How to have the best backpacking coffee

Even in the backcountry, our coffee cravings continue. There’s nothing better than a hot cup of coffee while backpacking, looking out over an alpine lake or from the top of a mountain. And considering we’re miles and miles from civilization, having the best instant coffee for backpacking is paramount.

Thankfully, when it comes to the best backpacking coffee, there are a handful of backpacking coffee options. Additionally, while there are many choices, we also have to factor in taste, waste, weight, and ease (no one wants to spend much time in the morning on coffee).

With hundreds of miles under my belt backpacking across the Western US, I wanted to provide people with an excellent resource for the best backpacking coffee, and then ya’ll can choose what to do with the information given.

We’re also going to be a bit fast and loose when it comes to “instant” for the purists out there to include more varieties to truly give you the best backpacking coffee options.

Related: Download my free Backpacking FAQ E-Book

How do you make backpack coffee

I have narrowed it down to three different tiers regarding coffee while backpacking options. The first is your classic “instant coffee,” which comes either individually prepackaged or in a larger can. The second is normal coffee grounds that you can use in an AeroPress. The third is Wildland Coffee’s coffee in a tea bag, which I’m a massive fan of for transparency.

backpacking coffee

Determining the best instant coffee for backpacking

The Classic Instant Coffee or Cowboy Coffee

Pros of coffee while backpacking

When it comes to figuring out the best instant coffee for backpacking, one thing is for sure; go with the prepackaged packets such as Starbucks vs. using the larger can of Folgers or something like that. They taste a lot better and are easier to transport. While Cowboy Coffee is already the bare minimum, we still want an enjoyable experience.

Additionally, this Dark Roast instant coffee below seems new to the market and would provide better flavor. The downside of using this style of coffee while backpacking is you’ll have to plan it out beforehand and put it into a Ziploc.

Lastly, instant coffee in individual packets is straightforward to dispose of and doesn’t take up a lot of room. If weight and usability are critical, then this isn’t the wrong way to go.

Cons of Backpacking Coffee

Regardless of brand, instant coffee isn’t going to taste that good. You’ll want to bring plenty of sugar packets to make it bearable. But, if the taste isn’t a dealbreaker, there aren’t a lot of negatives. (Though, understandably, the taste is a significant factor to many!)

AeroPress Go Coffee Press Travel backpacking backpacking coffee
backpacking coffee

Final thoughts

Considering all the extra costs associated with backpacking, the price of just under a dollar per packet is not too shabby. Plus, not having to clean up or carry around other packets of coffee makes it a straightforward process. It’s probably my second favorite way to enjoy coffee while backpacking, especially with companies coming out with better flavors.

Related: Backpack to Rae Lakes in Kings Canyon NP

Coffee Grounds with an AeroPress

Pros of coffee while backpacking

There’s nothing like using some real coffee grounds at home. It tastes better, and it gives you the comfort of something familiar. Now, when it comes to the process of using AeroPress, it can be slightly confusing at the start, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a seamless process and goes somewhat quickly. We’ve found that before pushing it down, let the coffee seep into the cup for 15-20 seconds. This provides for better flavor.

backpacking coffee
best instant coffee for backpacking

Cons of Backpacking Coffee

I’ve found that you must use a considerable amount of coffee grounds to get a decent cup. Then, if you’re going multiple days or with a significant other, it can end up being half a bag of coffee. It’s a slow-ish process to get the AeroPress set up and then use it.

Plus, the cleanup is the most notable process in this. You must 1) pack out all the coffee grounds and 2) wash out the AeroPress and other accessories. If you have a lake or stream nearby, it’s not terrible, but if you are limited on water, it’s not the best use of your resources.

Final thoughts

While it works for backpacking, I wouldn’t say it’s the best backpacking coffee option around. This is better for car camping, where lugging around your coffee grounds isn’t a big deal. While most trash bags are fine, there’s always that risk of the bag breaking, and now you have coffee grounds spread throughout your gear. NOT ideal.

Related: Trek to Big Pine Lakes in California

Wildland Coffee in a tea bag

Pros of coffee while backpacking

When backpacking, you must usually tough out instant coffee’s ‘meh’ or harsh taste. However, the taste of Wildland Coffee is quite flavorful, and I find it to be the best instant coffee for backpacking.

What I like most about Wildland is it’s lightweight, there’s not much cleanup after the fact, and it’s easy. All you have to do is boil water, put the packet in, and wait. Afterward, throw it in your trash bag, and get your day moving!

backpacking coffee
best instant coffee for backpacking

Cons of Backpacking Coffee

The biggest negative is how you have to wait 5-8 minutes while the coffee seeps. Even with boiling water, I find the coffee is sometimes lukewarm when I get to it. This might be because I backpack at higher altitudes, so the colder temperatures can adversely affect it.

Additionally, it’s a bit pricy versus the other options, but I think it’s a decent trade-off. It is still less expensive at a tad under $2 per pouch than buying a cup at a coffee shop.

Final thoughts

When it comes to brewing coffee while backpacking, this is the best way to go with the best flavor, ease, and cleanup. It’s hard to believe you can have good-tasting coffee dozens of miles from the nearest coffee shop or home, but it’s true.

Accessories for backpacking with coffee

What do you need to brew the best cup of coffee while backpacking? Below are a few items I bring with me on my trips to enjoy the best instant coffee for backpacking.

FAQs for the best backpacking coffee

How do you drink coffee when backpacking?

Happy as I can be! There’s nothing like enjoying a hot cup of backpacking coffee. My favorite way to do it is with Wildland Coffee’s coffee in a tea bag. It’s tasty and doesn’t require much cleanup.

How do you pack coffee for backpacking?

This is for using AeroPress. First, I usually put the dry grounds in a Ziploc with a perfect seal to ensure nothing comes out. And then, after the fact, I use a double-layered trash bag to pack out my coffee grounds. This ensures nothing spills into my pack and ruins gear.

How do you make coffee camping without electricity?

This is easy! If you’re car camping, use a JetBoil with small propane canisters. If you’re car camping, use your propane stove to boil water.

What’s your favorite coffee-making setup while camping?

Even while car camping, we do a lot of early sunrise photography, so we make our coffee on the go. Using AeroPress is a good way to get the best backpacking coffee.

Until next time adventurers, take care and be safe.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside