The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

by Ben Coleman Updated: June 28, 2024 7 min read
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Photography by Grace Walker. The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

When planning for camping trips, coffee is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. However, if you’re a coffee drinker, all the natural beauty in the world might be lost on you if you can’t wake up to a nice cup of joe in the morning. 

Luckily, brewing coffee that doesn’t taste like it was made using muddy river water is extremely achievable, even while camping. 

Now, don’t rush off and buy a pour over coffee setup quite yet. There are a few factors you’ll want to make sure you consider before purchasing your camping coffee maker and other brewing supplies:

Kinto to go tumbler camping
  • Weight—whether you’re car camping or taking a backpacking trip through the wilderness, you’re going to end up lugging your coffee setup around. Shaving a few pounds off your backpack could be the difference between a positive experience and one full of regret. 
  • Packability—weight aside, how much physical space your coffee gear takes up is another limiting factor. You only have so much room in your backpack (or trunk). 
  • Quality—you could have the lightest, most packable brewing setup out there, but if it can’t brew a good cup of coffee, what’s the point? 

We’ve considered these factors and put together a gear list for anyone who knows a delicious cup of camp coffee is the only way to recover from spending a night in a tent. Read on for our recommendations for brewers, grinders, scales, and everything you’ll need to enjoy delicious coffee—even when you’re hundreds of miles away from the nearest shop.

The Best Brewing Method For Camping Coffee—The AeroPress

AeroPress Camping Coffee

If you’ve never used an AeroPress before, it’s time to get excited. The AeroPress is an incredibly simple contraption that uses an air-tight plunger to force hot water through a puck of coffee grounds directly into your mug. The result is a cup of coffee that’s robust yet clean, full-flavored but grit-free—all in about two minutes. 

Part of the magic that makes the coffee from an AeroPress so smooth is the use of paper filters that do a phenomenal job of keeping grounds out of your cup. You can also upgrade to a reusable stainless steel filter if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly brewing experience (though, the paper filters are compostable, so if you do put your grounds in the compost, the filters can go with them). Whichever AeroPress filter you use, you’re going to be impressed with the total lack of grit in your coffee (especially if you’re used to a standard French press). 

The AeroPress is also versatile in terms of the brewing recipes it can accommodate. From espresso style to Moka pot, French press and cold brew, whatever form you want your coffee, the AeroPress is able to accommodate. 

Does it look like something you might encounter in a chemistry classroom? Absolutely. But, in addition to making a truly excellent cup of joe, the AeroPress is extremely compact and easy to use (not to mention easy to clean), which makes it a great option for your daily cup of camp coffee.  

Made of shatterproof Tritan plastic, the AeroPress weighs about three-quarters of a pound when dry and takes up just over 100 cubic inches of space when packed up.  As complete brewing systems are concerned, that’s about as light and compact as it gets. 

Depending on how much space you have and how much coffee you’re going to want to brew at once, you could even upgrade to the XL version of the AeroPress, which can brew up to 20 oz of coffee in one go. 

You can use pre-ground coffee with the AeroPress (if you want) but, if you’ve got the space in your camp bag, we’d recommend bringing a grinder along as well. 

Great Coffee, On the Go
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

AeroPress Coffee Maker - Clear

The AeroPress Clear is a travel-friendly manual coffee maker made of shatterproof Tritan plastic and available in six colors. It blends immersion and pressure brewing to produce a wide array of full-bodied and grit free coffee extractions all with one device.

The Best Hand Grinder For Brewing Camping Coffee—The Varia EVO

Varia’s hand grinder, the EVO, isn’t going to win any awards for “lightest grinder” anytime soon, so we don’t recommend packing this for your PCT hike or anything like that. But if you care more about the quality of coffee you can brew than the weight of your backpack, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better camping grinder than the Varia EVO.  

Varia EVO Hand Grinder

The reason the EVO weighs as much as it does (about 3.2 lbs including the carrying case) is because it’s made entirely from space-grade aluminum alloy and stainless steel. This means it’s much more durable when compared to other hand grinders, many of which have wood, ceramic, or even glass grounds chambers. 

If you don’t want to be worrying about whether or not you’re breaking your grinder as you’re trekking through the wilderness, the EVO will bring you peace of mind. We haven’t tested this, but we’re pretty sure you could toss this bad boy off a couple of cliffs and send it several miles down-river and it would still impress with grind consistency (after you dried it off, of course). 

Speaking of grind consistency, the EVO uses the same supernova burr technology as its flagship grinder, the VS3, which won the good design award at SCA Japan in 2022. It features over 140 steps of grind adjustment, each of which moves the burrs a mere 10 microns. Ultimately, whether you’re going to be using the AeroPress, a French press, or a Moka pot for your camping coffee, the Varia EVO grinder will have you covered.

The EVO might be a bit on the hefty side, but it’s still remarkably packable. It comes with a convenient carrying case that takes up only 200 cubic inches of space and fits both the grinder and the arm. If you’re really strapped for space, you could always skip the case and pack the EVO without it—it’s not like it really needs the protection.

Portable, Durable, Precise
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

Varia EVO Hand Grinder

The Varia EVO Hand Grinder is perfect for coffee on-the-go and brewing on a budget. Its lightweight premium construction travels well, while the 140 stepped grind settings and 10 micron grind movement make it ideal for precise adjustments when dialing in for any brew method.

The Best Kettle For Brewing Camping Coffee—The Fellow Stagg

Fellow Stagg Kettle for Camping

Cold brew aside, you can’t make coffee if you don’t have hot water, which means you’re going to want a kettle you can toss on your camp stove or fire. 

When it comes to kettles, the Fellow Stagg is pretty much the cream of the crop. The precision-pour spout and counterbalanced handle make it easy to dispense exactly the right amount of water, and the built-in thermometer allows you to be a bit more selective about the temperature of your brew water than simply “boiling” or “not boiling.” 

Weighing in at just over a pound and taking up just over 144 cubic inches, the Stagg won’t weigh you down too much—though the precision pour spout may be a bit awkward to fit in your bag. So no, you probably won’t be taking this (or any) kettle on your super-intense, cross-country backpacking trip. 

But, for a casual weekend away in the woods, the Fellow Stagg kettle will make your coffee (or tea) brewing routine as easy and pleasant as possible.

Precision Pouring, Even While Camping
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

Fellow Stagg 1L Pour-Over Kettle - Matte Black

The Fellow Stagg 1 L Pour-Over Kettle in matte black has a sleek, minimalist design and comes with a base that fits on just about any countertop without taking up too much space. The precision pour spout helps ensure a slow, steady pour, the built-in thermometer lets you know when your brew is the ideal temperature and the counterbalanced handle allows for easier handling.

The Best Scale For Brewing Camping Coffee—The Acaia Lunar

Acaia Lunar Camping

Compact, precise, and packed with features to optimize brewing, the Acaia Lunar scale is widely regarded as the be-all-end-all of home espresso scales. Though generally considered to be espresso-focused (since the weighing platform isn’t quite big enough to fit most pour-over carafes), the Lunar does quite well when used in conjunction with the AeroPress: most mugs are small enough to fit directly on the Lunar. 

The Lunar’s petite size is actually an asset on a camping trip—at a mere nine cubic inches and just over half a pound, it’s easy enough to toss the scale in your bag and forget about it until it’s time to brew. 

Don’t Skip the Scale
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

Acaia Lunar 2021 in Black

The 2021 update of the Acaia Lunar Scale is designed to be the perfect compact scale for espresso brewing. With both automated and manual options for weighing and timing your espresso shots, the Lunar 2021 is here to help you perfect your brew ratios.

The Best Coffee Storage For Camping—Fellow Atmos Vacuum Canister

Fellow Atmos Camping

Just because you’re miles away from the nearest coffee shop, doesn’t mean you have to suffer through stale coffee. With the Atmos vacuum canister from Fellow, you can bring fresh beans along for the hike and keep them that way. 

This innovative canister creates a true vacuum seal and allows you to suck the air out of the container to help slow down oxidation and keep your coffee in peak brewing condition.

The 0.7 L canister weighs just over half a pound (empty) and only takes up 80 cubic inches of space, so it’s easy enough to fit into a crowded backpack. 

Fresh Air & Fresh Beans Don’t Mix
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

Fellow Atmos Vacuum Container 0.7L - Matte Black

The Fellow Atmos Vacuum Container is the easiest way to protect your coffee against oxidation and keep your coffee fresh for longer. With its unique twisting mechanism, the Atmos will suck the air right out of the container, creating a vacuum seal instantly.

The Best Coffee Mugs For Camping—KINTO Travel Tumbler

Kinto to go tumbler camping

Last, but certainly not least, you’re going to need a rugged travel tumbler to drink all this delicious coffee from. We teased it in photographs earlier in the blog, but our recommendation is KINTO’s To Go Tumbler.

The 8 oz version of this impressive mug is large enough to fit a decent cup of American-style coffee yet small enough not to be a burden when packing. It’s light-weight, too, at well under half a pound (empty). 

The To Go Tumbler is vacuum insulated and keeps drinks hot or cold for over an hour, so you can pack up camp and take your coffee on the go if you really need to hoof it. It’s also an absolute dream to drink from, whether you’re using the easy-sipping top or drinking lidless. 

Great Coffee Deserves a Great Mug
The Best Way to Make Coffee When Camping

KINTO TO GO TUMBLER 240ml with Plug / 8.2 oz Khaki

KINTO’s To Go Tumbler is made of double-walled, stainless steel so you can keep your beverage handy, wherever your day takes you. This remarkable vessel keeps cold beverages below 50°F and hot beverages above 149°F for up to one hour.

Happy Camping

Camping is all about relaxing—escaping the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day and immersing oneself in the majesty of nature. As far as we’re concerned, one of the best ways to make the most of your camping trip is to wake up to an excellent cup of coffee every morning. 

On the other hand, one of the best ways to ruin your time away from civilization is to choke down a cup of terrible coffee every day, or struggle through a brewing process not well-suited to being used in the woods.

We can’t say much about surviving the wilderness, but one thing’s for sure: if you follow our advice and head out into the unknown with the supplies we’ve recommended, you’ll definitely have amazing coffee to drink. 

Photography by Grace Walker.