How to Choose a Camping Coffee Maker

by TobyJul 7, 2024

So you’re heading off on a camping or backpacking trip to enjoy some fresh air, time off the grid, and all the amazing sights and experiences the great outdoors has to offer. You might be relishing the idea of being cut off for a few days, but as a die-hard coffee lover, the last thing you want is to be cut off from your tasty cup of coffee each morning.

Camping and coffee have gone together for hundreds of years, but if you’re a bit fussy about your coffee, and only the best will do (regardless of where you are), you’ll want to spend some time and effort choosing a camping coffee maker that can deliver just what you need. To help you do this, here are my thoughts on what you need to think about to make sure you choose the coffee maker that’s perfect for you and your camping trip.

Different Types of Camping Coffee Makers

Probably one of the first things to think about is what kind of coffee you want on your trip. Just like at home, there are different methods of brewing your coffee, and different machines for each process. Maybe you like the ease of drip coffee, or perhaps you prefer the richness of your percolator or espresso machine coffee?

Whatever your favorite type of coffee maker, there is probably a wide selection of camping equivalents for you to choose from. Keep in mind though, that being in the great outdoors away from your kitchen setup and basics like electricity may mean that a simpler method of brewing might be preferable – you’ll be able to find a camping coffee maker that will give you just as good a cup of coffee as if you were brewing up at home.

Read Our Best Camp
Coffee Makers Guide

Choosing Your Camping Coffee Makers

What coffee will it make?

As I mentioned above, there are different camping coffee makers that make coffee using different brewing methods. If you’re particular to pour-over coffee, or perhaps you prefer an espresso, or maybe it’s not important to you how you’re camp coffee is made, but as well as it being something you might have a preference for, it may also impact how easy/involved it will be to make your brew. So it’s worth paying attention to the kind of coffee the different bits of kit will make, and whether the brewing method suits your taste and/or desired level of effort.

How big/heavy is it?

Depending on the kind of trip you’re heading on, this could arguably be the first and most important thing to investigate, even if you absolutely love your coffee. If you’re heading of on a self-supported backpacking trip the idea is to carry as little as possible, and the lightest version of everything you do need to take. However, packing small and light shouldn’t mean you have to sacrifice a good coffee setup, as you can see from some of the examples of good coffee makers further down.

If you’re driving to and from your campground, though, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about opting for something a little sturdier/bigger, but you still don’t want to be packing too much kit or anything too hefty, so keep in mind all the accessories you’ll need as well as any coffee maker you choose.

What’s its capacity?

There is a fine balance to be struck between choosing a camping coffee maker that’s light and compact, and one that can provide enough coffee for you and any campmates. If you’re going solo or don’t mind brewing up a couple of times, some good choices will make a good cup or two and will be small and light enough to carry easily.

If you’re a coffee fanatic or there are a few of you in your party, then you’re going to want something that can make more than just a cup at a time. This might mean you need to opt for bigger, slightly heavier kit, so whatever your coffee requirements and the camping trip you’re taking, make sure you check your maker will give you all the coffee you need without adding too much weight and bulk.

How well does it work?

In terms of how well it works, you probably want to consider a couple of things. First, the obvious, how well does it make coffee while camping? This is what you bought it for, after all, so check out the reviews of what people think of the coffee you can expect from the different pieces of kit. The second thing to think about is how well is it likely to fit into the kind of camping trip you want to buy it for.

It’s not good if it makes the best cup of coffee if it’s a pain to set up, use, pack away, and then carry around with you on your trip. You are going to want something that works well as a camping coffee maker, even if that means the coffee is not the same quality as your espresso machine back home. The best camping coffee maker will be one that fits into your plans well and will make a good cup of coffee for you and your campmates.

What accessories do you need?

If you think you’ve found the perfect coffee maker for your camping trip, be sure to check what other accessories you’re going to need, especially if they don’t come with the coffee maker you’ve chosen.

You may not be fussy about having freshly ground beans, so perhaps won’t need a coffee grinder as well as your maker. But what about things like a carry case to protect it, useful cleaning tools to make sure you keep it in good shape, or other accessories like filters and a suitable coffee mug/container?

Most coffee makers that are designed for camping should come with just about everything you need, but it’s always worth checking, especially if your choice isn’t just meant for campers – you don’t want to find yourself without a vital piece of kit once you’re out in the wilderness.

How much does it cost?

For some, this might be one of the first considerations if you’re on a budget. But even if you’re not looking to spend a lot on your coffee maker, it’s worth bearing all the other factors in mind to make sure that you don’t end up with something that isn’t right for you, just because it was the cheapest.

If you have the money then sure you could spend a couple of hundred dollars on the latest camping coffee tech, but most of the options I’ve looked at as good camping coffee makers should do exactly what you need and come in under $50 – with the cheapest just $10! Even if you need to buy some extra bits and pieces to complete your coffee-making kit, a good camping coffee maker doesn’t have to be expensive.

What else should you consider?

Once you’ve thought about the various factors outlined above, you should have a pretty good idea of whether a coffee maker is going to be the right one for you and your camping or backpacking trip, and after you’ve made your choice, the only other thing to keep in mind will be when you finally use your kit to brew coffee for the first time.

It’s important that you bear in mind the ‘leave no trace’ principle once you’ve finished brewing up, and make sure you dispose of the waste from your coffee maker properly. Even with organic coffee grounds and biodegradable filters, you will still need to pack up all your waste and take it with you, but you can also make sure you use things like biodegradable soap for cleaning your coffee maker and cups after you’ve used them.

The Best Camping Coffee Makers Available Now

So there are a few things you probably need to have a think about if you want to choose the coffee maker that’s perfect for your camping or backpacking trip. To help get you started in the right direction, I’ve created a list of what I thin are three decent option son the market at the moment.

1. Hario V60 Dripper

Hario V60 Dripper Coffee Maker for Camping

Camping coffee makers don’t come much simpler than the plastic version of the popular Hario V60 coffee dripper. Cheap to buy and easy to use, the dripper sits over your mug or coffee container and you just add the filter and the ground coffee and pour over hot water to get a great-tasting cup of coffee.

If you prefer something a bit more robust, it also comes in a couple of metal versions, and there are also three different sizes, so it’s ideal whether you’re on your own or there may be 2-3 of you in your party. You need to buy packs of filters as well, but as the dripper isn’t huge, carrying these additional paper filters shouldn’t add too much weight or bulk.

2. Jetboil Flash Java Kit

Jetboil Flash Java Kit Coffee Maker for Camping

The Jetfoil Flash Java Kit may be at the other end of the scale in terms of the price you’ll pay for your camping coffee maker, but it is a really good bit of equipment and will appeal to those of you who like the latest gadgets, but also those who just like things that are easy to use and work well.

This is a French Press coffee maker and everything you need (apart from the ground coffee) is included in a self-contained kit that packs away nicely. It’s reliable and fast, boiling in minutes, and with the large 1 later cooking cup, you can make more than enough coffee for yourself and a couple of friends.

3. Stanley Adventure All-In-One

Stanley Adventure All-In-One Coffee Maker for Camping

The Stanley All-in-One Boil + Brew is a great camping coffee maker for those who like a lot of coffee or if you’re camping with a group of coffee drinkers, thanks to its large 32oz container. Created specifically with camping in mind, it has a range of features that will attract people – not least of which is the reasonable price.

Another French Press coffee maker, it has a durable construction to survive outdoor use, and thanks to design features like fold-away handles it is pretty compact for a larger coffee maker (you can even store your coffee inside it for more condensed packing), which should even make it attractive to backpackers.

These three are camping coffee makers I think will appeal to a wide audience with varying requirements, but there are plenty of other good options to consider, from the Aeropress coffee maker designed for camping, the GSI Outdoors stovetop espresso maker, and a few others, so check out my more complete list of the best camp coffee makers here.

Camping Coffee Maker FAQs

1. What is the best camping coffee maker?

There are a lot of great camp coffee makers on the market, but what makes one the best is probably how suitable it is for what you need. The best coffee maker is one that suits your style of camping and offers the right method of brewing coffee to suit your taste, number of cups, size and weight, and ease of use. Use the criteria above to decide which is the best camping coffee maker for you.

2. How much coffee-making kit do you need to take camping?

Depending on how fussy you are about your coffee and how much you want to carry on your trip, you can take as much or as little coffee-making kit as you want. From small and light instant coffee sachets, reusable coffee bags and basic pour over drippers, to large capacity French Press makers you combine with a hand grinder and bag of your favorite coffee beans, try to strike a balance between how good you want your coffee to be and the amount and size of kit that is sensible for your type of camping trip.

3. How do you make the best-tasting camping coffee?

Just like at home, the best-tasting coffee is typically made with freshly ground, high-quality beans using a brewing process and coffee maker that extracts the maximum amount of taste from your ground coffee. Camping is not much different, although the resources you have will probably limit how close you can get to that ‘home-brewed’ perfection. If you don’t want to pack your beans and a grinder, take fresh pre ground coffee in an air-tight container, and choose a coffee maker that works well or allows you some control over how good the coffee it produces will be.

The Last Drop

So there it is, my thoughts on the kind of things you want to think about when you’re choosing the perfect camping coffee maker, along with a few suggestions of what I think are some of the best coffee makers around at the moment to make sure being away from home doesn’t mean being without your favorite, delicious coffee.