Bikepacking Tips – Brewing in the Wild : 5 Adventure Coffee Tips

Making Coffee When Camping
Lightweight bicycle touring and bikepacking is a unique way to discover new countries and meet new people. It comes with its own challenges though; a personal challenge I often encounter is the need to find quality 'fuel' in the form of good food and drink.

At home, I strive to make the perfect cup of coffee to kick-start my day's adventures. Camping in back-and-beyond locations does make that more of a challenge. It is still possible though, and with my experience of trying to create a good coffee in many wild locations, these are my five top tips…

1. Water Storage

Water quality is a key component of good coffee. When you are touring or bikepacking I suggest making at least one of your water bottles a stainless steel carrier.

Plastic bicycle bottles are easier to drink from on-the-go, but they will leave water tainted—especially if you are collecting it the night before a camp. I recommend the Elite Deboyo Stainless Steel Vacuum Thermal Bottle—as it can also be used as a normal water bottle, as well as a thermal flask. 

Jetboil Coffee

2. Boiling Methods

I use a JetBoil Flash 2.0 Cooking System when I am travelling. The pan is lightweight and it does not taint the water like some silicone kettles.

It can be tempting to use your water as soon as it reaches boiling point in a bid to save your stove's fuel. However you will find that if you leave the pan bubbling for 1-2 minutes then it will be thoroughly heated to the highest possible temperature, and this helps to achieve a better brew.

Coffee Outdoors Bike Touring

3. Aeropress GO

My favourite method for making quality coffee in the wild is the simple Aeropress GO Coffee Maker. The unit retails for just £30 and is effectively a simple syringe-like espresso maker.

You fit a paper filter (make sure you keep these dry); add the coffee to the chamber; pour in hot water; stir; steep; and then plunge. The result is consistently good coffee and a minimal weight to carry.

Admittedly, unless you use the Aeropress GO's plastic beaker you do need to take a mug with you to make Aeropress coffee (with Cowboy Coffee you can drink it straight from the pan). However, with a lightweight insulated titanium mug (I have one from Nordisk) it is really a pannier-space penalty rather than a substantial weight addition.

A top trick with Aeropress coffee when camping: boil the water and pour a little onto the coffee grounds in the chamber; then return the pan to the heat for 15 seconds to keep it hot whilst letting the grounds steep and de-gas for a moment. Then, fill the chamber to the desired number of cups; stir, steep further if required, and plunge.

Aeropress GO Coffee Maker

4. Cowboy Coffee

The simplest fresh coffee solution when you are in the wild is 'Cowboy Coffee'. This is when you place the ground coffee directly in the pan of boiling water or kettle, and leave it on a rolling boil for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The obvious downside of Cowboy Coffee is that it inevitably ends up being a bit granular—because there is no filter involved. The way to better this is to not pour the coffee out of the pan into your mug too soon; but instead leave the pan off the heat to cool for 4-5 minutes after boiling (you could not drink boiling water anyway). Leaving the pan to stand allows the coffee grounds to settle—so fewer make it into your cup.

JetBoil Cowboy Coffee

5. Pour-Over Filter / Drip-Through Coffee

A pour-over filter makes a cleaner coffee than Cowboy Coffee, and is ideal if you are making larger cups for several people.

Boil the water well in a kettle and pour a little onto the grounds in the filter—just wetting them so that it creates a solid base at the bottom of the filter; leave to stand for 20 seconds. Then, with freshly heated water, gradually pour the water into the funnel so that it filters through the coffee grounds.

When camping or outdoors it can pay to fill the funnel with water to a higher level than you might at home; this pushes the water through the coffee grounds faster due to the added water pressure; it therefore speeds up the process so you are less likely to get cold coffee.

A really neat little filter solution is the GSI Outdoor Ultralight Java Dripper, which attaches to the top of the GSI Outdoor Bugaboo Camp Mug (or a similar enamel camp mug). 

GSI Mini Pour-Over Filter and Island Roasted Coffee

Freshly Brewed

Hopefully these tips and advice on outdoor coffee brewing methods will allow you to get satisfactorily caffeinated at the start of your next adventure.

As for my recommendation on coffee beans for wild brewing, I am a huge fan of my home island's Island Roasted Coffee—their single-origin coffees are perfect for outdoor brewing thanks to their vibrant flavours and warming tones.

Island Roasted Coffee - Jetboil Java Coffee Press

Outdoor Coffee Brewing Tim Wiggins


  1. Nice essay . I gotta have my cup of Joe in morning too .
    I usually use the pour over method because it is quick
    but you are right . It's has to be done correctly or your
    brew will be cold and tasteless . Cowboy coffee ain't bad
    if you use a mesh tea strainer while pouring into cups .
    Thanks . I gotta take a look at JET-BOIL prices . Thanks

    1. The new JetBoil Flash is a great piece of kit


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