How to Make Awesome Camp Coffee

Do you LOVE coffee? We do. We start every single day with at least one cup whether we’re at home in Asheville on somewhere in our van. In this post, we talk about how to make awesome camp coffee. No machine nor electricity is required.

Assemble Your Materials

The first thing required for making good coffee while traveling is to get some basic pieces of gear. If you’re thinking, man, no way can I pack a hand grinder, it only has a single purpose, we hear you. For those of you who want no frills, no mess and easy cleanup, we recommend Kuju Coffee Pocket PourOver’s. The flavor is excellent and there is no extra equipment required other than a mug and a pot to boil your water.

For everyone else who is maybe car camping or has the space for a grinder and a few other supplies, we recommend the following:

Porlex Jp-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip

Coleman 12 oz. Enamel Mug

STA01715-BRK Prep & Cook Set Stainless

Coleman Triton 2-Burner Propane Stove

Hydro Flask 16 oz Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Travel Coffee Mug

Coleman Propane Canisters – these are cheaper and easier to buy in person rather than online.

Start With Quality Beans

Can’t make chicken salad out of chicken sh… wait a minute. Wrong analogy. But you get where I was going, right? You can’t make great coffee with inferior beans. Pick quality coffee and you’re halfway there. Some of our favorite coffee is made by our friends over at Rebel Pine. They’re a local to Asheville company who plants a tree for every bag of beans purchased.

Refine Your Method

To make the absolute perfect coffee, it’s recommended that you weigh your beans and your water. We don’t carry a scale with us but we do know how much water to use based on how much coffee we’ve ground. A little bit of experimentation with your grinder should do the trick. For us, when we load the grinder canister to the top, we know we’ll get about 14 ounces from it.

Step 1:

Get your mug and put the GSI on top of it. Be sure to spread the legs out equidistant from one another so that the coffee drips into the center of your mug and not down the side of it.

Step 2:

Pour some water into your pot to boil and light your stove.

Step 3:

Load your Porlex Jp-30 Stainless Steel Coffee Grinder with whole beans and grind them. We recommend grinding your beans so they resemble coarse sea salt or coarse ground pepper. Your grinder will actually allow you to grind your beans into a much finer consistency, but we don’t recommend it. This keeps the sediment out of your coffee (the slushy last sip that’s sometimes at the bottom of your mug.)

Awesome Camp Coffee

Step 4:

Pour the ground beans into the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip.

Step 5:

Once your water boils you are ready to start making your coffee. This is the fun part. Dunk your blue camp cup (the Coleman 12 oz. Enamel Mug) into the boiling water and slowly pour it in a circular fashion around your beans until they are covered in water. We use a cup rather than pouring from the pot because it gives us a bit more control than just pouring from the pot.

Awesome Camp Coffee 1

Step 6:

Let your coffee sit now for about 30 seconds. If you have really fresh beans, you will get a bloom, which is where the grounds swell up. Rebel Pine’s coffee always produces a really beautiful bloom (and aroma.)


How to Make Awesome Camp Coffee Recap

Remember that you’re camping so you can be forgiven with a little less exactness in the wildness. For those of you that really want to be specific, we recommend about 3 minutes of brew time for dark roasts and about 4 minutes for light roasts.

Practice makes perfect (and also the perfect excuse for going camping) so if you don’t get the coffee right on the first try, keep on practicing. It’s easier to make strong coffee weak (just add water) than it is to make weak coffee better. If it’s too weak, check out your grind and see if it’s too coarse and chunky. If so, try adjusting your grinder until you get a finer product. You could also use less water.

Authentic Asheville 3

Coffee Wish List

If you’re thinking, what the heck, they’re not using a gooseneck coffee pot, we get it. Really hard core coffee lovers wouldn’t even think of making coffee without one. We’re making the most of the tools we do have though. That said, if you’re interested in getting the real deal, here it is:

Steel Pour Over Gooseneck Kettle

What are your steps for making van life coffee? We’d love to hear from you, especially if you have a really great tip or trick!

** Did you know we make Squarespace websites? It’s one of the ways we’re able to travel. If you’re looking for updates to an existing site or interested in creating a new one, please get in touch!



Best Van Life Gear Under $50

Through trial and error, we’ve found some gear that makes life on the road and in our van not only easier but more enjoyable. Though we’ve done other gear posts before such as the 9 essential pieces of gear you need for van life, this is the first one where every item on the list is $50 or less.

Gear for Sleeping Better

Foldable Silvering Reflective Car Sun Visor 

Keep the sun out (and consequently keep temperatures down) during the day. Keep street and car lights out while parked at night. It offers a little privacy, too, when you’re trying to change. This little silver accordion windshield cover folds down fairly compact and is one of our most often used items.

Mack’s Ultra Soft Foam Earplugs

You might not need a jar of 50 but if you’re like us (okay, Erin) then you lose things often and might need to get a jar of 50. These will help you get a better night’s sleep in your van.

Gear for Staying Clean

Coleman 5-Gallon Solar Shower

Thanks to our friend Lisa Giles, we scored a sweet sun shower! The black exterior heats the water up in hardly no time and helps you rinse the van life grime of ya. It’s one of the ways we manage to stay clean on the road. We no longer have an excuse for showing up to dinner dirty. With this, neither do you.

MountFlow Microfiber Towel – Quick Dry Micro Travel Towels

It’s amazing how fast these towels dry. They’re super thin and pack down small. They’re a huge upgrade from a thick beach towel or a regular bath towel, especially when space is a premium on the road.

Collapsible Buckets TOPIND Multi-Functional 5L/10L Folding Water Bucket

We’ve done both laundry and dishes in this bucket. Don’t worry we always rinse it out when we’re done so that our dishes and clothes don’t get gross. When you’re not using it, the whole thing collapses down to about the size of a dinner plate.

Gear for Cooking and Eating

Detachable Camping Eating Utensil – Half Fork/Bottle Opener, Half Spoon/Knife, SST with Aluminum Handles, Red

These showed up in our stocking at Christmas. Santa, aka Erin’s Mom, decided we could use a little all in one utensil kit and she was right! This little tool separates, too, so you can use one at a time if you like.

Stanley Prep & Cook Set

Everything packs down small and fits into the pot, even the spatula. There’s other gear that you can get that’s lighter, but for us, since we’re not trekking miles up a mountain with this kit, it works great.

Hydro Flask 24 oz Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Leak Proof Sports Water Bottle, Standard Mouth with BPA Free Flex Cap, Pacific

I’ve used Nalgene’s for years and while they’re awesome, they don’t keep water quite as cold as the Hydro Flask. They come in all sorts of cool colors and their handle works well with carabiners and packs.



GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip

If you love a pourover coffee, this little lightweight filter is going to be your new best friend. It makes delicious coffee and attaches to almost any kind of mug. Quite possibly the best feature is that it cleans easily and dries almost instantly.

Coleman 12 oz. Enamel Mug

Does this one need any explaining? These little blue mugs have been a staple in our adventures for many for years. We use them for everything from coffee to soup.

Klean Kanteen KSSC16 Adult’s 16oz Kanteen Pint Cup Brushed Stainless

If you love drinking your beer from a glass, pick up one or two of these Klean Canteen pint glasses. They’re great for when you don’t want the bottle or can (stealth mode, anyone?) or you’re in an area where you can’t have glass. Plus they just feel good in your hand.

Gear for Navigation

National Geographic Road Atlas – Adventure Edition

Your cell phone doesn’t work everywhere, even in 2018. We’ve relied on our adventure edition road atlas to show us the way more than a few times. The front section has some great info on some of the best National Parks and there are even maps in there of the entire country that will help you plot out a REALLY big adventure.

SE CCV18 Wristband Compass

Pair this with the road atlas and you’ll be on your way (in the right direction) in no time. This little compass doesn’t have a battery and therefore never needs a charge. The next time your cell phone dies or you can’t get a signal, there’s no need to stress. It’s also a great way to unplug and make the most of your adventure.

All-purpose Van Life Gear

50 Feet of 3/16″ Utility / All Purpose Rope – Red

We bought some of this rope to create three small clotheslines in our van and had enough left over to make a long one which we string up at camp.

Home-X Wooden Clothespins. Set of 50.

For hanging your clothes and maybe pinching your nose when the van starts to stink lol.

Black Diamond Unisex Cosmo Light Matte Black One Size

We each have a headlamp and use it to get around in the dark at camp, to show up when we run at night, to make our way along a trail at dusk and of course to read before bed.

Nathan FireStorm Race Vest Hydration Pack, 2-Liter, One Size, Sparkling Cosmo

Gonna need a day pack, why not make it a hydration pack as well. We’ve got two of these, one for each of us for when we go running. It’s got a couple of zipper compartments for keys, IDs and a little cash.

Sun Safety Gear

Patagonia Fitz Roy Crest LoPro Trucker Hat (Black)

Keep the sun off your face with this hat and feel good about investing in a company that promotes fair labor practices, safe working conditions and actually cares about the planet.

Suncloud Sentry Polarized Sunglass (Tortoise Frame/Brown Polar Lens)

Protect your eyes, they’re the only ones you’ve got! We like these shades because they’re polarized and if you’re out on the water, will help you see better.

Australian Gold Botanical Sunscreen Tinted Face Mineral Lotion, Non-Greasy, SPF 50, 3 Ounce

Caroline found this brand when we were in Florida and has been using it ever since. It’s non-greasy and is sensitive enough to use on your face.

Water Sports Gear

Cressi Scuba Diving Snorkeling Freediving Mask Snorkel Set, All Black

Chances are at some point in your van life adventure you’re going to come in contact with water. If you’re anything like us, you’re going to want to see what’s in the water. So grab a mask and snorkel and go check it out!

Tusa Liberator Xten Open Heel Scuba Diving Fins

A mask and snorkel might be all you need but if you want to take your water exploration a little further, pick up some fins. This type of fin requires you to wear booties with them. There are others that don’t but we’re recommending these because we have them and we love them.

Mares Equator 2mm Dive Boots by Mares

These are some booties you can wear with your fins. They’ve got a firm rubber sole which will allow you to walk safely and comfortable from the dock to the boat or along a rocky shoreline without cutting up your feet. They dry fairly quickly too.

Sanuk Men’s Beer Cozy Flip Flop, Black

Great for being around the water and boats. Because you can’t and don’t always want to wear shoes. Or go barefoot. These flip flops are super comfy and feel like you’re walking on clouds. Don’t worry about getting them wet – they dry pretty quickly. Go from the beach to the brewery without missing a step.

Mesh Equipment Bag, Green – 32 x 36 – Adjustable, sliding drawstring cord closure. 

We keep all of our snorkel gear in a mesh bag so that it doesn’t get lost when we get on a boat with other people. It’s also great because we can then easily dunk the whole thing in a fresh water barrel when we’re done. After it dries, we then put it back in our van storage box and it’s ready for the next time we go snorkeling. We also have a second mesh bag for dirty laundry.

Best Van Life Gear Under $50 Recap

The items we’ve listed are things we’re currently using in our Wayfarer Van. How many of these things are pieces of gear that you use as well? Is there anything you think we’ve missed that should be on this list? We’d love to hear your thoughts, please leave them in the comments below!



Richie and His Van

If you have an obsession then maybe you can relate. You read as much as you can about it, stare at pictures on the internet, get excited when you learn something new…etc. And occasionally you find the object of your obsession out in the real world. For us, it’s old vans.

Florida Van Life 2

We met Richie and his van this morning in Key West! We spotted him earlier on the run and then again near Smathers Beach. Couldn’t help but stop and chat. Turns out he made the top himself out of foam and has been living in a van for FORTY FIVE YEARS. Talk about inspiration!

He said one day he went out for coffee and veered hard left and bought a van and has been in it ever since. The inside of his rig was sooooo cool. He let us poke our heads in there and we even got a glimpse of his YETI Tundra 35 Cooler (one of the items on our list of Essential Van Life Items.)

Florida Van Life 1

He says he gets about 4 or 5 people a day that want to stop and talk about his rig. What do you think about it? Could you see yourself living in a van for 45 years?! Please leave your comments below, we’d love to hear from you!


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