Man isn’t meant to stay indoors — our weekly “Trekking” column can attest to that. It’s a column dedicated to the adventurer inside of all of us, the one pining to ditch the office humdrum for a quick surf session or seven-week jaunt in the Grand Tetons. One day we may highlight an ultra-light stove and the next a set of handmade canoe paddles. Life doesn’t just happen inside the workplace, so get outside and live it.
The revered poet T.S. Elliot once said that he could measure out his life with coffee spoons, and sadly, the same could be said for many of us. A good cup of joe in the morning often seems as essential on the trail as your sleeping bag and go-to pair of hiking boots, a staple that’s as much grounded in caffeine as it is the nature of our morning ritual. Don’t get us wrong, we love to a toss a classic percolator over an open fire when space permits, yet we tend to find solace in coffee curators that curb access weight in favor of lightweight functionality. From a reusable filter to a titanium French Press weighing less than 6.5 ounces, below are our favorite coffee makers for the great outdoors. Just keep in mind the best way to wake up is definitely not Folgers.
Snow Peak’s French Press may only make a mere two cups of coffee, but it also only weighs 6.3 ounces and revels in a slim, titanium design. You simply add water and coffee before stirring it and letting it sit for several minutes. Once properly steeped, you then gently press down upon the black knob at the top of the plunger and serve as you would normally. The Japanese-built press is elegant, and moreover, one of the lightest around.
GSI Mini Expresso ($25)
Coffee comes in all manner of shapes and sizes (including expresso). That said, GSI’s dedicated contraption is a stovetop expresso maker built for the days when mere drip coffee just isn’t an option. The miniature, 8.2-ounce device brews a single double shot in less than 90 seconds, and its stainless-steel construction renders it more durable than many aluminum offerings currently saturating the market. The simple instructions and recipes just add a touch of convenience while on the move.
American Press ($72)
Everyone knows about the French Press, but its American counterpart is something of a novelty. The device utilizes several scoops of medium-ground coffee, an ultra-fine steel filter, and a reusable pod to get the job done, letting you to adjust the strength of your coffee with varying degrees of force. Holes lining the pod allow water to seep through the ground as you press down on the handle, and given the carafe’s shatterproof construction, you needn’t worry about it breaking while stowed in your car.
GSI Ultralight Java Drip ($10)
It doesn’t get much more affordable than GSI’s Ultralight Java Drip. The simple device attaches itself atop the mug or container of your choosing using a set of leg clips, allowing you to filter coffee grounds with your standard paper filter or recyclable alternative. Sure, it’s not particularly quick, but you can house the ½-ounce filter beneath a standard fuel cartridge for added convenience when headed into the woods.
Another Snow Peak wear, the Collapsible Pour Over takes a different approach to coffee than its larger brethren. You can place the 4.9-ounce, stainless-steel brewer atop the container of your own choosing before pouring water over your coffee grounds and filter, or if you prefer, simply fold up the lightweight brewer and pack it into your bag for later. It’s as compact as it is efficient, measuring 6.5-inches wide when stowed.
MSR MugMate ($12)
MSR’s MugMate shines in terms of its simplicity. It’s a reusable coffee and tea filter made for single a serving, one that essentially does away with wasteful paper filters in favor of something a bit more sustainable. You merely need to fill the filter with coffee grounds, pop on the included lid, and submerge it in hot water until it’s strong enough to drink. Afterward, wash, rinse, and repeat the process for whoever is next in line.
Aeropress Coffee Maker ($32)
The much-lauded Aeropress combines elements of the French Press and a standard drip coffee maker, which ultimately results in a single cup of coffee that touts a low acidity level and lacks the bitterness typically associated with more conventional brewers. The short, tube-like design also weighs just over 8 ounces — with a week’s supply of paper filters — and uses little in the way of water, meaning you’re not constantly waiting on a quart of water to boil when you could be headed out on the trail.
Jetboil’s limited-edition French Press is impressive for numerous reason. First off, the titanium device weighs less than ½ a pound and serves up to five, 12-ounce cups of coffee in a single sitting. It additionally comes adorned with rubberized grips on the side handle and top of the plunger, so you don’t risk burning your hands once you’ve given the coffee grounds the proper amount of time to steep. The fact Jetboil individually numbers each press is only second to their functionality.
This article was original published on January 14, 2015, and updated on February 8, 2016.