Gear Shed

The Best Coffee Tools for Backpackers

French press, espresso, or Clif Shot?

Kalita Wave Stainless-Steel Dripper.     Photo: Andy Wickstrom

Many hikers develop a fondness for their gear. Maybe it's a comfortable shirt or a worn-in pack. But for some, a steaming cup of black gold in the morning is as indispensable as a trusty old pair of boots.

Luckily, no matter where you happen to be or where you're going, quite a few gadgets exist that will make your mug the pride of any barista. From latte sets to French presses to packable espresso makers, we've compiled a list of backcountry gear that will deliver the perfect cup of Joe. So strap up, hit the trail, and sip on.

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  1. 1

    Kalita Wave Stainless-Steel Dripper

    Photo: Andy Wickstrom

    The choice of true coffee professionals, Kalita’s simple brewing systems bring back the good-old drip flavor in full force. “The cup it brews is much cleaner than a French press and is quite satisfying,” says Andy Wickstrom, a designer at Intelligentsia Coffee and avid rock climber. “You don’t have to worry about breaking it, and you can just shove it in a backpack easily for hiking or any outdoor activity.”

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  2. 2

    GSI Ultralight Java Drip

    Photo: GSI

    What weighs a fraction of an ounce and brews great coffee? GSI Outdoors’ classic Ultralight Java Drip. Tiny in stature, the Java Drip features a mesh cone that doesn’t require additional filters. The contraption folds down to almost nothing and fits into the smallest, lightest backpack.

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  3. 3

    Jetboil Flash Java Kit

    Photo: Jetboil

    For Jetboil loyalists, the easiest solution is the company’s signature press. This French press brew will undoubtedly improve your morning cup over instant coffee. The stem detaches from the filter to allow easy storage.

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  4. 4

    GSI JavaMill

    Photo: GSI

    While crushing beans with a handy palm-sized boulder is always an option, the ideal cup of coffee doesn’t have that much grit. The Java Mill will give you the perfect grind anywhere you choose to go. The conical burr grinder is adjustable, easy to clean, and foldable for convenient packing.

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  5. 5

    Snow Peak Titanium Cafe Latte Set

    Photo: Snow Peak

    A backcountry option for the cappuccino inclined, Snow Peak’s titanium cafe latte set will bring out your inner barista. The milk foamer and French press weigh just over 13 ounces combined and come with a handy carrying case.

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  6. 6

    Clif Shot Mocha

    Photo: Clif

    If you’re looking for the kick of a morning cup of joe without the hassle of brewing the beverage, Clif Shot Mocha is arguably the best tasting, most compact option. Packed with electrolytes, carbs, and caffeine, the 1-ounce organic gel offers a quick and easy burst of energy.

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  7. 7

    Bodum Travel Press

    Photo: Bodum

    In the realm of mug/coffee press combinations, Bodum hits the nail on the head. Its lightweight travel presses are stylish, efficient, and make a great brew. The double-wall design keeps your coffee hot on cold mornings. Each press also comes with a regular lid in case you’re interested in other brewing options.

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  8. 8

    Thermos Vacuum Insulated 24-Ounce Matte Black Drink Bottle

    Photo: Thermos

    Save yourself the grind of bringing beans or even a stove. For day hikes or overnighters, brew a cup of java at home and keep it hot until you’re ready to drink it. Thermos’ new vacuum insulated 24-ounce bottle keeps drinks hot for up to 18 hours.

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  9. 9

    GSI 1-Cup Aluminum Mini Expresso

    Photo: GSI

    Good espresso is an addiction. Obviously, carrying a Rancilio Silva on the trail isn’t an option. To get that tiny cup of black gold almost anywhere, check out GSI’s Mini Expresso makers. They come in one or four cups and aluminum or stainless-steel models.

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  10. 10

    MSR Titan Kettle

    Photo: MSR

    A good kettle can be a good friend. The MSR Titan kettle features a drip-free lid, titanium construction, and a design that allows storage of MSR fuel canisters. At .85 liters, it won’t boil enough water for a serious coffee binge, but that’s probably a good thing.

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