The best travel mug has

  • Durability. Stainless-steel travel mugs will withstand hard knocks better than plastic mugs, but they'll be slightly heavier.
  • Double-walled construction. Double-walled mugs help keep your drinks hot or cold.
  • Leak-proof seals. A travel mug should be easy to drink from without fear of dribbles or spills -- be sure the mug offers a tight seal, and don't overfill it.
  • An easy-to-clean design. Many travel mugs aren't dishwasher-safe, so look for wide openings and easy-to-disassemble lids, without lots of nooks and crannies, that will be easiest to wash thoroughly.

Know before you go

  • Will you use your mug on the road? Car commuters need a mug they can use with one hand that fits in cup holders -- keep in mind that this may rule out mugs with handles. Make sure the lid doesn't obstruct your view. Temperature retention may not be quite as important for relatively quick commutes, since drinks won't have as much time to cool down (or warm up).
  • Do you want to reheat your mug in the microwave? Plastic mugs win here, since stainless steel isn't microwave-safe. The trade-off is that plastic won't keep drinks hot from the get-go nearly as long as stainless steel. Also be sure to check all instructions and labels -- some manufacturers of plastic mugs still recommend against microwaving, depending on the type of plastic and seals used.
  • Are you picky about flavor? Stainless-steel mugs are less likely than plastic mugs to impart or retain tastes, but keep in mind that many still have plastic lids. Also note that coffee begins to lose its flavor fairly soon after it's brewed, making travel mugs an iffy product for true coffee connoisseurs, according to experts at Tested.
  • Plan ahead for the best results. Many manufacturers recommend filling your travel mug with hot or cold water about 10 minutes before adding your beverage to improve the mug's insulation.
  • Closely follow cleaning recommendations. If your mug's manufacturer doesn't recommend dishwasher use, be sure to listen -- the heat could damage the mug's vacuum seal. Also, use plain dish soap instead of abrasive cleaners.

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