Travel Mugs: Ratings of Sources
Testers at TheSweethome.com put in nearly 50 hours of research, checking the specs of more than 60 different travel mugs and testing 20 of them. They checked for leaks by filing the mugs with blue liquid and laying them overnight on their sides and upside down, tested heat retention by filling the mugs with 200 degree Fahrenheit liquid and checking their temperature over an 8-hour period, and evaluated durability by dropping all the mugs repeatedly.
Editors rate seven double-wall stainless-steel travel mugs -- the type considered best at retaining heat. They use a thermometer probe to test heat retention over a 4-hour period, then check for leaks by shaking the mugs upside down. Finally, they literally test drive the mugs, taking them on the road to rate their ease of "sipping and handling." Each mug gets rated on a 3-star scale for each test.
Editors at Bloomberg.com subject four stainless-steel travel mugs to a battery of tests. First they measure how much heat each mug loses after 1 hour and after 12 hours. Then they drop them, half-filled, from ever-increasing heights to test durability. Finally, they hold mugs upside down to test spillage and evaluate the ease of opening and closing. The article names the best and worst performers in each test.
Editors test four double-insulated mugs with built-in tea brewing baskets, including three made from glass and one of stainless steel. After brewing tea in them, sipping it during a car ride, and dropping the mugs to test durability, they rate each one on a 3-star scale for each of the three tests. Unfortunately, they conclude that none of the four is worth recommending.
The Good Housekeeping Research Institute tests 53 travel mugs, both plastic and stainless steel, on an array of factors: temperature retention, vulnerability to leaks and spills, stability, comfort, ease of opening, ease of cleaning, durability, and whether the handle obstructs visibility while driving. The review sums up each mug's pros and cons but doesn't compare mugs directly.
Editors test six travel mugs, five stainless-steel and one glass. First they measure how well they hold temperature over a 4-hour period and shake them to check for leaks. Then they test durability, first by dropping them 20 feet onto grass and then by setting them on the roof of a car and driving away fast. They also rate comfort and ease of use.
Amazon.com is one of the best resources for real-world reviews of travel mugs. Many reviews are quite detailed and evenhanded. However, prospective buyers should read carefully, since reviewers sometimes rate products poorly because of bad experiences with a seller or shipping. Readers should also beware of older reviews, which might discuss an older version of a product with flaws that have been fixed.
Bed Bath & Beyond doesn't carry nearly as large a selection of travel mugs as Amazon.com, and the ones they have don't get nearly as much feedback from users. Still, we were able to find a few with high overall ratings -- at least 4.5 stars -- from 20 users or more.