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Best Travel Mugs

By: Amy Livingston on May 15, 2017

Editor's Note:
To keep your favorite beverage piping hot or cold as ice, nothing beats a Zojirushi stainless steel travel mug. If you want a microwave-safe mug, a ceramic Lenox mug is your best bet. We also found a great accessory for those who want to take their fresh brewed tea to go.

Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-SA
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Available sizes -- 12, 16 and 20 ounces Number of available colors -- 7 Dishwasher safe -- No

Best stainless-steel travel mug

The Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-SA offers just about everything you could ask for in a travel mug. It earns top marks for heat retention in professional tests, keeping hot water at a reasonable drinking temperature for hours. Its locking lid is virtually leakproof, no matter how you bounce the mug around, yet opens easily with the touch of a button when you want a drink. It's also lightweight and easy to clean (though it's not dishwasher-safe).

Buy for $26.93
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Basket material – Stainless steel Clip material – BPA-free plastic Dishwasher safe – Yes (top rack)

Best travel infuser for tea

The Contigo West Loop Stainless Steel Tea Infuser converts the well-reviewed Contigo Autoseal West Loop Travel Mug (Est. $18) into an on-the-go teapot. Although it hasn't been professionally reviewed, owners at Amazon.com say the infuser is simple to use and gives them good control over the brewing process. The drip cup that holds the infuser after removal is a handy feature. Just be careful not to burn yourself when removing it.

Buy for $11.95
Lenox Travel Mug Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Available sizes – 10 and 12 ounces Number of available colors – 6 patterns Dishwasher safe -- No

Best microwave-safe travel mug

If you need a travel mug you can reheat in the microwave, users say the Lenox Travel Mug is your best bet. Its simple, double-walled ceramic construction protects your hands from overheating and keeps hot drinks at a reasonable temperature. It's also surprisingly durable and very easy to clean (though putting it in the dishwasher isn't recommended). However, it's smaller than most travel mugs, and its silicone lid doesn't seal to prevent splashes or spills.

Buy for $13.85

Types of Travel Mugs

Stainless Steel Travel Mugs

Double-walled stainless-steel travel mugs have many advantages. For starters, they're by far the best at keeping hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Professional tests find that some stainless-steel travel mugs can keep coffee or tea at a drinkable temperature as long as eight hours after brewing. Most tests don't measure a mug's performance with cold drinks, but any mug that can keep your cup of Joe hot during a long commute should also have the insulating power to keep your orange juice frosty. Stainless-steel mugs are also the most durable type, typically surviving falls from counter height and even from the roof of a moving car. However, stainless steel travel mugs have a couple of drawbacks: They are not microwave safe, and they tend to be pricey.

Microwave-Safe Travel Mugs

If you want a mug that's microwave safe, your main options are plastic or ceramic, and each has pluses and minuses of its own. Plastic travel mugs are usually significantly less expensive than stainless steel – so if you accidentally leave your mug behind on the subway, you're only out $10 or so. Plastic mugs are also lighter in weight than many stainless-steel mugs, usually weighing no more than 8 ounces for a mug with a 16-ounce capacity. Ceramic mugs are heavier, but for true coffee snobs, they're the only acceptable material for drinking coffee from; plastic and even stainless steel can subtly alter the flavor. However, professional tests show that plastic mugs can keep drinks hot or cold for an hour or two at most, and ceramic mugs even less than that -- about 30 minutes. Plastic and ceramic mugs also break more easily than stainless-steel mugs. Finally, ceramic travel mugs are not as leak-resistant as other travel mugs.

What about travel mugs for tea?

Tea travel mugs are a niche product for hard-core tea drinkers. These are typically made of either stainless steel or ceramic, though there are a couple of glass and plastic options. What sets these mugs apart are the extra features they add specifically for brewing tea in the cup. Some have a removable or retractable metal basket to hold loose-leaf tea while it steeps; with others, you put the tea leaves directly into the mug and a strainer in the lid filters them out as you drink. Some models also include a hook or notch to attach the string of a tea bag, keeping the label securely out of your brewing tea.

Finding The Best Travel Mugs
Our Sources
"The Best Travel Mug"
"The Best Travel Mug"
"The Best Spill-Proof Travel Mug for Every Professional"

Tests of travel mugs appear in cooking magazines like Cook's Illustrated, home-oriented websites like YourBestDigs.com, and general consumer review sites like TheSweethome.com. Nearly all these sources put travel mugs through the same basic tests: they leave hot liquids in them for several hours to see how well they hold heat, drop them to test their durability, and shake them in various ways to check for leaks and spills.

After consulting these and other professional tests to find the top performers, we turned to user reviews at sites like Amazon.com and BedBathandBeyond.com to see how these travel mugs stand up to real-world use. Based on all these sources, we've identified our picks for the best stainless-steel, microwave-safe, and tea travel mugs for your daily commute.

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Travel Mugs buying guide

What every best Travel Mugs has:

  • Excellent heat retention.
  • Leak-proof seals.
  • One-hand usability.

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