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The Best Camping Coffee Makers

The V60 finishing up another delicious cup. The handle makes it easy to brew with and also to clip onto the outside of a pack before taking off down the trail.
By Penney Garrett ⋅ Senior Review Editor
Wednesday August 28, 2019
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For many of us, it doesn't matter if you're crawling out of a plush king-size bed at home or a lightweight backpacking tent high on the side of a mountain — getting that morning fix of coffee is priority number one! So what's the best way? To help you figure it out, we researched more than 50 camping coffee makers, hand-picked the best, and buckled down for some serious testing. A team of coffee aficionados took all our brewers from car-side campsites to backcountry bivies, making hundreds of cups of coffee in the process. Almost every type of brewing style comes in a portable version, from pour over to french press and even espresso — but not all are created equal. Read on to find your perfect camp coffee companion as well as our favorite backpacking options.


Top 20 Product Ratings

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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $7.48 at Amazon$44.99 at Amazon$15.99 at Amazon$6 ListCheck Price at Amazon
Compare at 3 sellers
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Pros Gourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useBrews a clean cup, insulated, durable, good size for a small group and available larger, no filters neededNo 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 Special shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsTakes more water to clean, heavyExpensive, 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 The iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavor.This press is durable, insulated, and fully stops extraction once pressed so there's no sludge in the bottom of your cup.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 Hario V60 Plastic Dripper Planetary Design French Press Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over Collapsible Coffee Drip
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Specs Hario V60 Plastic... Planetary Design... Paperless Pour Over Melitta 1-Cup... Collapsible Coffee...
Weight dripper alone: 2.95 oz, dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz 1 lb 14.8 oz 3.3 oz 2.01 oz 4.8 oz
Brew Type Pour Over French Press Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over
Main Material Hard plastic 18/8 Stainless steel Stainless steel Hard plastic Stainless steel
Filter needed? Yes No No Yes Yes
Notable Features Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side Double filtration system No filter pour over Can see cup without lifting dripper Collasible cone filter
Notes Makes strong, smooth coffee Filtration system keeps more grounds out and double insulation keeps things hot longer 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

Best Overall Camping Coffee Maker


Hario V60 Plastic Dripper


Hario V60 Dripper
Editors' Choice Award

$7.48
(17% off)
at Amazon
See It

84
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 9
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Group Cooking - 15% 7
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 8
Weight: 2.95 oz| Brew Type: Pour Over
Gourmet flavor
Excellent design
Lightweight
Requires a V60-specific paper filter
Odd shape for travel

The same classic ceramic cone for your home is also our favorite choice for camping — just in a lighter and more durable plastic form. The Hario V60 Plastic Dripper provides excellent taste (which improves as your technique does) and is straightforward to use. Plus, it weighs just 2.95 ounces (3.37 ounces with its measuring scoop). The AeroPress just barely edged ahead in our taste tests, but it's triple the price, heavier, and more complicated to use — especially when brewing for multiple people.

There's not much negative to say about this simple and effective cone other than you will need to track down V60-specific filters. For optimal taste, you will also want to be sure your coffee is uniformly and finely ground. Weighing your coffee and water will also take your brewing game to another level. Once you've assembled your tools and dialed in your process, this dripper will deliver one of the cleanest and best-tasting cups you can have.

Of note, the Hario V60 Ceramic Dripper is also one of our favorite ways to make coffee at home. You could, of course, also take it camping, but it's much heavier and nowhere near as durable.

Read review: Hario V60 Plastic Dripper

Best Bang for the Buck


Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over


Best Buy Award

$6.75
at Amazon
See It

77
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Group Cooking - 15% 7
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 9
Weight: 2.01 oz | Brew Type: Pour Over
Light and simple
Inexpensive
View hole to prevent overflow
Requires paper filters
Bulky

At first glance, the Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over appears very similar in design to the Hario V60 but with the added feature of a view hole so you can monitor the level of your brew. There are, however, some other differences between these pour-over-style drippers that ultimately affect the overall taste.

While the Melitta can be excellent (especially if you weigh and measure your beans and water), the V60 has a higher potential to excel when it comes to flavor — though reaching that level does take precision and attention to detail. At the end of the day, (or, more accurately, the beginning), most people probably won't be able to tell much of a difference between these two devices, especially with the haphazard non-measured brewing that tends to take place while camping. But brewing side-by-side with precise recipes reveals more subtle differences. However, the Melitta still makes a very decent fresh morning brew and can often be found cheaper than most other options.

Read review: Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over

Top Pick for Large Groups


Planetary Design French Press


Top Pick Award

$44.99
at Amazon
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 8
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Group Cooking - 15% 10
  • Portability - 10% 5
  • Weight - 10% 3
Weight: 30.8 oz | Brew Type: French Press
Double filtration for a cleaner cup
Insulated
No filters needed
Heavy
Requires water to clean

Trying to stay relatively compact for camping and also accommodate multiple people can be tricky. While many single-serving brewers are easy to clean and will get you rebrewing right away, it can be annoying to have to repeat the coffee-making process five times in a row so everyone can have a cup along with breakfast. The tried-and-true French press remains the simplest and most straightforward method for this scenario, yet it can be hard to find a good one. Enter the Planetary Designs press. It's large, durable, insulated, and offers a patented "bru-stop" screen which halts the brewing process when pressed to avoid over-extraction. We enjoyed every cup we drank from this competent device.

Keep in mind that this is large and heavy, so it's certainly not something you'll be taking backpacking. But if you're car camping with buddies, it's a fantastic option. We tested the 32-ounce size, but it's also available in a whopping 48-ounce. We still find the Espro Travel Press to be a cleaner and more versatile press overall, but if you want a more traditional design built for a group, go with this one.

Read review: Planetary Design French Press

Best Backpacking Coffee Maker


Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy


Top Pick Award

$6.19
(38% off)
at Amazon
See It

74
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 9
Weight: 1.1 oz | Brew Type: Pour Over
No filter needed
Light and compact
Easy to get a consistent taste
Must lift out of the cup to prevent over-steeping

Whether you are backpacking or just want to ensure you always have pour-over coffee when traveling, the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy is the way to go. It's super compact, durable, and weighs about as much as an AA battery. It also gives consistent taste no matter how you pour. Other pour-over contenders in our review require a much more exact pour that can be highly challenging to achieve with a JetBoil or camping pot, but the forgiving nature of the Primula isn't quite so hard to master.

The only downside to this brewer is that you have to stay alert and be sure to remove it from your cup in a timely matter. If you don't, your coffee will steep like tea, leaving you with a bitter, over-extracted cup. Whether you're backpacking or hotel-hopping for work, the Primula is a light and cheap option sure to protect you against lousy camping coffee.

Read review: Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy

Top Pick for Gourmet Taste


Aerobie AeroPress


Aerobie AeroPress
Top Pick Award

$29.95
at Amazon
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 10
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5
  • Group Cooking - 15% 6
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
Weight: 7.98 oz | Brew Type: Espresso / Pour Over
Great flavor
Can brew in varying strengths
Very portable for such a gourmet result
Many pieces and special filter
Only brews enough for one person at a time

The Aerobie AeroPress emerged as the leader in our taste tests, so we had to give it a coveted Top Pick award. With this fun and functional brewer, you can create smooth espresso-like shots as well as clean satisfying full cups. We know some people who use this as their exclusive coffee maker, even at home, yet it is portable enough to bring along while traveling or on camping trips. Cleaning is as fast as popping the puck of grinds out of the plunger — the squeegee action gives a pretty effective cleaning without the use of extra water.

There is a bit of a learning curve with the AeroPress — it has more pieces than many other camping coffee makers in our review (though not all of them are necessary) and you need to make sure you have a big enough cup for it to properly nest into for pressing. You will also need the special round filters, available in either stainless steel or paper. While not for everyone, coffee geeks will fall head-over-heels for this versatile brewer and its delicious results.

Read review: Aerobie AeroPress

Cleanest French Press


Espro Travel Press


Top Pick Award

$29.91
(15% off)
at Amazon
See It

75
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 9
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
Weight: 12.03 oz | Brew Type: French Press
Double filtered to eliminate sludge
Extraction stops when pressed
Leakproof for travel
Heavy
Lots of pieces to keep track of

French press coffee has long been complained about because it continues to extract after pressing. This results in over-extraction unless you pour everything out as soon as brewing is complete. Additionally, the last pour is always sludgy and thick. Until now. Enter the Espro Travel Press, a clever design with a dual filter system that not only stops extraction when you press but also delivers a cup as clean as a filtered pour-over. You can even add a small paper filter in between the two mesh filters for more clean-up duty. We were beyond impressed with the final cup this press produced. On top of it all, you can press and walk away without needing an additional cup because the top of the Espro is a sippable travel lid that can be made leakproof. Top Pick material for sure.

The major issue with this press is its weight: at 12.3 ounces (not including coffee), this isn't a backpacking option. However, there is an ultralight version available that will get you down to 7.4 ounces. Still not really "ultralight," but a substantial improvement nonetheless. It's also designed for a single user at a time, so this won't be your brewer of choice for a group.

Read review: Espro Travel Press

Top Pick for Camp Espresso


GSI Outdoors MiniEspresso


Top Pick Award

$39.95
at Amazon
See It

69
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 7
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 7
  • Weight - 10% 6
Weight: 17.3 oz with case | Brew Type: Espresso
Brews quickly
Easy to clean
Packs into a convenient case
Measuring of grounds is built-in
Too small for many camp stove burners
Cup handle is too hot to touch after brewing

Are you an espresso drinker that dislikes switching to regular coffee when camping? If so, the GSI MiniEspresso Set might be your dream-come-true. This savvy brewer functions much like a Bialetti or Moka pot but with a platform for a little espresso cup. It won't provide the crema of a shot from your favorite barista, but the flavor is quite decent and brewing time is fast. It's also a great way to brew just a little bit at once if your caffeine needs are lower or you want to make something fun like a dirty chai.

While this setup is quite compact for car camping, it's too big and bulky for backpacking unless you're a complete diehard. However, the base is small enough that it fits better on a small backpacking stove than on most larger tabletop stoves — something that caused us issue out in the field on multiple occasions. If there's too much a gap on your cooking surface, the MiniEspresso will fall through. You'll want to take some measurements before purchasing to make sure this brewer is compatible with your burner.

Read review: GSI Outdoors MiniEspresso

Best Instant


First Ascent Instant


First Ascent Instant Coffee
Top Pick Award

$19.99
at Amazon
See It

63
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Taste - 40% 3
  • Ease of Use - 25% 10
  • Group Cooking - 15% 4
  • Portability - 10% 10
  • Weight - 10% 10
Weight: 0.2 oz for 1 packet, 2 oz for box of 8 | Brew Type: Instant
It actually tastes good!
Both single origins and blends available
Ultralight and no mess
Can brew with hot or cold water
Pricey
Still has that weird chemical/instant smell

Well, color us surprised, we found an instant coffee that doesn't make us cringe. Because instant is such a great and necessary option for certain activities, we have been diligent about trying to find one that isn't abjectly terrible. And it seems that day has come! First Ascent is a craft coffee roaster in Crested Butte, Colorado that roasts high-quality beans and also handcrafts instant packets. Currently available in their Hero Day blend and two single origins — Ethiopia and Honduras — we were shocked, impressed, and pleased throughout our rigorous taste tests.

Will a coffee connoisseur still notice this is instant? Absolutely. It isn't completely devoid of that weird smell and slightly off flavor, but the keyword here is "slightly." We had some taste testers not recognize right away that they were sipping instant — something that hasn't happened with any of the other brands we've tested thus far except the other instant in our review, Swift Cup. Neither of these are cheap options though, especially considering they're not as widely available and so you may have to pay shipping on top of an already premium price. But for many folks out there — you know who you are — we know it will be worth it.

Read review: First Ascent Instant

Just because you're camping doesn't mean you can't have a gourmet cup of coffee. With so many great options available  the hardest part is choosing which one!
Just because you're camping doesn't mean you can't have a gourmet cup of coffee. With so many great options available, the hardest part is choosing which one!

Why You Should Trust Us


Our camping coffee review is spearheaded by Penney Garrett, OutdoorGearLab tester and specialty coffee professional. With over fifteen years experience in the craft coffee industry and passions for climbing, hiking, camping, and backpacking, Penney's knowledge and lifestyle perfectly situate her to evaluate the best ways to make coffee in the great outdoors. She is currently the Coffee Curator for Copper Door Coffee Roasters, where she manages the wholesale department as well as quality control. Additionally, Penney has served on the board of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance and has been a judge for the Coffee in Good Spirits competition circuit.

To ensure that our selection of brewing devices were tested thoroughly and in the broadest range of situations possible, we took these babies everywhere. From car camping to multi-day backpacking trips, we evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of each brew method specific to its potential camping applications. To level the playing field, we sourced high-quality coffee beans with a consistent flavor profile. This consistency removed a significant variable and allowed us to evaluate taste differences between brew methods accurately and reliably.

Related: How We Tested Camping Coffees

While this obviously isn't a small device  it's durable and light for its size - perfectly fine for car camping.
Your coffee will only take a few minutes to brew.
Light and compact  this is an easy (though delicate) brewer to consider for your next backpacking excursion.


Analysis and Test Results


For many people, coffee is a critical part of their morning ritual, an essential component of getting the day off on the right foot. It's an extremely personal process, and there are a ton of available options in regards to what to brew and how to brew it. From dark roasts to light roasts, espressos to pour-overs, plastic to stainless steel… decisions abound, and each one will change the flavor and overall enjoyment of your final cup. Read on to learn about some of the savviest brewers on the market, how easy (or not) they are to use and care for, how conducive (or not) each is to serving multiple people, and — most importantly — how well they brew up that precious liquid black gold.

Related: Buying Advice for Camping Coffees

Left to right: Primula Single Serve  GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip  and the Hario V60
Left to right: Primula Single Serve, GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, and the Hario V60

Value


Items in this review range from under $10 to over $100 — enough of a spread to warrant some time and thought when going to purchase. It's wise to think about what situations you will be brewing in the most and what you want out of your final cup. Is taste your number one priority? Weight and packability? The number of people you can serve? After determining our rating criteria, we weighted each metric in regards to what we deemed most important to the average camping coffee drinker. The Editors' Choice winning Hario V60 had the highest performance and second to lowest price of all our contenders, thus representing an outstanding value.


Taste


No surprise, taste is the factor that we weighted the heaviest in our evaluation. If you don't care about taste and just want a caffeine jolt, you can skip the rest of this review and buy instant coffee. But most people don't want to do that and recognize that instant coffee, while convenient, will never taste as good as the real thing. Most of us want a smooth, rich, clean flavor, whether lounging on our couch at home or sitting comfortably in a collapsible camp chair. We can help you achieve that, even with a bare-bones camp kitchen.


Recognizing the importance of this rating metric, we conducted several blind taste tests with like-minded coffee lovers to evaluate which products produced the best final result. We found that all of them made an acceptable cup, but a few stood out for their ability to deliver an elevated flavor that was pleasing even to the pickiest coffee snob.

The AeroPress continues to stand out as the distinct taste winner, though the Hario V60 is a close second along with the Espro Travel Press (for the record, some tasters did prefer the V60 over the AeroPress). One taster began using the AeroPress at home every morning after the initial test because she loved it so much. The AeroPress brews a smooth, strong cup devoid of bitterness. By pushing water evenly through the grinds at high pressure, the result has some resemblance to shots of espresso, with a refined and clean flavor.

The AeroPress is durable  easy to clean  and delivers the best flavor of all our coffee makers.
The AeroPress is durable, easy to clean, and delivers the best flavor of all our coffee makers.

The Espro Travel Press also rose to the top in our taste tests. The double mesh filters are much finer than a traditional French press filter and when you couple that with a patented system that completely stops extraction once pressed, you get an impressively delicious brew every time. The Espro also has special paper filters that you can use between the two mesh filters for an even cleaner cup — the addition of paper removes extra fine particles that would typically remain and also absorbs all the oils. So you end up with a final product that's very similar to the V60 or a Chemex. All of this exists inside an insulated, leakproof travel mug that, while on the heavy side, is highly durable and can go with you anywhere.

Some people like the viscosity and mouthfeel of a French press. By not removing the oils, you get a thicker mouthfeel and a different depth of flavor. To enjoy a press without an abundance of sediment or a bitter over-extracted flavor, be sure to time your brew (we recommend about 4-5 minutes) and remove all liquid immediately after pressing. Additionally, you can look for a press like the Planetary Designs model in our review that double filters and stops extraction upon pressing much like the Espro.

The two-part filter system of the Espro means you can have your French press and leave all the grit and sludge behind.
The two-part filter system of the Espro means you can have your French press and leave all the grit and sludge behind.

The V60 is also a favorite for taste and the best of the pour-over style options in our review. It brews a clean-tasting cup with vibrant flavors and less bitterness than other drippers. The special angle of the cone (60 degrees to be exact), and the fact that it causes everything to coalesce at one point, means that the ground coffee gets very evenly saturated — flat-bottomed brewers are prone to over-saturation from water pooling at the edges, and this can cause bitterness.

If you would rather not have to use paper filters or pour hot water over plastic, the stainless steel Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over gives almost as good a cup without creating any additional waste. The Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Drip is also an excellent stainless option. While it does require a filter, it offers the useful feature of collapsing down completely flat for easy transport.

Go tree-free!
If you have a dripper that requires filters but prefer not to create waste, check out the impressive collection of reusable organic cotton filters from Coffee Sock.

The Cafellissimo delivers great taste with no filter.
The Cafellissimo delivers great taste with no filter.

Of note, most pour-over methods require careful pouring to get the best flavor. This is best done with a kettle like the Hario Gooseneck Kettle, but few people will choose to camp with such a specialized pouring apparatus. Though it doesn't score quite as high as the V60 or Snow Peak Collapsible, the Primula Brew Buddy delivers one of the most consistent tastes with the sloppy pour you often get from a pot or JetBoil while camping.

Don't want to pre-grind?
There's no doubt about it; fresh ground coffee is the gold standard. If you want to grind your beans right before brewing, there are many hand-grinder options on the market to consider. We have tested several and like the GSI Javamill best. It doesn't have any glass components, and it packs down nice and small.

Special Note on Pour-Over Methods


Yes, you can use a pour-over with no real plan by placing a random amount of ground coffee into the device and dousing it all with water. However, how you prepare and use your chosen pour-over will affect the taste dramatically. There are many essential variables: quality of beans, freshness, quantity used, grind size, water temperature, and how you physically pour the water. The video below is an excellent example of how to make a stellar pour-over.



Ease of Use


If you are one of those people who can't quite wake up until after your first cup of caffeine, then the simpler the brewing process, the better. Additionally, resources are often limited while camping, so models with easier cleanup are appreciated. Whether you want a second cup or to get on the trail as quickly as possible, a complicated coffee brewer shouldn't be the thing holding you back.


French press brewers are one of the simplest to use and don't require filters, but they are also a bit of a pain to clean. You have to flick and scoop out the messy wet grounds and then use water to rinse everything. If water is no issue where you usually camp than a press very well might be the best option and an easy way to accommodate multiple people. But if you're in a dry area with only the water you can carry on your back then another brew style will be a smarter choice.

The AeroPress is a breeze to clean — just remove the piece that holds the filter and press the plunger a bit further to pop out a puck of grounds. However, this device requires a bit more knowhow to use and has more parts to contend with. The various cone-shaped pour-over brewers we reviewed are all extremely easy to use and clean — especially those with a paper filter (just lift out the filter and toss) — and are therefore conducive to sleepy-eyed fumbling campers. Do keep in mind that many of these drippers, most notably the V60, require a special filter for optimum brewing. As we discovered in the testing process, you can make almost any filter work with a little folding, finagling, and careful pouring, but it's less than ideal.

The V60 is great for camping: easy to use  easy to clean  easy to love.
The V60 is great for camping: easy to use, easy to clean, easy to love.

Filterless options like the Cafellissimo involve more cleaning between uses. How much hassle depends on your standards as much as the filter design. You can get 90% of the coffee out with a quick pour of a 1/4 cup of water. If you want your filter 100% clean, you will have to sacrifice quite a bit more water. Of all the filterless options, the Primula is the easiest to clean because of its shape and small surface area. The MSR MugMate isn't far behind, though its rigid design makes it a tiny bit harder to rinse clean.

Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring water. Of all the filterless options  the Primula is the quickest to clean.
Cleaning is as easy as flipping the filter inside out and pouring water. Of all the filterless options, the Primula is the quickest to clean.

Of our large group-size options, the Bialetti Moka Express is one of the easiest to use. Fill the water up to the valve, put ground coffee in the basket up to the rim, screw the top back on, and pop it on the stove until it tells you its done by gurgling. Something else we love about the Bialetti is the fact that you can get an espresso-like final product by filling the basket up all the way or a more typical drip consistency by only filling it halfway. And, most importantly, both still taste good! Many brewers can end up tasting bad if you mess with the brew ratio too much.

The Bialetti is quite easy to use  clean  and enjoy. Changing water and coffee amounts doesn't destroy the flavor the way it can with many brewers - you can modify these ratios and still receive a nice tasting final cup.
The Bialetti is quite easy to use, clean, and enjoy. Changing water and coffee amounts doesn't destroy the flavor the way it can with many brewers - you can modify these ratios and still receive a nice tasting final cup.

Run out of filters?
No problem! Using a carefully folded paper towel is almost as effective as a coffee filter. We recommend pouring water through to make sure you don't get any paper towel flavor, but this should be done with any coffee-specific paper filter as well. Alternatively, you can use a folded cloth handkerchief if you're in a bind. Again, pour water through it first so that it's saturated and ready to go.

Filterless options like the Cafelissimo require cleaning after each use. How much time and water is dependent on your personal cleanliness standards  though if you let too many coffee oils build up it will impede how well your dripper works.
Filterless options like the Cafelissimo require cleaning after each use. How much time and water is dependent on your personal cleanliness standards, though if you let too many coffee oils build up it will impede how well your dripper works.

Of course, instant coffee will always be king here. Nothing is easier than opening a packet and pouring water (hot or cold) in any which way over the top. No mess, no fancy filters or kettles, no clean up except for your mug and the bit of trash the packet creates. Obviously, you will be sacrificing flavor for this convenience, though the options in our review really up the ante for this category. Both First Ascent and Swift Cup use coffee from specialty roasters so you get a much better tasting cup than cheaper more mainstream brands.

Group Cooking


If you are planning a camping trip with multiple devout coffee drinkers, it is worth looking for a method that can brew for more than one person and, hopefully, still deliver excellent flavor.


We awarded the Planetary Designs French Press our Top Pick for Large Groups. We tested the 32-ounce version, but it's also available in 48-ounces. This insulated press is the easiest and best-tasting way to satisfy a group quickly.

Our favorite way to make a French press involves a bit finer grind and shorter brewing time. If you're willing to use a timer, place your coffee (ground on a medium setting instead of ultra-coarse) in the press, add water to fill about 1/3 of the way full, let bloom for 1 minute (fresh coffee will bubble and off-gas — this is called the "bloom"), stir, fill with water to the top, place lid on the press, and steep for an additional 3-4 minutes. Press and serve at 4 or 5 minutes!

The Planetary Designs press is well-made  insulated  and easy to use - perfect for sleepy camp mornings where everyone needs some caffeine right away.
The Planetary Designs press is well-made, insulated, and easy to use - perfect for sleepy camp mornings where everyone needs some caffeine right away.

Another favorite of ours is the Bialetti Moka Express 9-Cup, a stovetop espresso maker that can yield about 18 ounces of strong espresso. The Bialetti is easy to use, easy to clean, and brews a lovely tasting final product. When all is said and done, you can enjoy it as is or make a bigger cup by adding additional hot water (Americano style) or milk (latte, anyone?). We appreciate the versatility of this classic brewer and love how true-to-flavor it brewed our beans every time.

The Farberware Yosemite and Bialetti Moka Express can both brew enough coffee to accommodate larger groups of under-caffeinated campers.
The Farberware Yosemite and Bialetti Moka Express can both brew enough coffee to accommodate larger groups of under-caffeinated campers.

Some other options in our review for larger groups are the Farberware Yosemite 8-Cup Coffee Percolator and the Coleman QuikPot Propane Coffeemaker. The Yosemite Percolator can percolate up to 40 ounces at a time, an impressive amount for sure, but it's not particularly easy to use, nor does it yield a very impressive flavor. The Coleman QuikPot Propane Coffeemaker functions much like a home drip machine but is powered by propane like a camp stove. While we wanted to like this beast (it's quite big and heavy) it ended up more of a frustration than anything else.

The QuikPot is as close to a countertop electric drip brewer as you can get when camping. We had high hopes  but after multiple rounds of testing we weren't impressed.
The QuikPot is as close to a countertop electric drip brewer as you can get when camping. We had high hopes, but after multiple rounds of testing we weren't impressed.

While pour-over style drippers are generally best suited for 1-2 people, you can always fill them with more grounds if you need to serve a group quickly. Just remember that this will affect extraction and, ultimately, the final flavor. Of our tested models in this category, the GSI Collapsible Java Drip has the best capacity and can brew for 4 or more. The GSI Personal Java Press is also great if you're in a party of two. While maybe not technically meant for sharing, it does brew around 20-ounces, so there's plenty to at least get two people started. It also comes with its own mug that nests inside the press — a nice feature if you don't already have a camp cup or need an extra one for your buddy.

The GSI Personal Java Press and its included mug  both with nylon insulators to keep your beverage warm longer.
The GSI Personal Java Press and its included mug, both with nylon insulators to keep your beverage warm longer.

Portability


Portability is our evaluation of how easy each item is to pack and carry. No surprise, the instant coffee options, First Ascent and Swift Cup, score the highest. We include instant coffee in our review for just this reason — sometimes every gram and millimeter counts, even if it means sacrificing flavor. However, with instant as good as these two options you at least won't be grimacing your way through breakfast!


Instant aside, it was neck-and-neck between several of our contenders. The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is so compact it folds to fit under a fuel canister and weighs hardly more than an ounce. Another stellar option is the Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy which weighs the same but is considerably more durable. It also requires less coffee to consistently produce a flavorful result, further cutting down on weight.

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.

Another ultralight and durable option is the MSR MugMate. While it doesn't collapse down flat, it can nest inside your mug for travel, and it doesn't even weigh a full ounce. If a few more ounces are okay, we like the Snow Peak Collapsible Coffee Drip and the GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip. The first is stainless steel, the second is silicone, and both are highly durable. We much preferred the Snow Peak for flavor though.

Ultralight  durable  and versatile - the MugMate is a camp coffee classic for a reason.
Ultralight, durable, and versatile - the MugMate is a camp coffee classic for a reason.

Even though many of the pour-over drippers are incredibly light and simple, their awkward cone shapes make them harder to pack into a backpack or camp kitchen box. But those with a handle like the V60 or an open base like the Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over can be clipped onto the outside of a pack and carried that way.

Weight


None of the brewing devices tested can quite compete with the featherweight of a single instant coffee packet at less than a quarter of an ounce. However, they can be reused indefinitely, making them more cost-effective in the long run.


Instant coffee packets like First Ascent and Swift Cup are often the most desirable option for ultralight enthusiasts of all kinds, though for something like a long-distance backpacking trip they would be on the expensive side. For a more economically minded adventurer who is unconcerned with weight, any of the coffee makers in this review are a far better option, save the large brewers meant for a crew. And, though there are exceptions, most people with functioning taste buds believe that there is no weight savings worth having to drink instant coffee.

Let's face it  instant coffee isn't the most awesome. However  many craft roasters are  stepping into the game and the options do keep getting better and better. We were seriously impressed with what we tasted from First Ascent.
Let's face it, instant coffee isn't the most awesome. However, many craft roasters are stepping into the game and the options do keep getting better and better. We were seriously impressed with what we tasted from First Ascent.

After weighing each contender individually on a scale, the MSR MugMate was the lightest, weighing just a single ounce with the optional lid/coaster and 0.7 ounces without it. The Primula and GSI Ultralight Java Drip are just a smidge heavier at 1.1 ounces and the Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over weighs in at just 2.01 ounces. None of these brewers except for the Melitta require filters which is an additional weight savings.

The Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that delivers a really decent cup of Joe.
The Primula Single Serve Coffee Brew Buddy is a great lightweight and packable option that delivers a really decent cup of Joe.

The V60 and Cafellissimo are some of the next lightest options, both hovering right around 3 ounces. The V60 requires filters, however, while the Cafellissimo does not. Next up are the GSI Collapsible Java Drip and the Snow Peak Collapsible at 4.76 and 4.80 ounces respectively. Both of these require filters, but their collapsible nature makes transport easier than a rigid cone shape.

The Snow Peak Collapsible is stainless steel and heavier than other options in our review  but it's still a great compact brewer to consider.
The Snow Peak Collapsible is stainless steel and heavier than other options in our review, but it's still a great compact brewer to consider.

Of note here is also the Snow Peak Titanium French Press. It weighs 6.2 ounces, but you can boil water directly in the press on your stove, removing the need for an additional water boiling pot (or, at the very least, freeing up your pot for other tasks). Granted, you probably need to have a pot with you anyway, but a savvy backpacker could undoubtedly use the Snow Peak for modest meal prep as well.

The 16-ounce titanium Snow Peak French press base can be used directly on your stove to boil water.
The 16-ounce titanium Snow Peak French press base can be used directly on your stove to boil water.

Consider switching to tea for no mess and less weight
While it may be blasphemy to write this, switching to tea while camping or backpacking saves a lot of weight and clean up. Some of our testers found instant coffee acceptable, but others wanted nothing to do with it. For those folks, tea may be a nice option.

Conclusion


With so many choices out there, we know it can be challenging to select the right camping coffee maker (or home coffee maker!) for your needs. Hopefully, you find our ratings and tests helpful in narrowing down the plethora of options and can hone in on the perfect brewer for your morning ritual.

A whole arsenal of coffee makers lined up and ready to be put to the ultimate test: reviving sleepy campers!
A whole arsenal of coffee makers lined up and ready to be put to the ultimate test: reviving sleepy campers!


Penney Garrett