Camp Coffee Mug Near Campfire

How to Make the Best Camp Coffee While Camping or Backpacking

Ah, a warm cup of camp coffee in the morning…it’s not just something I want when I’m camping, it’s something I need when I’m camping!

If you’re like me, coffee is an essential part of your daily routine. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I want is a piping hot cup of coffee to wake myself up.

Luckily, making coffee while camping isn’t exactly hard. With the right tools and a little know-how, it’s positively easy, whether you’re car camping, backpacking, RV camping, or glamping.

Table of Contents

  1. Best Ways to Make Camp Coffee
  2. Best Camp Coffee Makers
  3. How to Make Coffee While Backpacking

Top 10 Best Ways to Make Camp Coffee

Camp Coffee Percolator on Campfire

Let’s jump right into it. Here are the top ten best ways how to make camp coffee:

1. Instant Coffee

Instant coffee is a quick and easy way to get your coffee fix while camping. Just boil water, stir in the coffee mix, and enjoy. Although cheap and simple, instant coffee often doesn’t taste the best. The key is to find a decent brand. I like Starbucks Via Italian Roast Instant Coffee. When car camping I almost always use a different method, but instant

2. Coffee Bags

Coffee bags are similar to instant coffee. But instead of pouring the grounds directly into the water, they are kept in a “tea” bag instead. Like instant coffee, the success of this method hinges on finding a brand that tastes good. Personally, I like Folgers Single Roast Coffee Bags. Another option is to create your own coffee bags. This method is easy, lightweight, and requires minimal clean up.

3. Espresso Pot

An espresso pot is a small lightweight camp coffee maker that you fill with your favorite espresso grounds, set on your camping stove, and let boil. Once boiling, fresh coffee will drip from the built-in spout to your eagerly waiting mug. The GSI Outdoors Mini Espresso Pot is my number one choice for this method.

4. French Press

A French press is one of my favorite ways to make coffee at home. So, it just makes sense to use on while camping. Boil water on your camping stove, pour it over the grounds inside your French press and let steep. Craft Coffee recommends letting it steep for roughly four minutes total. Then press the plunger down to separate the coffee from the grounds. Pretty much any French press will do the job but I like the Snow Peak Titanium French Press best.

5. Aero Press

An AeroPress is hands down one of the best ways to make camp coffee or espresso. This unique device works much the same as a French press. The difference is that a French press pushes the grounds to the bottom while an AeroPress pushes them to the top. I like the AeroPress for backpacking coffee, in particular, thanks to its lightweight size and small profile.

6. Pour-Over

The pour-over method is another one of my favorite ways to make coffee while camping. It utilizes hot water poured slowly over coffee grounds which then drips into your mug. To me, this technique creates the best tasting drip coffee for camping. Another thing I like is that the grounds and filter are never in the same holding vessel as the hot coffee. You pour them through the filter directly into the mug. The Snow Peak Folding Coffee Pour Over is one of the best pour-over devices available.

7. Percolator

Take camping coffee back to the basics with a percolator. This method brews a lot of coffee at once, making it perfect for large groups of campers. Just place the grounds in the basket, fill the vessel with water, place on your camping stove, and the water will boil up through a small pipe and then drip through the basket with the grounds. This method is delicious, easy to use, and requires minimal cleanup. The GSI Outdoors Percolator is my go-to model.

8. Camping Coffee Maker

The Coleman Camping Coffee Maker is a nifty little device that looks just like your basic coffee maker at home. The big difference is there’s no plug. Instead, you place the coffee maker over the burner on your camping stove. The burner heats up the steel base which then heats up your water. Although it’s certainly not small, this car camping coffee maker is an excellent choice for large groups of people.

9. Normal Coffee Maker

Why not just bring your normal coffee maker from home if you’re RV camping? Another option is to hook up to a portable power device (you could even use electricity from the bathrooms or tent camp in a site with electric hookups). Although camp coffee is fun to make, nothing beats the same great tasting coffee you make at home.

* Use our RV rentals tool to rent an RV for your next camping trip!

10. Cowboy Method

The cowboy coffee method is one of the most classic ways to brew coffee while on a camping trip. It’s similar to using a percolator, although no basket is involved. You just pour the grounds directly into the same pot as the boiling water. This is definitely a no-nonsense way to make camping coffee, although it does take a little practice to get it down right. Even with experience, expect camp cowboy coffee to be thicker than normal coffee.


My Favorite Way to Make Coffee While Camping

Pouring Water from Camp Coffee Maker into Coffee Cup

So, which of these ten ways to make camp coffee is my favorite?

I have to hand it to the pour-over method. Although the French press and AeroPress methods also produce great tasting cups of joe, the pour-over method stands out, in my opinion, over the rest.

Pour-over coffee tastes great. It separates the grounds from the coffee and makes for easy cleanup (especially with a filter). This method is quick and easy. Better yet, a pour-over device is small enough to take on your next backpacking trip.

The only downside is you can only make a cup or two of coffee at once. If you’re car camping with a large group of people, another method might be best.

What’s your favorite method of making camp coffee? Let us know in the comments below!


The Best Camp Coffee Makers in 2020

Now that you know our favorite ways to make camping coffee, let’s look at a few of the best camp coffee makers (and camp coffee accessories) available in 2020.

Stansport Aluminum Percolator

Stansport Aluminum Percolator Coffee Pot

$24.20
$12.97  in stock
2 new from $12.97
1 used from $11.93
Free shipping
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Amazon.com
as of January 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Another great option to make percolator coffee while camping, this Stansport coffee maker is constructed from durable, rustproof aluminum. It heats quickly, pours easily, and comes with a handy carry handle. The stem and basket are also included.

Stanley Coffee Press

Stanley Classic Vacuum French Press

$65.00  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of January 16, 2020 4:32 pm

Hands down one of our favorite backcountry coffee makers, this Stanley French Press will help you make coffee no matter how deep you venture into the wilderness. It boasts well-known Stanley durability with a double-wall vacuum insulated design and insulated steel lid (both of which also keep the contents hot for longer).

GSI Outdoors Collapsible Java Drip

GSI Outdoors 78482 Collapsible Java Drip

$12.95  in stock
6 new from $12.95
Free shipping
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of January 18, 2020 2:50 pm

One of the best camping-specific coffee makers available today, this java drip collapses down small, making it an excellent choice for backpacking. Despite its excellent packable size, it’s still a little heavier than other pour-overs on the market. That said, it does boast a wide base which makes it suitable for most coffee mugs and other drinking vessels.

Coleman Portable InstaStart Coffee Maker

Coleman Portable Instastart Coffee Maker

$156.30
$149.13  in stock
5 new from $149.00
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of January 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • Perfect for making coffee at the campsite, tailgate, or BBQ: no stove, cord or percolator required!
  • Quick 15-minute brew time
  • Easy InstaStart Matchless Lighting
  • Durable, drip resistant 10-cup carafe
  • Carafe and filter basket are dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup

Buy the Coleman InstaStart Coffee Maker for the utmost in camp coffee luxury. This easy-to-use propane coffee maker heats up a delicious pot of coffee in less than 15 minutes. It’s perfect for car camping as well as glamping.

OUTAD Portable Coffee Maker Set

OUTAD Portable Coffee Maker Set

$29.99  in stock
1 new from $29.99
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of January 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • The coffee grinder can grind up to 1.76oz(50g) coffee bean in one batch.
  • Turn the knob clockwise to make fine powder or turn the knob counter-clockwise for coarse powder, meeting your needs for any coffee drink such as Espresso, drip, french press, cold drip, etc.
  • Materials: French Press and Mug---hard alumina, Coffee Grinder---professional grade stainless steel body and ceramic conical burr, Carry Bag---oxford cloth.
  • OUTAD Portable Coffee Maker Set weighs only 34oz(965g), which is perfect for backpacking, camping picnics, road trips as well as home daily use.
  • What You Get: 20fl.oz/600ml French Press Coffee Maker + Manual Coffee Grinder + 3 x 10fl.oz/300ml Mugs + Carry Bag

This unique portable coffee set comes with everything you need to make coffee while camping, on a family road trip, and just about anywhere else. It comes with a manual coffee grinder, small French press, and two mugs. All of this fits tidily into the included carrying case.

Coleman Enamel Mug

Coleman Enamel Mug

$6.87  in stock
10 new from $6.79
Buy Now
Amazon.com
as of January 18, 2020 2:50 pm

Features

  • Lightweight 12-ounce coffee mug is perfect for camping, tailgating, and picnics
  • Ideal for warm drinks, soups, cereal, and more
  • Easy to clean; dishwasher safe. Double-coated enamel
  • One-year warranty

This enamel coffee mug boasts classic Coleman good looks. Plus, it’s made specifically to use while camping and backpacking. At just 12 oz, it’s small but it still does the job. It’s very durable, easy to clean (it’s dishwasher safe), and features a rounded rim for easy sipping.

GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug

GSI Outdoors Infinity Backpacker Mug

$10.95  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of January 16, 2020 4:32 pm

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better mug for your backpacking coffee than this one from GSI Outdoors. Their 17 oz Infinity Backpacker Mug is insulated and has a ballistic-nylon exterior to keep the contents hot without burning your hands. The sippy-lid enables you to take your camping coffee on the go. Start hiking and enjoy your freshly brewed beverage on the trail without any spills.

GSI Outdoors Java Mill

GSI Outdoors Java Mill

$37.50  in stock
Buy Now
Rei.com
as of January 16, 2020 4:32 pm

Just because you’re backpacking, doesn’t mean that instant coffee is your only option. In fact, you can have not only freshly brewed coffee – but freshly ground coffee – with this GSI Outdoors Java Mill. At just 9.3 ounces, this java mill provides a lightweight and portable way to grind fresh coffee in the backcountry.


How to Make Coffee While Backpacking

Man Drinking Backpacking Coffee

Making coffee while backpacking is a little different than making coffee while car camping.

Although many of the methods and coffee makers outlined above work for backpacking, we wanted to take a few moments to focus on backpacking coffee in particular.

Most important is to select a lightweight and portable method. Space is at a premium so you want something that packs down nicely into your backpack without adding a lot of weight.

I personally use a pour-over or just go with instant coffee. A pour-over makes a better tasting cup but the instant method is even lighter and is more convenient (no device or cleanup required).

Both of these methods can be easily used with your backpacking stove, like the MSR Windburner, one of our absolute favorites.

Save even more space/weight by prepackaging your coffee grounds in Ziploc bags – you want to only bring enough for your trip, no extra.


Final Thoughts

Two People Holding Mugs of Camp Coffee With Beautiful View in Background

There you have it – ten of the best ways to make coffee while camping.

Now that you know our top ten methods, there’s no reason to go without a cup of coffee on a camping trip ever again.

Now we want to hear from you…

What’s your favorite way to make coffee while camping and/or backpacking? What do you value more in your camping coffee: flavor or convenience?

Let us know your thoughts on camp coffee in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “How to Make the Best Camp Coffee While Camping or Backpacking”

  1. Do quite a lot of camping and have coffee drinkers. We use the Folgers coffee bags a lot and actually like the coffee but I also like cowboy coffee so I might be a little strange! Thanks for the post.

  2. Nice article Jake! ☕️☕️
    Interesting to see your favourite as well. I’ve never used a pour over but I love the AeroPress and French Press for the simplicity + quality combination.

    1. Thanks Emma! Pour over is real similar to AeroPress and French Press. It’s cheap too – try it out sometime!

  3. Cowboy coffee is the only way to go. Something’s you have to know what your doing and practice.

    Add one spoon of coffee per cup of water add how many cups of water minus one ie 8 cups of coffee equals 7 cups of water in the pot 8 spoons of coffee grounds bring to boil when it has boiled for a couple of minutes add one cup of cold water that will make the coffee grounds go to the bottom of the pot pour a little on the groung to clean the spout

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