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The Percolator Vs. The French Press for Camping: Which is Best?

Updated: Aug 28, 2022 10:46 PM
The Percolator Vs. The French Press for Camping: Which is Best?

If you’re comparing a percolator vs. a French Press for camping, there are a few factors to consider. Making a cup of coffee requires hot water, a coffee filter, and pre-ground coffee. You have to prepare these ingredients long before you’re on the trail. The best coffee maker can create black coffee that’s good enough to drink on its own.


  • The percolator is a more convenient method of making fresh coffee while you’re backpacking or camping out in the wilderness.
  • A French Press is more suitable for creating strong, dark brews according to your personal taste but requires far more attention to detail and effort.
  • Several popular brands like GSI Outdoors specialize in making your favorite coffee possible no matter where you’re traveling.

How Does Percolator Coffee Compare to French Press Coffee

Many of us simply can’t live without our morning cup of joe, so during a camping trip, having a cup of fresh coffee can feel like a luxury. However, as long as you have a heat source, water, and coffee grounds, cowboy coffee is just a few minutes away.

Insider Tip

Always keep an instant coffee packet or two on hand if your plan to use ground coffee doesn’t work out.

Of course, it does require a bit of special equipment. Both a French Press coffee maker and a percolator will produce great results with either a campfire or a camp stove.

Of course, if you’re looking for the ideal coffee maker you can use at home, either model will do, but a drip machine is also worth looking into if you don’t need to travel with it. We have an article pitting a percolator vs. a drip coffee maker for those who are interested in learning more.

Ability to Craft Flavorful Coffee

Hot cups of coffee never taste better than when brewed over a camp stove or a gas stove. Neither method produces a lousy cup of coffee. However, the French Press coffee maker will produce a strong brew with a full body, while a percolator creates a lighter blend of delicious coffee. They’re perfect camping coffee makers.

The major drawback of the percolator is that it produces weak coffee when brewing large batches. This means it’s better for a single serving. If you’re camping by yourself, a percolator is the best option. In groups, you’ll want the French Press coffee maker. Although, you’ll want to compare Moka coffee makers to a French press before you make a buying decision.

However, overall quality goes to the French Press coffee maker. Another interesting method is pour-over coffee. Comparing a pour-over coffee maker vs. a French Press is enlightening when establishing which method is right for you.

Efficiency of the Brewing Process

Nothing makes or breaks your morning like a bad cup of coffee. However, during a camping trip, you should always prioritize portability and convenience. The French Press is far more efficient than percolator models, taking less than half the amount of time to brew:

PercolatorFrench Press
Brew Time:7 – 10 minutes4 -5 minutes

Overall Method of Brewing

Both styles of brewing will produce delicious coffee so long as you use high-quality ground coffee. The French Press plunger drenches your coarse grind in hot water, extracting clean flavor. A percolator sends steam up into the upper chamber. From there, it rains down on the coffee basket, draining through the brewing chamber into the lower portion.

The French Press extracts clean flavor from coffee grounds using hot water immersion, while the percolator uses steam through the separated upper chamber. Both methods result in strong coffee in your coffee cup. For a look at other coffee maker types, check out our mashup of the Moccamaster vs Aeropress.


Even though they’re relatively shelf-stable, coffee beans can go stale and produce bitter flavors as a result.


What do you do with coffee grounds while camping?

After you’re done with your camping coffee pot, it’s time to properly dispose of the wet grounds. You’ll need to find a designated trash can. If you can’t, keep the wet grounds in a sealed container until you leave your backpacking trips.

How can you grind your coffee beans when camping?

A manual coffee grinder is the best way to get the most delicious coffee possible when on backpacking trips. You’ll only need a few tablespoons of coffee for a few ounces of water, so don’t worry about packing a considerable amount.

Can you make coffee without a campfire?

Hot coffee can feel a million miles away without a fire. However, you can easily use a camping stove to produce a giant cup of camping coffee. Just make sure to clean out your camping coffee pot thoroughly after every use.

Is GSI Outdoors the best brand for a camp coffee maker?

GSI Outdoors is known for making fantastic options for coffee brewing methods while camping. There are many brands out there, but GSI Outdoors truly offers incredible camping coffee for a reasonable price. You can find GSI Outdoors at most major retailers.

STAT: Coffee percolators once enjoyed great popularity but were supplanted in the early 1970s by automatic drip coffee makers. (source)

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