Stainless-steel mugs are best to keep drinks hot or cold, but plastic wins for ease of use
If you want to skip the drive-through and sip your own coffee or other beverage on the go, you'll probably be in the market for a travel mug. Whether you want to keep your coffee scalding for hours, nuke a drink in the microwave or brew your tea on the road, there's a travel mug for you. Available in most sizes from 10 to 20 ounces, many travel mugs are double walled and vacuum insulated for better temperature control. Though there are a handful of ceramic and glass mugs, the majority are either stainless steel or plastic. A number of special tea-friendly tumblers are also available.
Stainless-steel travel mugs are your best bet for keeping drinks hot or cold. Vacuum-insulated, double-walled stainless-steel mugs are tops for retaining temperatures, making them a good pick for keeping your cup of Joe hot or your juice cold during a long commute. Many can keep liquids hot for six hours and cold for up to 12. Stainless-steel mugs are also quite durable -- most can withstand normal spills and even falls from the roof of a moving car. Another plus for those with picky palates: Most stainless steel won't retain or impart flavors. On the downside, stainless-steel mugs are pricier than their plastic counterparts, and they're a bit heavier to tote. Stainless steel isn't microwave-safe either, so you can't nuke a lukewarm drink. Finally, most stainless-steel mugs aren't dishwasher-safe, so they might not be your best bet if you don't want another container to hand-wash.
Plastic travel mugs are inexpensive and low maintenance. Plastic travel mugs offer a far different set of perks: They're lightweight and budget friendly. Nearly all are microwave-safe, so you can rewarm your beverage with little fuss. Many are also dishwasher-safe -- no need to spend valuable time at the sink. But the pros might stop there: Plastic mugs will keep your drinks hot or cold for an hour or two at most, and they break more easily than stainless-steel mugs. Plastic also retains and imparts flavors and odors far more easily than stainless steel, so you may get a hint of coffee with your morning orange juice.
Travel mugs for tea drinkers let you brew tea on the go. Tea-friendly travel mugs offer special conveniences for tea drinkers such as built-in strainers and tea hooks. Like other travel mugs, most are stainless steel or plastic, though there are a few glass and ceramic options. The pros and cons of each material are the same with tea-specific tumblers, but experts caution that travel mugs designed to let leaves steep in the mug indefinitely can make for bitter tea.
ConsumerSearch has analyzed expert and customer reviews to evaluate ease of use, durability and lifestyle factors for popular travel mugs. The result is our picks for the best travel mugs on the market.