How to Carry Coffee When Hiking and Backpacking 

It’s a common misconception that you have to go without coffee when hiking and backpacking when really, you don’t have to deprive yourself at all. Rather, you just have to find an optimal way to carry coffee to prevent even a drop from spilling. What are your carrying options?

Here’s how to carry coffee when hiking and backpacking:

  • Plastic zippy bags 
  • Plastic Tupperware container
  • Aluminum foil bags
  • Parchment or wax paper 
  • Oilcloth or tin 
  • Single-use coffee bags
  • Collapsible coffee mugs
  • Insulated travel mugs

Whether you want to transport unused coffee grounds or fresh coffee to drink when hiking and adventuring, the storage methods we listed above are all fantastic options. Keep reading for more information and product recommendations!

1. Plastic Zippy Bags

Let’s begin with what’s the most basic and possibly the least sophisticated storage method for coffee grounds, and that’s plastic Ziploc bags.

We’re sure you have these bags handy in your kitchen pantry right now, which makes them a convenient option for carrying coffee grounds on your upcoming hiking or backpacking adventure. 

Ziploc (and similar branded) plastic baggies come in a variety of sizes. For coffee grounds, you’ll want at least a quart-sized bag, but feel free to upsize the plastic bag size depending on how many days you’ll camp and how much coffee you know you’ll drink.

The gallon bags are really handy if you want to pack a lot of coffee grounds with you for your outdoor trip!

Ziploc bags are quite thick and sturdy, especially as you upgrade the sizes. Another advantage of the bags is that they close completely, creating an airtight seal. 

The bags aren’t entirely impervious to damage, so you will want to make sure that you don’t store your Ziploc bags near any sharp objects in your packing setup. 

The biggest downside by far of using plastic zippy bags is that the bags offer little to no protection against certain elements. 

Coffee grounds should be shielded from moisture, heat, and light. A Ziploc bag will only protect against moisture, not light, and not too much from heat either.  

2. Plastic Tupperware Container 

Another option for keeping coffee when hiking and backpacking, assuming you’re only interested in packing the grounds, is a plastic Tupperware container.

These containers come in all sorts of shapes and sizes so that whether you want to bring just a bit of coffee or a lot, you can pack the container full of grounds. 

Do keep in mind that some sizes of Tupperware containers can be a little awkward in your backpack. 

If the container is longer than it is taller, then it’s going to have to wedge deep into your bag and take up valuable space there.

Even the smaller Tupperware containers when stacked can still become space hogs. There’s no way to collapse these plastic containers, although you can stack them inside one another when they’re empty. 

One of the biggest risks of using a plastic Tupperware container for your coffee grounds is that the plastic can leech some of its flavors into the coffee grounds. You might notice that your coffee doesn’t come out with the same quality you’re used to.

Then again, if you’re following a method like making cowboy coffee, then the flavor of your coffee isn’t necessarily the biggest concern. You just want the caffeine jolt.

For coffee purists though, this is something to keep in mind. 

3. Aluminum Foil Bags 

Your next option for storing coffee grounds when hiking and backpacking is to use aluminum foil bags like these on Amazon.

Think of aluminum foil bags like Ziploc bags but made of aluminum rather than translucent plastic. 

The bags we linked you to above measure 4.8 inches by 6.4 inches apiece. You get 100 bags in a pack that are each made with real aluminum foil to prevent odors that you get from plastic.

Not only that, but aluminum foil bags also have something that plastic zippy bags don’t, and that’s opaqueness. The bags won’t let in sunlight and heat the same way that a Ziploc bag can. 

The seal of an aluminum foil bag works the same way, in that you just push on the top of the bag to create an airtight seal. 

Your coffee grounds will not be able to leak out, and they’ll be perfectly safeguarded from the elements.

The size of these bags is very travel-friendly for hikers and backpackers. You probably won’t bring all 100, but you can stash as many as you need. One bag should hold enough grounds for at least one cup of coffee.

We also quite love how these aluminum foil bags are reusable. You will need soap and water to clean them out, so that’s something you’ll have to do at home rather than when out in nature. 

The bags also come in handy for storing small snacks! 

4. Parchment or Wax Paper

If you’re looking for a quick, budget-friendly option for carrying coffee grounds when hiking and backpacking, why not use parchment or wax paper? 

You’re probably wondering how this would work, so allow us to explain. 

You’d take a piece of parchment or wax paper like you would when packing a lunch or making cookies. Lay the paper flat on a level, hard surface such as your kitchen counter (yes, you’d prep the coffee grounds before you go).

Make sure you only add a touch of the grounds. If you pour in too many, then you won’t be able to fold up the parchment or wax paper to make small pouches without the grounds overflowing. 

Once you have the coffee grounds ready, that’s your next job, to make a pouch using the paper.

Take the other half of the paper that’s not filled with coffee grounds and fold it atop the half that contains the grounds. Then tuck the edges in, double-folding if necessary, until the edges are mostly leak-proof.

Neither wax paper nor parchment paper is really tape-friendly. The tape won’t stick, so don’t waste your time (or your tape!).

Instead, you’re better off stapling the corners of the little parchment or wax paper pouch you’ve created.

Make sure you staple all four corners to prevent leaks.

Then you can stash the pouches in your backpack and be on your merry way.

Depending on how compact you made the pouches, each pouch might contain enough coffee grounds for one cup of coffee. 

If not, then you can always double up.

Unlike some of the other options we’ve looked at, making parchment paper or wax paper pouches is not a reusable solution.  

5. Oilcloth or Tin  

We hope you’re not tired of pouches yet, as you have a few more options for making small, tidy, completely portable pouches of coffee grounds that you can stash in your bag when backpacking or hiking. 

One such option you have is to use oilcloth.

Oilcloth is linen or cotton duck cloth that includes a boiled linseed oil coating. The layer of linseed oil acts as a waterproofing measure, which is always handy.

After all, when working with cloth, if you were to put something wet in your backpack, any other type of cloth could become soaked through. 

Your coffee grounds would get wet too and instantly be ruined!

Oilcloth will prevent that so your grounds can remain intact and usable even if you were to get caught in a sudden downpour and your backpack got soaked. 

On a flat piece of oilcloth, fill up some coffee grounds. Then pinch both ends of the cloth and use a secure tie so the bag doesn’t come loose as you carry it.

If you’d rather not make yet another pouch, a similar option is to keep your coffee grounds in a tin.

Compared to a plastic Tupperware container, a tin definitely carries a smaller quantity of grounds, perhaps not even enough to make one cup of coffee. You should certainly load up so you don’t run out of coffee. 

Both oilcloth pouches and tins are convenient in that they’ll prevent heat, light, and moisture from getting in and degrading the coffee grounds. 

Of course, neither option creates an airtight seal, so try to get to your grounds sooner than later. 

6. Single-Use Coffee Bags

If you want to make carrying coffee when hiking and backpacking as convenient and portable as possible, then single-use coffee bags are a great way to do it. 

These bags, as the name implies, don’t reseal, so you’ll want to keep them intact until you’re ready to brew coffee. 

You can stash a couple of bags in your backpack, and when the urge for coffee strikes, pull out a bag and get brewing. 

Just make sure you responsibly dispose of the single-use coffee bag when you’re finished, following the “leave no trace” rules common of parks and campgrounds. In other words, clean up behind you so it was like you were never there.

Depending on the size of the single-use coffee bag, transporting it in your backpack can be a little awkward, especially if you’re carrying a lot of bags. 

Besides that, the coffee bags can also be rather heavy if you’re carrying a large supply such as a week’s worth or two weeks’ worth.

You also have to watch how you’re packing your backpack. If any sharp objects come into contact with the coffee bags, they could easily rip, leaking coffee grounds all over your backpack and making a real mess of things. 

7. Collapsible Coffee Mugs

Let’s talk about how you’re going to drink the coffee you’ll brew when you’re out hiking or backpacking. 

Your backpack does not have infinite room, so you have to pack carefully and concertedly. You also don’t want to bring any ceramic or glass mugs, as they most certainly will not survive the expedition. 

A plastic collapsible travel mug like this one from Stojo is an excellent traveling solution.

The mug can hold 12 ounces or 355 millimeters of fluid. When collapsed, the mug is only two inches in size, so it’s certainly small enough that you can stash it into a side compartment of your backpack and still have plenty of room to spare. 

The Stojo mug is small enough that when collapsed, you can carry it in your pocket!

Most of the mug is made of food-grade silicone, including the straw, tab, and lid. 

The heat sleeve and plastic lid are recyclable so you can feel good about your purchase. All ingredients are free of glue, lead, and phthalates. 

When the tab is inserted into the mug, it’s leakproof so that even if you’re hiking or climbing on uneven terrain, you don’t have to worry about sloshing and spilling coffee.

8. Insulated Travel Mugs

Perhaps backpack space isn’t a concern for you but keeping your coffee warm for long periods is. Your coffee always seems to go lukewarm before you get a chance to really savor it, which is a bummer. 

It sounds like you need an insulated coffee mug. 

The Hydro Flask is one of the most renowned insulated mugs around. TempShield dual-walled vacuum insulation will maintain the same warm or cold temperature of your beverage for hours at a time. 

The 18/8 professional stainless steel that Hydro Flask uses for each travel mug prevents the unwanted transfer of flavors that you get so often in plastic mugs or containers. The stainless steel construction also ensures this mug is free of toxins and BPAs.

A Soft Touch exterior feels great on your hands so that even if you’re carrying a hot coffee, you’ll never feel it when holding this mug.

The press-in lid closes completely shut. This not only further enhances the temperature maintenance of the Hydro Flask but also prevents your coffee from spilling.

When you do want to take a drink, all you have to do is slide the lid open and insert a straw or just sip from the opening. 

How To Keep Coffee Warm Outside

We’ve provided some great ideas on to bring your coffee along when hiking or backpacking, but what is there anything you can do to keep it warm for longer when your outside?

By far my favorite purchase I’ve made when it comes to coffee is my temperature-controlled smart mug. They are by far the coolest thing I’ve used to keep my coffee not only hot but ensuring that the temperature of my first sip is the same as my last sip. I purchased the Ember a while back, and it did not disappoint. 

So, how do these temperature-controlled mugs work? The material inside the walls of the mug is called Phase Changer Material. This is what allows the mug to sense when your coffee is cooling off and then pulls heat from the Phase Change Material battery to maintain your coffee’s temperature. It’s genius!

When you are not using your mug, store it on the charger for your next cup of coffee. I have found the battery life reasonable and lasts me a few hours.

The newest Ember actually comes with a charging coaster that will keep your mug charged and your coffee warm ALL day. You can’t beat that. It comes in a variety of colors for everyone in your family. Below you’ll find the latest Ember on Amazon. 

For more great options on how to keep your coffee warm outside, click here!

Final Thoughts  

Carrying coffee when hiking or backpacking is easier than you might have thought, especially if you have the right gear with you. 

You can keep your coffee fresh and drink a sizable cup whether you’re camping out in a national forest or the middle of nowhere!

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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