For the past 9 years, we've field-tested close to 30 different camping coffee makers. For this update, we purchased the 17 bestselling brewers and tested them head-to-head all over the backcountry. Whether you're waking up in an alpine bivy or the comfort of your own home, a cup of coffee is probably an essential part of your morning. Our team of coffee experts tested these coffee makers extensively to help you find the best one to get your fix while out in nature. Your days of sacrificing delicious coffee to sleep under the stars are over. Whether you're searching for a tasty instant or you crave a cup of rich espresso, our review will help you find the ideal setup for your next camping adventure.If you're looking to caffeinate at home, check out our wide array of coffee-related reviews. We've brewed our favorite beans in some of the best espresso machines on the market. For a simpler setup, you might like our French press or pour over reviews. We've also tested products like grinders and milk frothers to help you brew up a great cup.
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|Pros||Ultra lightweight, great flavor for instant, available in single origins and blends, created by a specialty coffee roaster||Ultralight, surprisingly delicious, fast, easy, vegan/dairy-free options with coconut cream||No filter needed, tiny and light, consistently good taste||Stylish, stainless steel, easy to use and clean, makes delicious coffee with minimal effort or expertise||Lightweight, easy to use and clean, durable, no waste, can use for tea|
|Cons||Expensive, still has that weird instant smell||Not ideal for large groups, pricey||Must lift filter out of most cups to avoid over-steeping, poor for large groups||Only brews enough for one person, odd shape for travel, too heavy for backpacking, spendy||Not the best flavor, not ideal for multiple cups, difficult to control extraction, does not collapse for travel|
|Bottom Line||Created by a craft coffee roaster, one of the best instants we've tried||A great tasting instant coffee that's incredibly lightweight, fast, and easy with fun non-dairy options||The best option for light travel and backpacking, this savvy brewer will keep you caffeinated without taking up space in your bag||A gorgeous stainless steel stove-top espresso maker that makes delicious coffee with minimal effort and minimal clean-up||This simple and durable filter is easy to use, produces a decent cup of coffee, and can be used for looseleaf tea|
|Rating Categories||First Ascent Instant||Alpine Start Instant||Primula Coffee Brew...||Bialetti Musa||MSR MugMate|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Group Cooking (15%)|
|Specs||First Ascent Instant||Alpine Start Instant||Primula Coffee Brew...||Bialetti Musa||MSR MugMate|
|Measured Weight||1 packet: 0.2 oz
Box of 8: 2 oz
|1 packet: 0.13 oz
Box of 8: 1.62 oz
|1.1 oz||19.19 oz||Filter alone: 0.7 oz
Filter + lid/coaster: 1.0 oz
|Brew Type||Instant||Instant||Pour Over||Percolator||Filter|
|Main Material||N/A||N/A||Nylon filter||Stainless steel||Nylon/Stainless steel|
|Notable Features||Specialty single origins available||Tons of options and available in bulk as well.||Rests on any mug||Stainless steel stove-top espresso maker, wide base, easy to use and clean||Can be used for coffee or tea, compact|
Best Overall Camping Coffee Maker
The elegant and stylish MiiR Pourigami stole our hearts and the show. We love this cleverly designed and aptly named brewer because it is the most compact pour-over brewer that delivers gourmet-level flavor. It features three interlocking stainless steel panels that affix to each other to create a solid base for filtering your coffee. While it is on the heavier end of the spectrum, it is very compact, and we appreciate that it eliminates the need to pour hot water over plastic when making coffee in the backcountry. For all these reasons, we happily award the Pourigami our coveted top spot.
While we love many aspects of this brewer for making excellent pour-overs at home or while camping, at 4.89 ounces for the dripper alone, or 5.52 ounces for the dripper and the case, it is one of the heavier compact models we tested. Additionally, making consistently great coffee with a pour-over requires some technique and finesse, and this one is no different. That said, we love how the Pourigami proves you can have form and function in a compact dripper with gourmet flavor that is ideal for car camping, van-living, or even cozy mornings at home.
Read review: MiiR Pourigami
Best Bang for Your Buck
Hario V60 Plastic Dripper
The Hario V60 Plastic Dripper delivers consistently delicious coffee at a fraction of the price of other brewers in our review. It should come as no surprise that the plastic version of the adored ceramic cone used by coffee-nerds worldwide is also one of our favorite options for camping. The V60 makes delicious coffee and is straightforward to use once you've honed your pour-over technique. Plus, this little cone is lightweight, weighing a mere 2.95 ounces (3.37 ounces with its measuring scoop). The AeroPress ranked slightly higher in our taste tests, but it is triple the price, more than double the weight, and a bit more complicated to use — especially when brewing for multiple people.
The downsides for the V60 are minimal and inconsequential. It may take more time and intention to finesse your technique than your average French press, and you will need to find V60-specific filters. You will want to use uniform, finely ground coffee for the best tasting coffee, best achieved with a burr grinder. If you want to take your brewing game to another level, then you will also want to weigh your coffee and water and time your bloom and brew. That said, once you've mastered the pour-over process, this brewer will produce one of the cleanest and best-tasting coffees you can have, whether on the back of your tailgate, several miles into the backcountry, or on the kitchen counter in your home.
In case you're curious, the Hario V60 Ceramic Dripper is also one of our favorite ways to make coffee at home. You could take it camping, but it's much heavier and nowhere near as durable.
Read review: Hario V60 Plastic Dripper
A Great Deal for Backpacking
Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
If you are searching for an economical and lightweight camping coffee maker for backpacking and through-hiking, look no further than the Primula Coffee Brew Buddy. This tiny brewer is compact, durable, and weighs about as much as a stroopwafel. Pour after pour, the Brew Buddy provides a tasty cup of coffee without the fuss of paper filters. Other pour-over contenders require a precise pour, which is challenging with a JetBoil or camping pot, but the forgiving nature of this filter is much easier to master.
One of the few downsides to this brewer is that you must be sure to remove it from your cup in a timely fashion. If you forget about it, your coffee will continue to steep, leaving you with a bitter, over-extracted cup. Minimal drawbacks aside, the Brew Buddy is a lightweight and cheap option for brewing excellent coffee, making it an excellent option for backpacking on a budget.
Read review: Primula Coffee Brew Buddy
Best for Gourmet Taste
AeroPress Coffee Maker
The AeroPress emerges as the consistent leader in our taste tests, year after year. With this fun and functional brewer, you can create smooth espresso-like shots as well as clean, satisfying americanos. We know a handful of folks who use this as their exclusive coffee maker, even at home, yet this press is portable enough for travel or making camp coffee. Cleaning is as fast as popping the puck of grinds out of the tube — the squeegee action of the plunger cleans effectively without the use of extra water.
There is a slight learning curve with the AeroPress, and it has more pieces than many other camping coffee makers in our review (though many of them are not necessary). You will also need to make sure you have a wide enough cup for it to properly nest into for pressing, and it requires the use of special round filters, available in paper, stainless steel, and even cotton. While not for everyone, coffee geeks will fall head-over-heels for this versatile brewer and its delicious results.
Read review: AeroPress
Best for Camp Espresso
If the thought of going without delicious espresso is as horrifying as a life without adventure, the Bialetti Musa is a must-have. The folks at Bialetti have outdone themselves with the Musa, revamping their classic stove-top espresso maker for a 21st Century crowd. This stainless steel redux of the iconic Bialetti Moka Express brews a delicious cup of espresso in a matter of minutes. It is easy to clean, easy to finesse, and was a crowd favorite among nearly all of our taste testers. It delivers in terms of function but in form as well; this elegant brewer is the most stylish of the ones we tested. Indeed, one of our reviewers loved this brewer so much, it became her go-to coffee maker for daily brewing at home or the campsite.
The downsides with the Musa are few and far between. The plastic handle that lends to easy maneuverability and pouring makes it an odd shape for travel. Additionally, it is not an ideal candidate for accommodating a big crew, though Bialetti does make a 6-cup and 10-cup option. Despite this, it does make coffee quickly and with minimal fuss — in a pinch, it could power through several rounds of coffee before leaving camp. Finally, at almost 20-ounces, this brewer is too heavy for backpacking, though it proved to be an ideal companion for car camping and river trips. Bottom-line, the Musa is our favorite brewer for camp espresso.
Read review: Bialetti Musa
Best for Large Groups
Planetary Designs BaseCamp Travel Press
If you came to this review looking to make coffee for all your friends or family on your next camping trip, then you're in luck! The Planetary Designs BaseCamp is a durable French press available in 32 or 48 ounces to ensure you can make a righteous amount of coffee whenever you need to caffeinate your whole crew. The redesign of this press is even better than previous iterations. It boasts a more compact and stylish design to lend to better packability, and even the most discerning coffee snobs in our review team were impressed by the clean-tasting and well-balanced coffee it produced. The innovative filter stops the coffee extraction process when you submerge the press, and the vessel features double-wall insulation. These features merge to ensure your coffee will stay hot and sludge-free for hours (or minutes depending on how quickly you like to drink your coffee).
While the BaseCamp is our go-to for large groups, it is obviously one of our last picks for backpacking. It is rather hefty and large, proving too cumbersome for anything but car camping or living out of your van. Additionally, it can be somewhat challenging to screw and unscrew the lid. To make it less difficult to screw open, be sure to flip open the snap top lid to decrease pressure. Beyond these minimal drawbacks, we were impressed by this burly, innovative, and easy-to-use French press. It is sure to keep up with the caffeine needs of your whole crew on your next car camping adventure.
Read review: Planetary Design BaseCamp Travel Press
Best Backpacking Option
So you're going on a backpacking trip, and you want a coffee brewer that's lightweight, easy to clean, and produces tasty coffee? Then the MSR MugMate is your match. Weighing in at just under half an ounce, this steadfast, tried-and-true coffee maker gets the job done. All you need to do is add coffee grounds and hot water, steep for a few minutes, and voila. In a pinch, it cleans easily by tapping it into the trash, though for a more thorough cleaning, you will want to give it a quick rinse. This brewer can also double as a loose leaf tea brewer, though you will want to thoroughly clean it to avoid tainting your tea with the flavor of coffee.
While this coffee brewer scored well in our blind taste tests, it wasn't our go-to for gourmet flavor. Then again, it requires very little expertise to produce a consistently good cup of coffee, while most of our top-rated coffee brewers demand more finesse and technical skills for gourmet taste. Given the rigid plastic frame of the MugMate it does require some forethought to pack well, but our reviewers found that it nests perfectly in some mugs and most cooking pots. This isn't the ideal option for brewing coffee for more than one or two people, and you must lift the brewer out of your cup to prevent over-steeping, but beyond these minor complaints, this lightweight camping coffee maker is our top choice for backpacking.
Read review: MSR MugMate
Alpine Start Instant
Thru-hikers, long-distance backpackers, and alpine climbers rejoice! The search for instant coffee that is ultralight, ultra-fast, and ultra-delicious is over. Alpine Start delivers a balanced and bright cup of tasty coffee that you almost can't tell is instant coffee. It even comes in a variety of flavors from their Original Blend to a vegan Dirty Chai and a vegan Coffee + Creamer. You can also buy their instant in bulk to cut down on waste and cost per cup. When space and weight are at a premium, but you don't want to sacrifice for your morning coffee ritual, this instant is the way to go.
Instant coffee is not a gourmet pour-over, and even though Alpine Start retains some of that instant coffee flavor, it tastes and smells far better than most. Instants are great when you need a quick and light cup in the backcountry, but they aren't ideal for large groups unless you're feeling generous — because it is more expensive than freshly brewed coffee. Finally, for the best flavor, we recommend brewing with 5-7 ounces of water rather than the recommended 8. But when you're in need of a fast, lightweight, highly packable method for drinking tasty coffee deep in the backcountry, Alpine Start has you covered.
Read review: Alpine Start Instant
Notable for Delicious Espresso On The Go
Historically, heading into the backcountry has meant that coffee lovers must leave behind the caramel crema of their dream espresso. Not any longer. The Wacaco Nanopresso produces expert-level espresso with a crema to rival the "Guinness Effect" on a freshly pulled shot at your favorite cafe. The Nanopresso performed favorably in every blind taste test, almost edging out the AeroPress. Brewing with the Nanopresso is straightforward, requiring minimal expertise to produce an excellent shot of espresso — once you learn how all the parts work together. Fill the mini-portafilter with finely ground coffee, tamp it down with the provided scoop, add hot water to the reservoir, and pump it like a bike pump — voila, a fantastic shot of espresso.
While the Nanopresso delivers delicious coffee and near-perfect crema, it has a few drawbacks that kept it from earning a higher mark in our review. For die-hard espresso lovers, the steep price tag is hardly a deterrent, but it will set you back a noticeable amount. And, even though it is fairly straightforward to make excellent espresso, this device comes with many small parts that are somewhat difficult to clean and easy to lose. Using the Nanopresso while camping could prove challenging without access to water or a drying rack, thus it is a more ideal coffee maker for van-lifers than backpackers or casual car-campers. Despite these drawbacks, it stole our hearts by producing cafe-quality espresso with a beautiful crema.
Read review: Wacaco Nanopresso
Why You Should Trust Us
Our camping coffee review is spearheaded by Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett, both life-long lovers of coffee. Mary has over fifteen years of backcountry experience riding bikes, hiking, backpacking, and climbing rocks, ice, and mountains. While her preference for outdoor pursuits has changed over the years, her love of coffee has not. Indeed, she ascribes to the belief that no good adventure ever starts without a strong cup of black coffee. Penney also boasts a long resume of outdoor pursuits, but her experience in the coffee world is even more impressive. With over 15 years working in the world of specialty coffee, you name it, and she's probably done it. From origin trips to coffee farms, sample roasting, barista competitions, and palate trainings, she knows every step of the coffee supply chain in detail. Between the two, Mary and Penney have subjected every camping coffee maker to rigorous testing in and out of the backcountry, with craft coffee from all over the U.S.
To ensure that each coffee brewer was tested thoroughly and in the broadest range of situations possible, we took these devices everywhere. From car-camping and van-living to multi-day backpacking trips and alpine bivvies, we assessed the strengths and weaknesses of each brew method specific to its potential camping applications. To level the playing field, we sourced high-quality coffee beans with a consistent flavor profile to eliminate flavor variability with low-quality beans. This allowed us to evaluate taste differences between brew methods accurately and reliably.
Analysis and Test Results
For a lot of us, coffee is the best part of our morning ritual and a critical catalyst to starting the day off on the right foot. Coffee brewing is a personal process, and there are innumerable options and resources for brewing types and methods. From dark roasts to light roasts, espressos to pour-overs, plastic to stainless steel… decisions abound, and each one will change the flavor and overall enjoyment of your final cup. Read on to learn about some of the savviest brewers on the market, how easy (or not) they are to use and care for, how conducive (or not) each is for serving multiple people, and — most importantly — how deliciously they brew up that precious nectar of liquid black gold.
Items in this review span a broad range in terms of price — enough of a spread to warrant some time and consideration when deciding what to buy. We recommend reflecting on where you plan to brew coffee and how important flavor is to your coffee enjoyment experience. Is taste your number one priority? Do you prioritize weight and packability? Or do you need a brewer to prepare large volumes of coffee? Some brewers triangulate between flavor, being lightweight, and packability, but it is rare for these same brewers to be great for large groups. Once you figure out which features and applicability work best for you, it will be easier to decide what you need.
As you look through our review, you'll notice that we weighted each metric according to the elements we deemed most important to the average camping coffee drinker. If one of the metrics is more important to you, you can evaluate each category's least expensive brewers side-by-side. The Hario V60 is one of the highest performers — great taste, lightweight, and easy enough to use — and it has one of the lowest prices of all our contenders, thus representing an outstanding value. Likewise, the Primula Brew Buddy and Melitta 1-Cup Pour-Over represent an excellent value for everything from ultralight backpacking missions to a cozy car camping weekend.
No surprise here, taste is the factor we weighted the heaviest in our evaluation. If you don't care about taste and just want a caffeine jolt, you can skip the rest of this review and buy instant coffee. However, most coffee drinkers don't want to sacrifice delicious coffee while camping and recognize that instant coffee will never taste as good as the real thing, though Alpine Start Instant comes close. Most of us want a smooth, rich, clean flavor, whether lounging on our couch at home or slamming coffee on the trail during the wee morning hours. We can help you achieve that, even with a bare-bones backpacking or car-camping kitchen.
Recognizing the importance of this rating metric, we conducted several blind taste tests with like-minded coffee lovers to evaluate which products produced the best final result. All the brewers we reviewed made an acceptable cup, but a few stood out for their ability to deliver an elevated flavor that was pleasing even to the pickiest coffee snob.
The AeroPress continues to stand out as the distinct taste winner, though the MiiR Pourigami, Hario V60, and Wacaco Nanopresso are close rivals. These impressive brewers are followed by the ESPRO Ultralight Travel Press and the Bialetti Musa. Some tasters did prefer the V60, Pourigami, and the Nanopresso over the AeroPress, though one taster began using the AeroPress at home every morning after the initial test because she loved it so much. The AeroPress brews a smooth, strong cup devoid of bitterness. By pushing water evenly through the grinds at high pressure, the result has some resemblance to shots of espresso, with a refined and clean flavor.
The Nanopresso scored well in our taste tests, producing a rich shot of espresso with a caramel crema to rival a shot at your favorite cafe. The Bialetti Musa also scored high in our taste tests. This stainless steel stove-top espresso maker provides flavorful coffee, as long as you remove it from the heat as soon as it finishes percolating.
The ESPRO press made the best tasting cup from a French press. The double mesh filters are much finer than a traditional French press filter, and when coupled with a patented system that stops extraction once pressed, you get a tasty brew every time. The ESPRO also has special paper filters for use between the mesh filters for an even cleaner cup — the paper filter removes any remaining extra-fine particles as well as absorbing excess oils. You end up with a final product that's very similar to the V60 or a Chemex. All of this exists inside an insulated, leakproof travel mug that, while on the heavy side, is highly durable and can go with you anywhere.
The Pourigami rose above the ranks, proving itself top-notch in terms of flavor. Along with the V60, it produces the best tasting coffee of the pour-over drippers in our review. The Pourigami produces a rich, gourmet cup with a bright flavor and a clean mouthfeel. It is also the best-tasting brew method that doesn't involve pouring hot water over plastic. The V60 also brews a clean-tasting cup with vibrant flavors and less bitterness than other drippers. The special angle of the cone (60 degrees to be exact), and the fact that it causes everything to coalesce at one point, means that the ground coffee gets evenly saturated — flat-bottomed brewers are prone to over-saturation from water pooling at the edges, which can cause bitterness.
One great option if you would prefer to avoid the waste of paper filters is the stainless steel Cafellissimo Paperless Pour Over, which gives almost as good a cup without creating any additional waste.
If you have a dripper that requires filters, but you would prefer to avoid creating more waste, consider a reusable organic cotton filter.
Of note, most pour-over methods require careful pouring to get the best flavor. This is best done with a kettle like the Hario Gooseneck Kettle, but few people will choose to camp with such a specialized pouring apparatus. Though it doesn't score quite as high as the V60 or Pourigami, the Primula Brew Buddy and the MSR MugMate both deliver consistent tastes with the sloppy pour you often get from a pot or JetBoil while camping.
There's no doubt about it; fresh ground coffee is the gold standard. If you want to grind your beans right before brewing, there are many hand-grinder options on the market to consider. We have tested several, and we like the GSI JavaMill best. It doesn't have any glass components, and it packs down nice and small.
Special Note on Pour-Over Methods
Yes, you can use a pour-over with no real plan by placing a random amount of ground coffee into the device and dousing it with hot water. That said, how you prepare and use your chosen pour-over dripper will dramatically alter the taste. There are many essential variables: quality of beans, freshness, the quantity used, grind size, water temperature, and how you pour the water. Videos abound on the internet, offering tutorials and advice to hone your pour-over technique.
Ease of Use
If you are one of those people who doesn't wake up until after your first cup of caffeine, then the simpler the brewing process, the better. Resources are often limited while camping, so models with easy clean-up are preferable. Whether you want a second or third cup or you prefer hitting the trail as quickly as possible, a complicated coffee brewing process shouldn't be the thing holding you back.
French presses are among the simplest camping coffee makers to use, and they don't require filters, but they are also a pain to clean. You have to flick and scoop out the messy wet grounds and then use water to rinse everything. If water is no issue where you'll be camping, then a French press might appeal to you. The ESPRO, BaseCamp, Stanley Adventure All-in-One, and the GSI Outdoors Personal Java Press all fit the bill for being straightforward to use, without the need to hone your coffee-making skills. Beyond being easy to master, French presses are certainly the best way to accommodate multiple people. However, if you're in a dry area with limited access to water, then another brew style that requires less water for clean-up will be ideal.
The AeroPress is a breeze to clean — just remove the piece that holds the filter and press the plunger to pop out the puck of coffee grounds. However, this device requires a bit more know-how to use and has more parts to contend with. The Bialetti Musa is also among the easiest brewers to use and clean. Simply unscrew the reservoir from the base, pound the portafilter into the trash, and then wipe the coffee grounds out with your finger.
The various cone-shaped pour-over brewers we reviewed are easy to use once you've mastered your pour-over technique. And they are straightforward to clean — just lift out the filter and toss it in the trash (or compost). Do keep in mind that many of these drippers, such as the Pourigami and the V60, require special filters for optimum brewing, and all of the pour-over devices require some finesse to produce a great cup of coffee. As we discovered in the testing process, you can make almost any filter work with a little folding, finagling, and careful pouring, but it's less than ideal.
Filterless options like the Cafellissimo involve more cleaning between uses. You can get 90% of the coffee out with a quick pour of a 1/4 cup of water. If you want your filter 100% clean, you will have to sacrifice quite a bit more water. Of all the filterless options, the Brew Buddy is the easiest to clean because of its shape and small surface area — turn the filter inside out, and voila, it's clean. The MugMate isn't far behind, though its rigid design makes it a tiny bit harder to rinse. For a quick and dirty clean-up, you can tap the MugMate to evacuate the grounds and clean it more thoroughly when you have access to a stream or water source. Both the MugMate and the Brew Buddy score well on this metric because they are simple to perfect, have minimal pieces to contend with, and are easy to clean.
No problem. Using a carefully folded paper towel is almost as effective as a coffee filter. We recommend pouring water through to make sure you don't get any paper towel flavor, but this should be done with any coffee-specific paper filter as well. You can also use a folded cloth handkerchief if you're in a bind. Again, pour water through it first so that it's saturated and ready to go.
Of course, with regard to ease of use, instant coffee will always be king. Nothing is easier than opening a packet and pouring water (hot or cold) to mix with the grounds. No mess, no fancy filters or kettles, no clean-up except for your mug and the bit of trash the packet creates. You will sacrifice some flavor for this convenience, though with modern instant coffees like Alpine Start and First Ascent some people barely notice the difference; just make sure to add less water than the packet suggests, unless you want bean-tea.
If you are planning a camping trip with multiple devout coffee drinkers, it is worth looking for a method that can brew for more than one person and still deliver excellent flavor.
The BaseCamp is a big press able to accommodate a large crew of caffeine-fiending campers. We tested the 32-ounce version, but it's also available in a larger 48-ounce version. This insulated press is the easiest and best-tasting way to satisfy a group quickly.
While pour-over drippers are best for 1-2 people, you can always fill them with more grounds if you need to accommodate a small group. Just remember that this will affect extraction and the final flavor. Of our tested models, the GSI Collapsible Java Drip has the greatest capacity, and if you're willing to test the limits, it can brew for 4 or more. The Stanley Adventure All-in-One and the GSI Personal Java Press are great if you're in a party of two. Both of these presses brew around 20-ounces, so there's plenty to get two people started. The Java Press comes with its own mug that nests inside the press — a nice feature if you don't already have a camp cup or need an extra one for your buddy.
Portability refers to how easy each item is to pack and carry. No surprise, the instant coffee options from Alpine Start and First Ascent score the highest. We include instant coffee in our review for all you gram-counters and alpine-starters. Sometimes you need to shave every gram possible, even if it means sacrificing a little flavor. However, with instant coffees as good as these two options, you won't be grimacing your way through caffeination.
Instant aside, it was neck-and-neck between several of our contenders. The GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip is so compact it folds to fit under a fuel canister and weighs just over an ounce. Another stellar option is the Brew Buddy, which weighs the same but is considerably more durable. It also requires less coffee to produce a flavorful result, further cutting down on weight.
Another ultralight and durable option is the MugMate. While it doesn't collapse down flat, it can nest inside your mug for travel and weighs less than an ounce. If a few more ounces are okay, we like the GSI Collapsible Java Drip and the MiiR Pourigami. The former is made out of silicone, and the latter is made out of stainless steel. They are both portable and durable. The Pourigami is a clear winner in terms of flavor, but it weighs quite a bit more than the other top options in this metric. That said, if you're searching for a compact stainless steel brewer with gourmet flavor, and don't mind a few extra ounces, then we can easily recommend this one.
None of the brewing devices tested can compete with the featherweight of a single instant coffee packet at less than a quarter of an ounce. However, they can be reused indefinitely, making them more cost-effective in the long run.
Instant coffee packets like Alpine Start and First Ascent are ideal for backcountry missions where you don't want to burden an already heavy pack weighed down with gear. However, for long-distance backpacking or through-hiking, instant coffee can get pretty dang spendy, so unless you can afford it, we recommend saving some money and carrying a reusable option that will produce far more delicious coffee for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the weight.
Our review team weighed each brewer on a kitchen scale, determining the MugMate was the lightest, weighing just a single ounce with the optional lid/coaster and 0.7 ounces without it. The Brew Buddy and GSI Ultralight are just a smidge heavier at 1.1 ounces, and the Melitta weighs in at just 2.01 ounces. None of these brewers — except for the Melitta — require filters, which is an additional weight savings.
The V60 and Cafellissimo are some of the next lightest options, hovering right around 3 ounces. The V60 requires filters, however, while the Cafellissimo does not. Next up are the GSI Collapsible Java Drip and the MiiR Pourigami at 4.76 and 4.89 ounces, respectively. Both of these require filters, but their collapsible nature makes transport easier than a rigid cone shape.
While it may be blasphemy to write this, switching to tea while camping or backpacking saves a lot of weight and clean-up. Some of our testers find instant coffee acceptable, but others want nothing to do with it. For those folks, tea may be a nice option.
With so many choices out there, we know it can be challenging to select the right camping coffee maker (or home coffee maker) for your needs. We hope you find our ratings and tests helpful in narrowing down the plethora of options so you can hone in on the perfect brewer for your sacred morning ritual.
— Mary Witlacil and Penney Garrett
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