A trusty travel mug is a must-have for those who are always on the go. Not having to stop for a drink, whether it's coffee, iced tea, or water, saves you time and money, and it cuts down on paper and plastic waste. We tested some of the best options on the market right now, putting them through a series of trials over several days—carrying them around in a bag, seeing if they fit in car cupholders, assessing their temperature retention—before rating each one on size, design, insulation, and overall value.
Contigo Autoseal West Loop Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug
Effective autolock and anti-spill lid
Can be locked and unlocked with one hand
Keeps drinks hot/cold for hours
A little wide for smaller hands
Plastic lid seems prone to breakage
If you’re looking for a solid, leak-proof travel mug that will keep your coffee hot for up to seven hours, look no further. The Contigo mug is our number one pick for many reasons, the first of which is the “Autoseal” lid. Unlike other travel mugs that have a sliding lid, which is prone to leaks, the Contigo lid has a push button that opens the vacuum seal when you’re ready to drink and closes again when you release the button. (This means you can also use it with one hand.) We were able to carry it around in a bag all day without any leakage. Just keep in mind this means that the lid isn’t interchangeable with any of your other travel mugs.
In addition to hot drinks like coffee or tea, this vacuum-insulated stainless steel mug will keep drinks cold for up to 18 hours depending on whether you buy the 12- or 20-ounce version. You can also choose between seven different colors, so everyone in the family can keep their mug straight.
One of the few drawbacks is that the mug is fairly difficult to clean. If you’re washing the Contigo by hand, be prepared for a bit of an inconvenience as it comes with very specific washing instructions. The lid is dishwasher=safe, but the bottle itself is hand wash only.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 10, 16, 20, or 24 ounces | Weight: 8.8 ounces | Dimensions: 3 x 9 inches (20-ounce model)
Runner-Up, Best Overall
Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug
Great for commuters
Body is hand wash only
Faint plastic smell first few uses
Stanley is a century-old name known for its array of durable mugs, thermoses, and more. In fact, the company patented all-steel vacuum flasks in 1913. That top-grade technology is bottled into the sleek and simple design of the Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug today. You can purchase the item in three sizes—12, 16, and 20 ounces—as well as five different colors.
We tested the 16-ounce model firsthand and confirmed that it lives up to the brand's claims about temperature retention. Hot coffee stayed warm and drinkable for seven hours, cold coffee lasted 10 hours without ice, and ice water remained refreshing for more than 30 hours. With that in mind, temperature retention varies slightly depending on the size of the mug you buy.
We were also pleasantly surprised to find that the trigger-action lid is completely leakproof. No water escaped even after we shook it upside down over a sink. It's rare to find a mug with a lid as convenient as this one that is also safe to throw in a bag or backpack. It's excellent for hiking, and because it fits in cupholders, it's viable for commuters, too.
The item is backed by Stanley's lifetime guarantee. The company claims the bottle can withstand everything from a 4,000-foot drop to a -70 degree windchill. The best part? This lifelong companion is affordably priced, making it one of the top value-for-money options on the market.
Price at time of publish: $25
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12, 16, or 20 ounces | Weight: 8.8 ounces | Dimensions: 2.9 x 8.9 inches (16-ounce model)
Best for Hot or Cold
Zojirushi 12-Oz. Stainless Steel Mug
Fits in most cupholders
Excellent heat retention
Locking mechanism prevents leaks
Plastic parts feel breakable
Hand wash only, many pieces to clean
While most of the mugs on our list work well for hot or cold beverages, they are generally better at one or the other—but that’s not the case with this mug from Zojirushi. It retains drink temperature for at least six hours, no matter if you take your coffee hot or iced. Our experience with the mug was even better than the company advertises: Coffee was warm enough to drink nearly 12 hours after brewing.
Available in 12 and 16 ounces, the Zojirushi mug also wins points for design and easy drinking. The flip-top cap not only helps keep the mug from leaking, but it also keeps the drinking spout protected and clean. The cap includes a lock to keep it from coming undone in your bag, as well.
Cleaning this model is a bit harder than some of the others (a specially designed bottle-cleaning brush is recommended). Several different pieces need to be cleaned thoroughly to avoid staining and mildew buildup. The plastic sipping piece and rubber gasket on the lid can be popped out easily and cleaned separately, though.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 or 16 ounces | Weight: 9 ounces | Dimensions: 2.625 x 2.875 x 9.125 inches (16-ounce model)
Ember Travel Mug²
Battery lasts up to three hours
360-degree leak-proof lid
Only 12-ounce capacity
Just like many other travel mugs, the sleek Ember Travel Mug² will keep your drink hot throughout your morning commute, but it stands out by using smart technology and a high-tech design. This second iteration of the Ember Travel Mug is lighter and more streamlined than its predecessor, mainly because instead of a manual dial, it features a touch-sensitive control panel.
The mug is "smart" because you can use the panel to control and set its temperature or link the mug to the Ember app via your smartphone. The app essentially serves as a temperature gauge for the mug, notifying you when the set temperature has been reached. This is a nice feature because it eliminates the possibility of burning your mouth.
The Ember Travel Mug²'s best design feature is the lid: It only needs a push to open, is leak-proof, and lets you sip from any side of the mug. Furthermore, the mug's design is ergonomic. It's wider at the top than the bottom and is coated with a matte finish, making it easy to grip and comfortable to hold.
Price at time of publish: $192
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12 ounces | Weight: 15.2 ounces | Dimensions: 3.14 x 7.9 inches
Copco Acadia Travel Mug
Safe in both microwave and dishwasher
Fits in cupholders
Can stack inside each other
Can't put in bags
Prone to staining
Hole in lid can't be closed
This 16-ounce travel mug works for both hot and iced coffees, and it comes at a budget price. It's designed with a double-wall construction to keeps drinks at their temperature for longer than a non-insulated cup; however, it’s not made for all-day temperature regulation like some stainless steel mugs. We found hot coffee to be lukewarm just two hours after brewing. The good news is that the mug is microwave-safe, so you can easily reheat drinks should they cool off.
Another advantage of this mug is how easy it is to clean. It's dishwasher-safe, and the lid opening is large enough to clean the inside by hand should you choose to do so. The lid seals closed with a simple quarter-turn. There’s a small opening for drinking, but there’s no cover for the hole, so you can’t toss the filled cup in your bag. The cup portion is white, but you can choose from a variety of colored bands, so you always know which one is yours. The bands also serve as coffee collars to protect your hands from scorching temperatures while adding extra grip.There's nothing fancy to this mug, but it's dependable.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: BPA-free plastic | Capacity: 16 ounces | Weight: 6.6 ounces | Dimensions: 3.66 x 6.78 inches
Best With Straw
Bubba Envy Insulated Stainless Steel Tumbler with Straw
Lid seals tightly
Fits in car cupholders
Keeps drinks cold or hot
Can't close hole on lid
Hand wash only
Prefer iced coffee? Then a travel mug that has a straw might suit your palette more. This model fits in most cup holders and can keep your drink cold for up to 12 hours. You can use the removable plastic straw with the Tritan lid or not, depending on your preference. The one design flaw, however, is that there is no way to completely seal the lid since the hole doesn't include a cover or flap.
The cup is made of stainless steel, so it will repel stains and odors, meaning your lemonade won't taste like yesterday's coffee. The mug even has a lifetime guarantee, so you know it will last. If you’re looking for a durable travel mug that’s designed to hold both hot and cold beverages, the 24-ounce Bubba Envy Insulated Stainless Steel Tumbler is a solid option at a price you can afford.
Also yes, this is large mug. It also doesn't have a handle. So, is it hard to hold? Nope. To solve both those issues, there are indents circling the cup for your fingers, and they make a huge difference.
Price at time of publish: $18
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 18, 24, or 32 ounces | Weight: 13 ounces | Dimensions: 3.62 x 3.93 x 10.54 inches (24-ounce model)
Thermos Stainless King Travel Mug
Keeps drinks hot/cold for hours
Comfortable to hold
Lid seals tightly
Lid is hard to clean
Doesn’t fit in all car cup holders
Thanks to the vacuum insulation of most travel mugs, a handle is no longer really a necessity to keep your hand dry from condensation or to prevent it from getting burned, but if you prefer to drink from a handled mug, this version from Thermos is the right pick for you.
Available in five different colors, this 16-ounce mug will keep beverages hot for up to five hours or cold for up to nine hours thanks to the double-wall stainless steel construction. The lid has a “DrinkLock” seal, which opens when you press the lever to the left or right. During testing, there were no spills and coffee stayed hot for longer (even on chilly days). The one drawback (if you even consider it one) is that this mug must be washed by hand.
Tea drinkers will also want to consider this mug since it has a built-in tea hook that accommodates most tea infusers and makes it easy to remove them from the mug. It comes with a five-year limited warranty in case there is an issue.
Price at time of publish: $30
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 16 ounces | Weight: 8 ounces | Dimensions: 3.3 x 4.9 x 7.8 inches
S'well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Traveler Mug
Multiple sizes and many colors
Great temperature retention
Price varies, can be expensive
Lid isn't ideal for commuting
The S’well Stainless Steel Traveler Mug is inarguably one of the best-designed travel mugs on the market today. Thanks to S’well’s high-end, triple-wall technology, you can rest assured that your drinks will maintain their ideal temperature for hours on end. We found that it performed exceedingly well. Coffee stayed hot for 12 hours and, after adding refrigerated coffee without ice, it was still cold 30 hours later.
This mug topped others in the design category because it is cupholder-friendly and available in 17 different color options as well as three sizes: 12, 16, and 20 ounces. The Traveler is completely leakproof and can be trusted in your bag or backpack. Just keep in mind that the lid can't be unscrewed with one hand, so you'll need both hands free if sipping on the go. Also, it's not dishwasher-safe, so to clean it, you can either put a drop of dish soap in and rinse with hot water or use a long bottle brush.
Price at time of publish: $35
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 12, 16, or 20 ounces | Weight: 12.8 ounces | Dimensions: 3.3 x 9.3 inches
Bubba Classic Insulated Desk Mug 52 oz
Lightweight despite size
Too big for cupholders
Lid has a hole you can't close
This 52-ounce mug is what you'll want to take to the pool, beach, or camping since it holds enough water for several hours. It’s also great for office workers who don’t want to keep running to the water cooler to refill smaller bottles. Of course, the drawback with a mug of this size is that it won’t fit in your cupholder, so this pick is better for non-drive time.
For those who intend to drink hot beverages out of this mug, it doesn't quite have the heat retention that the brand claims. When filled more than halfway full with hot coffee, it was lukewarm less than three hours later. The mug did perform better when tested with cold drinks, however. With refrigerated coffee poured into the mug without ice (as the amount of ice may vary for customers), the coffee was still cold 12 hours later. Another testing observation to note is that the lid opening seemed a little wide, and it was easy to spill when drinking.
As an added bonus, the Bubba 52-Ounce Desk Mug is incredibly durable and can handle being dropped or tossed around in the trunk of your car. The wide, comfort-grip handle feels very sturdy, too.
Price at time of publish: $15
Material: Stainless steel | Capacity: 34 or 52 ounces | Weight: 1.2 pounds | Dimensions: 7 x 10 inches (52-ounce model)
We highly recommend the Contigo Autoseal West Loop because its sleek, durable, and easy to sip on the go thanks to its button-activated lid. As an alternative, the Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug is similar in price and quality, and it performed well in our testing process. You can't go wrong with either one.
How We Tested
To help you make an informed buying decision, we tested some of the most popular travel mugs on the market right now. We evaluated key areas, including size, design, insulation, and value, and then provided additional insights about what we liked and disliked about each mug. Our testing process helps us stand behind and recommend all the travel mugs to appear on this list.
Other Options We Tested
- Yeti Rambler Mug: Yeti makes a number of reliable travel mugs—not to mention the brand's beloved coolers—but the Rambler mug has too many shortcomings for us to recommend it, starting with its poor insulative properties. The hot coffee we brewed lost temperature rapidly in the mug and, because it's made with stainless steel, it couldn't be reheated in the microwave. Additionally, the lid is not leakproof, which is a feature that's easy to find in a number of other travel mugs out there.
- Ello Campy Travel Mug: The Ello Campy Mug is a stylish, large-capacity option that many customers may enjoy, especially those into the outdoors. While it doesn't have any major defects, it didn't quite make the cut for this list. We found that the paint can chip easily and that it's tricky to clean. On top of that, it's too large to fit in many car cupholders.
What to Look for in a Travel Mug
It doesn’t matter if you’re drinking coffee, tea, or water—every sip from your travel mug should be smooth and easy. That’s why it’s important to figure out the lid style that best suits you. Some of the top options include flip lids, thumb-sliding lids, push-button lids, twist lids, and straw lids. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages. Customers who prioritize durability or preventing spills, for instance, should choose a more secure style, like a twist lid. Others who want to seamlessly drink from their mug while on the move may prefer a lid that can be opened with one hand. Luckily, lid style does not affect price, so every option should be on the table when you start looking for a travel mug. Many brands also sell lids individually so that users can have multiple options at their disposal.
All too often we take a sip of coffee and find it’s gone lukewarm. A reliable travel mug can thwart that dreaded, flavorless middle zone and keep your coffee at the ideal temperature for hours, no matter if it’s hot or iced. Vacuum-insulated mugs, which are typically made from stainless steel, offer the best performance when it comes to temperature retention, while plastic and silicone are the least effective materials. When buying, think about the type of coffee you drink most often (hot or iced) as some mugs are better designed for one or the other.
The length of time that a mug keeps drinks hot or cold is often listed in its product details, but keep in mind that this figure is often based on the item being preheated or precooled before use. We also asked Graham Nearn of the Stanley brand what temperature range the company defines as "hot" and "cold." He told us that when Stanley says a drink stays hot for a certain amount of time, the liquid must be between 140 to 203 degrees; for a drink to be considered cold, it has to fall between 39 and 50 degrees.
Travel coffee mugs come in a variety of sizes. The average capacity is around 16 ounces, though the range extends far on either side of that. Some are no bigger than a regular at-home coffee mug; others are large enough to keep you caffeinated the entire day. Brands often manufacture the same mug in multiple sizes, so if a specific one catches your eye, you can likely find it in a size you love. Customers interested in larger mugs should see if it is microwave-safe or able to retain heat well; otherwise, they may be sipping a lot of cold coffee. Finally, for those who plan on taking their mug in the car, check out customer reviews or product details to ascertain if a mug can fit in your cupholders.
While most travel mugs are made from stainless steel, options are far from limited when it comes to material. Other possibilities include plastic, glass, silicone, ceramic, and bamboo. This choice naturally affects a mug’s aesthetic, as well as larger factors like price, durability, how the item is cleaned, how long it retains heat, and whether condensation appears on the outside. What factors are most important to you? If you want a budget-priced mug that can go in the microwave, plastic is likely the best material for you. If durability and heat retention are higher priorities, you may want to stick with the stainless steel route. Also keep in mind the downsides that certain materials have. Plastic mugs, for instance, can stain and retain coffee odors, while some stainless steel mugs may unfavorably alter the flavor of your coffee.
If you sift through a list of travel mugs, you will likely come across the phrase "18/8 stainless steel." This denotes a type of stainless steel made from 18 percent chromium and 8 percent nickel. Graham Nearn of the Stanley brand says 18/8 stainless steel is often used for drinkware because it's "food-grade, durable, and resistant to corrosion."
Leak-Proof vs. Spill-Proof
Whether walking to class, embarking on a long hike, or heading out for the daily commute, it’s easier to transport a mug if it can be kept inside a bag; that’s where leak-proof travel mugs come in handy. They prevent even the slightest drop from escaping into your bag, no matter what. Make sure to read customer reviews beforehand, however, as some items advertised as leak-proof may not actually be up to the task. There is also a difference between leak-proof and spill-proof. Mugs labeled as spill-proof only prevent major spills from occurring; they are not safe to store in bags since they can still leak.
Taking a travel mug’s design into consideration involves two different paths. First, you can think about the item’s shape or silhouette. Do you want a mug with a handle? Or one thin enough to slide into a bag or backpack? Second, design also involves the many colors and patterns found on the outside of a mug. There is an array of options, from fun and playful to chic and striking, that can convey your personality with every sip.
Not only are most travel mugs affordable, they also help customers save money by cutting down on daily trips to the coffee shop. The only type likely to break the bank are electric travel mugs. Other than that, budget picks are widely available both in-store and online. Some mugs cost as little as a bag of coffee beans. Size does generally impact price, however, as larger mugs tend to cost more than smaller ones, even if they are the same model. Expect plastic mugs to be the cheapest option, while glass, stainless steel, and ceramic are all slightly more expensive.
Types of Travel Mugs
When picturing a travel coffee mug, most envision a tall, tapered item similar to a reusable water bottle, but there are actually many options designed to look exactly like the mugs we use every day at home. Items in this category provide the feel and comfort of a regular coffee mug but with added heat retention and the luxury to take your joe on the go. Because they are smaller in capacity than most travel mugs (usually around 12 ounces), they are also slightly more affordable. Unfortunately, coffee-mug-style travel mugs aren’t leak-proof and don’t fit in cupholders because of their handles.
Portable Coffee Maker
Truly defining on-the-go coffee, there is a category for travel mugs that additionally function as portable brewing devices. They allow users to make coffee and drink it all from the same bottle. This is certainly a less common variety, but it’s still worth consideration, especially for frequent travelers and campers. The majority of portable coffee makers work like French presses. Aptly named “travel presses,” they immerse coffee grounds in water and then push them to the bottom of the mug via a built-in plunger. The second most common type of portable coffee maker utilizes a pour-over brewing method instead.
Well known for their smooth exterior, tumblers are the most popular subcategory of travel mugs. They never have a handle and the body usually tapers to a narrow base, both of which make them cupholder friendly. Tumblers can be used for both hot and cold beverages, but they are especially popular for iced coffee. Many have straw lids for easy sipping. Customers may be familiar with tumblers in other types of drinkware, as they are also used for cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, and general home use.
What is a vacuum-insulated mug?
The phrase “vacuum-insulated” pops up all over the place when searching for travel mugs. It’s also commonly used with another phrase: “double-walled.” Both labels denote that a travel mug is built with two different layers, an inner wall and outer wall, and that the space between the layers is partially evacuated of air, creating a vacuum. This design allows drinks to retain their temperature for a longer period of time because they are less exposed to outside air.
Can I make my travel mug retain temperature longer?
We all want the most out of our products, and this one small tip goes a long way: preheat or pre-cool your travel mug before use. Taking a few extra minutes to let hot or cold water sit in your mug will prime the material for better temperature retention. You can pour hot water from the tap or even boil it for an added boost of heat, all while your coffee is brewing.
How do I clean my travel mug?
Before cleaning, consult the product details or instruction guide to see if the item is dishwasher-safe. This is a common benefit of glass and plastic travel mugs but not stainless steel. If your mug isn’t dishwasher-safe, don’t worry. Cleaning is still quite easy. A simple daily cleaning only requires scrubbing with dish soap and a sponge or gentle brush. Avoid using steel wool brushes and harsh household cleaners on stainless steel mugs. For a more thorough job, allow a solution of vinegar and baking soda to soak inside the mug for several minutes, then rinse and clean with dish soap before using.
Can I add milk to my coffee if it’s in a travel mug?
Most brands advise against putting milk or creamer in thermoses unless it's for a brief amount of time. Bacteria can develop when dairy products are stored at warm temperatures, especially if the travel mug isn't properly cleaned. Graham Nearn of the Stanley brand echoed this thought, telling us: "We don’t recommend putting milk or dairy products in Stanley vacuum bottles or food jars for extended periods of time, as bacteria growth can occur at certain temperatures."
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This piece was written by Derek Rose, the coffee and tea expert for The Spruce Eats. He researches a variety of coffee products, from measuring scoops to commercial espresso machines, and interviews field experts for their insight. He has owned or tested a number of the items on this list, including the Stanley Classic Trigger-Action Travel Mug, the Copco Insulated Travel Mug, the S'Well Traveler Mug, and the Bubba 52-Ounce Insulated Desk Mug.
Graham Nearn, the Senior Vice President of Product Creation & Design for PMI Worldwide, was interviewed for this piece. He oversees the Stanley brand, which has manufactured vacuum flasks and more since 1913.