If you’re always on the go, a good travel mug is paramount. Whether you tote a beverage that keeps you hydrated or caffeinated, you need a durable mug that’s portable and will keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for a long time. Since disposable cups are wasteful and regular mugs aren’t practical to take on the go, a travel mug is a go-to piece of gear if you plan to be sipping on the run.
The best travel mugs should be washable, insulated, easy to use, and have a spill-proof lid—because a lapful of coffee on the way to work, school, the gym, or wherever else your busy day may take you is not ideal. Read on for our reviews of some of the best travel mugs.
- BEST OVERALL: YETI Rambler 20 oz Tumbler
- BEST FOR HOT OR COLD: Thermos Stainless King 16 Ounce Travel Mug
- BEST CERAMIC: Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug
- BEST GLASS: KeepCup Brew Cork, Reusable Glass Cup
- BEST WITH STRAW: BEAST 20oz Stainless Steel Tumbler
- BEST LEAKPROOF: Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Travel Mug
- BEST LARGE CAPACITY: bubba Hero XL Travel Mug
What to Consider When Buying a Travel Mug
When shopping for one of the best travel mugs, there are several factors to consider.
You can get travel mugs in a range of sizes, from small to large. The size you choose depends on the quantity of beverage you want to tote. Do you just want a single cup of coffee for your morning commute, or do you want all-day hydration? A 12- or 16-ounce travel mug is good if you are looking for a single serving. If you want to sip for hours without a refill, choose a larger, 20- to 30-ounce mug. Some larger mugs might not fit in your car’s cup holder, though, so keep that in mind when choosing the best travel mug for you.
Weight adds stability to a travel mug. If two mugs are the same size and shape but one is heavier than the other, the heavy one is more resistant to tipping. Heavy mugs are best for traveling in a vehicle or sitting at a desk. If you walk around a lot with your travel mug in hand, a lightweight model may be a better choice.
The best travel mugs are made of stainless steel, plastic, ceramic, or glass.
- Plastic travel mugs tend to be inexpensive, lightweight, and durable and can be safely placed in a microwave if you want to reheat your coffee. Some coffee snobs say plastic gives coffee an undesirable flavor.
- Stainless steel travel mugs look sleek and sophisticated and are very durable. Some coffee fans say a cup of java tastes better when sipped out of stainless steel. (Others say stainless steel gives coffee a metallic taste, and they insist ceramic is best.) The outer surface of some stainless-steel travel mugs can get cold in winter, so look for one with an insulated handle or grip.
- Ceramic travel mugs have natural insulation properties. Some coffee connoisseurs say coffee tastes best when sipped from ceramic mugs. (Others insist stainless steel is best.) Ceramic is heavy and more fragile than metal or plastic. Ceramic-lined, stainless-steel travel mugs are an excellent combination of materials because they give you the durability of stainless and the insulation properties of ceramic.
- Glass travel mugs look good, provide natural insulation for a beverage, and don’t impart a bad taste to a beverage. But these are the most fragile travel mugs and will break or crack if dropped. They also tend to keep drinks hot or cold for the shortest amount of time.
Hot and Cold Compatibility
Most of us drink both hot and cold beverages, whether it’s cold brew or a steaming cup of joe from a French press. Most insulated travel mugs will keep your drink at a proper temperature. The same insulation properties that keep your chai tea hot will also keep your iced tea cold. Some travel mug makers specify in their product descriptions how long a mug keeps a drink hot or cold.
Travel mug lids must fit securely to prevent spills. Screw-on lids tend to be the most secure. Friction-fit, or press-on, lids are easy to use but a little less secure. Avoid mugs that use gaskets or have separate parts that can get lost or harbor mold.
Leakproof lids have a closing mechanism on the opening where you sip. Some of these closures are simple sliding mechanisms, while others are trigger-operated plungers. Leakproof lids stop your drink from sloshing out as long as those parts are in good working order. Remember, moving parts make a travel mug more complicated because they can break and be tough to clean.
Dishwasher-safe travel mugs are the easiest to clean. If a mug must be hand-washed, make sure it has a wide-mouth, straight interior sides, and a simple lid with no moving parts. Travel mugs with removable parts like straws and gaskets or a narrow mouth are harder to clean, whether wiping them down with a sponge or popping them in the dishwasher.
There are self-heating mugs that plug into your car’s cigarette lighter or a USB port to keep your drink warm up to 10 hours or more. Smart-technology-enabled travel mugs can hold a specific temperature, alert you when your beverage is at the ideal heat, track user hydration, and more, all controlled with your smartphone.
Our Top Picks
We reviewed the most popular travel mugs, measured them against our shopping considerations, and picked some favorites.
YETI’s Rambler 20-oz Tumbler is as sturdy and well-engineered as the company’s iconic coolers. This leakproof travel mug is made of stainless steel and has double-walled vacuum insulation to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for hours. The Rambler 20-oz Tumbler will fit in a standard cup holder. It can go in the dishwasher, but its wide mouth makes it easy to hand-wash, too. The lid has a magnetic closure that holds firm to stop leaks and sloshes. This tumbler comes in 19 powder-coated colors that won’t fade, scratch, or peel.
The Thermos Stainless King 16-ounce Travel Mug keeps hot drinks hot for up to five hours and cold drinks cold for nine hours. Its vacuum insulation keeps the exterior cool to the touch when it’s filled with a hot beverage and sweatproof when it’s carrying a cold beverage. This durable mug has a leakproof lid that seals tightly and a lever action DrinkLock lid that covers the sipping hole. It also has a built-in tea bag hook so you can steep your Earl Grey on the go. The tea hook even works with most loose-leaf tea infusers. How civilized is that? The mug has a handle and fits in most standard cup holders. It’s available in eight colors.
The Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug lets you sip coffee from a ceramic travel mug without dealing with the fragility of a ceramic travel mug. This mug’s interior is coated with “True Taste” ceramic and encased in a stainless-steel, double-walled body that’s super durable. The Fellow Carter Everywhere Mug keeps hot drinks hot for 12 hours and cold drinks cold for 24 hours. Its mouth is wide enough to let you brew directly into the mug from most coffeemakers. Its leakproof lid screws on quickly and securely. The mug comes in two sizes, 12 ounces and 16 ounces, and six colors.
The KeepCup Reusable Glass Coffee Cup is made of durable glass encircled with a cork band to make it easy to grip. The KeepCup is ideal for taking to a coffee shop for a fill-up because it’s designed to be used with coffee equipment. The KeepCup has industry-standard sizing to help a barista get the correct coffee-to-milk ratio, so you can skip those wasteful paper cups and use your reusable mug without gumming up the workflow behind the counter. The splash-proof lid has a plug-style closure. This cup is lightweight and fits standard cup holders.
If you want a straw with your travel mug but don’t want to fill the ocean with disposable plastic straws, the BEAST 20-ounce Tumbler gives you not one but two reusable stainless-steel straws. One straw is angled, the other is a wide-mouth, and both can be cleaned with the steel brush that’s included. The BEAST is made of double-walled stainless steel and comes in 17 colors. The lid is made of unbreakable, shatterproof, BPA-free plastic and has a sliding cover to prevent spills and leaks. All parts are dishwasher safe, so it’s easy to clean. If you want a handle for your mug, you can buy one separately that snaps over the BEAST.
The Contigo Autoseal West Loop Travel Mug has a lid and sipping hole that locks shut to prevent spills and leaks. Ready for a sip? Simply push a button on the side of the lid to open the snap-seal top. This travel mug has double-walled vacuum insulation that keeps hot drinks hot for up to five hours and cold drinks cold for 12 hours. The mug fits under most single-serve coffee brewers and in most cup holders. The lid is dishwasher safe, but the mug itself must be hand-washed. The Contigo Autoseal West Loop Travel Mug is available in 20 colors, so you can make a fashion statement while you sip.
The bubba Hero XL Travel Mug holds a whopping 30 ounces of hot or cold beverage, so you can go a long time between refills. If you want a bucket of coffee, this one’s for you. To give you an idea of how big this mug is, a venti coffee from Starbucks is 20 ounces. The bubba can hold the equivalent of 1.5 venti-size beverages. While the bubba is big, it has a tapered base so it fits into most cup holders. This stainless-steel mug keeps cold drinks cold for up to 21 hours and hot drinks hot for seven hours. The BPA-free, easy-clean lid has a locking closure flap to protect against spills. The lid is top-shelf dishwasher safe, but the cup is hand-wash only.
The Advantages of Owning a Travel Mug
Most people buy a travel mug for convenience. It’s tough to get around on your commute with a cup of coffee or tea without sloshing your drink and making a mess. Travel mugs are also a good way to cut down on the waste of single-use cups. Fill a travel mug instead of a disposable cup at the coffee shop, gas station, or takeout place, and eliminate unnecessary garbage that will end up in a landfill.
FAQs About Your New Travel Mug
Still not sure how to choose the best travel mug for you? Read on for tips to help you make a decision.
Q. What size travel mug should I get?
Get the travel mug that best fits your lifestyle. The average large cup of coffee from a coffee shop is 16 ounces. A Starbucks venti is 20 ounces. If you guzzle coffee all day, look for a mug that holds 20 or even 30 ounces. If you’re a one-cup-of-coffee person, a small travel mug that holds 12 ounces will do just fine. Keep in mind that the larger a travel mug is, the heavier and bulkier it is.
Q. Do ceramic travel mugs keep coffee hot?
Yes. Double-walled ceramic travel mugs keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold.
Q. Are stainless-steel travel mugs safe?
Yes. Stainless-steel travel mugs are double-walled, with an insulation layer inside. They keep a beverage hot or cold and buffer the hand from the temperature of the contents.