7 Best Ways to Make Coffee in the Backcountry
Most would argue that coffee is mandatory on backcountry adventures. The high-octane powers of camp coffee help jump-start the mind and body for big days in the mountains or the desert. But what’s the best way to make coffee in the backcountry? At MSR, we offer an array of tools to get the job done. We believe how you choose to brew is really up to you (Dr. Seuss, eat your heart out).
Whether you prefer the pour-over or the French press, here are some of our favorite tools and methods for brewing up in the wild. We’ll let you choose the one that best represents you.
1. The Trailside Pour-Over Coffee
Pika™ Teapot + PocketRocket® Deluxe Stove + MugMate™ Filter
Perfect if you: Want a quality pour-over experience and pack-friendly gear to make it happen.
This ultralight, compact kit provides a pour-over experience that rivals any home kettle. The Pika Teapot was specifically engineered for dispensing a strong, precise pour that’s easy to direct into small-mouth vessels. Pair it with the ultralight PocketRocket Deluxe Stove, which cranks out fast boil times even when the temperatures dip, thanks to its built-in pressure regulator. Toss in the featherweight MugMate Filter and you’re set for your coffee fix anywhere, anytime.
2. Windy-at-Camp French Press
WindBurner® Personal Stove System + Press
Perfect if you: Might be in wind, cold, up high, or just want coffee—fast.
Morning brought the gusts to your ridgeline camp. Still, the day demands coffee, and fast. With its custom press and fully enclosed design, the WindBurner becomes a rapid, windproof brewing machine. Its french press breaks down to stow easily inside the WindBurner’s cup, creating a pack-friendly coffee kit. Fueled up for the day, you can now persevere through the onslaught of nature’s fury.
3. Big-Wall French Press
Reactor® Stove System + Hanging Kit + Press
Perfect if you: Are living in a vertical world, where coffee and fuel efficiency (to reduce weight) matter.
Every good day on the wall starts with a jumpstart of the mind. Nothing will provide that faster or with greater fuel efficiency than the Reactor, a rocket ship of a stove that’s still the gold standard on big-wall climbs. Having powered historic feats, the Reactor, along with its press and hanging kit, makes it easy to get a cup of joe a thousand feet in the air.
4. The Backcountry AeroPress®
Titan™ Kettle + PocketRocket 2 stove + AeroPress + Titan Cup
Perfect if you: Seek a premium experience without the weight.
Our Titan cookware is built of titanium, which is more durable than aluminum and 45% lighter than steel. Together, the kettle, stove and cup weigh a mere 247 g (8.7 oz), leaving plenty of weight to splurge on the (ultralight) press. Indeed, a little splurging goes a long way toward staying motivated on sufferfest adventures. Throw in the efficiency and ease of use of an AeroPress®, and you’ve got a premium coffee setup for alpine endeavors.
5. Fast-and-Light Instant Coffee
Trail Mini™ Solo Cook Set + PocketRocket 2 stove + Via
Perfect if you: Are a gram-counting minimalist, moving fast, or seeking instant caffeine gratification.
If coffee is simply a vehicle for caffeine, this is your kit. Perfect for the soloist moving fast with a small pack, the Trail Mini Solo Cook Set plays double duty as your cooking vessel and drinking mug. Sized just right for one large cup of coffee, the pot also stows the stove, a 4-oz fuel canister, and your Via® coffee packets, offering a compact kit that slips easily into bike panniers or alpine packs. With its impressive 3.5-minute boil time, the ultra-tiny PocketRocket 2 Stove won’t leave you waiting long for that burst of energy. Think of this as sophisticated cowboy coffee.
6. Coffee for Two (or more)
WindBurner Duo Stove System + Press
Perfect if you: Need a generous pot of coffee fast to serve you and a trail partner or two.
At 1.8 L, the WindBurner Duo Stove System has morning coffee covered for up to three. The stove’s remote burner design is compatible with the larger WindBurner pots, making this an ultra-versatile system for both backcountry adventures and frontcountry campouts. Thanks to its high-tech features, including its internal pressure regulator and radiant burner, the stove is a powerhouse even when the conditions are unpredictable. Add in the custom press and this stove brings the heat for hot coffee fast.
7. Coffee with a Side of Snow
Reactor Stove System + Shovel Blade
Perfect if you: Are an alpinist, mountaineer, backcountry skier or snowshoer.
Snow is cold and that cold sucks the heat out of fuel canisters, causing most stoves to run slower. But the Reactor has a secret weapon. The stove features an internal pressure regulator that allows it to deliver fast boil times even as temperatures drop. As long as the canister’s internal temperature is above freezing, the Reactor will crank at full blast. One way to keep the canister temp above freezing is to place it in a bowl of water. Another is to use a shovel blade to elevate it off the snow.
However you choose to craft your backcountry coffee, we’re certain it will be among the best-tasting cups you’ve ever had—with the views and goals to match.
Updated. Originally published on Jun 22nd, 2021.