more and get something more durable, but if your main motivation is tiny and light, this is a clear winner.

Conclusion


If every fraction of an ounce is crucial for your set-up, then the GSI Ultralight Java Drip will be a serious contender for your dollars. This brewer is extremely light and is the most compact in our test suite, though that also means it's the most delicate and a bit finicky to use.

Some of our pour-over brewers  battling it out. Left to right: Primula  GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip  and the Hario V60.
Some of our pour-over brewers, battling it out. Left to right: Primula, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, and the Hario V60.


Penney Garrett and Chris McNamara