Some of the best ways to get your coffee in the backcountry

Perhaps you, like me, do not particularly like to start your day without some coffee. Even when I’m miles from anywhere and I don’t have to do anything that day besides hike or paddle, I really like my morning coffee.

And I’m not even that bad. I have a friend who doesn’t get dressed before she has a cup, which makes cold, tent-bound mornings potentially awkward.

Used to be, your only options were flavorless, gritty instant coffee or elaborate, messy, better-left-in-your kitchen set ups that got grounds everywhere. Luckily the options for all-star, kitchen-free coffee are expanding and getting better. So no matter how you like your caffeine, you don’t have to hold out in the backcountry.

Kuju Pourovers

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Developed by a pair of former Boy Scout brothers who were unimpressed by all-instant options, Kuju makes single-serving pour-over packets from ethically sourced beans. All you need is a mug and a little bit of patience.

Starbucks Via

All you need is hot water. Photo: Tim Wright

When Starbucks launched their version of instant coffee, the Via packet, they changed the game. Unlike Nescafe days of yore, you could finally get a cup of coffee that actually tasted decent in a tiny packet of powder.

I hate to admit I’m pulling for the corporate guy, even though Starbucks “technically” is local in Seattle, where I live, but more often than not this is what I’ll take camping. Simple, no mess, tastes decent.

French press

A handful of camping stove companies, like Jetboil and MSR, make a French-press option for their pots, so you can brew coffee on the same contraption where you make oatmeal. If this is your at-home method, like it is mine, you won’t be missing much.

The one downside is that it gets messy and grounds can be everywhere, which is not ideal for leaving no trace.


A hipster favorite, the Aeropress makes a really good, strong cup of coffee through suction. Like the French press, you still have to bring your coffee on its own, but cleanup is relatively simple, because the press condenses the grounds into a little puck. As good as coffee you’d make at home, without much added weight or fuss.

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