Percolator vs French Press: Which Is Better For You?

More and more people have been taking up camping as a way to connect with nature and escape the stresses of daily life. With the rise of social media and the proliferation of information about outdoor recreation, it has become easier than ever to find resources and inspiration for planning a camping trip.

One of the challenges of camping, however, is finding ways to enjoy the comforts of home while in the wilderness. For many people, this includes finding ways to brew a good cup of coffee. Fortunately, several portable and easy-to-use methods of brewing coffee can be used while camping, such as percolators and french presses.

In this article, we cover percolator vs french press methods and which option will allow you to enjoy a delicious and satisfying cup of coffee even when you’re far from home.

Whether you’re an experienced camper or just getting started, there are many options for brewing coffee while camping that can help you start your day off right. With a little planning and the right equipment, you can enjoy good coffee while camping and make the most of your time in the great outdoors.

Gone are the days of settling for a sludgy, bitter-tasting cup of coffee outdoors. There are many coffee makers specifically designed to stay well caffeinated wherever you roam.

The Difference Between a Percolator & French Press

A percolator is a type of coffee pot that uses electricity or a heat source to boil water and pass it through a basket of coffee grounds. Percolators have a chamber for water at the bottom and a separate chamber for the coffee grounds at the top. As the water boils, it is forced up a tube and into the coffee grounds, where it then drips back down through a filter and into the pot. Percolators can brew coffee quickly, but they can also produce a bitter taste if the coffee is allowed to brew for too long.

A French press is a type of coffee pot that uses a plunger and a metal or nylon mesh filter to brew coffee. To use a French press, you add coarsely ground coffee to the pot and pour hot water over it. After a few minutes, you press down on the plunger, which forces the grounds to the bottom of the pot and separates them from the brewed coffee.

Both a percolator and a French press can be good options for brewing coffee while camping, depending on your needs at the campsite. Here are a few factors to consider when deciding which one to use:

Ease of use: Percolators are generally easier to use than French presses, as they do not require the use of a plunger. This can be a benefit if you are camping in a rustic location with limited resources.

Portability: Both percolators and French presses are portable and can be used on a stovetop or over a campfire. However, percolators are typically smaller and lighter than French presses, which can make them more convenient to pack and carry.

Flavor: French press coffee tends to be richer and bolder in flavor than coffee brewed with a percolator. If you want a more full-bodied and flavorful cup of coffee, a French press may be the better choice.

Serving size: Percolators are designed to brew multiple servings of coffee at once, making them a good choice for entertaining or for large families. If you are camping with a group, a percolator may be the more practical option.

Ultimately, the choice between a percolator and a French press for camping will depend on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your trip. Both methods can produce a delicious cup of coffee, and either one can be a good choice for camping.

Selecting a French Press for Camping

When selecting a French press for camping, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Size: You’ll want to choose a French press that is small enough to pack and carry easily, but large enough to make enough coffee for your needs. A 32 oz French press is a good size for camping, as it can make enough coffee for 2-4 people.
  2. Material: French presses for camping are typically made of stainless steel or lightweight plastic. Stainless steel is more durable and resistant to breaking, but it is also heavier. Plastic French presses are lighter and easier to pack, but they are not as durable.
  3. Ease of use: Look for a French press that is easy to use, with a simple design and easy-to-clean parts.
  4. Extra features: Some French presses for camping come with additional features such as a carrying case, or easy-to-clean components. These can be convenient, but they may also add to the cost and weight of the press. Consider whether or not these features are worth it for your needs.

Top French Press Camping Options

Best Value | OVRLNDR® Travel Press

travel french press, removable bottom french press, red rock ovrlndr

If you’re looking for the best value in a mess-free French press, look no further than OVRLNDR® Travel Press. Perfect for commutes, road trips – or just a good cup of Joe during your morning routine – these pressers make cleaning up a total breeze! The patented removable bottom feature ensures easy clean-up and an effortless transition into multiple flavors and varieties of teas and coffees.

Plus, the Bru Stop™ patented press screen guarantees that each delicious cup is never bitter and never leaves grounds in your smile. Get ready to enjoy an amazing 24 fl. oz. cup of your favorite tea or coffee with OVRLNDR® Travel Press – best value guaranteed!

Best for Backpacking | Double Shot 3.0 Travel Press

photo of Double Shot 3.0 french press mug, assembled

If you’re looking for the best French Press for backpacking and don’t mind a little extra storage attached, the Double Shot 3.0 Travel Press is an excellent choice! This sleek, double-walled vacuum-insulated cup features a laser-welded durable handle and patented Bru-Stop™ travel press assembly that allows you to enjoy smooth-tasting coffee or tea on the go. Not only does this press provide superior usability and quality, but it also has an integrated storage canister – perfect for storing extra grounds, tea leaves, or snacks.

And if it’s outdoor brewing you’re after, this mug has a spill-proof combination press & drink lid that fits both left and right-handed drinkers! With its spacious 16 fl oz capacity, this mug will make sure your caffeine cravings are covered even while on the road.

Best for Great Tasting Coffee | The SteelToe 3.0 Travel Press

transparent image of french press

The Steel Toe 3.0 Travel Coffee Press is the perfect outdoor brewing partner. If you’re willing to compromise on space and weight for great-tasting coffee… this is your solution. Brewing 20 fl. oz that will taste the same hours after you make it with the patented Bru-Stop™ Plate that prevents over-extraction and bitter-tasting coffee.

The double-wall stainless steel body will also keep your brew hot for hours. No longer do you have to compromise on good-tasting coffee outdoors with the Steel Toe.

Best for Groups | BaseCamp French Press

Basecamp French press camp coffee, Camping French Press

The sturdy BaseCamp French Press is designed for outdoor brewing but is ideal for coffee brewing anywhere. The BaseCamp also features the patented Bru-Stop™ press technology for a delightfully smooth, rich-tasting brew and a threaded lid that helps retain heat and prevent spills.

It comes in 32 and 48 fl. oz., ideal for groups of 3 or more people. Be the favorite at the campsite with this French Press.

Selecting a Percolator for Camping

The main thing to consider when buying a percolator for outdoor use is the type and size you want. There are indeed several types of coffee percolators that are suitable for camping, and they can be broadly grouped into two categories:

Stovetop percolators are designed to be used on a stove or over a campfire. They typically have a classic design and can be made of materials such as stainless steel or aluminum.

Electric percolators are convenient for camping as they are not reliant on creating a heat source. They are typically compact and easy to use, and many models have features such as an automatic keep-warm function.

Top Percolator Camping Options

Best for Big Groups | The Coletti Butte Stainless Steel Camping Percolator

coletti butte percolator - Planetary Design

The Coletti Butte Stainless Steel Camping Percolator is a larger version of the Coletti Butte percolator that is designed to brew up to 14 cups of coffee at a time. Like the original version, it is made of durable stainless steel and has a classic design that is easy to use over a campfire or on a stovetop.

The percolator features a clear plastic top that allows you to easily monitor the brewing process and a durable handle that stays cool to the touch even when the percolator is in use. It also has a simple and easy-to-use design, with a single-button control that allows you to start and stop the brewing process easily. 

Best Lightweight Option | GSI Glacier Perc Coffee Percolator

gsi glacier percolator - Planetary Design

The GSI Glacier Perc coffee percolator (3 cup) features heavy-gauge 18/8 stainless steel construction, making it durable enough to withhold the rigors of any backpacking trip. Heat this on a stovetop or campfire without worry because it comes with a heat-resistant silicone handle that stays cool to the touch for safe and secure pouring. Oh, and the best part, it only comes in at 0.89 lbs. 

Best for the Glamper | Moss & Stone Electric Percolator

moss and stone electric percolator - Planetary Design

The Moss & Stone Electric Coffee Percolator is a convenient option for brewing coffee while camping, as it does not require a heat source other than an outlet. It is made of stainless steel and has a sleek design that is easy to use.

The percolator can brew up to 12 cups of coffee at a time and has an automatic keep-warm function to ensure your coffee stays hot. If you’re glamping and have access to an electrical outlet, this is a great option to enjoy good-tasting coffee.


Does Percolator Coffee Taste Better Than French Press?

The taste of coffee brewed with a percolator or French press can vary depending on the quality of the coffee beans, the roast level, the grind size, and the brewing time. Generally, coffee brewed with a French press tends to be richer and bolder in flavor than coffee brewed with a percolator.

This is because the French press allows the coffee grounds to steep in the hot water for a longer period, which can extract more oils and flavors from the beans. The metal or nylon mesh filter used in a French press also allows some of the finer particles and oils from the coffee grounds to pass through, which can contribute to the full-bodied flavor of the brew.

On the other hand, coffee brewed with a percolator tends to be quicker and easier to make, but it can also produce a bitter taste if the coffee is allowed to brew for too long. Percolators work by boiling water and passing it through a basket of coffee grounds, and if the coffee is allowed to brew for too long, it can become over-extracted and bitter.

The choice between a percolator and a French press will depend on your preferences and how much time you have to devote to the brewing process. Both methods can produce a delicious cup of coffee, but the French press tends to yield a more full-bodied and flavorful cup.

How to Clean Your Coffee Maker While Camping?

Cleaning a percolator while camping can be a little more challenging than cleaning one at home, as you may not have access to the same resources or amenities. Here are a few tips for cleaning your coffee maker while camping:

  1. Remove the coffee grounds: After brewing coffee, remove any remaining coffee grounds from the percolator by emptying the basket or pressing down on the plunger (if applicable). For a french press, press the plunger down and remove to dispose of it.
  2. Rinse the percolator under hot water to remove any remaining coffee grounds or debris. If you don’t have access to hot water, you can use cold water.
  3. Wipe clean: Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe down the inside and outside of the percolator. If you don’t have access to a cloth, you can use a dirty shirt that we know is stuffed at the bottom of your pack.
  4. Dry: Once you have wiped the percolator clean, make sure to dry it thoroughly before storing it. This will help prevent the growth of bacteria or mold.
  5. Rinse and dry the basket or filter: If your percolator has a removable basket or filter, make sure to rinse and dry these parts as well. The same applies to the plate in your french press.

Cleaning any coffee maker while camping requires a little bit of extra effort, but it is still a relatively simple process that can help ensure you can continue to make good coffee at the campsite and prevent any staining or messes when storing your coffee maker.

What to do With Coffee Grounds While Camping?

When camping, it is important to follow the Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the environment. This includes properly disposing of your coffee grounds and other trash.

Here are a few tips for disposing of coffee grounds while camping:

  1. Pack it out: If you are camping in a location where there are no trash facilities, it is important to pack out all of your trash, including coffee grounds. This may mean carrying a small container or bag to store your coffee grounds until you can dispose of them properly.
  2. Compost it: If you are camping in an area where it is safe to do so, you can compost your coffee grounds. Coffee grounds can be a great addition to a compost pile, as they are high in nitrogen and other nutrients that can help plants grow.
  3. Dispose of it responsibly: If you are camping in an area with trash facilities, be sure to properly dispose of your coffee grounds in a designated trash receptacle.

Overall, it is important to be mindful of the impact you have on the environment while camping, and properly disposing of your coffee grounds is an important part of this. By following these tips, you can help protect the natural beauty of the area and preserve it for future generations.

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