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Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cooking Accessories > GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip
Owner Review by Richard Lyon
December 1, 2011

Personal Details and Backpacking Background

Male, 65 years old
Height: 6'4" [1.91 m], Weight 205 lb [91 kg]
Home: Dallas, Texas USA
Email: Montana DOT angler AT gmail DOT com

I've been backpacking regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do at least one weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 10000 ft (1500-3000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp. Recently I've been actively reducing my pack weight, but still sleep in a floored tent and often include my favorite camp conveniences. Summer camping is often planned around flyfishing opportunities.


The Ultralight Java Drip is a reusable coffee filter designed for backpacking.  It consists of a small (GSI’s word is “diminutive”) mesh cone sewn over a wire ring at the top that is connected to three plastic legs that clip onto a mug.  Fill the bag with coffee, pour hot water over, and fresh-brewed coffee drips through into the mug.

Java DripManufacturer: GSI Outdoors,
Listed dimensions: 4.2 x 4.2 x 0.5 in [10.7 x 10.7 x 1.3 cm], verified accurate
Listed weight: 0.4 oz  [11.3 g]
Measured weight: 3/8 (0.375) oz [10.6 g] (My scale measures to the eighth of an ounce.)
MSRP: $9.95 US

Why I Bought It

I’m a morning coffee addict everywhere and any time of year, but hot coffee on a morning in the mountains is one of life’s great pleasures. Instant coffee (a contradiction in terms, in my opinion) won’t do, it’s got to be the real thing.  Until finding the Java Drip that meant one of four different coffee-making methods: a percolator, cowboy coffee, a separate French press, or the French press attachment to my Jetboil Flash (see separate Test Report on this canister-based integrated cooking system). The main drawback of the first three of these alternatives is the need to pack a separate pot for the coffee.  That’s a particular nuisance since several of my hiking comrades don’t drink caffeinated beverages.  The last choice works well but raises two different problems.  If I’m to have my coffee while making breakfast, which my caffeine addiction demands, I have to clean the messy grounds out the Flash’s cooking cup before refilling with water for oatmeal. This problem is compounded if I’m hiking with a buddy, given the Flash’s limited capacity.  

Enter the Java Drip.  Boil water with whatever stove I have with me, rig the Java Drip as described above, and a few minutes later I have my cuppa Joe to get my heart started.  


The Java Drip has been in my pack in all seasons and all weathers; I truly am an addict.  I take it on all solo hikes, and all hikes when I’m the only coffee drinker.  Winter use has been almost entirely inside a hut or yurt, as those were my shelters last winter, but last autumn I used it outdoors on a frosty morning in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, at 20 F (-7 C).   Highest temperature for morning coffee was about 85 F (29 C) in the Texas Hill Country.  Weather has ranged from driving rain to a windless sunny morning.

I’ve used four or five different mugs or cups for my own coffee and attached the Java Drip to at least that many drinking vessels for my companions’ coffee.  The Java Drip’s legs are flexible and it’s easy to adjust them to drinking vessels of varying sizes, and the teeth are flexible enough to fit over even the widest cup lip.  My only regular protocol is to place the mug of choice on flat ground in a place in camp where no one is likely to knock it over.


Ease of use.  Can’t get much easier than this. One great feature of the Java Drip is that the structure is flexible and the teeth grip well on thin or thick cup lips.  If I keep out of the way, other than to pour hot water, the set-up is remarkably sturdy and wind-resistant.  Though the Java Drip is flimsy, its teeth grip firmly, so the cup adds stability and structure.   

I’ve encountered only two problems in making coffee.  The first is obvious, that I’ve got to monitor the water level and be careful not to overfill the filter, or I’ll have a real mess on my hands (and on the coffee cup and the nearby ground).  Also I try not to move the cup after pouring in the first hot water.  Particularly with a tall cup the Java Drip can wobble (and on one occasion tipped over) when I lifted the mug by its handle.  After the mug is full of coffee I remove with Java Drip with some care, to avoid spilling the damp grounds.  

The Java Drip does call for more attention than a French press.  With a press I can pour in the hot water all at once, walk away, and have hot coffee in five minutes’ time; because the container is enclosed and plastic a relatively good insulator its contents stay hot while the coffee is steeping.  When using the Java Drip I must monitor the water level and add more hot water as the coffee drips through, more or less keeping the mesh bag full of water until the mug fills up.  The first slug of water drips through fairly quickly, but as the grounds absorb water the viscosity increases and the hot water is exposed to the air, as is the coffee in the mug.  I try to accelerate the process as much as possible to keep my coffee hot.     

Capacity.  This turns on the octane level desired by the particular coffee drinker.  I normally re-use the first coffee grounds for a second cup, and still get a strong brew, but after that to my taste it’s coffee-flavored hot water.

This is a one-cup-at-a-time product, which can delay the morning fix for someone else in my group.  The ready answer if my tentmate is also an addict is a second Java Drip.   

Cleaning.  I’m still a Leave No Trace guy who packs out what he packs in.  Even though coffee grounds are biodegradable and some lightweight advocates favor burial, after breakfast my used grounds are dumped into a trash bag of some sort – standard garbage bag or zip-lock type plastic bag.  After that the Java Drip is rinsed with the boiling water I’ve prepared for dishwashing.  Whichever method I use for coffee, the wet grounds are a nuisance, and I can’t seem to avoid spilling a few on the ground or on my hands, and a few more seem to stick to the mesh of the Java Drip.  This of course is not the fault of the Java Drip but a consequence of its owner’s demands for real coffee.

Coffee makersPacking and storage.  Here’s the reason I really like the Java Drip.  I don’t mind the small extra weight of a French press, but fitting it into my pack is another story.  It’s rigid, bulky, relatively large, and, even though made of plastic, subject to damage from sharp objects if stuffed into my pack or from banging around if attached to a strap or loop on the outside of the pack.  The Java Drip, in contrast, folds flat and fits neatly inside a small plastic bag that can be sealed at the top.  This I can store just about anywhere in my pack, often inside my cooking system or a pot or pan.  Compare them in the photo – enough said.
Durability.  With the care I’ve described above the Java Drip will last quite a while.  I have not had one deform or break after many mornings’ use and storage any which way in my pack. The plastic legs are not rigid and have not fractured, I haven’t lost a tooth, and the mesh in the bag hasn’t deteriorated.  I did pitch one when on very subjective criteria I judged it too ratty for further use.  That two of these have lasted for more than two years and probably sixty or more days (more, counting post-day hike use) is good enough for me.


Easy storage


Easy to use


A bit expensive


The Java Drip is this backcountry coffee lover’s dream gear.

Read more reviews of GSI Outdoors gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Cook and Food Storage Gear > Cooking Accessories > GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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