10 Best Coffee Makers for Camping & Backpacking
|Camping Coffee Maker||Score||Weight||Type||Capacity|
|Top Pick: AeroPress Coffee Maker||
|9.5 oz||Press||1 cup|
|Best Backpacking Coffee Maker: GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip||
|0.32 oz||Drip||1 cup|
|Budget Pick for Solo Campers: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy||
|3.52 oz||Drip||1 cup|
|Best for Big Groups: Planetary Design Table Top French Press||
|2 lbs 4.3 oz||Press||6 cups|
|GSI Outdoors Collapsible JavaDrip||
|4.8 oz||Drip||1-12 cups|
|ESPRO Travel Press||
|12.3 oz||Press||1 cup|
|Budget Pick for Big Groups: Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Percolator||
|1 lb 11.5 oz||Percolator||8 cups|
|GSI Outdoors JavaPress||
|12.8 oz||Press||~4 cups|
|Hario V60 Plastic Coffee Dripper||
|3 oz||Drip||1 cup|
|Bialetti Moka Express||
|1 lb 12.3 oz||Percolator||9 2-oz espresso cups (or 2.3 total cups)|
We put 10 of the best camping and backpacking coffee makers to the test by brewing countless cups of coffee at camp, on the trail, and even at home. After months of testing, the AeroPress came out on top. It’s easy to use once you get the hang of it and made the best tasting coffee.
For groups of three or more, we loved the Planetary Design Table Top French Press. Its rugged, durable build and large volume are suited for just about any group camping trip.
The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip, at a mere 0.32 ounces, is truly ultralight. Plus, it makes a good cup of coffee. It was an obvious pick for best backpacking coffee maker.
Read on for our full reviews and for tips on how to choose the best camping coffee maker for your needs.
Top Pick: AeroPress Coffee Maker
The AeroPress was our Top Pick all around. It was the clear winner in our blind taste test, with both of our testers listing it as the best tasting coffee of the bunch.
It’s also the quickest way to get your morning caffeine fix. Brewing takes just over 2 minutes (not including the time to boil water). Cleaning it is extremely simple and only takes a few seconds.
It’s compact enough to slip into anyone’s camping kit. Although it’s a little heavy for backpacking, we’ve brought it on a couple short over-nighters.
With all the included tools, it weighs in at 9.5 oz. But you can easily get by with just the main body and a few filters for 6.3 oz.
Since the AeroPress is designed for making 1-2 cups at a time, it’s best for small groups. (To make two cups, add an extra half scoop or so of ground coffee and let the water drain from the “4” mark to the “2” mark a couple times before creating the suction, letting the coffee brew, then pressing it out.)
It does have some drawbacks. We found that it could be a little finicky and lead to underextracted and slightly sour coffee.
Turning the AeroPress upside-down and letting the coffee sit for 1-2 minutes before flipping it over and pressing led to a more balanced cup. It can take some playing around with the timing to get the taste you want.
Another drawback is that the AeroPress requires specific coffee filters. Still, the AeroPress comes with a generous supply of them, and they are tiny and easy to pack. The filters included in the box have lasted us nearly a year of making coffee most mornings, so you don’t have to replace them too often.
You can also buy a metal filter, but we’ve found that those just don’t work as well.
The AeroPress quickly became our all-around favorite way to make a quick, delicious cup of camp coffee. We highly recommend it. Pair it with a good camping coffee mug or mess kit and you have all you need to start your mornings off right in the backcountry.
Long-Term Testing Notes
99Boulders owner and editor Alex Beale has been using the AeroPress as his coffee maker both at home and on camping trips for over a year.
He loves it, he says, and now rarely makes coffee any other way. The AeroPress makes a great cup of coffee, and he loves how easy it is to clean compared to a standard French press. He’s even converted his girlfriend and her two roommates, who now use it as their main coffee maker at home as well.
Alex says the AeroPress is best for making 1-2 cups of coffee at a time. He’s used it to make coffee for groups of 3-4 people, but it takes time. It requires making a cup or two with one batch of grounds, then pressing them out, refilling the chamber with fresh ones, and repeating the brew process.
Over his year of daily use he hasn’t had a single durability issue. The black base is strong enough to withstand him pressing about as hard as he possibly can. And the brew chamber is a durable plastic that hasn’t warped at all despite being subjected to boiling hot and ice cold water, sometimes one right after the other.
Alex agrees that the AeroPress is the best camping coffee maker out there. He warns that it might become the only coffee maker you’ll use.
- Weight: 9.5 oz
- Type: Press
- Capacity: 1 cup
Best Backpacking Coffee Maker: GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip
The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip weighs just 0.32 oz and makes a surprisingly good cup of coffee. Need we say more?
If you’re not sold yet, we’ll add in that it doesn’t require bringing any filters, packs down to virtually nothing, is easy to clean (we could rinse the grounds off with less than 1/4 liter of water), and fits on pretty much any backpacking cup or mug.
Plus, our taste testers rated it among their favorite tasting coffee in our blind taste test.
The Ultralight Java Drip isn’t perfect. It would be pretty easy to break one of the plastic clips, leaving you in a pinch.
Also, once the basket was full of grounds and water, it started to get a little top-heavy. We usually had to hold onto one of the plastic legs to keep it from toppling right off of our mug.
Those issues are pretty minor, considering that for the low price and barely a third of an ounce you can forever say goodbye to instant coffee on your backpacking trips. Paired with a lightweight backpacking stove and your favorite coffee, this is all you need to make coffee on the trail.
- Weight: 0.32 oz
- Type: Drip
- Capacity: 1 cup
Budget Pick for Solo Campers: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
We were initially skeptical of the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy’s design. It dips down into the cup and acts more like a tea bag than a pour over.
We quickly came around. The Primula let the coffee stay in contact with hot water longer to get a more balanced flavor. It was one of the best tasting coffees in our blind taste test.
(Alternatively, the biggest issue that we had with other pour over coffee makers was that the coffee tended to be sour and underextracted.)
Combine that with the fact that it’s simple to use and extremely compact, and the Brew Buddy looks even stronger.
It can be an exercise in patience to try to pour boiling water from a camping pot into the small basket. It can only hold a little bit of water at a time, and if you overfill it, it quickly overflows onto the flat top and makes a mess.
Still, this is a quick and easy way to make a good cup of coffee. It’s also just light enough and small enough for backpacking.
- Weight: 3.52 oz
- Type: Drip
- Capacity: 1 cup
Best for Big Groups: Planetary Design Table Top French Press
The Planetary Design Table Top French Press is our pick for the best camp coffee maker for large groups because of its durability and easy-to-use design.
Once you’ve got your water boiled, you can whip up 6 cups of pretty darn good coffee in just under 5 minutes.
It’s clearly a well-designed and well-thought-out product. We loved the sleek style, the large handle, and the easy-to-push plunger.
It was the easiest of the French press coffee makers to use and clean.
The Planetary Design Press was around the middle of the pack in our blind taste test. The coffee it made was nothing special, but it was pretty much impossible to mess up and make a bad cup.
As with all French press coffee makers, if you don’t pour the coffee right away, it tends to get increasingly bitter as it sits.
With a group of 4, it didn’t take much to go through a full 6 cups of coffee. With smaller groups, we could easily just make a smaller amount of coffee to avoid drinking bitter coffee.
Planetary Design has a winner here with a stylish, well-designed, and easy-to-use camping brewer.
- Weight: 2 lb 4.3 oz
- Type: Press
- Capacity: 6 cups
Budget Pick for Groups: Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Percolator
Given its affordable price, the Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Percolator impressed us.
As long as you let it percolate long enough (at least 1 minute per cup) and don’t leave it at a hard boil while it percolated, it’s hard to mess up.
It also makes a lot of coffee at one time. Plus, it just looks cool sitting around your campsite.
Although we really liked it, it had some negatives that put it behind Planetary Design as our go-to for groups.
It was the slowest of the coffee makers we tested, taking an agonizing 21 minutes to make a full 8 cups of coffee. It was also the least convenient to clean, with multiple parts that require a lot of rinsing.
We had mixed feelings about the glass knob on the lid. It allows you to see when the coffee starts to percolate, and it feels pretty durable. But glass and camping just generally aren’t a good mix.
Even though you have to wait a while, the Farberware made the largest amount of coffee. You could also leave coffee sitting in it for as long as you wanted — it didn’t turn bitter like the French press coffee did.
Overall, the Farberware Percolator is an inexpensive and reliable way to make a lot of coffee in one go while you’re camping.
- Weight: 1 lb 11.5 oz
- Type: Percolator
- Capacity: 8 cups
Reviews of the 5 Other Camping Coffee Makers We Tested
Sept 2020 Update: It appears GSI Outdoors has discontinued the Collapsible JavaDrip. For the time being it can still be found at some online retailers.
Of all the pour over coffee makers that we tested, the GSI Outdoors Collapsible JavaDrip was the easiest to use.
It wasn’t overly sensitive to the ground size or to the finesse of pouring techniques, and it was easy to get a reliably decent cup of coffee. In our blind taste test, testers rated it as average.
We also loved that it used the standard cone filters that you can find at pretty much any convenience store. Plus, it packs own to a tiny disk. If space is a concern, this is perfect.
While we liked the idea that it could make 1-12 cups, we never found ourselves making more than 1 large cup at a time.
The reason was that we just didn’t have a container narrow enough for this to sit on top of and large enough to hold 12 cups of coffee. We basically ended up just using it as a single serve coffee maker.
This is a great choice if you want a compact, easy to use, and straightforward coffee maker.
- Weight: 4.8 oz
- Type: Drip
- Capacity: 1-12 cups
For convenience and taste, the ESPRO was a winner for us.
We loved having our coffee maker built into a completely self-contained mug. It was extremely easy to use and fairly easy to clean.
It didn’t make as much coffee as we expected, though.
A lot of the bottom of the mug is taken up by the grounds. We were usually disappointed to find ourselves drinking the last sip way sooner than we thought we should be.
If you like to slowly sip your coffee, this definitely isn’t the mug for you. By about 10 minutes in, the coffee turned extremely bitter (a problem common to all of the French presses).
Still, if you want a quick and convenient way to whip up your coffee and bring it on the go, this is a neat little mug.
- Weight: 12.3 oz
- Type: Press
- Capacity: 1 cup
We were mostly lukewarm to the GSI Outdoors JavaPress. It just wasn’t quite as easy to use or well-designed as the Planetary Design French Press.
We also noticed more grounds and grit in the last cup than in the other French press camping coffee makers.
It was fairly low on the list in our blind taste test. One tester commented that the brew “tasted like cowboy coffee,” meaning it was a little gritty and bitter.
If you like the French press style and want something less expensive and more packable than the Planetary Design, this is still a decent option.
- Weight: 12.8 oz
- Type: Press
- Capacity: 30 oz (~4 cups)
The Hario V60 looks simple, but it was one of the touchiest coffee makers in our test.
It’s capable of making a really great cup of coffee, but more often than not, we ended up with mediocre or bad coffee. The Hario V60 was an unequivocal last in our taste test.
It has a much larger hole at the bottom than any other pour over coffee maker in our test. If you have coffee that’s ground too coarse or you pour your water over too quickly, you end up with seriously weak coffee.
Using finely ground coffee led to more consistent taste, but we just couldn’t get it to reliably make decent coffee.
We read a lot of strategies and recommendations, the most important of which was to use a slow and consistent pour. That was easy enough with a kitchen kettle, but it’s tough to do with a camping pot.
On the plus side, the V60 was extremely easy to clean up. It’s also fairly inexpensive.
Overall, unless you plan on camping with a gooseneck kettle to get a perfect, consistent pour, the V60 may be better left in the kitchen.
- Weight: 3 oz
- Type: Drip
- Capacity: 1 cup
We loved the Bialetti Moka Express as an everyday coffee maker on the stovetop, but it didn’t hold up as well camping.
The 9-cup size refers to espresso cups, not regular 8-oz coffee cups. This makes about 18 oz of very strong coffee, or just enough to fill one large coffee mug.
It made delicious coffee with a rich, strong flavor, though we preferred diluting it with about 1/3 hot water.
The Bialetti has potential as a camping coffee maker, but it’s finicky on a camping stove. We burned a few pots of coffee beyond drinkability trying to get the right heat level.
It also requires the additional step of boiling water separately, unless you want to drink 18 oz of straight espresso (we’re not judging).
Still, if you’re willing to learn the right heat levels, and you make sure to get it off the heat at the right moment, the Moka Express can make a really stellar cup of coffee.
- Weight: 1 lb 12.3 oz
- Type: Percolator
- Capacity: 9 espresso cups (~18 oz)
Here are the best coffee makers for camping and backpacking:
- AeroPress Coffee Maker
- GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip
- Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
- Planetary Design Table Top French Press
- GSI Outdoors Collapsible JavaDrip
- ESPRO Travel Press
- Farberware Classic Stainless Steel Yosemite 8-Cup Percolator
- GSI Outdoors JavaPress
- Hario V60 Plastic Dripper
- Bialetti Moka Express, 9-Cup
How to Choose the Best Camping Coffee Maker for Your Needs
Types of Camping Coffee Makers
Press – These work by letting the coffee grounds sit in hot water for 4-5 minutes, then using a plunger to separate the grounds from the water. In most cases, the plunger will press the grounds to the bottom and leave the coffee at the top. Some presses instead press the water out through the grounds.
Percolator – Percolators sit on a stovetop. Boiling water generates pressure which forces the water through coffee grounds. These have the benefit of not requiring water to be boiled in a separate pot.
Pour over – These are closest to the classic drip coffee makers, except that you gradually pour hot water over the grounds yourself. They tend to be the simplest designs and the easiest to use and clean.
Ease of Use
It’s pretty annoying to get to your campsite and realize that you forgot the very specific coffee filters you need for your coffee maker. It’s just as bad to deal with finicky coffee makers that requires precise ground size, water temperature, or technique.
Our preferred camping coffee makers are simple and straightforward to use. Unless you’re a connoisseur who has spent hours perfecting your pour over technique with a backpacking pot, make sure you choose a coffee maker that can make a decent cup with whatever supplies you have at camp.
Ease of use also means ease of cleanup. Will you usually be at campsites with a spigot and running water, or will you be trying to clean your coffee maker by pouring water out of a Nalgene?
Even with the exact same grounds, the taste of your final cup can vary dramatically based on the type of coffee maker you are using.
Make sure you choose a coffee maker that isn’t too finicky, or that you are willing to invest the time to learn its quirks and techniques to make a good cup.
It’s hard to be patient while you’re waiting for your morning brew, so you may be tempted to go with the quickest way to get your coffee. If you’re the type who typically drinks 4 or 5 cups in a morning, it may be worth it to wait longer and have a large pot ready to go.
If you are car camping and have infinite room, we recommend making your choice based on taste and ease of use rather than packability. For backpackers or campers with limited space, it’s worth sacrificing a little taste or convenience for durability and packability.
How We Tested
Blind Taste Test
We brewed a cup or pot with each coffee maker, then had two of our expert coffee drinkers do a blind taste test with each cup. We used the same type of grounds and kept the ratio of grounds to water the same for each coffee maker.
We measured the brew time for each coffee maker on a camping stove from the time that we picked up the coffee maker to the time we had hot coffee in our mugs.
We did not include the time needed to boil water in our brew times, as this will vary drastically depending on what type of stove and camping cookware you are using. The exception is the two percolators, which boil their own water.
Ease of Use & Cleanup
We spent some time using and cleaning each coffee maker in typical camping scenarios, then rated them based on ease of use and ease of cleanup (where 10 is the easiest).
We used these coffee makers to brew our morning coffee every day for over a month. We also brought them with us camping and backpacking in Utah’s deserts and mountains to get a feel for how they worked in the field.