7 Best Travel Mugs, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We brewed and sipped many cups of coffee to find the best travel mugs for your needs.
Our Top Travel Mug Picks:
- Best Overall: YETI Rambler 20-Ounce Travel Mug
- Best Budget: Contigo Vacuum Insulated 24-Ounce Travel Mug
- Best for Heavy Travel: HydroFlask Coffee Flex-Sip Wide-Mouth 20-Ounce
- Best Mug with Handle: Swig Life 18-Ounce Tumbler with Handle
- Best Compact: Simple Modern KONA 16-Ounce Coffee Mug Thermos
- Best for Camping: YETI Rambler 14-Ounce Mug
- Honorable Mention: Zojirushi Insulated 20-Ounce Mug
Tested by Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Having a go-to travel mug you love in your kitchen cupboard is the wardrobe equivalent of a goes-with-everything jacket. It’s dependable, durable and functional, and it expresses your personal style and lifestyle needs. Toting coffee or tea from home can save you money, whether you’re hustling on your morning commute, out for a morning hike or handling school drop-off. When you do stop for a cuppa, whether it’s at your neighborhood coffee shop or at the airport, a reusable travel mug can also help cut down on plastic and paper cup waste.
Most of us shop for travel mugs online, but we found there’s a lot to be said for being able to hold the mug in your hands and take a sip from it. These are a few things to look for when shopping for travel coffee mugs online while browsing product images, descriptions and manufacturer claims. We broke down a list of our favorite mugs we tested and what to look for the next time you’re investing in a new travel mug.
What To Know About Buying a Travel Mug
- Size: Think about how much you need your travel mug to hold; 12 ounces is the equivalent of two standard cups of brewed coffee or tea. The average travel mug size is 16 ounces. Consider how much storage space you have and check listed measurements against the space between shelves in your kitchen cupboard. We found large mugs didn’t always fit in our cabinets. Finally, double check product descriptions to see if the mug will fit in a standard size cup-holder or backpack pocket.
- Materials: Mugs made from 18/8 professional-grade stainless steel tend to be the most durable. Some models have rubberized grips on the body and non-slip silicone finishes on the bottom which can be helpful for rushed mornings. Lids are typically made of plastic; latches or button closures can be made from plastic or metal.
- Exterior Finish: Some of the models we tested had both lids and mugs that were dishwasher safe, but some manufacturers noted that only unpainted models are dishwasher safe. Look for manufacturer claims touting a durable, long-lasting coat or condensation-free finishes.
- Lid Style: These can include flip lids, thumb-sliding lids, push-button lids and twist lids. If you need something leak-proof, opt for a twist lid. If you need to be able to operate and drink from your mug one-handed, a flip lid or push-button lid is a good bet. Note that mugs with slider-style lids can be tricky to clean, particularly if you take your beverage with milk products or sweeteners.
- Leak-Proof vs Spill-Proof: If you’re planning to stash your mug in a bag, look for leak-proof claims and observe the construction. Does it have a twist-lid and/or latch- or button-closure? Do you need to press a button to take a sip? Spill-proof (or splash-resistant) means that it’ll keep liquid from sloshing out but isn’t up to the task of preventing leaks when mugs are stowed in a bag.
- Ease of Cleaning: In addition to noting whether your favorite mug is dishwasher safe, you’ll want to note whether the lid parts come apart for thorough cleaning, including rubber gaskets and models with special sealing features. Lids can get moldy and smelly if not cleaned thoroughly. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to maximize performance and durability.
How We Tested
We purchased 10 top-rated travel coffee mugs according to various online sites, reviews and bestseller rankings. We tested travel coffee mugs across a range of price points in a variety of sizes, from 14 ounces to 24 ounces. We also tested models with and without handles and different styles of lids, including thumb-sliding lids, push-button lids and twist lids.
Part 1: Product Intake & Pre-Use
First, we assessed the design and construction of the travel coffee mug. We noted what materials the body and lid were made of and whether the mug felt durable. To assess the mug’s measurements, we noted how many ounces of liquid the mug held and whether it easily fit in a kitchen cabinet. To evaluate the design, we tested to see if the mug fit in a standard-size cup holder and noted whether the lid locked or closed while not in use.
We observed if the mug came with a manual or paperwork to explain how to use the mug. We also noted if there were any assembly instructions or recommended steps prior to first use, such as washing and drying. We also reviewed the care and use instructions to determine if the mug was dishwasher safe and assessed how easy it might be to clean.
We also recorded any special claims, including leak-proof or spill-proof design, how many hours it promised to keep beverages hot for, no-sweat design, shatter-resistant or dent/drop resistant construction, non-slip silicone base and comfort grip handles. We also noted whether the mug came with a warranty and if so, how long it lasts and what is covered.
Part 2: Food Test
We conducted the food test in two parts, first a boiling water test and then a taste test.
For the boiling water test, we added 12 ounces (the equivalent of two standard cups of brewed coffee) of boiling water to the travel mug and noted the temperature using an instant-read thermometer and recording the temperature to a tenth of a degree. We then added the lid to the mug and checked the water temperature after 30 minutes, 1 hour, 3 hours, and 6 hours, with the lid on. (Depending on the design of the mug, some mugs required removing the lids to take the water temperature.) If a mug came with a claim to keep water hot for a longer period, such as 9 hours or 12 hours, we tested that too. We also noted each time whether the base of the cup was too hot or cold to handle — all of the mugs were easy to hold throughout the whole test.
For the taste test, we brewed coffee and added the coffee to the travel mug. When the liquid was cool enough, we took a sip through the lid. We noted any strange, metallic or plastic tastes. We waited 30 minutes and tasted the coffee again by sipping it through the lid. Again, we noted any strange or unpleasant flavors.
Part 3: Cleaning
Here we noted whether any of the parts (mug body or lid parts) were dishwasher safe. Most of the travel mugs we tested had dishwasher-safe lids, but many of the painted bodies required hand washing. A couple of the most durable models were completely dishwasher safe. We also noted how easy the mugs were to wash and dry by hand, observing how easily the coffee washed away from the interior of the mug body as well as how easy it was to reach the bottom of the mug. Most manufacturers recommend hand washing parts in warm, soapy water and rinsing and drying thoroughly before storing, and advise storing the lid and body separately.
This article has been reviewed since its original publish date for accuracy, pricing and availability. We stand by our list of top travel coffee mug picks.
The YETI Rambler won top marks for its durable 18/8 stainless-steel body construction, 6-hour heat retention and ease of cleaning. The manufacturer boasts its shatter-resistant construction and double-wall vacuum insulation and backs it all up with a five-year warranty. It comes in a variety of colors, finished with their proprietary DuraCoat color that also promises a no-sweat design. Both the lid and the body are dishwasher safe, no matter the color finish. This mug is a little wider than most, making it easy to wash up by hand. Those with smaller hands may find it challenging to drink from the mug one-handed for a prolonged period.
This mug packs a lot of value for dollar. It was the least-expensive mug we tested, but is made from durable stainless steel and BPA-free plastic and has a capacity of 24-ounces, or the equivalent of four cups of coffee. We liked the addition of a rubberized grip on the exterior of the mug, making it easy to drink from one-handed. It also comes with an easy on-off lid and snap-close seal to prevent spills. Though it claimed to keep liquids hot for 9 hours, we found that it only kept boiling water hot for 3 hours. Because of its height, it doesn’t easily fit in a kitchen cabinet or when using a standard Keurig coffee maker. Only the lid and unpainted body are dishwasher safe. Painted body models are handwash only, and the narrow opening means you’ll need a long-handled brush to properly reach the bottom of the mug. This model comes with a limited lifetime guarantee.
This durable travel mug is made from 18/8 professional-grade stainless steel and a BPA- and toxin-free plastic twist-open lid and strap. It kept liquids hot for 6 hours, a boon for long-haul flights or to take you from school drop-off to pick-up. The manufacturer claims that this model keeps liquids hot for 12 hours, though we noted during testing that by the 12-hour mark the temperature was merely warm. We liked the addition of the flex-strap handle attached to the lid which makes it easy to transport and comfortable to carry (you could even clip it into a carabiner on a backpack). It comes in a variety of colors, backed by the manufacturer’s color-last coating; you can also customize the design by choosing the color for the cap, strap and bottle. This model is dishwasher safe, though handwashing is recommended. We liked how easy it was to disassemble and reassemble the numbered lid parts and the rubber gasket slots right in. Because of the design and narrow opening, you’ll need a long-handled brush or sponge to properly reach and clean the mug interior. And because of its height, it doesn’t fit standing up in a kitchen cupboard or in a standard Keurig coffee maker. Overall, this mug was one of the most expensive models we tested, but its performance matches the price tag and buyers can rest easy knowing it comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
We loved that this travel coffee mug had a more traditional mug-like shape and comfortable handle, which is ideal if you like to feel like you’re drinking out of a real mug. It’s made from 18/8 professional-grade stainless steel, has a sturdy slide-lock plastic lid to prevent spills and a non-slip silicone base that’s also scratch- and noise-free when you put it on a countertop. It boasts triple-insulated technology that includes a double-walled, vacuum sealed and copper plated insulated mug. It lived up to its promise of keeping liquids hot for 3 hours; even after 6 hours it still registered a warm temperature. Note that you’ll need to wait a minute before putting the lid on the mug, or the lid will pop up likely because of the extra-hot temperature. The mug and lid are dishwasher safe on the top rack, but are easy to wash and dry by hand, too. If you need a mug that goes from commute to desk, or a good work-from-home coffee mug that’ll keep your beverage hot all morning, this is your best bet. We like the assortment of more than 40 unique colors and patterns, making this a great gift-giving option too.
This mug delivers quality construction; heat-resistant performance; and a sleek, contemporary design in one compact mug. It’s made from 18/8 professional-grade stainless steel and feels sturdy yet lightweight. Its double-wall insulation promises to keep drinks at their optimal temperature and prevent condensation. After 6 hours, we noted that the liquid temperature was still very hot. We liked the angled sipping spout which allows the user to easily control the beverage flow. It has excellent leak-proof protection with a user-friendly twist-on lid and a lockable, push-button cover that snaps closed. Note that the push-button is located right under the sip opening, which may be cumbersome if you wear lipstick. This model is hand-wash only; because of the slim opening, it’s challenging to get to the bottom of the mug with a regular sponge. The rubber gasket under the lid easily removes but can be challenging to get back in (make sure you have it right-side up). This model also comes in a variety of colors and designs. It comes with a lifetime warranty. If you’re into doing good while you shop, this company also gives back more than 10% of its profit.
This heavy-duty mug is made from durable, professional-grade 18/8 stainless steel and has a sturdy, proprietary magnet-sliding lid that is smooth to open and close yet spill-proof. The style and design remind us of a classic camping-style mug; in addition to using the mug to sip your morning coffee, it could easily double as a serving vessel for camp fare like baked beans and chili, or for ice cream sundaes and cocktails at home. The mug keeps liquids hot for 3 hours with the lid on; because of the wide mouth, it doesn’t retain heat as well as other mugs. The mug and lid are dishwasher safe though the wide opening makes the mug easy to wash and dry by hand. Take extra care when washing the slider-style lid by hand to ensure removal of stains and any build-up (particularly important if you take milk products or sweeteners with your coffee or tea). As with other YETI models, this mug is made with a no-sweat design, DuraCoat color and shatter-resistant construction, and comes with a 5-year warranty.
Although this mug wasn’t one of our top picks, if you need to keep your beverage hot for a long period of time, this is your mug. During testing, it kept boiling water the hottest the longest; after 6 hours, the water was still very hot, registering nearly 145 degrees F. The heat retention performance is backed by a 5-year warranty.