For those of us who like hot coffee and hate microwaving cold coffee, an insulated mug is a must have. We wanted to take a look at some popular options out there and see which one worked best for different needs. This whole process took a lot longer than expected, but we are happy to share our thoughts.
Before when more people had to commute, something that would work well for the car was important, however with many people now working at home we may have different needs. Here are some of the different use cases I considered:
- I need something to use on my commute. Ideally should have one handed operation and easily fit into a car cup holder and be leak proof.
- I will use this mostly around home and want to keep my coffee warm between cups and have a nice drinking lip.
- I need to keep my coffee hot for long periods of time.
The list of mugs we looked at kept growing as I saw things I liked and didn’t like about the different mugs that we tested. Here are the mugs we took a look at:
- Stanley Classic Trigger Action Travel Mug 16 oz – Our recommendation for use in a car/ for commuting
- Fellow Carter Everywhere Travel Mug 12 oz – Our recommendation for use at home
- Zojirushi SM-KHE48BA Stainless Steel Mug 16 oz – Our recommendation for best thermal retention
- Zojirushi SM-SA60-BA Stainless Steel Mug 20 oz – Recommended if you need more capacity and thermal retention
- Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Vacuum-Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug 16 oz
- Fellow Carter Move Travel Mug 16 oz
- Fellow Carter Move Mug with 360º Sip Lid 16 oz
- YETI Rambler 14 oz Mug*
If you’re looking for the best thermal retention, the Zojirushi mugs or Fellow Carter win that test. I preheated each mug with the same amount of water and then took the temperature 2 and 12 hours after sealing with the same amount of freshly boiled water, all temperatures in F. The downside to the Zojirushi was that cleaning was the most involved out of all the mugs with multiple parts to clean. See below the results.
For best use for commuting in a car I found that I kept going back to the Stanley because it is really easy to clean and had easy one handed operation, it also felt the most like drinking from a mug with the plastic drinking lip. The Contigo had the second best ease of use, but I felt like drinking from it was similar to using a sippy cup and not a mug. The Contigo was also tended to leak with hot liquids. The Zojirushi mugs have a decent drinking lip, but the flip top lid can be a little awkward and the round lip can feel too narrow when trying to drink from it. All of these options had a plastic lip which offers a different experience than drinking from metal like some of the others.
The Fellow Carter Everywhere or Move and Yeti mugs offered the most similar experience to drinking out of a mug, but I didn’t like the two handed operation on the Fellow and wasn’t convinced the splash screen with the Move would do much to stop splashing on the road if I hit a big bump. These are the best options if you work from home and don’t need to commute. The Carter Everywhere is wider and shorter than the Move and I felt that the width felt more like holding a mug. I liked being able to cap the mug if I had to do something and return to a still hot cup of coffee.
The one I did not like was the Fellow Carter with 360º Sip Lid, for a company so well known for product design and user experience they really missed the mark. I know what their goal was since people didn’t like the two handed operation with the standard lid so they wanted to come up with a solution that allowed people to sip one-handed. It comes with a magnetic “umbrella” that is easy to lose and I don’t know what it actually does because it will splash with or without it. Overall, really disappointing, but would high recommend the Carter Move or Everywhere for home use.
Many of these mugs come in different sizes and color options, I went with 12 to 16 oz mugs for using at home or for driving to work. I went with 20 oz mugs if I was going to be out and about for a while and needed that extra bit of coffee to keep me going. Overall, I feel like this search for the best mug was a descent into madness for me with all the options, but I’m pretty happy with the mugs I ended up with for my needs. Some of you may be wondering about the Ember Mug, but after doing a lot of research I am still holding out for design improvements in future versions or from competitors.
|Contigo 16 oz||Zojirushi 16 oz||Zojirushi 20 oz||Stanley 16 oz||Fellow Carter 16 oz||Yeti 14 oz Mug*|
|After 2 Hours||161.8||185||184.5||169.5||181.6||145.6|
|After 12 Hours||96.8||133.7||135||110.5||125.1||79.5|
*The Yeti is more of a traditional mug and was included as more of a home use mug because I felt that was a better match up against the Fellow Carter, which was a great mug, but because you need two hands to open and close it I didn’t think it was good for using while driving. The downside on the Yeti was that I preferred using it without the lid, causing the coffee to cool too fast, but because it was metal I couldn’t microwave it like a normal mug. Now I just use it for heating bottles for the baby since it keeps heat better and longer and porcelain.
**The thermal testing didn’t include some of the late additions from the Fellow line.
2 thoughts on “The Best Thermal Mug”