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If you like to drink your morning coffee on the go, a travel mug is an excellent investment. You can make your own hot or cold drinks just how you like them. And you can carry them with you to work, school, the gym, or wherever else your day may take you.
The market boasts hundreds, if not thousands, of different travel mug makes and models. If this is your first time buying a travel mug, you may feel overwhelmed by your number of choices.
That’s where we come in!
We've done the research so you don't have to. In our BestReviews lab, we poured the drinks, sipped the coffee, measured the temperatures, and analyzed the existing data, all to bring you the most accurate reviews out there. What's more, we never accept free products from manufacturers. We buy them from the store just like you, so you can rest assured our reviews are honest and unbiased.
If you need more info on how to choose the right travel mug for your needs, please continue reading this shopping guide. And when you’re ready to make a purchase, please check out the product matrix above for our top five picks.
The first thing to consider is why you should buy a travel mug. Here are some of the top reasons why you might want one:
Many travel mugs are insulated, keeping your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold. They're perfect for summer and winter.
You might think that all travel mugs are more or less the same. It's not quite as simple as that! Here are some features to consider:
The two most common travel mug materials are plastic and stainless steel.
Although less common, you’ll sometimes see a person with an all-glass or ceramic travel mug. However, these aren't usually insulated.
The Simple Modern Tumbler has the longest insulation time of all our top picks, keeping hot drinks warm for 12 hours and cold drinks chilled for 24 hours.
All the travel mugs featured in our product matrix are insulated, which means they keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. However, some cheaper travel mugs you’ll see in stores and online may not be insulated.
If insulation is important to you, take a look at how long your chosen mug keeps drinks hot or cold. For example, Thermos specifies in its product description that the Stainless King keeps hot drinks hot for five hours and cold drinks cold for nine hours.
Stainless steel travel mugs should not be heated in the microwave.
Many modern travel mugs don't have a handle. In fact, the only one of our top picks that has a built-in handle is the Thermos Stainless King.
Whether or not you want a handle comes down to personal preference. A well-insulated travel mug won't get hot on the outside when it has a hot liquid inside (or cold when it has a cold liquid inside), so a handle isn't needed to protect your hand. Even so, many people prefer to grip a handle when they sip from their mug.
With most tumbler-style travel mugs, you have the option of buying a handle/holder separately. For example, if you opt for the 30-ounce RTIC mug on our shortlist, you can buy a handle that will fit it from Aoocan.
Roughly 20 million trees are cut down to make paper cups each year. Consider asking your barista to pour your to-go coffee into your travel mug to help out the environment.
If you don't want your drink to leak or dribble all over the place, look for a travel mug with a leak-proof seal. This will allow you to carry it in a bag, rucksack, or briefcase with the knowledge that the contents won't spill all over your belongings.
The RTIC travel mug comes with a lid, but some customers complain that it’s not splash-proof. If you purchase a mug with a seal that isn’t leak-proof, you may end up needing to purchase another lid separately. GetiGrip makes a replacement lid that some RTIC owners have found satisfactory.
BPA — or Bisphenol A — is a harmful chemical compound that can leach from plastics into food and drinks. We recommend going with a BPA-free travel mug.
Some travel mugs require you to unscrew the lid every time you want to take a sip of your drink. Others have a button you can press to serve yourself, and still others remain open at the top for easy access.
We recommend one of the latter, as it can get extremely frustrating and inconvenient needing both hands whenever you want to take a drink. For example, the Contigo AUTOSEAL includes a button which you press to seal and unseal the lid. The Thermos King includes a lever that you can easily slide open to serve yourself.
Manufacturers make travel mugs of all sizes, from the petite to the enormous. The size you choose obviously depends on how much liquid you want to carry. However, it may also depend on how bulky the mug feels in your hand and whether you’re going to want to carry it around.
Travel mugs like the Contigo AUTOSEAL are purported to fit most cup holders. If this is an important feature for you, make sure the diameter of the mug you choose isn’t too large.
Not all travel mugs are dishwasher safe. If you're willing to wash your travel mug by hand, you might have a wider range of travel mugs to choose from.
As well as the physical size of the travel mug, you want to think about how much liquid it can hold.
Sixteen-ounce mugs are quite popular, but our top picks range from 10 to 30 ounces. Conveniently, some travel mug manufacturers give you the option of selecting from a number of sizes. For example, the RTIC Tumbler featured in our product matrix holds 30 ounces, but the company also offers this model in 10-, 12-, and 20-ounce capacities.
The size you choose depends on what you plan to carry in your travel mug, how much of it you drink, and how long you want it to last. A 10-ounce mug would be perfect for someone who just wants a single cup of coffee. A 30-ounce mug would be more suitable for someone who fills their travel mug in the morning and enjoys sipping from it all day. (This is where a cup with good insulation comes in handy!)
Do you prefer basic black or neon pink? Fortunately, most makes and models come in a range of colors so you can choose the shade you love.
However, some mugs offer more variety than others. For instance, the Simple Modern Tumbler comes in 16 different colors, whereas the Thermos Stainless King only gives you five color selections.
A larger mug doesn’t necessarily hold more liquid than a smaller one. Capacity also depends on how the mug is designed and how thick the insulation is. Before making your purchase, check a mug’s capacity in ounces.
Travel mugs are one of those products where paying a bit more will get you a more durable item from a brand you know and trust. That said, the pricier travel mugs you see in stores and online aren’t likely to break your bank account.
The best Thermos varieties cost around $25 and are probably the most reliable and long-lasting travel mugs on the market today. The Thermos Stainless King even comes with a five-year warranty.
However, you can get a perfectly good travel mug for around $15, though it may come from a brand you've never heard of before.
We wouldn't recommend spending below $10 on a travel mug. It probably wouldn’t be insulated or designed very well, and you'd likely need to replace it sooner than if you'd shelled out an extra five or ten bucks in the first place.
Q. Are all travel mugs BPA-free?
A. All of the top picks in our product matrix, above, are BPA-free. However, not all travel mugs on the market are BPA-free.
Q. What capacity will I need?
A. This is something you'll have to work out for yourself. Try measuring the capacity of your favorite mug or tumbler and going from there. Of course, if you want it to hold multiple cups of drink, you’ll need to factor that in. Some people like to sip from their travel mug all day long without having to refill it.
Q. How long does a travel mug keep its contents hot or cold?
A. On average, a travel mug keeps hot liquids hot for somewhere between 6 and 12 hours and cold liquids cold for between 8 and 24 hours. Even the lower end of these ranges would be more than sufficient for most people. If you want a travel mug that retains temperature for as long as possible, shop around for those with the best insulation.
Q. Is my travel mug dishwasher safe?
A. Not every travel mug is dishwasher safe, but some are. If the ability to clean your mug in the dishwasher is important, check the manufacturer's specifications to make sure you can do so.
At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.