Local USVI News

The best coffee makers for camping

• Bookmarks: 9

  • If you can’t imagine starting your day without a hot cup of coffee — even while camping — then it’s wise to consider adding camping coffee maker to your outdoor kit.
  • Camping coffee makers range from lightweight, backpacker-friendly options to larger setups that are perfect for car campers and easy to use.
  • We’ve tested options from brands like Coleman and GSI Outdoors to find the best camping coffee makers for all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts, no matter your budget or intended use. 
  • Our top pick, the AeroPress Coffee Maker, is an excellent choice for backpackers and car campers alike, proving to be one of the most portable options that also makes some of the best-tasting coffee.

Is there anything better than crawling out of your tent on a cool morning to find a hot cup of coffee waiting for you? Leaving a warm and cozy sleeping bag is much easier when you know you’re starting your day with your favorite caffeinated beverage.

For true coffee connoisseurs, it doesn’t matter whether they’re at home or at a campsite, they still need to get their morning fix — and many are willing to go to great lengths to get it (us included). 

How to shop for a camping coffee maker

Selecting the right camp coffee maker for use at the campsite isn’t as easy as you might think. While there are plenty of available options, there are also quite a few variables to consider before buying.

For instance, the model you take with you on a backpacking trip is likely to be very different than what you’d use car camping. You’ll also want to consider how many people you’re traveling with, as well as the size and weight of the coffee maker in question. 

Because coffee is such a universally loved drink, there are plenty of outdoor gear manufacturers with coffee makers designed specifically with campers in mind. The best of these models take into account portability, ease of use, speed, efficiency, and a number of other factors. As a result, no matter how much coffee you drink in a day, there’s a good chance someone makes a model perfect for you and your crew. 

How we test

We’ve taken a look at some of the very best camping coffee makers currently available and put them through their paces. This meant testing for a wide variety of use cases and intent, and taking them on backpacking trips, car camping excursions, and even a few nights that called for some backyard camping. 

When testing each coffee maker, here’s what we looked for:

  • Portability: This is more important for the backpacking shopper but isn’t something to completely disregard even if you aren’t planning on toting the thing around in your pack for miles on end. Portability means how much it weighs, how easy it is to pack up and fit into a backpack, and if it’s able to stand up to the kind of abuse a multi-day backpacking trip has on any piece of gear.
  • Value: How much value a camping coffee maker has isn’t just about bang for the buck but also longevity and versatility. We tested each to see how well the coffee tasted and if it delivered that quality consistently, whether it was the first day rolling into a campground or the fourth, fifth, or sixth day of a backpacking trip.
  • Durability: Like anything, you don’t want the product you just spent money on to break or become unusable after a short period of time. Both backpackers and car campers alike should look for a coffee maker that can stand up to being packed into a gear-filled car or backpack and still perform the same as it did out of the box.
  • Coffee quality: This one is a bit subjective but we still wanted to see how the quality of the coffee turned out for each maker. Just because you’re roughing it, doesn’t mean that you need to sacrifice the quality of your daily java — to make this list, we looked for those able to churn out quality on a consistent basis.

Following this exhaustive research — AKA drinking a lot of coffee — we’ve determined which ones are best suited for use in the backcountry and your local campground.

Here are the best camping coffee makers:

Updated on 8/17/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the sections on how to shop for a camping coffee maker and how we tested each selection, checked the availability of each product, and updated the prices and links where necessary.

The best camping coffee maker overall

The AeroPress Coffee Maker is fairly lightweight, fast, and efficient, which is everything that you could ask for from a camp coffee maker — plus, it makes a very tasty cup of coffee.

If your sole focus is to get the best cup of coffee possible while traveling in the backcountry, the AeroPress Coffee Maker is what you want. It’s a solid all-around performer that actually tops a lot of home coffee makers in terms of flavor and strength. It’s even versatile enough to make espresso if needed, making it a good option for those who truly can’t get their day started without a great cup of coffee.

Fast and efficient, the AeroPress brews a cup of joe in just two minutes, provided the water is already hot. That’s fairly speedy for a single cup model and allows different campers to get the exact style of coffee they want rather than everyone sharing the same brew. Because it only does one cup at a time, the AeroPress probably isn’t the best for a large group, as it could leave some waiting a while for their first cup. 

At 9.5 ounces fully loaded, the AeroPress is a bit heavy, so ultralight backpackers may want to look elsewhere. But not all of the included parts are needed on each camping trip, cutting the trail weight down by several ounces. That includes the device’s own special filters, which are required for brewing coffee using this particular device. With a bit of adjusting, the actual weight of the AeroPress is closer to 6 ounces. 

Making a cup of coffee with the AeroPress is an easy, straight forward process but there is a bit of learning curve. With some trial and error, you’ll soon be able to make surprisingly great coffee at your campsite. Once you get the process down, this model produces such consistent and favorable coffee, you might even be tempted to use it at home. 

Pros: Fast, consistent, and tasty coffee in a small and easy to carry package

Cons: Takes a bit of practice to get the hang of it and requires its own proprietary filters

The best camping coffee maker for backpackers

Lightweight, compact, and extremely easy to use, the GSI Outdoors Coffee Rocket delivers everything a backpacker needs to get his or her day started with a hot cup of joe. 

For years, hikers and backpackers have generally had to compromise or sacrifice in order to get a good cup of coffee. If they carried something small and lightweight, it meant the coffee wasn’t as tasty or as strong as they’d like. Bringing a more capable coffee maker came at the expense of added weight and bulk in their packs. Fortunately, GSI Outdoors introduced the Coffee Rocket, eliminating this conundrum forever. 

Weighing in at just 3.5 ounces, the Coffee Rocket is incredibly light. It also has the ability to collapse down to just 3.8 inches in length, so you can conveniently tuck it away in a spare pocket inside a backpack or jacket. The included snorkel, drip cone, and filter screen all nest neatly inside a coffee cup for easy storage, as well.

When hikers are ready for a hot beverage, they simply expand the coffeemaker to its full size and install the snorkel and filter. From there, they place it over the rim of a mug, add fresh coffee grounds, and pour hot water into the snorkel to start the brewing process. Two minutes later, they get a 6-ounce steaming cup of coffee they can enjoy at the campsite or along the trail. 

GSI made the Coffee Rocket affordable and very easy to use, though clean-up afterward can be hampered by the need for more water than you might otherwise expect. The filter basket could stand to be larger as well, but the only significant knock against it is that it only makes one cup of coffee at a time. If you’re sharing the campsite with someone else, you both might need to bring your own. 

Pros: Small, lightweight, relatively quick, affordable, very easy to use

Cons: Only makes one cup of coffee at a time and could use a larger filter

The best camping coffee maker for car campers

When weight isn’t a concern and all you want is the best cup of coffee while at the campsite, the Coleman Camping Coffeemaker is the only way to go. 

Because car campers drive to their campsites, they generally don’t have to worry about the weight of the gear they bring with them. This allows them to pack extra amenities, including items their backpacking kin would never consider lugging into the backcountry. This translates to larger, more spacious tents, comfortable camping chairs, fully-featured stoves, and more elaborate coffeemakers.

Coleman’s Camping Coffeemaker is the embodiment of everything that makes car camping great. It’s big, it’s bulky, and it weighs a lot. And none of that matters, either as it’s designed to get to the campsite in a vehicle rather than a backpack. It’s also built to brew a fresh pot of coffee similar to the coffee makers you use at home. The main difference here is that this model is designed to sit over the burner of a camp stove but otherwise, it offers similar functionality. 

The Camping Coffeemaker’s swing-out filter basket accommodates 8 to 12 cup filters, which, when paired with its 10-cup carafe, means it’s able to brew plenty of coffee — even for a large group. The system is quick, efficient, and easy to use, delivering a full pot in a matter of minutes.

It even comes with a “pause and serve” feature that allows campers to temporarily stop the brewing process to pour themselves a cup. That’s something you won’t find on most other camp coffee makers. 

The obvious downsides for this model are that it’s heavy and not particularly portable beyond a short walk to and from the car. The glass carafe could be fragile in an outdoor environment, too, where most other camp coffeemakers are made from more durable materials. 

Pros: Fast, easy to use, and great for larger groups, this coffeemaker functions much like the one you have in your kitchen back home

Cons: Big, bulky, heavy, you wouldn’t want to carry this model too far into the backcountry

The best camping coffee maker for large groups

Designed to brew a large pot of coffee for a group of campers, the Planetary Designs Table Top French Press is versatile, fast, and easy to use, both at home or at the campsite. 

Lightweight and compact coffee makers are perfect for one or two campers but they can be painfully slow for big groups. Carrying a larger model speeds up the process, ensuring everyone gets their morning coffee in a timely fashion. The Planetary Designs Table Top French Press does this by brewing up to 48 ounces — depending on the model — of coffee at a time, bringing a level of freshness and consistency to the campsite that isn’t entirely common. 

Using this coffee maker is as easy as you’d expect. Simply add the appropriate amount of coffee to the bottom of the carafe, pour in hot water, and seal the pitcher using the French press lid. Then, wait three or four minutes before slowly pushing the plunger down until it comes to a complete stop.

Planetary Design’s built-in mechanisms ensure users don’t over-extract flavor from the coffee, which helps keep the taste smooth and consistent, without becoming bitter.

Made from double-walled, vacuum-insulated stainless steel, the Table Top French Press is built to perform nicely at the campsite. Not only does it excel at keeping coffee warm and fresh for extended periods of time but its high-quality construction also ensures it can withstand the rigors of being used outdoors. Since this model doesn’t require any kind of filters, there are fewer things to carry when traveling into the backcountry, too. 

Drawbacks to the Table Top French Press model include its size and weight. Tipping the scales at about two pounds, it adds plenty of extra bulk to any backpack. It also takes a surprising amount of water to clean the coffeemaker, which can make it a hassle to use while in the field.

Those issues aside, this coffeemaker is clearly the best model available for a large group of coffee lovers traveling together off-grid. 

Pros: Big and durable, this French press coffeemaker brews a delicious and consistent cup of coffee for larger groups

Cons: Heavy and bulky, this model requires a lot of water to keep it clean

The best budget camping coffee maker

Inexpensive, yet still effective, the Primula Brew Buddy takes minimalism to new heights when it comes to making coffee at the campsite. 

While none of the options on this list are overly expensive for a true coffee aficionado, if you’re on the hunt for a bargain-basement option that’s still effective, the Primula Brew Buddy is tough to top. It’s a cost-effective option for the true camping minimalist who still wants a good cup of joe. 

Simple in design and approach, the Brew Buddy fits over the top of most mugs and features an integrated strainer. Coffee is placed in the strainer and hot water is poured through it, allowing this brewer to whip up a hot cup of surprisingly tasty coffee in as little as 30 seconds — in practice, it takes a little longer. 

The Brew Buddy’s simplicity is one of its strengths, as it’s incredibly easy to use. It’s also remarkably small and weighs just 3.5 ounces, making it light to carry on both camping trips or even early morning day hikes. 

Patience is required when it comes to using this coffee maker however, as the small strainer fills up with water quite quickly, requiring a few moments to drain completely through. The lightweight design feels rather flimsy as well, although we haven’t had any issues in terms of durability. Besides, at this price, buying a replacement isn’t much of a hardship. 

Pros: Inexpensive, simple to use, and incredibly lightweight and packable

Cons: Requires a bit of patience when brewing a larger cup of coffee

9 recommended
bookmark icon