Monday, April 4, 2016

Gear Review: GSI Outdoors Commuter Javapress Coffee Maker

Simple. Fast. Perfect.

Yep, those are three words that immediately come to mind to describe what I think is every coffee drinking backpacker's must have.

I'm certainly no coffee aficionado, but I like [need, actually] a big cup of hot coffee in the morning to help get me going.  And the GSI Outdoors Commuter Javapress makes coffee making about as simple, fast and perfect as it can get.

Gear Specs:
Capacity: 15 fl. oz.
Weight: 9.6 oz
Dimensions: 3" x 7.8"
Colors: Red, Green, Blue, Orange, Graphite [Grey]

After a cool night in the outdoors, nothing warms me faster and gets me going like a great cup of coffee and from now on the Commuter Javapress will be a staple in my backpack.  Making coffee with this little ingenious tool is about as easy as it gets.  And the price tag is easy on the wallet.  In fact, I picked this baby up for nearly free with my $20 Member Discount Coupon at REI.

Simple - The 15 fl. oz. container has an inner sleeve and outer sleeve.  The inner sleeve has a built in rubber gasket which holds a water tight seal against the outer sleeve and has a micro filter bottom which strains coffee grounds completely.  The idea is simple.  Remove the inner sleeve, add coffee grounds and just about two cups of boiling water then insert the inner sleeve back into the container.

Fast - There's really no waiting around or 'percolating' time required although a minute or two probably wouldn't hurt.  The inner sleeve has a built in micro filter bottom that instantly filters the coffee grounds from the boiling water as you push the inner sleeve down into the outer casing.  And although the seal is super snug, pressing the inner sleeve is not hard.  It is best to keep the spout open on top as it prevents pressure build up and allows the air to escape.

Perfect - The coffee I've made out of this little charm really has been just perfect.  I've been adding about one tablespoon per cup of water give or take and the result has been fantastic.  The built in micro filter does a great job of filtering out the coffee grounds and I've yet to experience the 'mud' that can sometimes be left in the last few sips in other coffee making systems.

Clean Up is a breeze since the thermal insulating colored cover slips off after taking off the rubber non-slip bottom.  I've popped everything in my dishwasher at home at it comes out looking brand new every time.

The GSI Commuter Javapress also makes for easy carry of coffee, creamer, sugar and or maple syrup, etc. inside the container.  That allows for saving on space inside your backpack.   And the lid is designed with a well thought closure and handle which allows for quick open/close and a spot to carabiner the system to your backpack as well.

Two thumbs way up for this simple, fast and perfect coffee making system.  This too will be a staple in my backpack for years to come.

See you on the trail!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Gear Review: Stanley Adventure Camp Cook Set

I started out Backpacking with the GSI Outdoors Minimalist Stainless Steel Cookpot.  It's a super 16 oz minimalist system with no lid nor cup.  It's not a bad piece to have along but I quickly found myself wanting and needing a lot more out of my cookset.

My next purchase was the Stanley Adventure Camp Cookset and although its a serious step up and it will accompany me on many outdoor adventures, it probably won't be my last cookware purchase.

Right out of the gate what drew me to the Stanley system was it's larger volume [almost 2x my GSI], it's lid, and the very reasonable price [$24.99 @ Dicks].  Larger volume proved itself to be more of a necessity than a luxury after having re-hydrated a few freeze dried meals.  The GSI's capacity is certainly on par to fill the single serve Mountain House packets but the Stanley System's capacity allowed me to boil enough water at once to re-hydrate a meal with plenty of water left over for coffee or hot chocolate.

Another cool aspect of the added capacity is for the fact that a single boil can nearly fill up even a 1 Liter Nalgene.  I like all season camping and on those cold nights a Nalgene full of warm water in your sleeping bag can make a big difference in comfort.  The Stanley system can boil around 28 ounces at once making it a much better choice over the smaller capacity cooksets.  With my GSI Outdoors system I would have to boil water twice before being able to fill my Nalgene and head off to bed.  Now, I can boil once , fill my Nalgene nearly full, slip it into one of my extra wool socks and head off to dream land.

Just to get you in the know, the packaging is a bit deceiving.  At first glance it looks to be a cook pot with a lid and a handle but after closer inspection you'll be happily surprised to see that the package comes with not one but two nesting double wall cups.  I know it says that right on the label but if you are looking around quickly you might miss that fact.  And the cups come in at 10 oz each - actually just the right size for a cup of coffee that doesn't make you feel guilty about having a second one.

And the cups being double wall help keep that coffee, soup or hot chocolate warmer while protecting your hands from the heat. They're handle-less but comfortable to hang on to none the less.

Speaking of packaging, the whole setup is very compact when all put together and weighs in at a reasonably modest 13oz.  I like more than a few things about the packaging.  First off, even with both cups packed inside the cook pot there is additional space to store a small alcohol stove and 1-2 small fuel bottles.  Storing my entire cooking system in one package is ideal and this setup is really perfect for that.  And if you wanted to leave one cup out of the system, there is even more room inside for a cook stove windbreak and eating utensils.

One thing I will mention is that although it is possible to fit my MSR Pocket rocket quite comfortably into the Stanley system, the cook pot does not actually fit very well on it.  The diameter of the pot [around 3.25"] falls dangerously close to being too small to fit on the MSR Pocket Rocket tines.  Even with a perfectly level setup that I had on my last outing, my boil setup ended up tipping over when I turned my back on it.  Not good.  My next effort resulted in a successful boil but I had to pay very close attention to how I placed the pot on the burner and even had to hold the handle to keep it from tipping.

All in all I really do like this system, especially with my alcohol stove setup.  It fits perfectly on my cat food can stove and since my stove and small fuel bottles fit so well inside, this is going to be one of my staples on my future trips.

Check out my video below where I sum up all of the above.  Give me a thumbs up and leave a comment if you've got some other ideas on uses for the Stanley Cookset.

Remember - Take Nothing but pictures, Leave Nothing but Footprints and Waste Nothing but Time out on the trail.