You don’t have to forego your morning cup of Joe just because you’re enjoying some time in nature. With a cowboy coffee pot or portable percolator in your gear, you can brew delicious coffee anywhere.
We’ve picked out our favorite outdoor coffee makers and reviewed them below. Read on to find your perfect portable pot for your next camping trip!
Coleman’s camping gear is renowned for its durability, and their Stainless Steel Percolator is no exception. This lightweight pot is easy to take with you on your hike. It’s large, too, brewing up to 12 cups, so no one will have to wait for their coffee when you’re on a group camping trip.
It’ll stand up to whatever abuse it takes during the hike, too, resisting damage from moisture and impacts. The only thing that might break is the glass knob on the lid and that’s fully-replaceable.
While the Farberware Yosemite Classic Percolator is durable enough to take camping, its attractive mirror finish has a classic, elegant look that will fit into any home décor, as well. The handle stays cool even during heating and is comfortable to pour.
A large 12-cup capacity is great for group camps or home entertaining. Best of all, it can be fully immersed in water and is dishwasher-safe, making clean-up a snap no matter where you use it.
The Stansport Aluminum Coffee Pot lets you brew coffee anywhere at a great value. The aluminum used in its construction cuts down on weight for maximum portability.
It also has a slender handle and narrow spout so it’s easier to fit into your backpack when it’s time to hit the trail.
For true cowboy coffee, a kettle will suffice as well as any percolator. This kettle from Overmont is made of anodized aluminum with a silicon liner on the handle to prevent burns while you’re pouring.
It’s designed with a wide base, as well, so it’s easy to heat whether you’re hanging over a fire or putting it on a portable stove. In addition, that extra surface area brings more heat to the water for a faster-heating kettle.
This Granite Ware Coffee Boiler is made of high-quality porcelain rather than metal. This is ideal for those sensitive to metallic tastes picked up from metal pots, letting the true flavor of the coffee shine through. It’s still durable, too, thanks to the carbon steel core. We also love the fast and even heat distribution, which heats your water quickly without hot spots that could cause coffee to scorch.
Now this porcelain construction does make it heavier than other models, which could be an issue on camping trips. That said, its attractive black exterior also makes it a great choice for home use, so it’s a versatile option for making coffee anywhere.
This Wenzel Camp Coffee Pot is made of lightweight, food-grade aluminum that’s both sturdy and easy to carry. The dual handles on the top and side are convenient, although we’re not a huge fan of the handle design. You’ll want to use a towel to hold it if you’re pouring straight from the fire. That issue aside, this camp percolator is easy to use and pour, and a convenient choice for campers.
Going camping with a coffee snob? The Eureka! Camp Café system is a must. This innovative system comes with a kettle, a pour-over dripper, and a carafe to brew into. These extra components nestle inside the kettle for storage, so it’s still compact enough for camping.
The kettle’s innovative design boils about twice as fast as most kettles, too. Both the carafe and kettle are made of aluminum, with durable BPA-free plastic for the pour-over dripper and lid. While there are more pieces to keep track of than with simpler kettles, it’s the best system if you want pour-over on the go.
For large groups, this GSI Outdoors Coffee Boiler has a massive capacity so you can fill everyone’s cup with cowboy coffee. The 3-ply build of this kettle combines heavy-duty steel with kiln-hardened enamel.
Along with looking nice, this enamel resists scratches and chips, extending the lifespan of your kettle. While this kettle is a bit bulky to carry on the trail, it’s perfect for RVs and tent camping, especially if you want to take the whole family.b
The Glacier percolator is another option from GSI Outdoors that’s perfect for RVs, group camping, or even entertaining at home. The lid on this percolator is attached so it won’t get lost and has a clear dome so you can watch the coffee brewing inside. It’s built of heavy-duty stainless steel that won’t take damage from drops or moisture. Our only concern is with the rear handle, which can get warm and isn’t the most comfortable to pour.
This percolator is made of enamel-coated steel, similar to the GSI Outdoor Coffee Boiler above. The difference is it’s a bit smaller and comes with an integrated percolator.
It’s durable and compact enough to take with you but still attractive enough to use in your home kitchen, and can be heated on coil stovetops as well as camp stoves and fires.
The Chinook Coffee Percolator is one of our favorites for wilderness camping because it’s light and compact enough to easily stow away in your gear. It comes with a drawstring carrying case so you can hang it from your pack.
There’s no worry it’ll be damaged during the hike, either. It’s made of heavy-gauge stainless steel, with a Permawood handle that stays cool for easy pouring.
This portable coffee pot from AITREASURE is a handy and versatile piece of equipment for your hikes. Along with brewing cowboy coffee, you can use it as an all-purpose hanging pot for cooking food and making other drinks.
The foldable top handle makes it more compact, and the included carrying bag can be hung from your gear if there’s no room inside. While the pouring handle design isn’t great, everything else about this kettle is convenient, and it’s a great value, too.
The Texsport Stainless Percolator might not be the prettiest coffee pot on the list, but it has all the features we look for in a camping coffee maker. It’s easy to pour thanks to the wide spout and heat-resistant handle.
We also love that the interior percolator components can be fully removed, allowing it to be used as a standard water pot, too. The stainless steel pot is both durable and heats up quickly on all heat sources.
The best percolators for RVs are durable and portable but still have a homey look and feel. That’s what you get with the Texsport Camping Enamel Percolator.
The attractive blue finish on this percolator also protects the steel body from rust and is made of hardened glazed enamel that resists damage from drops or scratches. It’s relatively easy to pour, too, even when it’s full. Overall, this is a great choice for entertaining at home or at the campsite.
If you’re traveling by yourself you don’t need a huge percolator. The Stanley Camp Percolator is one of the most compact options you’ll find, and it quickly brews up 6 cups of coffee—plenty to get you started in the morning.
For pouring, we love the silicone handle. Not only does it resist heat, it’s also a lot more comfortable to use than many camping percolators. You’ll also appreciate the heat retention of this pot. Coffee stays hot in it for up to 4 hours, letting you drink it at your leisure.
Last but not least, this percolator from Grip has a classic design. Like other percolators made of enamel-glazed steel, it’s rust-resistant, durable, and has an appealing vintage look.
Compared to similar percolators, though, it’s a better value, especially considering the capacity. It includes both a side handle for pouring and a top handle for carrying and hanging, so it’s also a convenient percolator to use.
Even if you usually use manual brewing methods at home, there are some different things you have to keep in mind when you’re making coffee at a campsite. The lack of electricity isn’t the only potential difficulty you need to plan for.
You need the same things for a good cup of camping coffee that you do brewing at home. The difference is those things are more challenging to achieve at a campsite than they are in your kitchen. Thinking about how you’ll overcome those challenges before you get your gear can make sure you’re buying the right tools to get the job done.
Grinding the Coffee
For the best tasting coffee, you need to use the freshest grounds. Grinding whole beans just before you brew is the best way to capture all the flavors from the beans. When you’re camping, though, this is a more challenging prospect.
A traditional hand-powered mill style coffee grinder is one option. Since it doesn’t require any electricity, you can use these models as effectively when you’re camping as you can at home.
That said, not everyone will like the thought of grinding coffee by hand first thing in the morning. If you’re just making enough for 1-2 cups it’s not too much work, but for making larger batches hand-grinding is a hassle.
For most people, bringing coffee that’s already ground is the better option. Keep in mind that both cowboy coffee and percolators require a coarser grind than what you’ll get with pre-packaged ground coffee. Your best bet is to buy whole bean coffee and grind it using the French press setting, whether that’s on your home grinder or using the one in the store or café.
While some flavor loss after grinding is inevitable, keeping the ground coffee protected from air and moisture can keep it tasting as fresh as possible. Seal the bag of coffee, then put it inside a Ziploc or other sealing plastic bag before packing it in your gear.
The main advantage to brewing methods like cowboy coffee and percolators is that you heat the water and brew the coffee all in the same pot. This cuts down on how much gear you need to bring with you. Both of these brewing methods also use stainless steel or aluminum equipment as opposed to glass, so they’re less likely to break during a hike.
That said, you can use any brewing method that doesn’t require electricity at the campsite if you feel like bringing the equipment. If you want the option of using other manual brewing methods, a solid stainless steel kettle is a great way to go. You can use it for cowboy coffee by itself, or use it to heat the water for AeroPress or pour-over.
The amount of heat from a campfire can be inconsistent and difficult to control. This can make it difficult to brew percolator coffee,\ since the consistency of the temperature throughout the brewing process is important.
Allowing the fire to burn down to coals is the best way to keep the temperature consistent, but this also takes some time. This is one reason we prefer a camp stove to a fire for percolator coffee. Maintaining a consistent temperature is easier and you don’t have to spend as much time building a fire before you start to brew.
If you only have a campfire, cowboy coffee is arguably the better way to go. Since the only thing in the kettle when it’s on the flame is water, the taste of the brew won’t be affected by how hot the flames are. A fire that’s too hot will just boil the water faster. This makes it a more forgiving brewing method for those who aren’t expert fire-builders.
If it’s your first time using a percolator, you’ll need to get familiar with the parts before you start brewing. At the top of the percolator is the filter basket. This is where you’ll put the ground coffee.
Running through the center of the filter basket is the stem. This dips down into the water, drawing it up as the water heats and dispersing it over the grounds in the filter basket.
Many stovetop percolators and Moka pots have two chambers. Water goes into the bottom chamber, rises through the stem and over the grounds, then brews into a separate upper chamber.
Conversely, most camping percolators have a single chamber. As the coffee brews, it mixes back in with the hot water and is drawn back up to brew over the grounds again. This makes the viewing window on the lid more important. You’ll need to check the color of the water rising through the stem to know when the brew is finished.
The first step to making coffee with a camping percolator is to get your heat source going. After that, the steps are similar to those you’d use with a stovetop model:
Cleaning your camping percolator after every use will prevent build-up that’s difficult to remove (and can impart a bad taste to your coffee). Allow the percolator time to cool down, then dump out the spent grounds, as well as any unwanted coffee dregs still in the bottom of the pot.
Camping percolators are made of non-porous materials like stainless steel or aluminum, so they can be wiped clean easily. If you’re on the trail and don’t have access to a full sink, just remove all the percolator components and rinse them off with clean water. Make sure they’re thoroughly dry before you put the pieces back together.
Once you have access to a sink, a more thorough cleaning of the percolator can remove any coffee oils or other residue left behind by brewing. Remove all the components and wipe down each individually with hot water and dish soap, then do the same for the interior of the pot and the underside of the lid.
Don’t forget to clean out the inside of the stem. You can use pipe cleaners soaked in soapy water to get down inside and remove any coffee residue that’s built up. Coffee particles can often get trapped in the stem and spoil, which will affect the taste of your future brews if you don’t stay on top of it.
Removing Stains from a Camping Percolator
Percolators can become stained over time from repeated brews. When this happens, you don’t need to run out and buy specialized coffee cleaning solutions. You can clear away most stains easily with household products, such as:
You don’t need any special kind of pot to make true cowboy coffee. While a kettle with a lid gives you better heat control and results in a better-tasting brew, you can do it in any pot if you don’t have a kettle available.
Waiting until after the water boils to add the coffee will keep it from tasting burnt or bitter, the most common complaints against cowboy coffee. You can adjust the strength by changing the coffee to water ratio. Adding more coffee will produce a stronger cup, while less coffee will give you a weaker, more mild brew.
Cowboy coffee often gets a bad reputation, but there’s nothing inherently wrong with the brewing method. If you do it right, you’ll get a cup that tastes very similar to French press and other immersion brewing methods. The main reason it ends up tasting bad is that people put the grounds in the water while it’s boiling. This leads to both over-extraction and scorched grounds, both of which make coffee bitter.
Following the steps above avoids this problem. Whether you make cowboy coffee in your kettle or go with a camp percolator, it’s easy to enjoy delicious coffee on the trail.
Camping Coffee Six Ways
How to Use a Camping Percolator
How to Remove Coffee Stains from your Stainless Steel Coffee Pot