Best travel mugs: 2018 group test

Looking for a durable, leak-free travel mug that’ll keep your brew piping hot? Look no further: here’s our pick of the best

It might for a cup of coffee, tea or even refreshing ice-cold water. Maybe it’s for your daily commute or when you’re out walking in the wild. But regardless of the details, an insulated travel mug will always be a sound investment. They may cost more than lots of standard travel mugs, but they’ll keep your beverage of choice the temperature you want and therefore save you money as you’ll avoid pouring your earnings into the coffers of coffee shops.

That being said it’s only the good ones that will keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold, so it’s important you pick out a decent travel mug to set you up for when you’re on the go. Read on for our buying guide so you know what to look out for when choosing a travel mug – then look through our list of the best mugs on the market right now.

How to buy the right travel mug for youHow much do I need to spend?

Travel mugs come in a wide ranges of prices – from just £2 all the way to £30. And for the most part, you can be sure to get what you pay for. If you’ll only need a travel mug from time to time, you should be able to make do with a standard option that will come in at less that £10. Those, however, who plan to use their travel mug everyday – whether than be for their commute to work or for outdoor activities – should look to something a little pricier, and something that offers more in terms of heat retention, spill protection and all-round durability.

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What features should I look out for?

You should keep an eye out for features like autoseal, lockable lids and how easy it is to clean – these will distinguish superior travel mugs from the cheaper, more humdrum options. If you want a mug that keeps your drinks hot or cold for a longer stretch of time, then you’ll need one that is double-walled and vacuum-insulated – ideally one made in stainless steel.

Once again, you will have to pay more for a stainless steel option, but it’ll be worthwhile if heat retention is important to you. If you’re on the clumsy side, we suggest you pick out a mug that’s easy to grip. But if you’re not quite able to get yourself to part with over twenty quid for what is, when all’s said and done, a coffee cup – then opt for the next best option, ensuring it’s double-walled.

Does it matter which size of mug I buy?

If you’ll be travelling by car with your travel mug, make sure you buy one that fits a regular drinks holder – and importantly, one that can be managed with just one hand. Travel mugs for the most part come in two sizes: around 360ml and around 470ml. Larger mugs are perfect for transporting water or soup, but if it’s only for tea or coffee, you’re probably best off with the smaller size. It’ll fit better in your hand and under single-serve coffee machines.

Which travel mug is the best?

According to the British Coffee Association, the UK gets through around 55 million cups of the stuff each day. With tea, the figure is even more staggering – an estimated 165 million cups daily.

For the millions of hot-drink connoisseurs who also drive, an insulated travel mug is a great solution to keep your brew hot. So which is the best travel companion? We hit the road with three to find out.

How we tested them

We spent plenty of time drinking from the mugs to ensure they were good to use. Stability was assessed, as was the capacity to withstand leaks. And of course, we tested how well each mug retained heat.


The Thermos mug is so far ahead of the competition for retaining heat that it wins here. It’s not perfect, though, and it’s a narrow victory over the Contigo Autoseal. The Bodum is good value, but can’t compete.

1. Thermos Stainless King
2. Contigo West Loop
3. Bodum Vaccum Travel Mug

ReviewsThermos Stainless King

Price: Around £25
Rating: ★★★★☆

This attractive tumbler manages to lose a point straight from the start of the test. The smooth stainless steel lid is very tricky to remove, making cleaning and refilling harder than it should be. It’s impressively leak-proof when closed, although the catch on the top isn’t as easy as the Contigo’s to open with one hand while on the move. It also feels slightly top-heavy, so needs a good in-car cup-holder.

Where the Thermos really stars is its heat-retention abilities – they’re absolutely staggering. It lost less heat than both of its rivals here, even after double the time, and remained cool to the touch throughout. If you like your drink to stay piping hot for near enough an entire day, this has to be the mug for you.

Buy the Thermos Stainless King for £21.62 from Amazon here

Contigo West Loop

Price: Around £35
Rating: ★★★★☆

The West Loop is the priciest mug here (although at the time of writing it was listed on Amazon at £18), but the clever lid prevents leaks. Press a button and it opens up, while it reseals when you release your grip. It works brilliantly, and the mechanism is easy to clean.

The Contigo didn’t retain heat as well as the Thermos, but our coffee was kept hot for several hours without a problem. The Contigo felt stable when knocked, but the wide base didn’t fit into in-car cup-holders as easily as the other two.

Buy the Contigo West Loop for £23.95 from Amazon here

Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug

Price: Around £20
Rating: ★★★☆☆

This is Amazon’s best-seller – and we found it there for as little as £13.99. It looks smart and comes in an array of colours, and we liked the soft plastic ring around the body. The rubber base meant it stayed put on smooth surfaces, but this mug leaked even when closed.

The flip-up catch isn’t as easy to use as the other two, and the mug retained the least heat in our temperature test. If you can find it cheap, it’s a reasonable budget alternative to the others here.

Buy the Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug for £12.46 from Amazon here

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