We run through so many travel mugs, and not all of them are winners. These are a few we like, just not as much as the ones above.
: What makes the Contigo “automatic” is a button on the side of the lid that opens the sippin’ hole. There’s a lock to prevent the button from opening the hole too. With or without the lock activated, the Contigo never leaked a single drop. Of all the tumblers and bottles I’ve tested, this is the easiest to reach down and quickly use one-handed. You don’t want to mess with latches while you’re piloting a wheeled missile down the road. Some buyers have complained that the metal lid gets too hot, but I filled up the Luxe Autoseal with scorching, molten coffee, and the lid barely even got lukewarm, so consider that myth busted.
: The Colster did a fine job keeping a can of beer or soda cool for hours, and I liked the way the insulator’s lip sat below the can’s rim so that it didn’t interfere with drinking. It just lost out the top spot to the Hydro Flask because, unlike that one, it’s designed to only be used with a 12-fluid-ounce beverage can inserted into it, although there is a 16-fluid-ounce if you want to use it with pint-sized cans.
: Hydro Flask’s regular line of wide-mouth water bottles isn’t exactly heavy at about 14 ounces for a 24-fluid-ounce version. Still, if you want to trim every ounce you can without resorting to a plastic bottle (which is quite a bit lighter), then the new Trail Series exists for you. It’s purportedly 25 percent lighter than Hydro Flask’s typical bottles, though you lose the extraordinarily tough powder coating.
: Zojirushi’s classic 16-ounce travel mug is a favorite around these parts. The stainless-steel interior is BPA-free and has a wide-mouth opening to accommodate ice cubes. The lid locks to avoid accidental spillage, and I accidentally left hot tea in it for 18 hours and found it still hot when I cautiously opened it again. It’s also small enough to fit in my jacket pocket on chilly morning walks. It’s not my preferred mug for daily use, simply because the lid has three separate parts—a mouthpiece, a gasket, and a lid—that are deeply ridged and hard to clean. I also need a bottle brush to wash the interior.
This style of mug has become increasingly common. The Hydro Flask Mug merges a durable powder-coated, vacuum-insulated construction with the traditional, handle-sporting shape of a diner or camp mug. Hydro Flask does it better than most. The stainless steel rim makes it nicer to sip from than competitors’ mugs, and it comes with Hydro Flask’s usual drip-proof lid and bomber-tough powder coating that is nearly impossible to scratch. But it is more at home on a desk than at a campsite or in a car’s cupholder, which it can’t fit into.
Miir’s insulated coffee mug doesn’t fumble any crucial details. It doesn’t leak, it insulates hot and cold drinks just fine, and the coating is as tough as any Miir. But it’s up against tough competition, and for the same money the Hydro Flask Mug is a bit nicer. The Miir lacks the stainless steel rim, and the transparent plastic lid feels a little cheaper.
: Drinking from the FreeSip while wearing a full-face motorcycle helmet (by tilting the helmet up slightly and sipping from under the chin bar) was surprisingly easy, thanks to the built-in straw on this mug. If you’ve got mobility or pain issues that make tilting your head a hassle, this mug is a solid performer. It’s easy to grip too, with its flattened sides, which can come in handy for those with reduced hand dexterity.
: At 8.5 inches tall, the Elevation 20 looks a lot bigger than it is. It has a copper lining to maintain your beverage’s perfect temperature, and the clear press-on lid has a locking mechanism. You can also switch it out for a straw lid or a French press lid if you’re in a hurry. It comes in a variety of stunning ombre hues.
: Ever empty a stainless-steel bottle of one beverage and fill it up with a different one, only to notice that the taste of the first drink lingers? The Purist has applied a thin layer of glass over the interior of the Mover, which keeps this taste transfer from happening. You can down a mug full of coffee and then fill it with herbal tea without risking a coffee aftertaste. I didn’t experience leaks from the Element top, but a high number of customers have reported their Purist lids leaking over time. I’ll keep using the Purist and update this page with information on how it performs over the course of the year.
: S’well boasts that its tumblers are triple-walled, but we’re not convinced that has much real-world benefit over a normal double-walled tumbler. What really sets the S’well apart are its designs. There are 12 finishes, from plain colors and bare stainless steel to elaborate patterns, such as blue marble and faux wood, and a slide-open lid so you don’t have to pop it off every time you want a swig of coffee.
: Stanley’s vacuum pint includes a press-on lid with a deeply pebbled exterior that’s reminiscent of classic flasks, and also hard hats and construction sites. Although it’s billed as a 16-ounce pint, Stanley has added a few extra ounces to accommodate foam (or splashing hot coffee), and the lid comes with a slide-in metal bottle opener if you like to go immediately from work to happy hour.