Nothing beats a fresh cup of coffee beneath the open sky.
When it comes to camping, instant coffee just won’t do. You want to get a proper coffee maker like a percolator for your camp stove. The smell of fresh coffee grounds and a sizzling breakfast is sure to get everyone out of their sleeping bags.
If you haven’t tried making fresh coffee before, you’re in for a treat. Pouring out the silky black coffee from a percolator is honestly a world away from adding instant powder to hot water.
Percolators aren’t expensive or difficult to use but they will take your camping breakfast to the next level.
This article suggests 7 of the best camping percolators in 2023. Whether you’re doing a solo thru-hike or a big family campout, I hope one of them is perfect for you!
In a Hurry? Here Are My Top 3 Picks
The 7 Best Camping Percolators
Stanley Camp Percolator
I seem to have a habit of burning my hands or setting my gloves on fire when camping. That risk is definitely higher when I haven’t had my morning coffee, so I prefer to not use percolators with metal handles.
The 6-cup Stanley Camp Percolator has a cool silicone grip, so you don’t have to mess around with oven mitts first thing in the morning.
If you want to use the percolator on a campfire, you can slip the silicone off the handle, so this is still a versatile coffee maker. (Silicone will melt if you put it over a campfire!)
There’s plenty of space between the handle and the pot, so you don’t have to worry about catching your knuckles on the hot metal.
This coffee pot is made from stainless steel, which is much more durable than aluminum. It is easy to use and looks great.
Just bear in mind that this model is tall and thin, so it’s not as stable on your stove as the shorter, fatter percolators are.
Some users report that the lid hinge breaks down over time, so make sure to use it gently and keep an eye on the condition.
But overall, people seem very happy with their purchase. It’s definitely the one that I would go for!
- Stainless steel
- Silicone grip
- Can be used on stove or campfire
- Tall and thin design
Oregon Trail 12 Cup Percolator
The Oregon Trail Camping Percolator is larger than the Stanley Camp Percolator. It’ll make 12 cups of coffee (cups as in the unit of measurement, not 12 large mugs!)
This percolator is made with stainless steel but the handle is wooden and the top cap is heat-resistant plastic.
This is a nice and simple option for a family group. The pot is shorter and fatter than the Stanley model I already mentioned, so it should be more stable on the stove.
I would not use the Oregon Trail model on a campfire. This is because the wooden handle could burn. It would be much more appropriate for a butane or propane stove, with which you can make sure the flame stays smaller than the metal base.
The price is very good for what you get. You could probably find something cheaper but it would likely break down after a couple of uses.
So, overall, I would say that this is the best value percolator on the market right now.
- Large capacity
- Stainless steel
- Designed for stability
- Lid hinge not the most durable
Coletti Bozeman Camping Coffee Percolator
The Coletti Bozeman is probably the best all-around camping percolator. It looks pretty similar to the Oregon Percolator but it’s slightly smaller and the materials are of better quality.
It’s also made from stainless steel and it has a shorter, fatter shape that will keep it stable on your stove.
Most percolators have a heat-tempered plastic cap to help you under the lid. But the Coletti cap is made from glass. This certainly looks a lot nicer, and it doesn’t degrade as you wash it.
But it does mean that you have to be a bit more careful with your percolator so the glass doesn’t get chipped on the trails.
The handle is made from hardwood but you still need to use some kind of hot pad or oven mitt to protect your hand because the borders of the handle are made from steel.
The Coletti Bozeman seems to be much higher quality than your average percolator but there is a catch.
You really have to use filters if you want to stop any coffee grounds from getting into your cup of joe.
The company does include some free ones with your purchase, which is a bonus. While most percolators benefit from a paper filter, I feel it’s particularly needed with this model.
So, while it’s not perfect, the price, size, quality, and materials make this the best all-around choice.
- No plastic or aluminum
- Stainless steel
- Good quality
- Needs a filter
- Glass cap can chip
Mixpresso Aluminum Stove Coffee Maker
The Mixpresso aluminum coffee maker is the best choice for a solo camping trip, especially if you’re backpacking. Despite misconceptions, a Moka pot like this is also a percolator!
I’ll explain that a bit more in the buying guide at the end of this article.
This neat little espresso maker is of great quality. It’s super compact and it looks fantastic. It makes a double espresso, which is about the right serving for one large cup of coffee once you add some boiling water.
If you prefer your coffee strong, you might want to leave it as espresso. I’d definitely need a healthy dose of sugar to get me through a double espresso, though.
I recommend that you get the plain aluminum model rather than the black or red one, as they seem to lose color over time.
- Easy to use
- Great for backpacking
- Have to boil water separately if you don’t want espresso
Primula Aluminum Espresso Maker
If you like the idea of an espresso maker but need something a bit bigger, this Primula coffee maker should be perfect. It’s affordable and straightforward, and it makes excellent coffee in just a few minutes.
This is the type of coffee maker that I use at home as well as camping. Because the machine is made from aluminum, the coffee is ready much faster than if you were using a stainless steel percolator.
Some people don’t like using aluminum cookware, though, because the metal can leach into your food or drink over time.
Personally, I’m okay with using an aluminum coffee maker. The research that I’ve done suggests that aluminum from cookware isn’t a considerable problem so long as you don’t store the food or drink inside the metal container.
But that’s just my decision; you should do whatever feels right for you.
- Quick and straightforward to use
- Have to boil additional water if you don’t like espresso
- Aluminum product
Presto Coffee Percolator
Just because you’re camping doesn’t mean you won’t have access to electricity. For folks who book into campsites with access to electricity, a portable coffee maker like this makes a lot of sense.
It’s simpler than using a stovetop percolator because you can leave it unattended and get on with your other morning duties.
A word of warning: Most electric percolators have pretty terrible user reviews. There seem to be problems with quality in many models online right now, so be careful about which ones you choose.
I scoured the internet for the best-rated electric percolator that I could find, and the Presto model came up on top. Most users say that they love the taste of coffee from this pot and report that it’s durable over time.
Some people did have technical glitches. If you want to avoid electrical faults in the long run, you might be better off sticking to a stovetop model.
Overall, this model seems to be of decent quality but there is one thing you need to know.
Although it describes itself as a stainless steel pot, it includes aluminum parts. If you are purposefully buying a steel percolator, watch out for this one.
- Doesn’t have to be constantly supervised
- Easy to use
- Comes highly reviewed
- Need access to electricity
- Aluminum parts
Sybo 50 Cup Coffee Percolator
I’ll suggest one final electric percolator before I give you some more general buying tips.
The Sybo Electric Coffee Maker makes a whopping 35 cups of coffee. It’s a brilliant option for a huge family camping trip, where you want to set up a breakfast station so everyone can help themselves.
This way, you can focus on cooking breakfast without constantly being interrupted by smaller coffee makers on your valuable stove space.
You do need access to electricity for this one, so it’s not perfect for every situation. But if you’re camping on-site and you’ve got a plug socket, I’d absolutely use this.
I did notice that one reviewer said the inner basket started to rust after a few months. The customer service team quickly replaced it, though. If you happen to notice anything like that, don’t hesitate to let the manufacturers know.
- Great for a large group
- Stainless steel
- Easy to use and clean
- Helpful customer service
- Needs electricity
- Basket can rust over time
Camping Percolators Buying Guide
I’m pretty sure one of the percolators I mentioned in this article will be right for you. But if you’re still not convinced, this buying guide will help you shop further afield.
Most coffee makers are either aluminum or stainless steel.
Aluminum is generally lighter, which may be helpful for camping. But it’s also more likely to scratch, discolor, and bend. Over time, you might notice a strange taste in your coffee.
A positive side of aluminum percolators is that they are great heat conductors, so you don’t have to brew them for as long. This can save valuable time and fuel when you’re on the trails.
Stainless steel is less likely to get damaged or stained. But it’s heavier and more expensive, and brewing coffee will take longer in a steel pot.
Also, think about the handle materials. If your handle is plastic or wood, you won’t be able to use it on an open fire.
A metal handle would be best for this situation. But metal handles can get hot and burn you, so you’d need to bring oven gloves or use a towel to pick up your pot.
You’ll notice that the product descriptions of most coffee pots indicate a certain number of cups. Just like with tent dimensions, you might be disappointed if you take these too seriously.
Coffee pot companies overestimate how many cups you’ll get out of your pot. If you’re camping as a group, get something meant for more people than you’re going with.
Like I mentioned, stainless steel percolators are typically more durable than aluminum ones. But you also need to consider craftsmanship and design.
Typically, the cheaper the percolator, the less time it’ll last you. That’s not always the case, though, so don’t hesitate to check out the user reviews.
Just bear in mind that a lot of positive online reviews are fake, so also read the bad ones to get a better overall picture of the product.
If you want your percolator to last, you might be better off getting one designed for home use rather than camping.
So long as it’s a stovetop percolator and you’re using it on a gas camping stove, there shouldn’t be a problem.
You may find that home coffee makers are more durable because some companies get the lightest, junkiest products and just label them as camping equipment.
Don’t let “camping” be a code word for low quality.
Stove Vs. Electric
I would personally go for a stovetop percolator because I don’t get electric hookups when I camp.
But if you’re going to a campsite with facilities, you may have access to the mains. In this case, an electric percolator can be the better option.
You don’t have to monitor it as closely or worry about a fire hazard.
If you are having a campfire, you can also make your coffee on the flames. Just make sure your coffee maker doesn’t have any components that will melt under the heat. If in doubt, check with the manufacturer.
Percolator Vs. Moka Pot
Most people think that there is a big difference between a percolator and a Moka pot but that’s not strictly true. A percolator is just a coffee maker that uses heat to drive hot water through coffee grounds.
Both a traditional percolator and a Moka pot (or Italian coffee maker) work in the same way.
A percolator makes weaker, standard coffee because the coffee-to-water ratio is smaller. A Moka pot makes more potent espressos.
But all you’d have to do is pour your espresso into some hot water and you’d have a classic black coffee. (I used to work as a barista, and that’s literally all we did behind the scenes.)
So, a Moka pot can give you more control over the strength of your coffee. You can add as much water to your finished espresso as you like, and you can make more coffee overall in a smaller pot.
The downside is that you have to boil water separately. If you have only two gas burners, you might prefer an integrated percolator so you can make breakfast and coffee at the same time.
How to Use a Coffee Percolator
Don’t worry if your new coffee pot doesn’t come with instructions! A coffee percolator is super simple to use.
Just pop water in the bottom and some fresh coffee grounds in the coffee compartment. Then screw it together, close the lid, and put the percolator on the heat.
As hot water is forced up and through the coffee, it gathers at the top of the percolator, ready to be poured out when the pot is finished.
Don’t forget, you’re supposed to turn off the heat and let the percolator rest for a few minutes before pouring out your coffee.
Alternatives to Camping Percolator
There are lots of ways to make fresh coffee on a camping trip. So, if you’re a diehard coffee lover who’s determined to make the best possible cup of joe, here are a few other techniques to consider.
- Aeropress - A compact, light coffee maker that uses suction and pressure to brew great coffee. Pour hot water into the brew chamber and force it through the coffee and filter. A lot of people claim that this is the best camping coffee maker on the market but I find them a little fiddly, if I’m being honest. (Some people even grind up coffee beans in batches for each Aeropress coffee but even I think that’s going a bit too far!)
- Instant - Instant powdered “coffee” that you just add to hot water. It’s nowhere near as tasty as real ground coffee but it’s very convenient for thru-hiking trips.
- French Press - You put coffee grounds in the bottom of the glass or metal pot, then pour in water and press down the plunger. This is quick and easy to use. If you’re using decent quality grounds, this can be just as good as percolator coffee.
A good cup of hot coffee in the morning just can’t be beat. You don’t have to miss out on that pleasure while you’re camping.
I would personally go for the Stanley Camp Percolator because it’s easy and safe to use.
You don’t need to agonize over your choice for hours. After reading this article, you should be more than prepared to pick the best one for you.
Just be aware that some junky percolators are labeled as “camping coffee makers” to get away with the bad quality. So, keep an eye on those user reviews!
I hope you found this article helpful, and I wish you many happy camping adventures!
Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.