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MSR MugMate Review

This simple and durable filter is easy to use, produces a decent cup of Joe, and can also be used for tea.
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Price:  $17 List | $16.95 at REI
Compare prices at 3 resellers
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to use and clean, durable, no waste, can use for tea
Cons:  Didn't produce the best flavor, difficult to control extraction
Manufacturer:   MSR
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 20, 2018
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73
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 20
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 8
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The MSR MugMate is a classic camp coffee filter that can also be used to steep loose leaf tea or pre-filter water. It's super lightweight, durable, and can nest inside pretty much any mug for easy transport. While it's not really meant for making more than a cup or two at a time, it's easy to get cleaned and on to another brewing session quickly. It produces a decent flavor, though it's not the best. However, if you need to save on weight and space, this little guy almost can't be beat.

The MugMate was narrowly edged out for our Top Pick for Backpacking award by the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy, a more compact and flexible filter. The Primula compresses down flat, and the filter can flip inside out for easier cleaning. Be sure to also check out our Editors' Choice winner, the Hario V60 — it requires paper filters and isn't as lightweight or low-profile, but it soars ahead when it comes to taste.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
MSR MugMate
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $16.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$7.48 at Amazon$15.99 at Amazon$6 ListCheck Price at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Lightweight, easy to use and clean, durable, no waste, can use for teaGourmet 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 Didn't produce the best flavor, difficult to control extractionSpecial 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 This simple and durable filter is easy to use, produces a decent cup of Joe, and can also be used for tea.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 MSR MugMate 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
8
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
8
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 MSR MugMate Hario V60 Plastic... Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup... Collapsible Coffee...
Weight 1.0 oz with lid/coaster, 0.7 oz for just filter portion dripper alone: 2.95 oz, dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz 3.3 oz 2.01 oz 4.8 oz
Brew Type Filter Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over
Main Material Nylon/Stainless steel Hard plastic Stainless steel Hard plastic Stainless steel
Filter needed? No Yes No Yes Yes
Notable Features Can be used for coffee or tea, compact Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side No filter pour over Can see cup without lifting dripper Collasible cone filter
Notes Super simple and versatile but need to have the right-sized vessel for it to rest on 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

The MSR MugMate is a no-frills filter perfect for anyone needing to keep brewing simple and straightforward. It easily nests inside your favorite mug and will add just barely an ounce to your pack weight. We love that you can use it for coffee, loose leaf tea, or even pre-filtering water. While other brewers deliver better flavor, the versatility of the MugMate makes it one that is ideal for outdoor adventures.

Performance Comparison


This filter is easy to use  both for coffee and tea. We think it's a great companion for all manner of outdoor adventures.
This filter is easy to use, both for coffee and tea. We think it's a great companion for all manner of outdoor adventures.

Brew Features


The MugMate is a durable fine mesh filter that allows you to brew coffee or steep tea without the need for additional paper filters. The square shape and the fact that it brews by steeping within a confined space means that controlling the nuances of extraction is difficult. However, once you dial in all the details for your favorite camp mug, you should be good to go. Do consider that, if you are brewing in a tall vessel, you will need to add much more water to fully cover your ground coffee.

Depending on the height of your preferred mug you will need to add more or less coffee in order to match the amount of water needed to fully cover everything.
Depending on the height of your preferred mug you will need to add more or less coffee in order to match the amount of water needed to fully cover everything.

Taste


The MugMate delivers decent flavor, but nothing stellar. The square shape of the brewer combined with its rudimentary steeping system and lack of paper filters produces a slightly bitter cup. Nothing terrible, just not as good as some of our other contenders like the Hario V60 and our Top Pick for Gourmet Taste, the AeroPress. But if your main goal is to keep your brewing method light and small without having to resort to instant, this is a fantastic choice.

A decent cup of Joe from the MugMate. The optional lid also works as a holder for your spent coffee grounds or tea leaves.
A decent cup of Joe from the MugMate. The optional lid also works as a holder for your spent coffee grounds or tea leaves.

Ease of Use


This is about as easy as it gets. Plop the MugMate into your mug, add ground coffee or loose leaf tea, pour water until everything is submerged, wait a few minutes, and remove. There's an optional lid/coaster that can be used to cover your brew while it's steeping, so you don't lose heat and also to set the wet filter in when you're finished.

The MugMate's lid can be used to cover everything while you're brewing or as a coaster for the dirty filter afterwards. That being said  it's an easy piece to lose and isn't necessary if you're trying to shed weight and keep things simple.
The MugMate's lid can be used to cover everything while you're brewing or as a coaster for the dirty filter afterwards. That being said, it's an easy piece to lose and isn't necessary if you're trying to shed weight and keep things simple.

Group Cooking


This isn't meant for brewing up large amounts at a time. That being said, depending on the vessel you're steeping in, you could load this puppy up with enough grounds to steep more — maybe enough for two — though it won't help you in the flavor department. Thankfully, the MugMate is quick (brewing time, depending on your preferences, will probably take about 4 minutes like a French press) and with a little water you can be cleaned up and ready for round two in no time. Also, if you want to make a giant pot of cowboy coffee, you can use the MugMate to pour each individual cup through and filter out the grit.

With a bit of water (or a river!) you will be cleaned and ready to re-brew in no time.
With a bit of water (or a river!) you will be cleaned and ready to re-brew in no time.

Portability


Aside from packets of instant coffee, this is easily one of the most portable options you can find. It nests inside whatever mug you will be using it with and is extremely lightweight and durable. The only reason it doesn't score higher is because the supplemental lid/coaster doesn't snap on (it just sits loosely on top) and is, therefore, an additional piece to keep track of. The MugMate also doesn't collapse down flat like the Primula or the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip.

Durable and small  this filter is an easy travel buddy.
Durable and small, this filter is an easy travel buddy.

Weight


Again, except for instant, this is the lightest option in our test suite with a weight of 1.0 ounce with the lid and 0.7 ounces without it. This just beat out the Primula and GSI Ultralight which are both 1.1 ounces, though the GSI weight includes a cup.

While we sometimes appreciated the "lid" of the MugMate  it's also not necessary and potentially easy to lose. Leave it at home and shed almost half an ounce.
While we sometimes appreciated the "lid" of the MugMate, it's also not necessary and potentially easy to lose. Leave it at home and shed almost half an ounce.

Value


The price tag on the MugMate is a little high, but when you consider how durable this simple device is and the fact that you won't ever need to buy filters, it all evens out.

Conclusion


There are so many things to love about the MSR MugMate. It's super lightweight, durable, and easy to use. You can brew both coffee and loose leaf tea, and also pre-filter water by removing things like leaves and twigs. When making coffee for a group, you can rinse and refill each time or use this to filter your giant pot of cowboy coffee. It doesn't produce a stellar flavor, but if you want to be small and light and not have to bother with paper filters, the MugMate is an easy friend to reach for time and time again.

The MugMate is an excellent option for backpacking and any trip where you might also have tea drinkers.
The MugMate is an excellent option for backpacking and any trip where you might also have tea drinkers.


Penney Garrett