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When you’re shopping for the best camping coffee percolator for your next camping trip, you’re looking for a lightweight yet functional solution that won’t take up too much space in your backpack. Still, you want a coffee maker that’s easy to operate and clean and consistently produces a delicious cup of hot coffee every time you use it.
When it comes to features, you’ll want to consider whether you want a coffee percolator that you can safely place over an open flame versus one that you can only use with a hot plate or camp stove. Some models work with both, while others can’t. Also, think about how many cups the percolator can make and whether it comes with coffee cups or if you’ll need to supply those separately. And of course, you’ll need to think about what materials it’s made from, such as aluminum, stainless steel, or enameled steel.
Keep reading our best camping coffee percolator buying guide to learn more. And if you’re just beginning to think about buying a coffee maker, start with our best coffee maker guide.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: This percolator’s heavy-duty steel body makes it a lightweight but durable choice. It has clear glass knobs that marry functionality and class. It is also dishwasher safe for convenient clean-ups.
This option will give you up to 8 cups with every brew. The body is made out of stainless steel, which is both lightweight and highly durable. This means you don’t have to worry about longevity when it comes to this model. Unfortunately, some consumers report that the glass knob on their model broke after a few uses. You’ll want to be careful when using this knob to make adjustments.
It’s a highly convenient option for those needing coffee in their system before hitting trails or hanging out at their campsite. You’ll love that it’s polished to a mirror finish, giving it a classier appearance. There are sturdy glass knobs that let you know when the brewing has begun. You also won’t have to worry about using filters since it features a permanent filter basket. This model is also totally dishwasher safe, making clean-up a snap.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: This mighty percolator provides 500 watts of power to get the job done quicker. It also has a ready-to-serve indicator light that lets you know when brewing is done. You’ll love the keep-warm mode.
The 500 watts of power packed into this model make it a powerful option that’ll brew quickly for you. It will provide anywhere from 2 to 6 cups of coffee, depending on the grounds and water you put in. This makes it an excellent option for a single camper or a whole group. However, if you’re looking for a super bold cup of coffee, this is probably not a suitable model. Most consumers report that the coffee it brews is a little on the weaker side.
You’ll enjoy the familiar percolating sound that comes with this model, letting you know when brewing is in full swing. It also has a ready-to-serve indicator light, removing the need to check constantly to see if your coffee is ready. The automatic keep-warm mode allows every cup to be just as hot as the last, so you won’t have to worry about it going cold between cups. The bottom has a stay-cool feature that keeps it from burning surfaces.
Award: BEST FOR AVOIDING PLASTIC
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll get a lot of life out of this percolator because it doesn’t include plastic or aluminum in its design. There’s also a handy hardwood handle to keep your fingers safe when you pick it up.
There is no aluminum or plastic used in this design. This is excellent news for those looking to avoid the materials for ecological or personal reasons. It uses 18/8 stainless steel instead with a tempered glass top. It even features a wooden handle that takes the appearance up a notch. You’ll have to be super careful about the wood handle, however. If you wash it with soap every day, the wood can get pretty worn out.
The filters are medical-grade, so you know they’re going to work great. This multi-usage option is perfect for using in your home and then bringing with you wherever you go for hot, perfectly percolated coffee on the go. This design has been thoroughly researched and tested to ensure that it’ll be rugged enough to last on hiking trips, so you won’t have to worry about longevity at all.
Award: BEST FOR SMALL BREWS
WHY WE LIKE IT: The durable material used to construct this percolator means you won’t have to worry about longevity. It also has a cool-touch handle that will keep you from getting burned when the coffee is made.
This is a tiny option that packs in mighty power. Depending on your preference, you’ll be able to brew anywhere from two to four cups. It’ll brew at around one cup per minute, so there is a quick turnaround for when you need your coffee in the morning. Because it’s so small, it is highly convenient to travel with. However, the small stature is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, many people love the convenience, but on the other, it might just be too small for what you need.
It’s compatible with both the stovetop and through electrical power, making it a highly convenient option for anybody. You can use it both in your home and on the go. The automatic keep-warm mode runs on 120 volts and 60 hertz, making it a low-energy option. It also features a cool-touch handle, so you don’t have to worry about burning your hands after brewing. The lid has rolled edges and a knob for even safer handling.
Award: BEST FOR BIG BREWS
WHY WE LIKE IT: You’ll be able to brew up to ten servings with this copper-based model. It uses both copper and stainless steel in the body to conduct heat better while still maintaining durability.
If you’re looking for a stylish design then you’ve found the right pick for you. This gorgeous coffee percolator is made with copper, making it a great conductor for heat and providing unique color. It can brew anywhere from 2 to 10 cups depending on the water and coffee grounds you provide. Unfortunately, most people who are camping will want a smaller model. This is because this percolator can be hard to transport when you’re trying to travel light.
There is a removable coffee filter and basket, making clean-up super easy. You’ll also be able to remove the pump tube to clean your coffee percolator thoroughly. The easy-pour spout allows you to fill up your cup without worrying about a potential mess. It features a black cool-touch handle to keep your hands safe even right after it’s done brewing. The ready-to-serve indicator light will let you know as soon as your coffee finishes brewing.
Award: BEST FOR TOUGH DESIGN
WHY WE LIKE IT: This model is super easy to operate. It’s also highly compact, so you can easily take it with you wherever you go. You’ll be able to use this percolator with your electric stovetop for camping.
This option can provide you with up to 9 cups of deep, rich coffee. It is a highly compact model that is easy to bring with you wherever your adventure leads. It’s a great option to keep on you while you camp but can also be used at home for daily use or gatherings. Unfortunately, this percolator is limited to being used on an electric stovetop. This means that you’re unable to hold it over a campfire, which is something many campers are looking for.
You’ll have a super easy time operating this easy-to-use option. All you have to do is fill the lower chamber with water, pour ground coffee into the filter, and wait a few minutes. The aluminum design conducts the perfect amount of heat and distributes it throughout the percolator. This even heat distribution creates a full-bodied brew that’s rich and flavorful. The lipped spout keeps you from making a mess when you pour your cup.
A camping coffee percolator is a simplified coffee maker that you can use at a campsite over an open flame or a portable grill or camping stove. Traditionally, they tend to be smaller and lightweight, so they don’t take up too much space in your pack or weigh you down on hiking trips or if you’ll be traveling on foot between temporary campsites.
Camping percolators are typically designed to be incredibly user-friendly. In most cases you simply add your coffee grounds and water, set it on a heat source, and the percolator does the rest.
The best camping coffee makers are made from heavy-duty stainless steel, enameled steel, and durable aluminum. Although these days, you can also find collapsible silicone models that come with a steel base so you can safely set them on a heat source. Many also have a glass knob on the lid through which you can see the coffee brewing.
Compared to standard electric coffee makers, camping coffee percolators are typically designed to be compact and lightweight. In many cases, they can be nearly identical to traditional in-home percolators, depending on the cup capacity and construction design. And since RVing can also fall into the camping category, a camper can decide to use a traditional percolator or coffee maker in their RV instead of the more utilitarian models that are usually highlighted for camping.
While the official definition of a percolator is very specific, these days the name can also include other coffee brewing methods such as French presses and drip coffee makers. Because of this, models that fall into this category can at times be no different than other coffee makers.
However, some coffee percolators are specifically designed for camping. They’ll often feature a component that can attach to a fuel igniter and may also have a multifunctional design with removable components that can convert a general boiling compartment into a coffee maker. These can be ideal for people that opt for a more authentic camping experience where they won’t have access to power or the ability to start a fire.
Percolators tend to work on the same basic premise, regardless of how basic or complex they may look. Coffee grounds are added into a dedicated compartment, while water is added to a different compartment. Once placed on or over a heat source (or turned on if it’s a powered percolator), the heat boils the water which then passes through the coffee grounds and produces a tasty brew that people know and love.
If you opt for a less traditional percolator, then the brewing process might vary slightly. For example, if you select a pour-over model, you’ll need to boil water separately. Then, you’ll manually pour the hot water over your coffee grounds through a filter where the coffee drips into a container below. Similarly, with a French press coffee maker, you’ll again need to boil the water separately, pour the hot water into a carafe where you’ve already added coffee grounds, wait for the coffee to bloom, and then plunge the filter to separate the grounds from the coffee.
Camping coffee percolators can be electric powered or versions that must be placed over a heat source. For example, people that go RVing would consistently have access to power and are more likely to select RV campsites that provide electricity. This type of camper might opt for a more traditional coffee maker or even the best cappuccino maker with enhanced functionality since they have a steady power supply to support it.
If you’re the outdoorsy type who can’t start or end your day without a good cup of morning coffee, opting for a camping coffee percolator can be a smart investment. Along with providing a few creature comforts, you can save money over time — especially if your campsite is near familiar options like coffee shops.
Unlike household coffee makers, a stovetop percolator tends to have an infinite lifespan. The general theory is that the more simplistic the coffee maker, the longer it’ll stick around. Of course, this assumes that you treat it right and don’t abuse it simply because it’s designed to take a beating.
At most, you may find that you need to replace the rubber gaskets to prevent leaking every so often. Similarly, French presses and manual pour-over coffee makers should also last practically indefinitely. Assuming you don’t drop or damage them, the most you’ll need to focus on is routinely cleaning your coffee maker between uses.
And keep in mind that metal percolators that are placed over an open flame may oxidize and change color from heat exposure but are still perfectly safe to use.
Just like if you were buying a coffee maker for your home, a few key considerations need to be prioritized. Obvious questions such as how much it weighs or how large the percolator is will impact your purchasing decision based on your camping style. But also think about these other factors, too.
The first question you need to ask yourself is, what’s your camping style? Are you setting up a dedicated campsite where you can have more appliances or access to power? Or, will you be traveling on foot frequently from place to place, making a new campsite every day or so? And finally, are you planning on camping with an RV, a larger tent, or simply sleeping under the stars in a sleeping bag?
Each style will directly impact the type of camping coffee maker you select. RVers and campers with dedicated sites can opt for larger or even powered camping coffee percolators if there’s steady access to power. But if you’re trying to travel light since you’ll be carrying everything you need on your back, a truly compact percolator or even a model that comes with a small fuel source might be a better choice.
True camping coffee percolators tend to feature a traditional percolator design. But you can also opt for French presses or manual pour-over models. And if you have access to power, you can go beyond the camping world and pick a powered coffee maker like a single-serve pod or capsule machine or a traditional multi-cup coffee maker.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re trying to minimize the number of items you’re bringing or the amount of time spent worrying about making coffee, a percolator is your best bet. It’s an all-in-one solution that boils water and brews coffee in one step. While French presses and pour-over options are still campsite friendly, both will require that you boil water separately. For some people, this may be a deal-breaker as now it means you might also need to bring a kettle.
Just like home coffee makers, you’ll want to think about how many people are planning to enjoy a cup of java. If you’re camping by yourself, consider whether you like multiple cups in one sitting or if you’re satisfied with a single cup.
Thankfully, camping coffee percolators come with a variety of capacities which are outlined usually by the overall capacity either in liters or ounces. But they can also reference how many cups of coffee they can brew. Keep in mind that cup ratings usually refer to a five-ounce cup.
When selecting a coffee maker for camping, this is an important question — especially if you’re opting for a more traditional camping experience. Some coffee makers are truly compact and come with their fuel source. This can be ideal if you’re not at a campsite with electricity or are somewhere where you can’t start a fire.
But alternatively, if you want a traditional camping coffee percolator, you’ll want to ensure that you can place it over an open flame. In most cases, this means that you’ll be looking for a model that’s made from steel or aluminum, as both are incredibly durable when exposed directly to heat.
Assuming that you’re using a traditional percolator, in most cases, you can use standard ground coffee.
A general guideline is to let the coffee percolate for anywhere from five to 10 minutes after the water begins to boil. Keep in mind that the longer you let your coffee percolate, the stronger it will be. So, if you prefer a milder cup of coffee, you’ll want to let it percolate for less time.
Better is a subjective term and is going to depend on your preference. But the general belief is that percolated coffee is typically stronger than drip coffee since the coffee technically undergoes a double brew. This is because the grounds are exposed to the water when you initially assemble the percolator and then again as the water boils.
A percolator is a self-contained coffee brewer that both heats water and brews coffee simultaneously through the use of steam. In contrast, a French press relies on the immersion method to create coffee. Hot water must be added directly to coffee grounds and then strained through a filter.