Is there any more essential tool for the itinerant coffee lover than a good travel mug? We don’t think so. It’s the one thing that can make or break the coffee-on-the-go experience, and all success rides on its superpowers or horrifying lack thereof.
Unfortunately, most travel mugs are meh at best and a cruel practical joke at worst. They leak. They lose heat. They’re hard to clean or add off tastes or won’t fit in your cupholder. Some need two hands for a sip which is really more of a dribble. Others send your precious elixir of life flying by the face-full whenever you’re brave enough to go in for a swig.
You can do better. And for the sake of your mobile coffee experience, you must. Here are five of our most very favorite travel mugs to help:
The Zojirushi excels at coffee transport and looks good doing it: It keeps coffee piping (and we mean piping) hot or (your choice) delightfully iced for up to six hours, which is tops as far as we’ve seen; wouldn’t spill a drop in an F5 tornado let alone your bag; has a locking lid that pops open with one hand on the wheel (though you may need two hands to close it); and it doesn’t have fussy parts to clean. Better still, it comes in multiple colors for households looking to avoid morning mug wars.
The CamelBak Forge offers similar leak-free, one-handed operation, but we like its clever design, which makes this mug virtually impossible to open accidentally and features a super convenient hook that makes it easy to clip onto a bag, carabiner, or anything else. The same hook also stops it from rolling all over your car or floor. Made military-tough for use off the beaten path, this is the one that comes camping.
The Contigo covers all the important bases with aplomb but adds a cool vacuum-seal lid with a one-finger push-button operation that automatically reseals the mug when released, something the others don’t have. Plus, this is one lid you can actually wash in the dishwasher, which wins it huge points for convenience.
The Bubba Mug won’t set any records for heat retention and we certainly won’t be fearlessly tossing this into our backpack, but what it lacks in performance, it makes up for in size. At an oversized 52 ounces, this beast of a mug can hold a whole morning's, afternoon’s, or evening’s worth of java. That makes it great for the pool, the gym, the office, and any other place where you’ll need to bring a reliable long-term supply.
The Espro wins a spot in our hall of travel mug fame for one incredible reason: it’s essentially a portable French press that actually brews your coffee on the go. Sure, you’ll sacrifice a few points for heat loss and a screw-top lid, but let’s get real—road coffee doesn’t come any fresher than this, and some days that’s a plus that’s hard to ignore.