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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
GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip
Photo: GSI Outdoors
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Price:  $11 List | $9.95 at Backcountry
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 Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett  ⋅  Apr 29, 2020
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 16
  • Taste - 40% 6
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Group Cooking - 15% 5
  • Portability - 10% 9
  • Weight - 10% 9

Our Verdict

The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is one of the most compact and nearly one of the lightest-weight camping coffee options we tested. This innovative little dripper sits above your vessel while brewing, so you don't have to worry about over-steeping your coffee. The overall design is on the fragile end of the spectrum, but the flexible filter does make it easy to clean. While other models may produce a tastier cup of coffee, this ultralight and compact device is a great option for thru-hikers, backpackers, and weight weenies alike.

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Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award   
Price $9.95 at Backcountry
Compare at 3 sellers
$9.05 at Amazon$9.73 at Amazon$6 List$13 List
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Pros No filter needed, tiny and lightGourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home useNo filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good tasteLight, simple, affordable, design allows you to see the level of coffee while brewingPortable and packable, wide base fits on most camping mugs
Cons Must pour carefully for bold flavor, delicate clipsSpecial shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brandsMust lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping, poor for large groupsNot as refined a flavor as the V60, bulkyDoesn't give the best flavor, twice as heavy as other pour-over brewers
Bottom Line A great ultralight backpacking option, as long as you pour carefully and aren't too rough with the contents of your packThe iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavorThe best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bagThis is a very light and inexpensive pour over option that provides solid taste and stellar valueAn innovative collapsible design that is compact and easy to use, though it doesn't produce the best flavor
Rating Categories Ultralight Java Drip Hario V60 Plastic D... Primula Coffee Brew... Melitta 1-Cup Pour-... Collapsible Java Drip
Taste (40%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
7.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
Group Cooking (15%)
5.0
6.0
4.0
5.0
7.0
Portability (10%)
9.0
5.0
9.0
5.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Specs Ultralight Java Drip Hario V60 Plastic D... Primula Coffee Brew... Melitta 1-Cup Pour-... Collapsible Java Drip
Measured Weight 1.1 oz Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
1.1 oz 2.01 oz 4.76 oz
Brew Type Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over Pour Over
Main Material Nylon filter Hard plastic Nylon filter Hard plastic Silicone
Filter Needed? No Yes No Yes Yes
Notable Features Collapsible to fit under fuel canister Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side Rests on any mug Can see cup without lifting dripper Collapsible for easy storage and portability
Notes Not sturdy or durable Makes strong, smooth coffee Filter hangs in coffee for most cups Doesn't brew as well as the Hario dripper Flavor is on the sour side

Our Analysis and Test Results

If space is a premium and you're counting every gram (and milligram) in your pack, the GSI Ultralight Java Drip is a great 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 GSI Ultralight is the most portable filter we tested. Just fold the little plastic legs and this fits under a fuel canister.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Brew Features


The Java Drip has a nylon filter supported by three lightweight 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 its 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 something like a JetBoil, it is much harder.

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

Ease of Use


The Java Drip is relatively easy to use, but, like all filterless cones, it requires some extra cleaning after each use. The larger surface area on this device makes this especially true. You also need the right cup to ensure the legs attach securely. If the rim of your cup is too thick, it's hard to attach the legs or ensure they are stable when holding a lot of water. While we appreciate the compact design and insubstantial weight of this brewer, we found it rather finicky and don't recommend it unless weight and space are your primary concerns.

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

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

Weight


At 1.1 ounces, the Java Drip is among the lightest weight brewers in our review, and that weight includes its own cup, which results in a potentially significant weight savings compared to other brewers in our review.

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

Value


It doesn't get much cheaper than this for a dripper AND a cup! You won't even have to purchase filters. That said, the Ultralight Java Drip isn't the most robust coffee maker, and breaking this delicate device is a real possibility. Some people will prefer to spend more and get something more durable, but if your main concerns are lightweight and compact gear, then this is a clear winner.

Conclusion


If counting every gram is critical for your next adventure, then the GSI Ultralight Java Drip could be a great brewer for your kit. It is extremely light and is the most compact in our test suite. It's a little finicky and fragile for our taste, but if you are looking for ways to shave down some grams on your ultra-light kit, it may be ideal for you.

Some of our pour-over brewers, battling it out. Left to right:...
Some of our pour-over brewers, battling it out. Left to right: Primula Brew Buddy, GSI Java Drip, and the Hario V60.
Photo: Jenna Ammerman

Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett