Now that travel restrictions are slowly being lifted around the world and offices are starting to reopen, it’s time to start thinking about on-the-go essentials. Whether you plan on taking a vacation as soon as you’re fully vaccinated or your job recently announced a return to the office, a travel mug is a useful accessory that can help you stay hydrated (or caffeinated) on the road. Investing in a reusable cup can also help you use fewer single-use coffee cups, which is generally better for the environment. Buying the right reusable cup could also mean the difference between having a hot drink for hours and settling for lukewarm coffee after just 30 minutes.
Best insulated travel mugs
There are endless travel mugs on the market, which can make it difficult to decide which one to buy. To help inform your decision, we consulted data and recommendations from Consumer Reports. To make its recommendations, the Consumer Reports team tested how well the mugs retained temperature, how easy they were to clean and how leakproof the lids were. It gave each mug a rating (out of 5 stars) for temperature retention, top leaning, gasket removal and gasket replacement. To give you some more options, we also included top-rated travel mugs from popular retailers like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond.
The best travel mugs to shop
Consumer Reports noted that this travel mug is “in a league of its own.” During the tests, this stainless steel mug kept drinks hot for 13.5 hours — 6 hours longer than the next-best travel mug included in the testing. The mug features a screw-on cap that can be removed with the push of a button. Though it holds up to 16 ounces of liquid, it features a “slender” design that should fit into most cup holders. This travel mug is not dishwasher safe, but Consumer Reports said that the cap can be cleaned relatively easily.
Though Thermos’ Stainless King Tumbler only kept liquids hot for 7.5 hours — 6 hours less than Zojirushi — Consumer Reports still gave it a 5-star rating for temperature retention, noting that that’s realistically “probably all anyone would need.” The team added that the twistable leak-proof lid is easy to clean, though one of the three gaskets can’t be replaced, which means you’ll have to throw the mug away when it starts to weaken or smell. The rest of the tumbler is dishwasher safe.
The TAKEYA Stainless Steel Travel Mug has a flip-lock lid designed to make it easy to open and to prevent spills. In Consumer Reports’ test, the stylish 17-ounce mug kept drinks hot for 6 ½ hours, earning it a 5-star rating for temperature retention. This stainless steel is designed to be hand washed, but the Consumer Reports team noted that the lid is both easy to remove and easy to clean.
S’well’s 16-Ounce Stainless Steel Commuter Bottle kept liquids hot for 6 hours during Consumer Reports’ testing, which earned it a top spot on the list of best insulated mugs. According to the brand, the bottle is designed with three layers of insulation that can also keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours. However, the leak-proof lid’s gasket cannot be replaced, so you have to replace the entire top if it breaks or starts to smell.
If you really like to fuel up in the morning, you might want to consider the Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug, which has a 20-ounce capacity. At $14, it’s one of the most affordable models on this list, and it kept liquids hot for 5.5 hours during Consumer Reports’ testing. The team did note, however, that the travel mug was harder to open and that the cap was tougher to clean due to all the crevices.
With a cork-lined handle and sealing slider lid, the Ello Travel Mug more closely resembles a traditional mug. The 16-ounce stainless steel mug kept water hot for 5 hours during the Consumer Reports test. The team also said that the lid is easy to clean by hand, and according to the brand, you can even throw it in the dishwasher.
Though the YETI Rambler is arguably one of the more popular travel mugs, it only kept drinks hot for 4.5 hours during Consumer Reports’ tests largely thanks to its “simple plastic lid.” Still, the brand gave the tumbler 4 stars for temperature retention and added that the magnetic slider on the lid is a “cool mechanism.” The entire mug is dishwasher safe.
The Bubba insulated desk mug kept drinks hot for 4 hours during Consumer Reports’ testing — the shortest amount of time for any mug but still more than enough time for most people to finish their coffee or tea. The 52-ounce mug has a plastic interior with foam insulation and a built-in bottle opener on the handle in case you want to use it to open a beer and keep it cold. According to Consumer Reports, both the lid and the actual mug are easy to clean with a sponge.
Other top-rated travel mugs
If you prefer the sleek look of glass, this 12-ounce reusable coffee cup includes a microwave-safe thermal silicone sleeve that comes in several colors including Deep Teal, Strawberry Pink and Vintage Green. The travel mug also has a matching lid with an anti-splash design, according to the brand. The JOCO Coffee Cup has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 1,000 Amazon reviews.
This highly rated stainless steel travel cup from MiiR has double wall vacuum insulation to avoid condensation and prevent the outside of the mug from overheating. The press fit lid is dishwasher safe and splashproof, according to the brand. It has a 4.7-star average rating from more than 500 Amazon shoppers.
This 12-ounce mug features HydroFlask’s signature TempShield insulation designed to keep beverages hot for up to 6 hours and cold for up to 24 hours, according to the brand. It comes with a splash-resistant press-in lid with Honeycomb Insulation for optimal temperature control. The stainless steel mug has a 4.4-star average rating from more than 200 reviews on Hydro Flask.
If you have a specific temperature you prefer to keep your liquids at, it might be worth investing in the Ember Travel Mug. Though it’s significantly pricier than the other options on this list at $180, it’s the only one that allows you to control and adjust the heat of your beverage both with a touch display built into the mug and a mobile app. According to the brand, the 12-ounce mug can maintain the specific temperature of your drink on the go for up to three hours (it works all day if you keep it on the charger coaster). The Ember Travel Mug has a 4.2-star average rating from nearly 150 Best Buy shoppers.
Made of ceramic and wrapped in matte silicone for protection, these 12-ounce travel mugs come in fun pastels like Blush and Mint and are dishwasher safe to boot. The reusable cups have a 4.4-star average rating from more than 40 reviews on the W&P website.
How to shop for a travel mug
When shopping for a travel mug, there are a few important factors to keep in mind:
- Is the mug insulated? Insulated travel mugs can keep your drinks hot or cold for much longer periods of time. Most of the top-rated options on the market have stainless steel or glass interiors. Some options are also double-walled (or double-insulated), meaning there is an air pocket between the two layers of insulation to keep liquids hot and prevent the cup from overheating.
- Does the mug have a spill-proof lid? Arguably one of the most important features of a travel mug is a leak-proof lid. When you buy a reusable cup, look out for ones with vacuum-sealed lids and screw-on caps.
- How big is the mug? When shopping for a travel mug, it’s important to consider how much coffee the mug can hold. If you intend on using your mug in your car, you should also consider the shape and size of the reusable cup, and whether it will be able to fit inside a cup holder.
- Is the mug dishwasher safe? As Consumer Reports noted, some travel mugs are made with many small, intricate parts that can be difficult to clean around. If you know that you aren’t going to want to deal with hand-washing your cup, you may want to invest in one that is dishwasher safe. Also, many insulated travel mugs are made with several silicone gaskets, which can be difficult to clean — especially if they aren’t removable.
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