Contigo SnapSeal Byron Travel Mug Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug Kinto Travel Tumbler

The Best Travel Mugs

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Contigo SnapSeal Byron Travel Mug

  • Amazing value for the quality
  • Easiest to clean
  • Opens and closes with a satisfying snap
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Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

  • Top-notch insulation
  • Secure flip-top lid design
  • Easy peasy one-handed operation
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Kinto Travel Tumbler

  • Sip-from-anywhere design
  • One of the best-lookin’ mugs around
  • Lightweight and leak-proof
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If the best part of waking up is coffee in your cup, you’d better make sure you’ve got a great cup. As anyone who habitually turns water into coffee (or tea) knows, investing in a trusty travel mug has its perks. Not only will it save you money, but it’ll also cut down your dependency on single-use disposable cups, which is a win for the environment and probably your favorite barista.


To find the best travel mugs, we tested over 20 options across three price points with an eye on form, function, and general usability. Of course, a good travel mug needs to be leak-proof, and it should keep your beverage of choice fresher longer. But we also took into account other factors: aesthetics, whether it was easy to clean, if it retained flavors and odors — and if it simply made the act of drinking a slightly more pleasant experience. Below, our picks for the best travel mugs across three price points.


Contigo SnapSeal Byron Travel Mug

Starting from $12

The Details

Available in 16, 20, and 24 ounces

Double-wall vacuum-insulated

Stainless steel body, hand-wash only

Top-rack dishwasher-safe lid

Rubber non-slip grip

Available in seven colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • Coffee and tea enthusiasts with a short commute
  • People looking for an affordable go-to office mug
  • Anyone who relishes in “basic” everyday goods

Why We Love It

Look, we don’t ask much from a budget travel mug — just a vessel that’s reliable and leak-proof, with enough insulating power to keep drinks at a stable temperature for a couple of hours, or however long it takes you to get to work. Easy enough, right? Wellllll…many options in the low-end price range can’t even do that. 

But after many a caffeine-fueled debate, we believe the Contigo SnapSeal Byron Travel Mug offers all those important features, not to mention a nifty lid design atypical of its modest price. Granted, a few testers noted the mug looks “generic,” but what the SnapSeal may lack in style, it makes up for in performance and value. 

Best Travel Mug Contigo lid

A great travel mug should be able to go the distance, and the first thing we learned is if you’re looking to spend less, you don’t have to settle for something made of plastic (see: Bodum and Oxo). While low-priced travel mugs with plastic bodies may be tempting, they simply won’t last. Plus, they retain flavors and odors, which makes ’em a bit trickier to clean. What you want instead is stainless steel, and luckily that’s what you get with the SnapSeal Byron. Another big advantage of stainless steel: It’ll keep your liquids hotter longer than anything else. 

To test how long each mug would keep liquids piping hot, we filled each travel mug with hot water and kept track of the temperature throughout the day. The SnapSeal Byron, which fared the best out of the budget range, began with a temp of 170ºF that, after an hour, dropped to 137º before going down to 113º after three hours, and 100º at the five-hour mark. 

The SnapSeal takes its name from the lid, which features a seemingly simple but surprisingly useful design that requires drinkers to “snap” a tab to open the sipping hole. When thirst is quenched, the tab snaps back into place with an audible click, thus sealing the mug back to its leak-proof state. The action takes some effort depending on your hand strength, but we were able to pop the seal with a swift flick of the index finger. Let’s just say it’s easy to operate, but not so easy that we were afraid it might accidentally open when thrown into a bag.

Best Travel Mug Contigo snapseal lid

Once you’re accustomed to how the lid works, you’ll be able to manage the mug one-handed, which is a blessing if you drive to work or commute through crowded spaces. For the most part, the sipping hole, which features a curved design to match the contour of one’s lips, provides a pleasant drinking experience. While most testers approved of the design, some sensitive drinkers wished for a more room around the brim so their lips didn’t press up against the plastic, citing the lid nearly burned their top lip.

So if you’re ultra sensitive to hot (or cold), or if you prefer an option with a traditional lid, we recommend our $ runner-up, the Mira Stainless Steel Travel Mug. This travel mug, affectionately described by our testers as “the gas station mug, perfected,” offers more room for your lips while you drink, and a simpler lid means fewer moving parts, which decreases the chance of the sealing mechanism breaking or malfunctioning. For what it’s worth, the Mira came in just behind Contigo in our heat retention test, but the decision ultimately came down to the fact that the SnapSeal offers a better overall travel mug at a lower price.

Best Travel Mug Contigo in hand

Chalk up the win to the SnapSeal Byron’s wide, streamlined silhouette that feels substantial in hand. A rubber grip makes it easy to hold, while adding a shot of texture around the glossy body, which is available in several colors (depending on what’s in stock at the moment). More notable features include a wide mouth, which makes it easier to fill and clean, and a top-rack dishwasher-safe lid. The SnapSeal also fits under a Keurig single-use coffee maker and snugly in most, if not all, car cup holders. 

Between its tolerable heat retention abilities, wide mouth, and functional lid design, we’d recommend this travel mug even if it were double the price. Luckily for everyone, it’s not. When it comes to the best price and value, there’s no better deal than the Contigo SnapSeal Byron.

User Reviews

“First off, the styling of this travel mug is great. It's huge but slim enough to fit in my cup holders. The matte black finish is so cool and modern. Today was my first time using it. I made coffee at 9:30 a.m. and prewarmed the mug with hot tap water. I drove an hour to my destination and it was still too hot to drink. I ran errands all morning and I finished my coffee at 1:30 p.m.! It wasn't lukewarm either. It was still hot enough to be enjoyable four hours later! The outside of the cup never got warm. Next time I won't prewarm it so I can drink it sooner. I'm about to order another for my husband. We are super impressed.”
— Mary Beth Pipes From Amazon
“Love this coffee mug. I had a corporate promo travel mug prior, and even though the lid would close, if I accidentally tipped it over, it would leak all over the place. I finally had enough of that and saw the reviews on this mug and am very glad I decided to purchase it. Not only is it leak-proof, but it keeps my coffee hot for a much longer period of time — for hours actually! I was concerned about the screw-on cap that everyone was complaining about in all those reviews. However, Contigo must have been paying attention and fixed that issue. I have no issues screwing the cap on or off. I was also concerned about washing the gasket-like material at the sipping part of the cup. However, that can be washed easily if you have a baby bottle scrub brush. Again, great product at a great price!”
— Tommy C. From Amazon
“I love these. Any hot beverage you put in it in the morning is still at least warm by the end of the day, and the liquid stays actually hot for a very, very long time. Hours. It doesn't leak, and the ones I purchased have lasted well. It's been a few months now, and we have been putting them on the top rack of the dishwasher. Sometimes I have to add a little hand-washing because they are so tall and thin that the dishwasher spray doesn't completely clean them out. The color coating on the outside is flaking, I suspect from dishwasher cleaning, but we really don't care about that. What I do care about is keeping my coffee hot, and that it does like a champ. By far the best coffee mug I've ever used. Some days I'll stick the last of the coffee from the maker in one of these and leave it on the counter. If I want a cup of coffee in the evening, it's still nice and warm, so no need to make a new pot for just one cup of coffee.”
— M. Lampers From Amazon


It's a snap, literally


Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug

Starting from $26

The Details

Available in 12, 16, and 20 ounces

Double-wall vacuum-insulated

Stainless steel body

Flip-open lid design

Safety lock

Available in four colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • People who want to keep their drinks hot ALL day long
  • Folks looking for a travel mug with extra leak protection
  • Anyone looking for something a little different than the norm

Why We Love It

Once you hold the Zojirushi Stainless Steel Travel Mug, it’s easy to see why it’s our midrange pick. It’s got a sleek figure, tight-locking cap, and a delightful pop-up lid that reveals a handy drinking spout. Plus, the name is fun to say (it’s zo-gee-roo-shee), which is great when you’re enthusiastically recommending it to anyone who asks, “Where in the world did you get that thing?”

Best Travel Mugs Zojirushi uncapped

But allow us to settle the score right away: This travel mug isn’t perfect. Its size is great in a lot of ways — slender and compact — but the 16-ounce model is too tall to fit under a single-serve coffee maker. Also, the mug’s height coupled with its narrower opening makes it near impossible to hand-wash this thing without a bottle brush. 

That being said, out of all the mugs we tested, regardless of price point, this mug was the one that kept liquids the hottest the longest. Seriously, the Zojirushi will insulate your coffee, tea, or whatever gets you up in the morning for a longer duration than you probably need. During our testing, the water inside the Zojirushi, which started at 168ºF, dropped just 13º after one hour. At three hours, it was 141º. And five hours? A perfect 130º. For reference, the optimal drinking temperature for coffee is between 120º and 140ºF

Best Travel Mugs Zojirushi uncapped

Unlike our $ pick, which has a lid that could lend itself to a one-handed drinking experience depending on your hand strength, there’s no doubt that opening and closing the Zojirushi is easy for everyone. Press the button and a spring-loaded latch pops the top into place and out of the way, to expose a plastic drinking spout with an air vent that’s easy to drink from, even on the go. If you’re worried about the flip-top system accidently opening in a bag, there’s also a safety lock for good measure. Simply slide the lock in place, and you’ll be able to lug this thing around with confidence.

And if that wasn’t enough, you can also take the lid apart for easier cleaning. Our managing editor, a former barista (he’s got the mustache for it) who’s been using this mug (and similar models like it) for close to a decade, recommends rinsing the inside daily, disassembling and cleaning the lid weekly, and going in with a brush monthly. Point is, the upkeep goes a long way. 

Best Travel Mug Zojirushi standing alone

It should be noted that we tested a few other Zojirushi travel mugs of various models and price points, and while the full range can be dizzying (there are SO many options), all you need to know is that the SM-SD model is your best bet; it’s identical to the SM-SC model in make, but with a slightly larger mount opening and available in more subdued colors (here’s a helpful comparison chart). If you’re not picky, just follow this link and buy whatever is the cheapest at the time.

At the end of the day, the differences are minuscule, and whether you go with the SM-SD or SM-SC (or the discontinued SM-SA model), you can count on quality double-wall construction that still manages to have a sleek and industrious design that’s hard not to appreciate. Sure, the lid may be a little extra, but it’s balanced by the rest of the mug’s minimalist styling. Plus, the finish not only looks great, it also feels great to carry.

But it all comes back to this: Zojirushi offers the best heat insulation in the game. And it delivers the heat in a well-designed travel vessel that makes you feel like you know something others don’t. If you’ve been looking for the very best solution to your daily caffeine routine, stop your search right now — Zojirushi is the answer!

User Reviews

“I took this bottle with me on a trip to New York this winter so that I could carry hot tea around with me on my adventures through the city. My tea stayed very hot in this bottle for over 24 hours; I was and still am amazed. I've been using it since then and it has consistently kept hot drinks hot for an absurd length of time, and I have also never experienced any leaks. I will say, though, that when I first received it in the mail, I felt it was a little small (16 ounce). I've since gotten used to it and feel it's a good size, but I wouldn't mind having a size up. Two things to note: 1) If you want things to stay hot for the maximum time in this bottle, you have to pre-heat it. That means fill it with boiling water, let it sit a while, then pour out that water and fill with your tea/coffee/whatever. If you skip this step then your drink will still stay hot for many hours, but not AS many hours. 2) To avoid the possibility of leaks, pop the cap open, screw it onto the bottle, and THEN close and lock the cap. This way, no air gets trapped inside.”
— Shannon From Amazon
“There are plenty of other positive reviews, so I won't waste time by repeating what others have said because I believe all the good stuff is true. I just wanted to address something I read in a few reviews that stuck in my mind, and seemed to be happening to me too: When the mug was almost empty and I was hoisting it nearly vertical to get the last of my drink out, I would hit myself in the nose with the rubber stopper on the top, which is annoying when it's wet with coffee. What I found out by accident is that the top can be pushed down past the soft ‘stop’ it springs to on its own. This locks the top in the open position much further than it goes on its own, and as a consequence, the stopper is well out of reach of all but the largest of noses. There may have been something about this in the instructions, but it's a coffee mug and I didn't think I needed to read the manual!”
— Daniel Ernst From Amazon
“I got this in the 16-ounce size as a birthday gift, after my son-in-law talked about how much he enjoyed his 12-ounce Zojirushi mug. When I opened the package, I thought that I had gotten the 12-ounce size by mistake, since it is considerably slimmer than a 16-ounce mug from another company. I like the form factor of this mug, and the matte black looks very nice. Second, the drinking apparatus works very well. I have one from another company that I am afraid to drink from, since the coffee comes out too fast; I use it for ice water only. This Zojirushi has a very nice drinking mechanism that allows the coffee to come out, in my opinion, at just the right speed. Third, the lid release holds securely, but also releases nicely, without having to look at it if you're driving; it can also lock. Finally, this thing keeps coffee hot for longer than similar mugs I have had. I can make coffee first thing in the morning, and by late morning, the coffee is still really hot. My son-in-law and I are the local fan club for this mug, in the 12-ounce (him) and the 16-ounce (me) size.”
— Ed Detlie From Amazon


Best insulation in the game


Kinto Travel Tumbler

Starting from $35

The Details

Available in 12 and 17 ounces

Double-wall vacuum-insulated

Stainless steel body

Screw-top lid design

Scratch-resistant powder coating

Available in eight colors

What / Who It's Best For

  • The fashion-conscious
  • Anyone looking for the perfect drinking flow
  • People who travel with their mug every dang day

Why We Love It

There are plenty of splurge-y travel mugs out there that’ll keep your liquids hot. And we’re the first to admit that choosing the best high-end travel mug is about personal preference, especially when it comes to looks. That said, our testers believe the Kinto Travel Tumbler — in all of its “status” mug glory — is worth a look because of its elegant build and versatile drinking experience. 

Best Travel Mugs Kinto with lid

If you’ve never heard of Kinto, chances are you will soon. On the heels of opening its first US retail store in LA, the Japanese home goods brand also just launched an online store for its US customers. The brand has garnered a healthy following for its stylish coffee-brewing gear and kitchenware, and the Travel Tumbler may be its most popular offering to date.

The Kinto Travel Tumbler looks like it should be displayed in a museum (they’re sold at MoMA in New York — go figure), but that’s not the only reason why it’s our $$$ pick. There’s no denying that this high-design travel mug is easy on the eyes, and we’re happy to report that Kinto doesn’t sacrifice anything to accomplish such a feat. 

In short: The Kinto Travel Tumbler meets all the criteria of a premium travel mug, and it just so happens to look really good while doing so.

Best Travel Mugs Kinto mouth

As minimal as it is, the mug still proves to be functional. Our testers loved the simplicity of the lid design, which comes in two parts. With the screw-top lid, you can bet your liquid’s staying in. Just below that, you’re also able to unscrew the drinking spout, which makes the mug super easy to clean and fill. With holes positioned in a circle, the spout allows you to drink from any angle, and the overall depth and width of the opening makes it seem like you’re drinking from a regular glass.

And then there’s the mug’s streamlined body: No excess details anywhere, just a refreshing design that doesn’t compromise the product’s actual usability. The travel mug fits in most cup holders and looks mighty fine tucked into the pocket of a backpack or tote bag. The body of the mug is also finished with a powder coating, which helps prevent scratches. 

Best Travel Mugs Kinto base

As for keeping liquids hot, the Kinto performed great in our tests. Starting at 170ºF, the mug maintained optimal drinking temperatures well into the five-hour mark (127º). The only other mug over $30 capable of keeping liquids just as hot was the Ember Travel Mug, which makes sense, because it’s a battery-powered “smart” thermos that allows you to keep any drink at a precise temperature. 

The only problem? A measly two-hour battery life; and without power, the Ember failed to keep liquids hot for very long. The battery also makes it quite heavy to lug around on a daily basis. If you’ve got a situation where you can keep the Ember Travel Mug plugged into its charging coaster (ideal if you’re chained to a desk all day long), it’s certainly worth considering. For everyone else, we think the Kinto mug will serve you just as well — and, more importantly, won’t cost three times the price.

Even with all the great travel coffee mugs at the high end, it’s hard to find one that’s more functional, convenient, and stylish than the Kinto Travel Tumbler. 


A travel mug with status