Fuel Up: Caffeinated Camp-Out

Can’t abide the great outdoors without a decent cup of coffee? We have a few idea.

Do you think twice about making that overnight camp-out if it means no fresh brew? You have plenty of company. Just ask Mike Glavin. “Guys want to experience the outdoors,” says Glavin, a former Boy Scout and the director of marketing for GSI, an international supplier of outdoor cooking equipment based in Spokane, Wash. “But they refuse to give up their coffee.” Those who don’t mind expending a bit of extra effort to get rich flavor can find plenty of ways to produce the perfect jolt of java. So here’s our select list of some modern-day products that will keep Scouts and Scouters up and at ’em from morning till night.

Fast-track your brew with Starbucks’ new Via instant coffee. These little packs are perfect for backpacks. To make, just add hot water. It won’t replace freshly made coffee, but it’ll certainly do in a pinch. We liked the Colombian more than the Italian Roast. Find Via at Starbucks stores, $2.95 for 3 packets.


You won’t, when you have the 1-cup stainless GSI Mini Expresso. This small, stove-top espresso maker brews a double-shot (2.5 ounces) in just 90 seconds. Pack it with finely ground espresso beans, heat on the stove, and, as they say in Italy, tutto bene. Your espresso is ready. gsioutdoors.com, $34.95.


Talk about a lightweight! The MSR Mugmate Coffee/Tea Filter weighs under an ounce and operates in an ingeniously simple way. Fill it with coarse ground coffee (or tea leaves), place it into a cup or mug, and pour in hot water. Cover and let steep. The longer it steeps, the stronger the coffee. Two side tabs keep it suspended. rei.com, $16.95.


Coffee connoisseurs love the smooth flavor produced by the French press. Here’s how it works: The coffee grounds steep in hot water, then the plunger presses the grounds to the bottom—leaving just the coffee to enjoy. For one of the best portable presses for camping, try the insulated Big Sky Bistro mug. Made from hard plastic with a wide bottom for stability, this mug is both durable and lightweight (about 7 ounces). Makes 16 ounces of hot, fresh coffee in four minutes. planetarydesign.com, $16.99.


Do it with the GSI H2JO!. It’s lightweight, easy-to-pack, and inexpensive. This twist-on filter weighs less than 2 ounces and fits most standard, wide-mouth water bottles like Nalgene. Fill your bottle with hot water, screw on the filter, add coarse-ground (not fine) coffee beans, and let steep. Biggest drawback: Screw it on tightly, or it will leak when you pour. gsioutdoors.com, $9.95.





  • More than 20,000 studies suggest that a regular coffee habit may reduce the risk of Parkinson’s, Type 2 diabetes, some types of cancer, and even cavities.
  • Harvard researchers, looking at the results from long-term studies, report that coffee drinkers were 50 percent less likely to get liver cancer than nondrinkers. Some studies also show that coffee may help lower the risk of developing colon cancer and Parkinson’s disease.
  • The biggest news is that heavy coffee drinkers may be half as likely to get Type 2 diabetes as light coffee drinkers or nondrinkers. Researchers think it might be because naturally occurring chemicals in coffee could lower blood sugar.
  • Frank Hu, a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Health who led a 2004 diabetes study involving coffee, explained that both decaf and regular coffee contain chlorogenic acids that have a positive effect on cardiovascular health and insulin resistance.
  • Coffee contains antioxidants that may play a role in reducing the risk of some cancers. An analysis last year of 500 studies by UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine shows that coffee may help protect against colorectal cancer.
  • Studies in 2002 by two Italian universities found that coffee can help keep cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to tooth enamel. Even more surprising, instant coffee had more anti-sticking power than ground coffee.


  1. I’ve started opting for the Via on our Cub ‘n Family trips. I have the old standby percolator, but on a recent trip my stove wouldn’t work one morning and there was no time for a fire. I didn’t think I was going to make it through the day without my coffee! So now I’m much more prepared and always have a Via or two in my pack.

  2. Whats the big deal? We carried folders coffee bags, each good for two cups, when we backpacked at philmont in 1994.

    Better than the coffee with cinnamon EVERY staffed camp was serving, even whebpn we took water from some of the craziest places.

  3. I always try to bring the Taster’s Choice single serve packets (like the Via ones pictured in the article), Gourmet/French Roast (or regular, if necessary). To me the coffee tastes better than Starbuck’s, and they are definitely less expensive.

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