Planetary Designs BaseCamp Travel Press Review
Cons: Difficult to screw/unscrew lid, expensive, heavy, requires more water to clean than other methods
Manufacturer: Planetary Designs
Compare to Similar Products
Planetary Designs BaseCamp Travel Press
$60.00 at Amazon
$29.95 at REI
$9.65 at Amazon
$10.97 at Amazon
|Check Price at Amazon|
|Pros||Durable, insulated, brews clean and well-balanced coffee, great for groups||Gourmet flavor, stylish, compact, easy to clean, easy to use, made from stainless steel||Gourmet flavor, well-conceived design, ceramic version available for home use||No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good taste||Amazing flavor, versatile, very portable, simple cleanup|
|Cons||Difficult to screw/unscrew lid, expensive, heavy, requires more water to clean than other methods||Hefty, not ideal for big groups||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||Lots of little pieces to mind, heavy for backpacking|
|Bottom Line||A rugged and insulated french press that produces clean and well balanced coffee, ideal for making coffee for larger groups||A cleverly designed, compact, and easy to clean pour-over device that brews consistently great coffee||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 our top scorer for taste and we love its durability, ease of use, and versatility|
|Rating Categories||Planetary Designs B...||MiiR Pourigami||Hario V60 Plastic D...||Primula Coffee Brew...||AeroPress Coffee Maker|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Group Cooking (15%)|
|Specs||Planetary Designs B...||MiiR Pourigami||Hario V60 Plastic D...||Primula Coffee Brew...||AeroPress Coffee Maker|
|Measured Weight||34.5 oz||Dripper alone: 4.89 oz
Dripper + case: 5.52 oz
|Dripper alone: 2.95 oz
Dripper + scoop: 3.37 oz
|1.1 oz||Press alone: 7.98 oz
Press + spoon + stirrer: 9.39 oz
|Brew Type||French Press||Pour Over||Pour Over||Pour Over||Pour Over/Press Hybrid|
|Main Material||Stainless steel||Stainless steel with Hardshell powder coat||Hard plastic||Nylon filter||BPA-free polypropylene|
|Notable Features||Brew-stop filter eliminates most sludge||Easy to clean, collapsible pour over with slim carrying case||Cone shape, large hole, ribs along side||Rests on any mug||Easy to clean, re-usable filter|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you need a coffee brewer that is ideal for bigger groups but still produces delicious coffee, then the BaseCamp might be the model for you. We love the burly design of this press and the Bru Stop filter that eliminates the typical sludge and bitterness of most French presses. While it is heavier and commands more space than other brewers in our review, it fits well in most car camping kitchen kits. Despite our reluctance about French press coffee, our review team was pleasantly surprised by the flavor of coffee produced by this rugged press. The double-wall insulation keeps the contents hot, and the vessel is available in either 32 or 48 ounces (we tested the 32 ounce) to ensure you can fuel a posse of caffeine-fiends.
The BaseCamp is an innovative spin on the classic French press. With their patented "Bru Stop" technology, Planetary Designs engineered the filter to stop brewing after pressing your coffee. Like most presses, there is a fine mesh filter, but here is where the similarities end. The filter on the BaseCamp has a rubber gasket that ensures a tight seal and is topped with a stainless steel plate that effectively traps the coffee grounds under the filter once you press. Now you don't have to worry about your last cup of coffee being one part bitter rocket fuel to one part sludge. That said, our only complaint about this otherwise flawless system is that the filter sometimes traps a bit of the brewed coffee underneath (about ¼ cup in our experience), making it inaccessible. While a testament to the effectiveness of the design, this can be frustrating if you're trying to get every last drop for a sleepy crew.
Compared to other brewing methods, the French press is typically unable to hold its own in terms of taste. This isn't the case with the BaseCamp. We were impressed with how this mighty press produced cup after cup of clean, well-balanced coffee.
Most French presses continue to extract coffee after you press, meaning that your last cup is thick with sludge and (almost) undrinkably bitter. With the Bru Stop filter and double-wall insulated vessel, the BaseCamp keeps coffee hot, clean, and delicious. A feat that is typically impossible with your average French press.
Ease of Use
French presses often earn high rankings in this category because they are low fuss and require minimal expertise to dial in your brewing technique. The BaseCamp is no different in this regard.
The BaseCamp didn't earn a perfect score in this category for a couple of (relatively minor) reasons. For starters, it can be challenging to screw the lid on tightly and even more challenging to unscrew the lid to clean out the vessel. To unscrew the lid, you have to flip open the snap lid to release pressure, but even then, it is challenging. The folks at Planetary Designs are aware of this issue and are working to solve the problem in future iterations. Secondly, French presses are more difficult to clean than other brewers because they require more water to clear all the grounds out of the vessel, which is a drag when water is at a premium. That said, the wide mouth of this particular press makes it fairly easy to scrub out with a rag between uses. If you plan to use your press primarily while camping, make sure to thoroughly scrub the filter as often as possible when you have access to abundant water.
This is the metric where the BaseCamp steals the show. It comes in both a 32 and 48-ounce size (we tested the 32 ounces) to ensure you're able to make enough coffee for all the bleary-eyed coffee fiends in your crew.
It is rare when a brewer strikes the balance between delicious flavor and a large enough capacity for group cooking, but the BaseCamp manages to do just that. However, if one round of coffee isn't enough for your crew, this press is straightforward to use and easy enough to clean, so you can quickly make another round of coffee. It is as easy as boiling more water, adding coffee grounds to hot water, and resetting the timer.
The BaseCamp is a much more portable redesign of Planetary Designs' old behemoth French press, but it still can't compete with the portability of a foldable pour-over device or packets of instant coffee.
It is highly unlikely that you're considering this bulky, heavyweight brewer for your upcoming backpacking trip. It isn't the most portable brewer in this review, not even by a long shot. However, if you're in a vehicle larger than a Scion IQ, this is a great choice for your future car camping trips, especially if you plan to camp with a crew of caffeine fiends. The rubberized bottom of the press makes it less likely to slide around in a van or RV that's on the move, which is why we love the BaseCamp for car camping, van living, glamping, or even just highly-caffeinated mornings at home.
Rugged, burly, and durable are not the attributes we tend to associate with ultralight gear. The BaseCamp is all of these things, which is why it scored dead last in terms of weight.
At 2.16 pounds, the BaseCamp is not winning any gravity-defying awards in the ultralight Olympics. Weight-weenies and gram-counters, be advised — this is not the coffee brewer for you. But, if you're looking for a bombproof press for car camping, this is a perfectly reasonable weight to add to your kitchen kit. Or, if you need something for your home kitchen during the week and your van on the weekends, this is pretty ideal.
In the case of the BaseCamp, the adage "you get what you pay for" rings true. The price tag may be steep when compared to other brewers in our review (and the 48-ouncer is more), but it is impressively durable and well-designed. It also produces surprisingly clean and well-balanced coffee, and with the double-wall insulation, it will keep your coffee piping hot. If you can afford the high price of this burly beefcake, it will keep you and your crew well-caffeinated for years to come.
If you love the ease of French press coffee, but you need a rugged option for car camping that eliminates the sludge of your typical press, then the Planetary Designs BaseCamp might be the ideal option for you.
— Mary Witlacil
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