Backcountry Coffee: Three Ultralight Backpacking Options

I recently visited Snow Peak’s USA headquarters in Portland to check out all the lastest goods and gadgets. One of the items that caught my eye was the Snow Peak Collapsible Pour Over Coffee Brewer.

A tasty cup of trail coffee

A tasty cup of trail coffee









Weight 4.9 oz (140g)

I got a fresh-brewed cup of coffee out of the visit (very good) and hands-on experience. It is solid and folds flat. Worth checking out at $29.95 if you love good trail coffee.

Jetboil Coffee Press

Weight 0.8 oz (22g)

Jetboil Coffee PressFor my birthday, my wife bought me a coffee press for my Jet Boil. In my home try-out, I added 8 ounces of water, which boiled in one-minute. I stirred two tablespoons of fresh, dark french roast (#4 grind), let it sit for 3 minutes, then inserted the press to push down the grounds. Coffee was excellent. Fits inside the Jetboil cup. About $10.

Starbucks VIA® Intant

Weight .02 oz (3g)

Finally, a few months back, a friend and fellow backpacker brought Starbucks VIA® Instant coffee packets. If you like good coffee, like me, the thought of instant coffee gives you the shivers. Surprise. Surprise. Starbucks is excellent and the Dark French was strong the way I like it. Each packet costs less than a dollar and a fraction of an ounce — a dozen grams maybe. There are 15 flavors, including decafs, flavored (like Caramel Latte) and light and medium-bodied roasts.  Here is a Weblink for a look-see: Starbucks Instant Coffee.

My Choice

I like and recommend all three.

  • The Snow Peak is sturdiest and heaviest (4.9 ounces).
  • The Jetboil is a great trail coffee solution for the Jetboil Cooking System.
  • The Starbucks VIA® Instant is lightest of the “ultralight backpacking” trail coffee solutions.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.


Ultra-Sil Kitchen Sink just 1.5 Ounces, But holds 2.64 Gallons

Ultra-Sil Kitchen Sink for websiteAlthough I often just use my finger and a little water to clean my bowl and mug after breakfast or dinner on the trail, having a “wash pot” is nice. But too much weight and bulk, right? I recently discovered the Ultra-Sil Kitchen Sink (1.5 inches thick and 4.5 inches wide) as a great alternative. Packs down really small in its own case and is feather light. Best of all you can fill it with water, move away from the lake or stream to avoid contamination and use a small amount of biodegradable soap. Check it out.

In the meantime, be light. Be Safe. Be one with the pack.

The Perfect Backpacking Holiday Present: The Jetboil Stove System

My desire to have presents under the tree, no doubt, is a leftover from when I was a kid. As a kid, the sky was the limit. Now, I will be content to see just one: the Jetboil Sol Advanced Cooking System.

I’ve had my eye on the Jetboil for several years, but felt the original version was was just too big and heavy; not quit perfected.  The newer models are improved versions of the all-in-one concept of fuel, stand, stove, cup and cover nicely integrated into one lightweight unit.

The Sol is 10.5 oz. (300g) according to the specs, will hold 27 ounces (0.8 liters), and will bring the whole thing to a boil in 4 minutes, 30 seconds. You can even see through the side so you know when the water is boiling–a nice feature. Check it out.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Super Ultra light Esbit Titanium Stove … Not New, but Worth Repeating

A few years ago, I posted a review of my Esbit Pocket Stove, a small metal box that weighs 3 oz and burns a single Esbit hexamine tablet.

In culling 14 years of backpacking equipment, I came across my Esbit Titanium Folding Stove ($12.28 at Amazon), which weighs a mere 0.40 ounces (on a very accurate electronic scale); less than 1/2 ounce (11.3 grams). The esbit fuel tablet that powers it weighs 0.45. Together, they add up to a mere 0.85 of 1oz (24 grams)! Does it actually work? I thought I would do a 2013 re-test for you super ultra lighters who like their trail food hot.

Test Results
I fired up the tiny Esbit, added one cup of water (enough for a single serving of oatmeal or a cup tea or coffee) and got a rolling boil in about 3 1/2 minutes. A neat feature: you can blow out the flame and save what’s left of the fuel tablet for another meal. This test left more than a half tablet.

For two cups of water (enough for your oatmeal AND tea or coffee), it took about 8 minutes and used about 3/4ths of one fuel tab. Note: these tests were done at sea level.

If you are rehydrating food with water for dinner, you can figure 3 tablets per day (2 for dinner and one for breakfast). That adds up to 9 tablets for a three-night trip. Tablet weight: 4.5 ounces (9 @ 0.45); stove weight: 0.4. Total for three days: 4.9 ounces. Add a couple of more tabs for backup (less than 1 oz). You can buy a box of 12 Esbit 1400 Degree Smokeless Solid Fuel Cubes for just $4.99.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.


Ultralight Backpacking Camp Coffee

Backpacker Magazine emailed me a link this morning to its review of a “field tested”  backpacking coffee. It’s instant! Ugggh! My choice is fresh ground Peet’s French Roast or Thanksgiving’s Mirembe Kawomera (Delicious Peace) coffee in a one-cup filter (lightweight and as good tasting as home). To read Backpacker’s review of the instant they are raving about, follow this link.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

The Green Spork – 100% Biodegradable

Corn feeds us and fuels us. Now, utensils are being made of it. My wife, Gerry, found a set of six Italian-made, corn-based spoon/forks (sporks) that last six uses and then completely compost in 45-60 days. Less than one ounce each. At about 65 cents each (6 for $3.99) a package. Order from

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Ultralight Backpacking Trail Foods

Backpacking companions Wild Bill, the Duke and I share meal prep duties. If we’re out for a typical three night trip, each of us brings a dinner. I usually bring a half pound of linguini, broken so it fits into a sandwich bag, a four-ounce plastic bottle with garlic, red pepper flakes and olive oil mixed together and a foil packet of hickory smoked tuna or vacuum-packed smoked salmon. Either choice is amazingly good at home or the trail. This week, my wife Gerry, who works at the local library, bought home the latest edition of “,” an Sierra Club Outdoor Adventure Guide which features more than 200 all-natural trail-tested recipes. This is the third edition (2005) of a guide first created in 1976. The author really has it down what to mix at home and what to do on the trail. They offer sample menus for two and three day trips and lots of interesting recipes. Check it out — at the library or follow my link to Amazon where you buy buy it for around $10.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

miniTISSUE: Ultra Ultralight Backpacking Towels

minitissue.jpgMy regular readers know I’m a gearhound. And I’m always looking for the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking “thing” to include in my pack.

My latest find is the MiniTissue. Comes eight in a pack for $1 (1 ounce total weight). Individually wrapped like peppermint candies, you splash them with water making them instantly rehydrate, creating a very sturdy 8 by 9 inch face/hand towel. The company website sells them 96 to a box of 12 packages for $13.95, but I purchased mine at a kitchen store.

They contain no preservatives, alcohol or anti-bacteria solution and are environmentally friendly, 100% biodegradable and self decomposing. Individual compressed tissues don’t even register on my postal scale.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

Backpacking Kitchen: An Ultra Light Pot for Three

One of my readers said he was getting into backpacking with his family — there are three of them total — and wanted to know the best choice of a lightweight cooking pot. I’m sure you’ll get lots of opinions on this. But I purchased a pot set four years ago that works great for three guys, including myself and trail companions Duke and Wild Bill.

We cook pasta and add either smoked tuna, smoked salmon or pesto, and find we’ve got plenty. Although pasta recipes say to fill a huge four or five quart pot with water for a half pound of pasta, trust me when I say — based on several years of experience — that you can cook 3/4 of a pound of pasta in less than two liters of water just fine.

The pot and lit weight seven ounces. The pot lifter adds another ounce. You can leave the bag at home and save an ounce.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

A New Backpacking Light Spork

I love discovering new ultralight backpacking gadgets — anything that has multiple uses and is really light.

I was at the local outdoor store, looking for a birthday present for one of my backpacking pals, when I discovered a plastic knife-spoon-fork utensil from “Light My Fire Spork.”
Light My Fire Spork from Amazon
It weighs less than a half ounce and costs only $2.99. I have a titanium spork which cost $12.95, is about one ounce and doesn’t have a integrated knife. So, this is a nifty little device which offers more for less — less weight and less money. Your pocketbook will be the only thing that is a little heavier.

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.