Backpacking Coffee: How to make it right?

hiking coffee

Spending time in nature on a backpacking trip can do wonders for your body and mind. And while making sure you have the best gear can make your trip more comfortable, having the right tools to ensure you can make a good cup of coffee every morning can take your trip from exciting to amazing. 

A good old cuppa joe provides just the right amount of caffeine to give you that extra energy you need to get you through long days on your feet. But packing heavy tools to make it can hold you back. So, how to make backpacking coffee while far away from your trusted coffee machine? Let’s look at a few easy ways to brew coffee that require limited items and not much effort. 

Ways to make backpacking coffee on your trip

Old faithful: Instant Coffee

If you’re one of those people who are super cranky before your first cup of coffee, instant coffee is a quick and easy way to get your dose of caffeine. Yes, that bag that takes just a few minutes to prepare can indeed make your entire day (and trip!)

What you need:

  • A bag of instant coffee
  • Powder milk 
  • Boiling water 
  • Sugar if you like your cuppa sweet 

If you’re camping and do not have access to a kettle, you can quickly boil water in a steel pot over your campfire. 


Simply pour the fine coffee powder into your cup and add hot water to the desired quantity. It’s that simple!

Instant backpacking coffee may not be what you are used to, but it can instantly put you in a better mood. If you have to pack light, consider this method.

Into the wild: Cowboy coffee 

backpacking coffee

Contrary to popular belief, this is not a Texas thing. Apparently, this is how the most experienced backpackers do it. Cowboy coffee is said to give the earthliest notes and is also considered by some to be the easiest way to make it. 

What you need:

  • A pot 
  • Coffee grounds 
  • A filter (A sock or a handkerchief will do)
  • Boiling water 
  • Sugar if needed 


  • Heat water in a pot over the campfire and add the coffee grounds
  • Let it boil for around two minutes
  • Decant the coffee through the filter and into your cup

Fun fact: Some rugged campers have been known to make cowboy coffee without decanting!

While most people don’t take any sugar with cowboy coffee, a few spoons will give it a creamier taste and an extra kick. 

A little decadence: Coffee Bags 

Another super easy method to consider is making use of coffee bags. Coffee bags typically come in different flavors and are often a little more decant than instant coffee. 

What you need: 

  • Coffee bags 
  • Boiling water 
  • Instant milk 
  • Sugar if needed 


  • Pour boiling water into a mug containing a coffee bag 
  • Let it stand for at least three minutes 
  • Steep the bag in and out of the water for a few seconds
  • Take out the bag with a spoon and voila, your coffee is ready!

What makes coffee bags convenient is that you can make them yourself with the use of a coffee filter and a piece of rope. Simply place ground coffee in the middle of a coffee filter, bring the sides together and tie with a string of rope. So easy.  

A little luxury: The pour-over method

Pour-overs involve either the use of a single serving filter (usually paper) or a reusable coffee filter (a mesh basket or a stainless-steel filter).

What you need: 

  • Ground coffee
  • A filter 
  • Boiled water 
  • Instant milk if needed 
  • Sugar if needed 


  • Place a filter over your mug
  • Dispense coffee grounds into the filter
  • Slowly pour hot water over the filter 
  • Allow the coffee to drip into the mug 
  • Remove the filter and let the coffee stand for a few minutes

The quality and taste of backpacking coffee from the pour-over method depends largely on which ground coffee you choose. So, if you want to take your favourite blend on your trip, you can! 

If you’re not wary of the cost, there are several lightweight devices available that use the pour-over method with reusable filters, which are much more convenient and cost-effective.

Add a little luxury: The press method 

There are different devices available for this method. Typically, they are shaped like a syringe that allows you to prepare a makeshift espresso. It uses a pressure-through-filter brew method to produce rich cups of coffee. 

What you need:

  • A pressing device 
  • Ground coffee 
  • Boiled water 
  • Instant milk
  • Sugar if needed 

The method: 

  • Place the base over your cup, insert the filter and pour in coffee grounds
  • Add hot water to fill and wait for about 15 seconds
  • Press using the plunger for 20 seconds

If you are open to carrying a little more weight, a French Press is a great option. This method uses coarser coffee grounds but doesn’t require a filter. 


  • Pour grounds into the bottom of the device
  • Add hot water to fill and stir
  • Press after 10 minutes

Going old school: The coffee percolator 

This is a traditional method that makes use of the process of percolation. The device used is basically a pipe that runs up into a basket where the grounds are placed. As the water boils, it is pushed up into the pipe and ultimately, into the basket. All you have to do is pour in your coffee grounds. Percolation is great for making large amounts of delicious java.

Let’s have a cup of coffee

If you’re planning your next adventure and can’t leave without your coffee, there are plenty of methods to consider to brew it on the go. What you have to keep in mind is a lightweight option that produces good quality coffee without much effort. The best way to find the right method for you is to try the different options at home first. You’ll quickly discover the best method to brew your favorite cuppa. Happy camping! 

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