What do you look for in a travel mug?
It may seem like a silly question – you want something to keep your hot drink hot, right? Well, if you’re on this page, I would imagine that you already realise that there is a bit more to it than that.
As the number of people that have been able to make better coffee at home has grown over the last decade or so, so has the demand for travel mugs. We can make this coffee, and we want to take it with us.
As such, the market is flooded with a huge variety of options – how do you decide which is the best travel mug for you? That’s where we come in. We have searched the market and below we have featured the 8 best travel mugs available in the UK that we have found, all offering something a bit different and at various price points.
Travel Mugs vs Reusable Coffee Cups
Before we get on to our list of the best travel mugs, we thought it would be helpful to clear up an understandable confusion over the difference between travel mugs and reusable coffee cups.
The lines between the two are a little blurred, but basically the main difference is that a reusable coffee cup is a direct replacement for a disposable coffee cup that you might get from a takeaway coffee shop – the paper cup with the plastic lid.
A travel mug, on the other hand, is something that you would take away with you when going away – sort of a cup version of a flask.
As such, a travel mug will tend to keep your drink hotter for longer than a reusable coffee cup, and a reusable coffee cup will look more like a coffee cup. Also, a travel mug is something that you would happily throw into the bottom of a bag, whereas a reusable cup is made for drinking out of as soon as the coffee is made.
So if you are wondering whether you are holding a travel mug or a reusable coffee cup just ask yourself this – would I want to hike up a mountain with this in my bag? If the answer is yes, you’ve got yourself a travel mug!
Maybe this is even simpler – Reusable Coffee Cups are for commuters – Travel Mugs are for adventurers. (It is possible to be both, of course, just remember to take the correct mug!).
They both have their place, of course. Sometimes you want your coffee to cool to a more drinkable temperature – perhaps on your walk into the office when you pick up a coffee en route.
Today, though, we are going to be looking at Travel Mugs. The adventurer’s choice!
What to look for in a travel mug
We come back to the original question – what do you look for in a travel mug? Well, here are some of the key features to consider:
- Aesthetics: You want a mug that looks nice, right? The good news is that there are some really stylish designs available now – it is not like the old days of knock-off army equipment!
- Capacity: This will depend on where you are going and what you are doing, but maybe you’ll want something that you can sip from all day, or just have one drink
- Heat retention: How long do you want your coffee kept warm for? Is it a case of the longer the better?
- Shape: You may have a bag with a cup carrier that you want to use – make sure your new travel mug will fit in it
- Weight: If you are going to be carrying this around with you for a long time, you may want it to be as lightweight as possible
Our 8 Best Travel Mugs
We are a coffee review site, so we are going to use coffee as our reference drink here. It should go without saying, though, that these cups are all appropriate for any hot drinks.
Okay, let’s get into it – the Best UK Travel Mugs:
Contigo West Thermal Mug
We’ll kick things off with this Thermal Mug from UK-based travel mug specialists – Contigo. They are dedicated to creating the best possible cups and bottles for people to use on the go.
And it shows. We start off with how it looks – this is a very attractive bottle. It is sleek and stylish with the curved body, and it is available in a whole host of different colours. It’s like a paint chart – Biscay Bay, Dark Blum, Iced Aqua and…Red. There are plenty more options when it comes to colour, so I am certain that you will find one that you love.
It has a capacity of 0.47 litres, which is pretty standard for a travel mug, but bigger than some. For a rough guide, it would be big enough to fit in the Grande size from Starbucks.
The lid is BPA-plastic free and is fitted with an AutoSeal which automatically seals the cup between sips, and it even has a lid-lock so that the button can’t be pressed accidentally when you are on the move. This is absolutely leak-proof.
The insulation is good – your drink will stay hot for five hours, or stay cold for up to 12 hours. It also has a ‘sweat proof’ design, which prevents condensation on the outside of the mug.
It is dishwasher safe, and measures 8 x 9 x 20.5 cm, so it is a nice little size for travelling, and it is reasonably priced, slightly above the midrange for the mugs on our list – a great place to start your search for your new travel mug.back to menu ↑
Next up we have a Classic from a classic travel mug producer – Stanley. Founded in 1913 when William Stanley Jr fused vacuum insulation with steel to make a portable drinks bottle – and they have been developing that original design for over a century since.
This is a neat combination of a bottle and a travel mug. It is slightly smaller than the Contigo above, with a capacity of 0.34 litres, but it does have double-walled insulation which manages to keep drinks hot for up to 7 hours, or cold for 30 hours! This makes it perfect for longer trips, particularly camping.
It is rugged and built to last. They use rust-proof stainless steel to create the double-walls which has a reassuringly solid feel to it.
They make it leak-proof by employing a trigger action lid – not only does this help you control when the liquid is released, but it is so easy to use with one-hand, which really feeds into the idea that this is made for the more active trips that you might go on.
Aesthetically, it comes across as a solid little bottle – it may not look beautiful, but it is not supposed to. This isn’t for walking around town with, this is for adventures.
It is one of the more expensive items on our list today, but there isn’t a lot in it really. It’s a great bottle that is great at doing the job it is designed to do. Perfect for the outdoorsy types.back to menu ↑
Tefal Travel Mug
It was only a matter of time before we featured Tefal, wasn’t it? Founded in the 1950s, Tefal quickly established themselves as great innovators – creating non-stick cookware and inventing the first cordless iron. Now they have moved into travel mugs and have continued to build their reputation here too.
The first thing to say is that I really like the look of this travel mug. I didn’t think I would use the word ‘elegance’ in a review of a travel mug, but I really feel that this has a certain elegance to it. It manages to combine the almost-delicate curves with the sturdiness of the steel. It really works.
The capacity is 0.36 litres, similar to the Stanley above, which is a decent size. It is 100% leak-proof with a press-seal. Whenever you want to open the cup, you need to press the button in the middle of the lid, so it only comes loose when you need it to.
One feature I really like is the 360 degree drinking aperture – basically this means that you can pick it up and drink from any angle, you don’t need to rotate it round to find the hole or spout. This is great if you are doing something else as there is nothing more frustrating than fumbling around looking for where your drink will come out.
This is priced slightly below the average, which is surprising given the strength of the Tefal brand name – that normally adds to the price. It is a great looking cup that will keep your drink warm for around 4 hours. Definitely one to consider.back to menu ↑
We go from a company that does a bit of everything to a company that does just the one – Mighty Mug. A company devoted to ‘stopping spills before they happen’. A noble cause, I am sure you will agree!
Before we get into the ‘unspillable’ nature of the Mighty Mug, we should first consider the key travel mug characteristics. It has a capacity of 0.47 litres, which is slightly bigger than the last few items on our list – a good size for a travel mug.
It has a double walled base, and measures 8 x 8 x 22 cm, which is pretty compact for a mug with this capacity. The lid is locked with a one-touch button to prevent leaks, and it also has a 360 drinking lid, so you can drink from any angle.
But the USP (unique selling point) of the Mighty Mug is that it cannot be knocked over. Using Smartgrip technology, the mug has a suction-style grip on any flat surface that you put it on. This means that when you knock into it, it may wobble slightly, but it won’t topple over. In order to release it you just need to lift it straight up in the air and it will come loose.
It’s a novel little quirk that we really liked. It makes this mug not just a travel mug, but a great mug to have with you at your desk – perfect for people that travel into their offices, particularly those with longer commutes.
It’s priced towards the higher end of the price range on this list, but it is not far from average. It is a great mug with a really fun feature.back to menu ↑
720 Dgree – PleasureToGo
Over to Germany now with a look at this stylish travel mug from 720 Dgree – a company founded with the intention of reducing single-use bottles and cups in an effort to promote a more sustainable way of living.
They go a step further than most – for the last few years, all of their products have been ‘climate neutral’ in that they offset all of the CO2 emissions during the process of manufacturing their products. They also work with partners to build drinking wells in areas of the world that need more drinking water. In short – these are some of the good guys.
We are greedy consumers though, and we don’t just want to know that the companies we buy from are doing good, we need them to produce quality products. Fortunately, 720 Dgree come good here.
This bottle-slash-mug is completely leak proof thanks to the complex design of the lid, which all comes apart easily so that you can give it a thorough clean. The unique KeepDGREE technology and double-walled design means that your drink will still be warm 5 hours after it is made, which compares pretty favourably to most travel mugs.
This travel mug ticks every box that you could wish for, and it is from a company that goes above and beyond when it comes to the environment, which makes it that little bit more attractive. Definitely one to consider if these issues are close to your heart.back to menu ↑
Something a little bit different now from UK-based iglu – a family-run business with a passion for reusable coffee cups.
These are all about the look. The iglu cups are all beautifully designed – a lovely bold travel mug, available in a huge range of colours to suit your style. They are fast-becoming a company that gets recognised, so having their logo on your coffee cup will get you admiring nods from fellow travellers.
It is made from high-grade materials – stainless steel – and it employs a vacuum, airtight lid which means that your drink will stay warm for 6 hours, or cold for 12 hours. It is a point that they are keen to emphasise – these mugs are not just for your hot drinks. They recommend using it for smoothies, wine or even your morning yoghurt! It’s a very versatile travel mug.
For a product that has such an emphasis on style, it is surprisingly inexpensive – one of the cheapest products on our list today. They are available in a range of sizes, from 12oz (0.34 litres) to 20oz (0.57 litres) – something for everyone there.
They make great gifts, but they are also a nice little travel mug to treat yourself to. I think these are the most unique looking travel mugs on our list, so if you want to stand out, these could be the ones for you.back to menu ↑
A truly budget option for you now, by the brand synonymous with keeping your drinks warm – Thermos. They’ve been making products in the industry for over 100 years, and they remain one of the biggest names around.
This is by far the cheapest product on our list, nearly half the price of the next-cheapest, so it is a great option for people that don’t want to spend too much – perhaps if you don’t think you’ll use it regularly, but still need one occasionally.
It is the only travel mug on our list that has a handle. Some people will find that this is a key requirement, and not feel comfortable grabbing a cup by its base, so this may be the best pick for them.
It works well enough at keeping your drink warm with the double wall insulation, and the lid has a slide lock on it which is designed to prevent leakage.
One word of warning, though. I wouldn’t use this mug in the ‘throwing in the bottom of the bag’ scenario that we spoke about earlier. The slide lock could come undone with a little pressure, and the lid may come off completely if it gets knocked about. This is designed more for the cupholder of your car than an all-action hike.
If that suits your needs though, this is a great product. It will keep your drink warm and save you a few pennies in the process.back to menu ↑
Bodum Vacuum Travel Mug
We complete our list of the best travel mugs with a modern classic from Danish company Bodum. While they have been making household and kitchen appliances since the 1950s, Bodum exploded onto the scene of travel mugs around a decade ago – now they are everywhere!
Available in plenty of different colours, all with a classic stainless steel base, these have become iconic in their own right. You probably know someone with a Bodum mug.
Why are they so popular? Well, the heat retention is impressive with around 4 hours of keeping your drink hot. They use the double-walled design for insulation, with a vacuum seal. The outside will remain cool to the touch while the drink stays hot.
The rubber grip is comfortable to use, and that is what provides the colour. The lid is secure and has a ‘flip’ access for the drink. It is pleasant to drink out of.
Like the Thermocafe item above though, it should be kept upright – it is not completely leak proof if it is tipped up. Again, this may put some people off as it wouldn’t be suitable to be put in a bag and jostled around.
It is priced accordingly, though. It is the second cheapest product on our list – if you just want to use it in the car or on your commute, then this is a perfect travel mug.