MSR MugMate Review
Cons: Not the best flavor, not ideal for multiple cups, difficult to control extraction, does not collapse for travel
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|Pros||Lightweight, easy to use and clean, durable, no waste, can use for tea||Gourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home use||No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good taste||Light, simple, affordable, design allows you to see the level of coffee while brewing||No filter needed, tiny and light|
|Cons||Not the best flavor, not ideal for multiple cups, difficult to control extraction, does not collapse for travel||Special shaped filters are harder to find, expensive for a plastic dripper, heavier than other brands||Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping, poor for large groups||Not as refined a flavor as the V60, bulky||Must pour carefully for bold flavor, delicate clips|
|Bottom Line||This simple and durable filter is easy to use, produces a decent cup of coffee, and can be used for looseleaf tea||The iconic pour over model in a light plastic package, delivering a consistently great flavor||The best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bag||This is a very light and inexpensive pour over option that provides solid taste and stellar value||A great ultralight backpacking option, as long as you pour carefully and aren't too rough with the contents of your pack|
|Rating Categories||MSR MugMate||Hario V60 Plastic D...||Primula Coffee Brew...||Melitta 1-Cup Pour-...||GSI Outdoors Ultral...|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Group Cooking (15%)|
|Specs||MSR MugMate||Hario V60 Plastic D...||Primula Coffee Brew...||Melitta 1-Cup Pour-...||GSI Outdoors Ultral...|
|Measured Weight||Filter alone: 0.7 oz
Filter + lid/coaster: 1.0 oz
|Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
|1.1 oz||2.01 oz||1.1 oz|
|Brew Type||Filter||Pour Over||Pour Over||Pour Over||Pour Over|
|Main Material||Nylon/Stainless steel||Hard plastic||Nylon filter||Hard plastic||Nylon filter|
|Notable Features||Can be used for coffee or tea, compact||Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side||Rests on any mug||Can see cup without lifting dripper||Collapsible to fit under fuel canister|
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 (if you leave the lid behind). We love that it is featherweight, durable, easy to use, and that it can be used for coffee, loose leaf tea, or for pre-filtering your water. It 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-tested-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 it for nearly a decade, having proven itself as an indispensable part of her backpacking kit for the long haul.
This brewing method is most compatible with a shorter mug so your grounds can more effectively steep, as you will want to ensure your 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
Making coffee with the MugMate is about as easy as it gets. Simply place it into your mug, add ground coffee or loose leaf tea, add hot water until you submerge 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 brewing process and can use it as a trivet for the wet filter when you're finished. For most of us, we'll accept the heat loss for the weight savings, and we'll be ready to roll once we're done brewing coffee and have tamped the spent grounds into the trash.
This brewer was not designed for brewing gallons of coffee at a time, but if you're sincerely interested in the MugMate, that probably isn't what you're looking for either. This aside, with some efficient water boiling and steeping, you could blast through several rounds of coffee with the time it takes to steep. Depending on the size of your mug, you could load this puppy up with enough grounds to steep a larger cup — maybe enough for two — though you may be forced to sacrifice some flavor.
Thankfully, the MugMate is quick — taking about 4 minutes per brew, depending on your preferences — and with a little water, this buddy can be thoroughly cleaned up and ready for round two in no time. Alternatively, if you want to make a giant pot of cowboy coffee, you could use the MugMate to filter each individual cup to avoid having grit in your brew.
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.
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 just 1.0 ounce with the lid.
For the durability and unbeatably light weight, this little filter cannot be outdone. Hence why it is our Top Pick for Backpacking.
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 to be 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 durable (as long as you are careful with the mug tabs). Use and abuse it, 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, durable, and among the easiest to use. You can use it to brew both coffee and loose leaf tea, and 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 feather-light, making it a great choice for backpacking.
— Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett
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