Outbound Collective logo

5 Ways To Brew Coffee In The Backcountry

Wake up and smell the coffee.

By: Natalie Van Dusen + Save to a List

There's nothing quite like waking up in the outdoors; the dew on your tent, the smell of mountain air, the sounds of birds and critters in your surroundings. Whether you are at home or in the backcountry, there's still an itch for a nice, warm cup of coffee when you wake up (for me anyway!).

We all have our ritual around how we enjoy our daily brew and there's no reason to have to give that up just because your local coffee shop or your fancy home brewer isn't nearby. Whether you're into bringing your scale and hand grinder with you, or just want to keep it simple, here are 5 great ways to brew while in the backcountry.

1. If you want easy peasy, try The GEO!

This year Little Red Wagon Coffee Roaster's introduced the GEO as a great alternative to instant coffee. This is an excellent way to get tasty fresh coffee in an easy-to-use package. These little guys are single serve, pre-packaged pour-overs. Just open along the dotted line, spread the wings over your cup and slowly add hot water into the pocket. Each package lets you know the coffee varietal, who roasted it and when to enjoy it by. They are packaged daily and come in single, six and twelve packs.

  • Ratio: 14g of coffee are in the mesh filters. Add about 8oz of water, give or take depending on strength preference.
  • Grind Setting: All done for you! It's a medium-fine grind in case you were wondering.
  • Brewing Time: Under 2 minutes

2. For a tried and true method, turn to the French Press.

This will give you a thicker, rich cup. You can pre-grind your coffee before you head out, or you can bring a hand grinder to make sure it's extra fresh. Put your grinds in the press, add not quite boiling water, give a stir and let sit for about 4 min before pressing the plunger.

  • Ratio: I like to brew a French press with a ratio of 1:16 (coffee:water) or about 2 tablespoons of coffee for 6oz of water. Use more or less depending on your strength preference.
  • Grind Setting: Coarse. By the way, if you are into grinding your coffee by hand, this will be fast and easy being a coarse grind.
  • Brewing Time: 4 minutes

3. If you are an Espresso lover, there are a few great solutions for you out there.

For a manual method, check out the AeroPress, a great lightweight + durable device. Additionally, there are stovetop methods that create a lot of pressure and will produce a tasty shot. You can drink it straight or add hot water for an Americano!

  • Ratio: See individual device for recommended amount.
  • Grind Setting: Fine
  • Brewing Time: about 90 seconds

4. With a little more effort, the Pour Over is awesome for a clean and fresh taste.

There are lots of great pour-over devices on the market and many of them work well while on the go. Look for a lightweight or collapsible version; some don't even require filters. If your device has a filter be sure to rinse it with water before adding your grinds. After adding the coffee, add a small amount of water to create the bloom, wait about 20 seconds and then slowly pour the remaining amount of water in a circular motion.

  • Ratio: Try a ratio of 1:18 (coffee:water) or about 2 tablespoons of coffee for 8oz of water.
  • Grind Setting: Medium-fine
  • Brewing Time: 3 - 4 minutes

5. To kick it old school, go with Cowboy Coffee.

There are 2 camps on how to make cowboy coffee. 1: Start with cold water, add grounds, bring to a boil, remove from heat and then let the grinds settle. 2: Bring your water to a boil, remove from heat, immediately add grinds, stir after 2 min and let grinds settle. Personally, I prefer the later method as it is gentler on the grinds and will help prevent scorching. There are a few tricks to getting the grinds to settle. Most commonly people sprinkle a small amount of cold water on the top. Out here in Montana, I've heard tails of people breaking an egg into the pot to collect the grinds, but I can't say that I've tested this method out.

  • Ratio: Similar to a French press try a ratio of 1:16 (coffee:water) or about 2 tablespoons of coffee for 6oz of water.
  • Grind Setting: Coarse
  • Brewing Time: 2 - 4 minutes

Cover photo: Kevin Kaminski

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Hiking in comfort: a review of Danner Mountain 600 Evo boots

Meghan White

Outdoor-Inspired Cocktails for Every Season

Noël Russell

A golden happy hour on the California coast

Hannah Sibley

Review: Danner Mountain Light boots in Yosemite National Park

Hannah Sibley