How to make coffee when camping: delicious java in the wild

how to make coffee while camping: pouring coffee
Coffee is important (Image credit: Getty Images)

As the world's most widely consumed psychoactive drug, caffeine's popularity isn't going anywhere. Its stimulating effect makes it a particularly invigorating choice during a camping trip, where tea and coffee are ideal as warming pick-me-ups. This is one of the reasons why coffee is the beverage of choice for so many campers. That, and the fact it's absolutely delicious.

If you’re the type of human for whom coffee is second only to oxygen in terms of necessity, you'll need that mug of hot joe to get yourself going. Getting your caffeine fix when far from home or a reputable purveyor of the blessed brew can be tricky, but our guide on how to make coffee when camping – maybe taking advantage of one of the best camping coffee makers – contains a total of 10 ways in which it can be done - in ascending order by degree of drinkability and convenience for camping

To keep your coffee fresh and toasty throughout the day, check out our best hiking flasks. And, if you like a dash of milk in your mug of mud, be sure to take a look at our selection of the best camping coolers.  

Meet the expert

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Kieran Cunningham

Kieran is passionate about the outdoors, particularly when it comes to climbing or quality backpacking trips. Our esteemed former editor has been on adventures of all sizes, from Himalayan epics to microadventures in the UK. He's enjoyed coffee on his trips right across the world and knows more than most about backcountry brewing – particularly as he invented the second method on this list: the sock method.

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Instant coffee

Camping stove on a rock

Boiling water for a morning brew in Glencoe (Image credit: Kieran Cunningham)

If your tastebuds are not the discerning kind, or if faffing around with filters, beans, grinders, and all the rest of it simply sounds like too much hassle, this is – maybe – the way to go. 



No post-brew cleanup

Minimal brewing paraphernalia required (a mug and spoon should do it – you’ll find these in our best camping utensils)


Suboptimal if you happen to have taste buds

The Natural Ice or Keystone Light of caffeine-delivery systems  

The sock method

This method was conceived by the author of this post circa 2008 when his last remaining store-bought filter met a premature end in a rainstorm on a hut-to-hut hike in northern Scotland.

But how’s it done? Grab a clean hiking sock of any shape or form (smaller ones are better), rinse it out to avoid infusing your brew with a taste of laundry detergent, pour your coffee grinds down to the toe, hold it over your mug (see our best camping mugs), pour boiling water in and let your brew drip into your mug.


It works just as well as regular filters

No other coffee-making equipment required (sock only)


Your sock is unlikely to be wearable until washed

Cowboy coffee

A camping kettle on a stove

You can make cowboy coffee by simply throwing your grinds in your pot then skimming them off the surface before drinking (Image credit: Getty)

This method is the most, eh, basic the lot. Simply throw your grinds in a pan, pot, or kettle or boiling water, then a) sieve them out with a bandana or piece of cloth, or b) skim the grounds off the surface of the water with a spoon once boiled.


Very little effort required on the part of the maker

Your camping cohorts with affix the title “Badass” to your name (i.e. “Badass Brian”)


Mouthfuls of coffee-grind croutons are an acquired taste


This method is done by plonking a standard domestic coffee machine filer in your mug or pot, folding the edges over the rim and tying them down with cord (optional), then throwing in your grinds and pouring boiling water over them.


Easy to do

Filters weight next to nothing


Keeping the filter in place while pouring your boiling water can be tricky

Pour-over drip stands

There are now a number of lightweight, compact pour-over stands made specifically for campers on the market. These miniature filters aren’t always very easy to use, but weigh next to nothing, are far more packable than all of the options listed below, and deliver on the taste front far better than all of the options listed above. Our pick of the bunch are the GSI Outdoors Collapsible Silicone Java Drip and the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip.


Lightweight and compact

No recurring costs for filters


Careful pouring required to avoid spilling grinds

The Aerobie AeroPress Coffee Maker

The innovative AeroPress transformed the lives – or at least the mornings – of countless campers across the globe when it first hit the market. It makes one to three cups of coffee per press, is very easy to clean, and its combination of pneumatic press and pour-over system means you avoid the long steep times that make coffee created in a French press bitter and highly acidic.


Quick brew time

Creates smooth delicious coffee

Short steep time avoids bitterness and high acidity


Quite bulky

Moka pot

Moka pot on a camping stove

Moka pots are ideal for espresso-lovers (Image credit: Getty)

If you’re car camping or simply happy to carry a few extra ounces of weight in order to ensure your morning brew is as tasty as can be, an Italian-style stove-top moka pot is a good option. These take a little longer to boil and a little more effort to prep and clean, but offer one the best alternatives for any connoisseur who’s unwilling to compromise on quality. Our favorite is the Bialetti Moka Express 3 Cup Stovetop Coffee Maker.


Makes delicious espressos

Integrated filter means no separate filters are needed


Not the quickest caffeine delivery system


French press

how to make coffee while camping: French press

A stainless steel French press, like Hydro Flask's new for 2024 offering, is ideal for camping trips (Image credit: Alex Foxfield)

Carrying your glass-walled French press from home on the trail or using it around camp isn’t something we’d recommend, but models like the GSI Outdoors JavaPress are made with tough, rugged materials specially designed to deal with a little rough treatment at the campsite.


Can make large quantities of coffee (4-8 cups) in a single press


Long steep time


Portable espresso makers

These newfangled devices take convenience to a whole new level. All you have to do is sprinkle your grounds in one compartment, load the other with water, hit a button, and wait circa two minutes before enjoying an espresso every bit as fresh, rich and smooth as the ones you make at home.


Highly convenient

Easy to use


Pricey initial outlay

Batteries required

Heavy and bulky

Integrated cook systems

how to make coffee while camping: Jetboil Flash

The Jetboil Flash and Jetboil Silicone French Press Coffee Maker are our favorites for brewing up (Image credit: Alex Foxfield)

Many all-in-one cook systems – and a few of those featured in our best camping stoves buying guide – can be converted into a coffee press by purchasing a separate French press plunger. While the cook systems themselves are a little on the bulky and heavy side, adding the plunger will only weigh you down an extra 2-3 ounces. Our favorites? The Jetboil Flash Stove and the Jetboil Silicone French Press Coffee Maker.


Gives you a French press coffee maker without the glass carafe

Can make 4-8 coffees per press, depending on the model


French press brewing requires a lot of grounds

All-in-one systems are bulky and heavy

Kieran Cunningham

Former Advnture editor Kieran is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran is the author of 'Climbing the Walls', an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors.