The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

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 | $9.96 at Amazon
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
#5 of 17
  • 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 produced a decent flavor, though nowhere near our favorite. But 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. Also, be sure to check out our Editor's Choice winner, the Hario V60 — it requires paper filters and isn't as lightweight or low-profile, but it soared ahead in all our taste tests.


Compare to Similar Products

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 barely add an ounce to your pack weight. We loved that you can use it for coffee, loose leaf tea, or even pre-filtering water. While we got better flavor from other brewers, the versatility of the MugMate makes it one that we would happily take on any outdoor adventure.

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 meant that controlling the nuances of extraction was 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 in order 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


We got decent flavor from the MugMate, but nothing stellar. The square shape of the brewer combined with its rudimentary steeping system and lack of paper filters produced 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 really 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 really 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 didn'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 was the lightest option in our test suite with a weight of 1.0 ounces our 0.7 ounces without the lid. This just beat out the Primula and GSI Ultralight which are both 1.1 ounces.

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.

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 simply use this to filter your giant pot of cowboy coffee. It wasn't our favorite 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 was a solid contender and is an excellent option for backpacking and any trip where you might also have tea drinkers.
The MugMate was a solid contender and is an excellent option for backpacking and any trip where you might also have tea drinkers.


Penney Garrett