8 Ways to Make Coffee When Hiking/Backpacking 

Camping or backpacking doesn’t mean having to give up your favorite coffee! You just have to get inventive with how you make it, so what are your options?

Here are 8 ways to make coffee when hiking or backpacking:

  • Cowboy coffee
  • Instant coffee
  • Coffee press
  • In a teabag
  • French press
  • Drip coffee
  • Pour-over
  • Percolator

You never realized you had so many options for making coffee even when far away from home! Ahead, we’ll explain how each coffee-brewing method works and what you’ll need so that no matter how far from home you happen to roam, you can always make fresh coffee!

1. Cowboy Coffee 

To start, we have to recommend cowboy coffee. 

Why is it called cowboy coffee, we’re sure you’re wondering? That’s because this brewing method originated in the day of real cowboys, who were nomadic and did not have many coffee-brewing options at their disposal.

Making cowboy coffee requires basic coffee equipment such as a pot, water, ground coffee (the coarser, the better), a dash of salt, and a big, roaring fire.

Here are the steps to follow per this post on our sister site Taste the Latte.

Step 1 – Add Water and Salt to the Coffee Pot

Fill a coffee pot with four cups of water.  Then add just a pinch of salt. 

Step 2 – Warm Up the Coffee Contents

With your fire burning, raise the coffee pot over the flames. Take care not to get too close, as you don’t want to char your coffee pot and the contents therein. You just want to warm them up until the water gets warm. 

Step 3 – Mix in the Coffee Grounds

Allow the water to become hot but don’t let it reach a boil quite yet. Pour a half-cup of coarse-ground coffee into the coffee pot. Stir the grounds immediately.

Step 4 – Allow the Water to Come to a Boil

Now it’s fine if the water in the pot begins boiling. Don’t remove the coffee pot from the heat as the water bubbles; just leave it exactly where it is.

Allow two to three minutes to elapse.

Step 5 – Take the Coffee Off the Heat and Cool It

Remove the coffee pot from the flames and place the pot in a cooler environment. The coffee grounds will get to settle, and the entire beverage will cool. 

Step 6 – Mix in Cold Water

By this point, you might have noticed that the coffee grounds are floating to the top of the brew. To help with this, pour in ¼ cup of cold or cool water. 

Step 7 – Enjoy!

Now you’re ready to drink cowboy coffee just like the real cowboys did. 

Cowboy coffee tastes smoky and maybe isn’t to everyone’s tastes, but it contains enough caffeine that you’ll be ready for a fun day of hiking. 

2. Instant Coffee

When backpacking, you don’t exactly have a lot of room to stuff coffee-making ingredients in your backpack. That’s why this next coffee preparation method is such a popular one among hikers and backpackers alike.

It’s instant coffee!

It really doesn’t get any easier or more convenient to make than instant coffee, which some campers affectionately refer to as steeped camp coffee. 

If you’re tired because you didn’t sleep well the night before in your tent or because your noisy campmate woke you up before the crack of dawn, it’s instant coffee to the rescue. 

You don’t need much at all to make instant coffee, only your favorite pack of the stuff, a pot for boiling water, a mug, and a fire or a camping stove.

What’s great about instant coffee is its shelf life. To read more on instant coffee, click here.

Here are the steps to follow.

Step 1 – Fill a Coffee Pot with Water and Boil It

In a clean coffee pot, fill two cups of water. Then hold the pot over the flames like you would when making cowboy coffee or warm the pot on a heat source such as your camping stove.

Ideally, you want the water to reach temperatures of about 200 degrees and not exceed 205 degrees Fahrenheit, as those are recommended coffee-brewing temps. 

Step 2 – Pour in the Instant Coffee

Open your packet of instant coffee and pour the contents directly into the coffee pot. Be sure to stir a little so the instant coffee doesn’t get too clumpy or concentrated in one area. 

Step 3 – Give the Coffee a Minute to Settle

Once you’ve stirred the instant coffee around a little, let it settle for a minute. If you feel like you have to stir more than that, then do it now.

Step 4 – Pour and Enjoy

Just like that, your instant coffee is ready for drinking! 

3. Coffee Press

A coffee press is another excellent way to make coffee when on the go. This isn’t quite French press coffee, although you have that option at your disposal as well when camping and backpacking. 

You can choose any coffee press you wish, of course, but the AeroPress is a favorite of campers and backpackers because it’s lightweight, compact, and inexpensive. 

Oh, and it can make both espresso and coffee so you can have some variety in your caffeinated beverage habits!

The AeroPress comes with everything you need to make coffee, including filters, scoopers, and the coffee press itself. 

Here’s how to use the AeroPress.

Step 1 – Fill the AeroPress with Coffee Grounds

Turn your clean AeroPress upside down, connecting the bottom and top components if they’re not already attached. Then take one scoop of your finest ground coffee and insert it into the AeroPress.

Step 2 – Add Hot Water

Fill the AeroPress with hot water until it’s full all the way to the top. Take care not to over-fill the AeroPress though, as then you’ll make a mess.

Step 3 – Stir the Water and Coffee

Mix the water and coffee grounds that are currently in the AeroPress using the included tools. This will break up any clumps of ground coffee. If you lost some water in the stirring process, pour more in the AeroPress.

Step 4 – Insert the Paper Filter

Moisten the paper filter and then, using the included filter plate, put the paper filter into the AeroPress. 

Step 5 – Add the Filter Cap and Let the AeroPress Brew

Finally, insert the filter cap. Don’t turn the AeroPress right-side-up yet, as you want it to remain upside down for the next four minutes.

Step 6 – Press on the Plunger

Now turn the AeroPress right-side-up and push on the plunger. You will hear an audible hissing sound, which is the air meeting the coffee grounds. 

Step 7 – Pour and Enjoy Your Coffee

From there, the AeroPress has brewed your coffee, so all you have to do is transfer the java to your favorite mug and begin sipping away. 

AeroPress coffee is comparable to what you’d brew at home using your trusty and true coffee machine. You’ll get a truer coffee flavor compared to brewing methods that use heat sources like open flames. 

4. In a Teabag

Did you always assume that teabags are for tea only? Well then prepare to be surprised, as you can also make coffee using teabags. 

Now, we’re sure you’re wondering how in the world this is possible. It’s simple. Rather than buy bags full of tea, you purchase bags full of coffee grounds instead. 

Coffee teabags is a bit of a mouthful and also confusing, so you might hear of these referred to as coffee singles as well. 

Each coffee single works the same way as a teabag does and making coffee following this method is so easy. You only need a travel mug and water. 

Then follow these instructions.

Step 1 – Boil Some Water

If your mug is heat-safe, you can use the mug for boiling water. You can also use a coffee pot, but we wouldn’t recommend filling it all the way or even halfway to the top, as you won’t need all that water.

Let the water reach the point where it’s boiling but don’t push it past that. 

Step 2 – Transfer the Water into Your Mug, Then the Coffee Single

Pour some hot, steaming water right into your coffee mug and add the coffee single or coffee teabag, if you will. 

Allow three minutes to pass at the very least. If you want the coffee to have a stronger, more concentrated flavor, then let the coffee sit for five minutes or longer.

Step 3 – Dump the Coffee Single and Drink

Carefully remove the coffee single and sanitarily dispose of it. Then drink your coffee and enjoy the views of the beautiful nature that surrounds you! 

5. French Press

There’s something so delightful about French press coffee, isn’t there? It’s not only a luxury you can enjoy at home, as you can bring a portable French press coffeemaker with you when hiking and backpacking.

Is the coffee machine heavier than most of the other equipment we’ll recommend throughout this article? Yes, but if you love French press coffee, then you’ll be willing to make some concessions. 

The GSI Outdoors JavaPress is a beloved French press machine among the backpacking and hiking community, so we had to recommend it to you as well.

Made of graphite and without any BPAs, the JavaPress can hold 30 fluid ounces of your favorite caffeinated beverage. The cover is both insulated and double-lidded to keep your beverage warmer for longer.

Click the link to read what kind of coffee is best for a French Press.

How do you use the JavaPress and other portable French press machines? Let’s get into the steps here.

Step 1 – Boil Water for the Coffee

Fill a coffee pot or a regular pot with water and then place it on your camping stove. Allow the water to come to a boil and then remove the hot water from the heat source immediately.

Step 2 – Pour Boiling Water into the French Coffee Press

Next, transfer some of the boiling water into the JavaPress or your French press coffeemaker of choice.

Step 3 – Add the Coffee Grounds to the Coffee Press

For every cup of water your JavaPress can hold, you need two teaspoons of ground coffee. Once you’re all set up, put the lid and plunger on.

Step 4 – Let the Lid Sit for a Few Minutes and Use the Plunger

Wait for the next four minutes and then press down on the plunger.

Step 5 – Pour the Coffee into Your Favorite Mug and Enjoy

Keeping the plunger down, unscrew the JavaPress lid and slowly pour the coffee into your mug. 

6. Drip Coffee

Using a drip coffee maker frees you up to prepare a lot of java at the same time, and the flavor is always good. That’s why it’s such excellent news that you can make drip coffee when backpacking or hiking.

Rather than invest in a sizable and heavy drip coffeemaker, we recommend a collapsible option like this one from UST

It’s made of BPA-free plastic so it’s soft, flexible, and sure to leave more room in your backpack for other essentials. 

You can also easily wash the UST drip coffeemaker when you’re finished with it, so it’s truly a valuable tool for coffee lovers to have handy when out in the wilderness.

Making drip coffee with the UST or any other collapsible coffee dripper isn’t complicated in the slightest. Let’s go over the steps now.

Step 1 – Boil Several Cups of Water

You’ll need a significant portion of boiled water to make drip coffee on the go, so prepare several cups now. 

Step 2 – Place the Coffee Dripper Over Your Mug

Grab your favorite travel mug and position the UST coffee dripper over the opening of the mug. 

Step 3 – Add the Cone Coffee Filter

You will need paper filters to make drip coffee when hiking, just as is the case when you’re back home. The cone coffee filter should slot right into the coffee dripper. 

Step 4 – Pour Coffee Grounds Through the Filter

Now it’s time for your coffee grounds to enter the equation. You can use the regular quantity that you would when otherwise making drip coffee.

Step 5 – Pour in the Boiling Water

Take the water from the cups that you boiled before and pour them into the coffee dripper. Allow the coffee to begin dripping as it does.

Step 6 – Have a Nice Cup of Coffee

When the beverage is ready, it’s time for you to savor some hot coffee and get your day off to the right start! 

7. Pour-Over 

If you’re a fan of pour-over coffee, rejoice. You can make coffee in this style when hiking and backpacking, and it’s easier than you might have thought! 

You will need the right tool for the job, such as a collapsible pour-over coffeemaker. We like this one from GSI Outdoors.

Known as the Java Drip, it can hold eight fluid ounces of coffee and features a flange to reduce spills. It’s so handy you just might begin using the Java Drip at home too.

Otherwise, you’ll need some cone filters, coffee grounds (finely ground or medium-ground, your choice), a coffee pot, and a camping mug.

Then follow these instructions.

Step 1 – Put the Pour-Over Coffeemaker Together and Position It Over Your Mug

The Java Drip does require some assembly if this is the first time you’re using it, but it’s simple enough to put it together, and it’s quite fast too.

Once you’ve got the Java Drip installed, position it so it will release coffee into your travel mug.

Step 2 – Heat up the Water

Pour water into the coffee pot and, holding it over a fire or a camping stove, allow the water to reach nearly boiling temperatures. 

Step 3 – Moisten and Add the Filter to the Pour-Over Coffeemaker

Take a cone filter, wet it, and insert it into the Java Drip or whichever pour-over coffeemaker you’re using. 

Step 4 – Add the Coffee Grounds to the Pour-Over Coffeemaker

For every cup of water you use, mix in two tablespoons of coffee grounds. Be sure to tap the Java Drip, as this will even out the coffee grounds. 

Step 5 – Move the Coffee Grounds to the Center

Using up to ¼ cup of water or enough water to moisten the coffee grounds, move the grounds towards the middle of the Java Drip. In about 30 seconds, the grounds should have shifted to the right position.

Step 6 – Add More Water as Needed

Use up the remaining water you have, transferring any leftover coffee grounds towards the center of the coffee dripper, but be sure to only pour the water ¼ cup at a time. 

Step 7 – Pour and Savor

Your coffee is now ready for drinking, so be sure to enjoy it before it gets cold! 

Check out the top 12 Pour-Over Coffee Mistakes.

8. Percolator 

The last method to explore when making camping coffee is to use a percolator. 

Compared to some of the options we’ve looked at, a percolator isn’t as convenient to tote around because it’s heavy (made of stainless steel, usually) and large, but you can make some truly delectable coffee with one of these babies.

We recommend the Coletti Bozeman camping percolator, which can make up to nine cups of coffee at once. All that for under $50! Talk about value.

Besides your percolator, you’ll also need a heat source, a camping mug, and coarse coffee grounds. 

Let’s begin brewing!

Step 1 – Fill the Percolator with Cold Water

Your percolator may have a lid or apparatus that prevents you from filling, so be sure to remove that first. Once the water is in the percolator, put the lid or apparatus back where it was.

Step 2 – Add Coffee to the Grounds Basket

Open the percolator to access the grounds basket, which is covered by a grounds cover. After removing the cover, you can fill the basket with a tablespoon of coffee grounds for each cup of water you’ll use. 

Shut the lid when you’re finished and confirm that the sight glass and siphon stem are in perfect alignment.

Step 3 – Heat up the Percolator

Using medium heat (so no open fire here!), allow the percolator to warm up. When you can see water erupt through the sight glass into the siphon, then the water is officially warm enough. 

Step 4 – Reduce the Stove Heat

Turn the heat down even lower than medium heat and give the coffee grounds about 10 minutes to brew.

Step 5 – Settle and Pour

Leave the percolator for a few minutes with the heat source turned off. The grounds need time to settle, and the apparatus would be far too hot to touch right away anyway.

Then it’s time to get drinking! 

Final Thoughts 

Electricity, running water…you have to sacrifice a lot when hiking and backpacking, but coffee is not on that list. If you have a mug, an open fire, and a portable coffeemaker, you can enjoy java every morning so you’ll be raring to go! 

Remember, high-quality coffee is essential to a great cup of coffee. If you would like more information about how to make the perfect cup of coffee, make sure you head to Taste The Latte for all your coffee needs.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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