MSR MugMate Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Lightweight, easy to use and clean, durable, no waste, can use for tea
Cons: Doesn't produce the best flavor, not ideal for multiple cups, difficult to control extraction
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The MSR MugMate is an ultralight, no-frills pour-over filter perfect for anyone wanting fresh coffee miles deep into the backcountry. This little filter nests easily inside your favorite mug and will add just over half an ounce to your pack-weight. We love that it is featherweight, durable, easy to use, and that it can be used for coffee, loose leaf tea, or in a pinch, you could use it to pre-filter your water. The MugMate produces absolutely drinkable coffee, and while other brewers deliver better flavor, the versatility makes it ideal for backpacking and other adventures that require a simple, lightweight coffee brewing method.
The MugMate is an ultra-durable, fine-mesh filter that allows you to brew coffee without the need for additional paper filters. This tried-and-true method for backcountry coffee brewing is unbeatable. While coffee professionals may prefer something that delivers a more nuanced flavor, the MugMate gets the job done and for a fraction of the weight of other brewing methods. The square shape and the fact that it brews by steeping within a confined space with a micro-filter means that controlling the nuances of extraction can be difficult. However, as long as you remember to remove the Mugmate within a few minutes, your coffee should be delicious. One of our reviewers has used this bad boy for nearly a decade; it has proven an indispensable part of her backpacking kit for years.
Be fair warned that this brewing method is most compatible with a shorter mug so that your grounds can more effectively steep, as you will want to ensure that the coffee is fully submerged while brewing. Brewing works best with a medium grind, and it produces the best flavor when brewed for three to four minutes. Brewing details aside, the featherweight of this device makes it ideal for ultralight backcountry endeavors, hence its designation as our Top Pick for Backpacking.
The MugMate delivers decent flavor, but it isn't the most delicious of our test-suite as the brewer remains submerged during extraction. The rudimentary steeping system and lack of paper filters can produce a slightly bitter cup.
That being said, some of our taste-testers were unable to discern a difference between coffee made with the MugMate and other brewers using paper filters. If you aim to enjoy good, fresh coffee in the backcountry, and you need to shave grams wherever you can, then this brewer is the one for you.
Ease of Use
This brewer is about as easy as it gets. Simply place the MugMate into your mug, add ground coffee or loose leaf tea, add hot water until submerging your grounds, wait a few minutes, and remove.
There is an optional lid/coaster that can be used to cover your brew while it is steeping, but most folks choose to leave this behind to save weight. If you decide to bring it along, you can avoid losing a little heat during the brew process, and can use it as a trivet for the wet filter when you're finished. But, for most of us, we'll be on our way as soon as we're done brewing coffee, so we can tamp the spent grounds into the trash and get on with our day.
This brewer is not meant for brewing up large amounts of coffee at a time. This aside, you could stretch the limits of this device, if you needed to make coffee for all your friends. 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 you will be forced to sacrifice some flavor.
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 this buddy can be thoroughly 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 as a filter for each individual cup, so you can avoid grit in each cup.
Outside of instant coffee, the Mugmate is among the most portable options for brewing coffee that you can find.
When not in use, the MugMate can store inside of your mug so that you can easily stash it in your backpack. If you leave behind the lid, it is the most lightweight and by far, the most durable backpacking filter in our review. We recommend ditching the lid to save weight, which makes this our lightest weight and most ideal brewer for backpacking.
Aside from a packet of instant coffee, the MugMate is the lightest weight option in our review weighing in at 0.7 ounces without the lid and 1.0 ounce even with the lid
For the durability and unbeatable light weight, this rad little filter cannot be outdone.
Of all the coffee makers included in this review, the MugMate is not the most or least expensive. It is, however, the lightest weight option outside of instant coffee in our test-suite, and it is a fairly inexpensive option for the weight and durability it provides. For long-haul backpacking and adventures where every gram counts, the MugMate proves it is of incomparable value. This easy to use and ultra-durable brewer does not require paper filters, nor does it require a delicate hand. It is easy to brew with, easy to clean, and can handle some abuse. Use and abuse this dude, and you will still be sure to have a fantastic backcountry brewing method for years to come.
What is not to love about the MSR MugMate?! It is ultra-lightweight, wicked durable, and among the easiest brewers to use. You can use it to brew both coffee and loose leaf tea, but you could also use it to pre-filter large sediment and earth matter out of your water. When making coffee for your whole crew, there are better options out there. But, in a pinch, it is easy to clean, rinse, and refill, for each additional cup. While coffee professionals concur that this brewer doesn't produce the best flavor, it is completely drinkable and featherweight making it a clear choice for our Top Pick for Backpacking Award.
— Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett