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GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press review: a packable all-in-one french press for camping and commuting

Built for anyone on the go, this efficient coffee maker is a french press and travel mug hybrid, meaning you can spend more time sipping and less time brewing

GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press
(Image: © GSI Outdoors)

Our Verdict

If you love coffee but favor function over fancy, this high quality all-in-one french press and travel mug keeps your joe warm for hours and is the top pick to fuel your adventures, or morning commute

For

  • Holds up to 14oz of coffee at a time
  • Fairly compact with handy carrying strap
  • Easy to use and clean
  • Durable stainless steel outer
  • Vacuum-insulated design provides superior heat and cold retention
  • Spill resistant with non slip base and sealable spout

Against

  • A little heavy for backpacking
  • Coffee according to directions is a little strong for most
  • A little pricey compared to more versatile coffee makers

GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press: first impressions

The GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press – one of Advnture's best camping coffee makers – prizes function and efficiency with a french press/travel mug hybrid that lets you hit the road as soon as you’ve pushed the plunger and keeps your coffee warm for hours. This simple design features a BPA-free plastic inner chamber and filter that fits inside the stainless steel mug. Just add coffee and hot water to the mug, screw the lid onto the chamber and sit it at the water line for four minutes, then gently press down. No need to pour your coffee into a separate cup – just sip directly. 

The vacuum-insulated design keeps your coffee warm for about three hours which is great because it can hold up to 14oz at a time. If you’re packing up and heading out on the road, it fits easily in your cup holder and you can enjoy it on the drive. If you’re at camp, its streamlined design is extremely packable, easy to use on uneven ground can easily make a couple of cups at a time. The screw-on lid creates a really effective spill-free design so you don’t have to worry about getting coffee all over your gear, and while it’s a little heavy for backpacking, a hand carrying strap means you can clip it to your backpack.

You might want to experiment with the ratio of coffee to water to find your perfect blend, but that’s true of most coffee makers. It’s priced relatively similar to other camping coffee makers that offer more versatility, but you’re paying for ease of use and a robust construction that will certainly last.

Specifications

• RRP: $34.95 (US) / £36.95 (UK)
• Weight: 12.5oz / 353g (including scoop and stirrer)
Materials: Stainless steel mug, BPA free polypropylene carafe
• Brew capacity: 14.3oz
• Dimensions: 7.5 in x 3 in
• Best use: Car camping, glamping, road trips, commuting

GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press: round the campfire

GSI Outdoors Microlite Java press

The GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press prizes function and efficiency with a french press/travel mug hybrid that lets you hit the road as soon as you’ve pushed the plunger (Image credit: GSI Outdoors)

I’ve owned a french press/travel mug hybrid for camping for years and while I love the functionality, it’s a bit large and doesn’t make the world’s best coffee, so I was excited to get an upgrade with the GSI Outdoors Microlite Java Press. This basically looks like a stainless steel travel mug with a lid, but inside is a plastic carafe that allows you to brew coffee and drink it on the go.

I was a little worried that it would be difficult to use, because the vacuum makes it a little harder to pull the carafe out, but once there’s water inside, it plunges really smoothly. In fact, using it couldn’t be easier – just add coffee grounds and water, let it brew for four minutes then plunge and drink. I followed the directions for the coffee/water ratio initially and found it far too strong for me, but with a little tinkering I can attest that it makes a nice cup of coffee. The mug is wide enough that there’s no coffee ground spillage when spooning your coffee in. It holds quite a lot of coffee compared to other styles, and while I’m more of a small, strong shot kind of person, it was nice to be able to pour out a couple of cups for my friends without having to re-brew. Clean up is pretty straightforward – just dump out the grounds and rinse.

The area I find most impressive in this coffee maker is how secure your coffee is. Whereas some of the other camping coffee makers I’ve tried aren’t all that easy to use on uneven ground, this one is really pretty stable and you can even grip it in between your thighs and plunge down, because the mug isn’t separate. Once the coffee is ready and the lid is screwed on and sealed, it just doesn’t spill, plus fits in any car cup holder I’ve tried. It's got a non slip base so you could even stick on the dashboard without catastrophe.

It’s a little heavy for backpacking, but great for travel, commuting and anyone who just likes to sip coffee all morning long.

Here’s how it performed:

Coffee

Makes a very decent cup of coffee, just experiment a bit with the proportions for your own taste.

Ease of use

Super simple – add hot water and coffee, stir, wait, plunge and sip.

Durability

The stainless steel mug is very robust.

Portability

It’s certainly packable due to its streamlined cylindrical shape and not too big, but the weight is a little on the heavy side for backpacking. However, a carrying strap on the lid means you could clip it to your backpack.

Capacity

It brews up to 14oz at a time, so you can get a couple of good-sized cups of coffee.

Value 

It’s priced similarly to some other coffee makers with more versatility, but it’s high quality and will last you a very long time.

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.