Best Thermos

The Best Thermoses of 2022-2023

Nothing beats a steamy hot drink on a chilly winter day. If you want your favorite liquids to stay piping hot all day long, check out our roundup of the best thermoses of 2022-2023.

Whether you’re heading out for a day of hunting, ice fishing, or enjoying the solitude of a winter trail, a warm cup of coffee or a hot lunch can make even the coldest of days feel enjoyable. High-quality insulated food and drink containers can reliably maintain the temperature of their contents for hours on end. The perfect thermos will vary from person to person, but they all have overlapping qualities that make them the ideal piece of outdoor gear.

In our search for the best thermoses on the market, we considered all types: from old-school tacklebox classics to modern drink movers for folks on the go. We narrowed it down to the best-of-the-best according to durability, leakproofness, heat retention, features, and overall capacity. 

And before we were through with it all, we pit each thermos against the other in our temperature retention test, scrutinizing manufacturers’ claims and finding out for ourselves which mug will keep our coffee piping hot for the longest.

Scroll through to see all of our recommended buys or jump to the category you’re looking for. We’ve also compiled an in-depth buyer’s guide and FAQ to break down just what makes a good thermos tick. And finally, use our specs chart to go apples to apples on your next thermos.

The Best Thermoses of 2022-2023

Best Overall: Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle

Stanley Classic 2qt

You can’t quite beat a classic when it comes to a good thermos. The Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle ($25) has it in the name, and it’s been a top contender for thermoses since its release in 1913. There have been updates to the design since then, but one thing holds true: The vacuum insulation can keep liquids hot or cold for up to 32 hours and keep ice for 160 hours.

It’s a tad heavier than some of its counterparts on the market, but there are numerous reasons Stanley has been used for generations.

The handle on the side makes it easy to carry and pour, even while wearing gloves. The lid doubles as a cup, so if the contents are too hot to drink directly from the thermos, pour the contents into the lid to cool faster.

This classic Hammertone green thermos holds about 2 L of liquid. No matter the size of the Stanley Classic you choose, it’ll be durable, won’t rust, and is BPA-free. Not only that, but if you close the lid correctly, you can guarantee this thermos will be leakproof. That means no worries about tossing this bad boy into a pack on a hike.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 2 qts. (64 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 3.2 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /200 F, 1 hr. /200 F, 4 hrs. /195 F, 8 hrs. /185 F, 12 hrs. /175 F, 24 hrs. /160 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Sharing, fishing, all-day sipping
Pros: 
  • Leakproof
  • Durable 
  • Well-insulated
Cons: 
  • Somewhat heavy

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Most Versatile: CamelBak MultiBev 

CamelBak MultiBev

CamelBak upped the ante with its versatile MultiBev ($50) thermos design. This two-in-one thermos is both a thermos-style water bottle and an insulated travel cup. Unlike many other thermos cups that double as the lid, this thermos’ travel cup portion is the base, and it comes with a roll-up silicone lid.

The bottle lid of the CamelBack MultiBev does have a small compartment underneath the handle to hold the travel cup’s foldable silicone lid. If you don’t plan to use the travel cup’s lid, that compartment is big enough to hold a tea bag or a handful of nuts. This unique design seems to be most applicable for working people looking for travel coffee mugs that can also function as water bottles.

The overall capacity isn’t that large, and it’s heavy for holding just over 20 ounces, so it’s not the best option for snowshoeing or hiking. Still, the MultiBev is a durable design that keeps liquids hot or cold for extended periods and is perfect for sharing.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.65 L (22 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 1 lb., 4.8 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel, food-grade silicone, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /195 F, 1 hr. /190 F, 4 hrs. /170 F, 8 hrs. /145 F, 12 hrs. /135 F, 24 hrs. /100 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Carrying multiple beverages in one unit
Pros: 
  • Well-insulated
  • Versatile design
  • Easy for sharing
Cons: 
  • Small liquid capacity
  • Heavy for size

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Best Coffee Thermos: Contigo Travel Mug

Contigo Travel Mug

The best coffee thermos on our list is a low-profile mug that can do just as well on a hiking trail as it can day to day during your commute. Unlike the standard travel coffee mug, the Contigo Travel Mug ($19) is designed with a SnapSeal lid to make the seal leakproof and keep coffee hot longer.

The most popular size for the Contigo Travel Mug may seem small, but Contigo makes 16-, 20-, and 24-ounce size options. To further add to consumer design choices, Contigo gives you the option to have a handle, grip, or neither.

The high-quality stainless-steel body is BPA-free and insulated well enough to keep liquids warm for up to 7 hours and cold for 18 hours. The lid on the Travel Mug is plastic, so be aware that sometimes the flavors may overlap if you drink tea and coffee in the same mug.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.5-0.7 L (16-24 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 5.1 oz.
  • Materials: Stainless steel, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /180 F, 1 hr. /170 F, 4 hrs. /130 F, 8 hrs. /105 F, 12 hrs. /100 F, 24 hrs. /65 F
  • Cleaning: Handwash body, lid is top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Drinking hot coffee all day long
Pros: 
  • Fits in most cupholders
  • Multiple design options
  • Decent heat retention
Cons:
  • Plastic lid can hold onto flavors
  • Lid has the potential to open inside of a bag

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Best Thermos Mug: YETI Rambler Mug

YETI Rambler Mug Thermos

The YETI Rambler Mug ($30) took all the benefits of a classic thermos and put them into a trusty coffee mug. This Rambler Mug gives cabin retreats and backcountry camping ventures the perfect morning start by ensuring that your coffee stays hot and your tea is a continuously warm treat each night.

Since our last update, YETI has now upgraded the Rambler Mug to include their MagSlider lid, a hot or cold liquid-ready lid that uses magnets to help seal in your drink. It still isn’t 100% leakproof, but now greatly increases its spill protection. And yes, YETI kept the price the same. 

The 14-ounce mug is made from stainless steel with a DuraCoat finish, adding to its durability and preventing sweating when holding cold beverages. Because YETI designed the Rambler as a mug, the lid doesn’t provide the best heat retention. However, the lid is perfect for fireside sipping and tight enough to help liquids maintain temperature for 6 to 7 hours.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.41 L (14 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 12.9 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /170 F, 1 hr. /155 F, 4 hrs. /105 F, 8 hrs. /80 F, 12 hrs. /70 F, 24 hrs. /55 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Fireside sipping, commuting
Pros:
  • Sweat-free
  • Easy to use/clean
  • Durable camp mug
Cons:
  • Not 100% leakproof
  • Not the best heat retention

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Best Food Thermos: Hydro Flask Food Jar

HydroFlask Food Jar

Nothing beats a hot lunch on a cold day out in the backcountry. But if you’re not lugging in a huge thermos, how will you get your soup out there? The Hydro Flask Food Jar ($35) solved that problem as a functional, compact container made specifically for food.

The TempShield double insulation keeps your soups or stews hot for hours. It isn’t just ideal for cold weather, though. The container is a perfect size for a fresh fruit salad in the summer. It’s fully leakproof when closed correctly, making it a packable container for any trek.

While this insulated jar is made in four different sizes — 8, 12, 20, and 28 fluid ounces — we find that the latter two sizes are fairly small for fitting much into. The 20- and 28-fluid-ounce jars fit a respectable amount of soup, but the smaller sizes may be better suited to snacks.

Unlike a standard thermos, the Hydro Flask Food Jar is designed more like a bowl to provide a wide-mouth opening for ease while eating. With the stainless steel materials, you don’t have to worry about flavor transfer into the container.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.59 L (20 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 15.4 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /180 F, 1 hr. /170 F, 4 hrs. /120 F, 8 hrs. /95 F, 12 hrs. /75 F, 24 hrs. /55 F
  • Cleaning: Handwash only
  • Best for: Keeping food secure, hot and cold foods
Pros:
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Heat retention
Cons: 
  • Not much usable capacity in the 8- and 12-fluid-ounce sizes

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Best of the Rest

Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-TA48

Zojirushi SM-TA48 Thermos

With a history of creating high-quality vacuum bottles since 1923, Zojirushi is a market leader in insulated vessels, and the Stainless Mug SM-TA48 ($35) is proof positive that they can make one heck of a good thermos.

Made to exacting specifications, the beauty is in the details with the SM-TA48 Stainless Mug. The double-wall design is coated on the interior with a nonstick coating, which makes cleaning a breeze and protects against corrosion.

The lid is ingeniously designed and easily the favorite in our review, opening with a two-step release that locks out of the way for simple sipping. There’s also a safety lock that ensures that your piping hot beverages stay where they should en route. Because it is a more involved lid, you’ll want to clean it after every use.

Our tester lent his Zojirushi thermos to a coworker who was headed to climb Denali and later reported still-hot results from the summit of North America. We saw similar temperature retention numbers in our own bench testing, so it’s safe to say that the SM-TA48 Stainless Mug can keep your cuppa warm wherever you might go.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.48 L (16 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /190 F, 1 hr. /190 F, 4 hrs. /160 F, 8 hrs. /155 F, 12 hrs. /145 F, 24 hrs. /110 F
  • Cleaning: Handwash only
  • Best for: Hot broths and brewing up on long excursions
Pros:
  • Compact
  • Smart lid features
Cons: 
  • Lid should be cleaned after every use

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Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle 24 Oz.

Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottles

While it might be better known as our Best Overall Insulated Water Bottle, the Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle ($40) also makes a mean thermos. Rated at a claimed 12 hours for hot beverages, this thermos is in it for the long haul.

The Standard Mouth bottle is available in a number of different volumes, and sporting the same TempShield insulation construction as the Hydro Flask Food Jar, you can expect similar performance. 

It should be noted that you won’t want to use a drinking straw lid for any hot liquids, as they aren’t rated as such. We also missed having the integrated cup that some of our other thermoses have but made do without it.

Be it cold water or hot coffee, the Standard Mouth Bottle delivers. We believe this is one of the better thermos options for those looking to bring it along on a hike or day trip.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.7 L (24 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 12.9 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 Pro-Grade stainless steel, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /195 F, 1 hr. /185 F, 4 hrs. /165 F, 8 hrs. /140 F, 12 hrs. /135 F, 24 hrs. /95 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Packing in a hot drink on a hike
Pros: 
  • Impressive temperature performance
  • Fits other Hydro Flask accessories
Cons: 
  • No drinking straw lid or integrated cup

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Thermos Stainless King 40 Oz

Thermos Stainless King 40 Oz

Another widely known and trusted brand in the thermos world is Thermos. With a name like that, it would be hard to imagine anything but quality. 

The Thermos Stainless King ($32) is designed to function as a holder for hot or cold liquids. The brand has food-specific thermoses as well, but this 40-ounce thermos is the best coffee thermos in its line.

Thermos’s patented vacuum insulation keeps liquids hot or cold for 24 hours, and the bottles are designed to keep the exterior temperature lower, making them easy to hold. This also prevents the bottle from sweating when holding cold liquids in the summer months.

As with other brands of thermoses, the Thermos King’s lid doubles as a cup. To make pouring easier and to maintain liquid temperature longer, Thermos integrated a clever twist and pour spout that lets you pour out the liquid without removing the stopper.

This stainless steel thermos is easy to use, BPA-free, and dishwasher-safe. It may not have the highest heat retention, but it’s a top-quality pick, especially because of the additional functionality.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 1.2 L (40 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 12 oz.
  • Materials: 18/8 stainless steel
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /195 F, 1 hr. /195 F, 4 hrs. /190 F, 8 hrs. /175 F, 12 hrs. /170 F, 24 hrs. /150 F
  • Cleaning: Top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Enjoying coffee all day long
Pros: 
  • Dishwasher-safe
  • Easy-pour function
  • Good heat retention
Cons: 
  • The lid cup and seal may need to be replaced after a few years

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Stanley Titanium Travel Mug 14 Oz.

Stanley Titanium Travel Mug

When volume is at a premium, the Stanley Titanium Travel Mug ($103) takes up scant space and even less weight. At only 8 ounces, this thermos was in the top percentile in our testing, and easily slipped into our bags no matter where we were pointed.

Sporting a no-nonsense look and made out of titanium throughout the build (even the lid handle is made from the stuff) this thermos uses Stanley’s double-wall TiVac insulation to keep liquids warm for up to a listed 4 hours. Our own testing showed it’ll go even longer.

There’s also more to using titanium than the space-age cool factor: when it comes to thermal efficiency, titanium has a lower temperature coefficient of resistance than stainless steel, meaning it keeps the warmth in your drink longer.

While it is a pretty penny to drop, the Titanium Travel Mug slots perfectly into a cupholder or pack pocket, and makes a great hot-drink travel companion.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.4 L (14 fl oz.)
  • Weight: 8 oz.
  • Materials: Grade 1 titanium, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /185 F, 1 hr. /175 F, 4 hrs. /135 F, 8 hrs. /110 F, 12 hrs. /100 F, 24 hrs. /65 F
  • Cleaning: Handwash only
  • Best for: Bringing anywhere, travel
Pros: 
  • Ultralight weight
  • Small footprint
Cons: 
  • Price
  • Won’t keep things hot for very long

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Maxso 2-Pack

7

Maxso insulated thermoses ($40) are the perfect lunch companions for soup on and off the trail. The size and functionality of each can give you the confidence to store these anywhere in your pack or lunchbox.

They’re vacuum-insulated to keep food hot for up to 12 hours and cold for 24 hours. The top lid doubles as a bowl for eating, and the air-pressure-sealing lid secures the food within the thermos. With an updated design, a foldable spoon fits into the sealing lid.

While we did enjoy the all-in-one aspect of this thermos set, we found that in practice eating something like soup from the lid can be tough to clean from the threads. Be sure to bring along a way to give it a quick swipe before stowing.

There’s one larger and one smaller thermos in the two-pack, and it comes with one foldable spoon. The containers are designed with a nonslip bottom and an easy-open air-pressure system even your kids could get used to. For the price, the Maxso 2-Pack are excellent thermoses for soups and drinks alike.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.5 L (17 fl. oz.) and 0.7 L (24 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 2 lbs., 1.6 oz.
  • Materials: Stainless steel, silicone, BPA-free
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /195 F, 1 hr. /190 F, 4 hrs. /165 F, 8 hrs. /145 F, 12 hrs. /135 F, 24 hrs. /100 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Enjoying hot soup up to 12 hours after storing
Pros: 
  • Integrated spoon
  • Nonslip design
  • Good heat retention
Cons: 
  • Can be difficult to clean threads on lid
  • Only one spoon included

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Takeya Kids Insulated Water Bottle

Takeya Kids Insulated Water Bottle

If you bring your kids along for outdoor adventures or if they need a new thermos for school, the Takeya Insulated Water Bottle ($28) is an extremely functional design. This durable bottle comes in both 14- and 16-ounce versions and is small enough for kids to easily handle and carry themselves.

It’s useful for holding cold liquids for hours, and your kids won’t have to worry about opening and closing the top because it has a built-in straw. The straw makes it easy for kids to drink with no tilting necessary.

It’s leakproof when the straw nozzle is in the closed position, so be sure it’s closed all the way before putting it in a pack. Plus, this bottle comes with a sturdy attachment point that can be easily clipped to a backpack.

The only downside to this insulated bottle is it’s only meant for drinking cold beverages; it’s not designed for hot liquids. Because of the straw design, heat causes pressure that could make the bottle leak or spill. That didn’t stop us from testing it — but we did pop out the straw for our trial.

With a tough build that’ll resist the toughest playground session, the Takeya Insulated Water Bottle makes a great pick for keeping the tykes hydrated.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.4 L (14 fl. oz.) and 0.47 L (16 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: Varies by size
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /180 F, 1 hr. /175 F, 4 hrs. /130 F, 8 hrs. /100 F, 12 hrs. /90 F, 24 hrs. /60 F
  • Cleaning: Dishwasher safe
  • Best for: Keeping kids’ drinks cold all day
Pros: 
  • Straw nozzle
  • Handle on lid
  • Multiple size options
Cons: 
  • Not intended for hot liquids
  • Some kiddos have difficulty getting the spout to seal

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Thermos Funtainer 

Thermos Funtainer

Utilizing the classic Thermos design in a smaller package, the Funtainer is perfect for kids. The Funtainer ($17) is a 10-ounce food jar for kids to pack in a lunch and is available in multiple designs and patterns. It will keep food cold for up to 7 hours or hot for 5 hours while the container’s exterior remains cool enough for your kids to handle.

The Funtainer has an extra-wide opening for food to make it easy for kids to eat directly from the container. They’re vacuum-insulated and use BPA-free materials, making them leakproof and easy to clean. Plus, this kid-friendly thermos comes with a packable folding spoon.

If you pack a school lunch for your kids every day, this thermos is the perfect size for a lunchbox. Just note it won’t regulate hot food temperature well if put in a lunchbox with an ice pack.

Specs:
  • Capacity: 0.3 L (10 fl. oz.)
  • Weight: 4 oz.
  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Temperature retention test: 30 mins. /185 F, 1 hr. /180 F, 4 hrs. /140 F, 8 hrs. /110 F, 12 hrs. /100 F, 24 hrs. /60 F
  • Cleaning: Top-rack dishwasher safe
  • Best for: School lunches
Pros: 
  • Wide-mouth opening
  • Lightweight
  • Leakproof
Cons: 
  • Heat retention
  • Seal may need replacing

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Comparison Chart

Thermos Capacity Weight Materials Temperature After 24 Hours Cleaning
Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle 2 qts. (64 fl. oz.) 2 lbs., 3.2 oz. 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free 160 F Dishwasher safe
CamelBak MultiBev 0.65 L (22 fl. oz.) 1 lb., 4.8 oz. 18/8 stainless steel, food-grade silicone, BPA-free 100 F Dishwasher safe
Contigo Travel Mug 0.5-0.7 L (16-24 fl. oz.) 5.1 oz. Stainless steel, BPA-free 65 F Handwash body, lid is top-rack dishwasher safe
YETI Rambler Mug 0.41 L (14 fl. oz.) 12.9 oz. 18/8 stainless steel 55 F Dishwasher safe
Hydro Flask Food Jar 0.59 L (20 fl. oz.) 15.4 oz. 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free 55 F Handwash only
Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-TA48 0.48L (16 fl. oz.) 8 oz. 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free 110 F Handwash only
Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle
0.7 L (24 fl. oz.) 12.9 oz. 18/8 Pro-Grade stainless steel, BPA-free 95 F Dishwasher safe
Thermos Stainless King
1.2 L (40 fl. oz.) 12 oz. 18/8 stainless steel 150 F Top-rack dishwasher safe
Stanley Titanium Travel Mug
0.4 L (14 fl oz.) 8 oz. Grade 1 titanium, BPA-free 65 F Handwash only
Maxso 2-Pack 0.5 L (17 fl. oz.) and 0.7 L (24 fl. oz.) 2 lbs., 1.6 oz. Stainless steel, silicone, BPA-free 100 F Dishwasher safe
Takeya Insulated Water Bottle 0.4 L (14 fl. oz.) and 0.47 L (16 fl. oz.) Varies by size Stainless steel 60 F Dishwasher safe
Thermos Funtainer 0.3 L (10 fl. oz.) 4 oz. Stainless steel 60 F Top-rack dishwasher safe

Why You Should Trust Us

A good thermos can be a lifetime purchase, which means that finding the right one can be important. At GearJunkie, we have a broad array of outdoors folks, from backpackers and hikers to ice climbers and hunters, and we all love a good, hot cup on a cold day.

In seeking out the best thermoses, we rummaged through our cupboards and packs, as well as scoured online for the most promising contenders. We sought out thermoses that would serve a wide range of activities — from grabbing a quick coffee to packing in a full day’s worth of broth to an elk glassing session.

Then, we filled up our mugs and went off into the fall of the Pacific Northwest, testing the thermoses both outdoors, as well as in our in-house temperature testing regiment. We toted soups, teas, and good ol’ cuppa joe in order to find the best thermoses of the year.

Looking for something that’ll be used mostly for water? Take a look at our review of the best insulated water bottles.

Best Thermos Temperature Testing
Our in-house temperature testing aimed to replicate real-life scenarios. So we chucked the thermoses out in our shed; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Temperature Retention Test

In order to better gauge their worth, we subjected each thermos to a rigorous temperature retention test. During a day in late October as the first winter storm blew in, we assembled all of our thermoses for a showdown. 

Each thermos simultaneously received a full serving of 212-degree F water, and then surveyed for the temperature at 30 minutes, 1 hour, 4 hours, 8 hours, 12 hours, and 24 hours. While we understand that some folks recommended preheating their thermoses for maximum efficiency, we wanted to replicate the most likely scenario and poured our brew into room-temp thermoses.

Then, seeking an accurate testbed, we chucked our bottles out on our workbench while we got to tinkering. The ambient temperature fluctuated between 48 and 50 degrees F, but all thermoses fared the same treatment.

Thermos Test Results

Best Thermos Temperature Results

Thermos 30 minutes 1 hour 4 hours 8 hours 12 hours 24 hours
Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle 200 F 200 F 195 F 185 F 175 F 160 F
CamelBak MultiBev 195 F 190 F 170 F 145 F 135 F 100 F
Contigo Travel Mug 180 F 170 F 130 F 105 F 100 F 65 F
YETI Rambler Mug 170 F 155 F 105 F 80 F 65 F 55 F
Hydro Flask Food Jar 180 F 170 F 120 F 95 F 75 F 55 F
Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-TA48 190 F 190 F 160 F 155 F 145 F 110 F
Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle
190 F 185 F 165 F 140 F 135 F 95 F
Thermos Stainless King
195 F 195 F 190 F 175 F 170 F 150 F
Stanley Titanium Travel Mug
185 F 175 F 135 F 110 F 100 F 65 F
Maxso 2-Pack 195 F 190 F 165 F 145 F 135 F 100 F
Takeya Insulated Water Bottle 180 F 175 F 130 F 100 F 90 F 60 F
Thermos Funtainer 185 F 180 F 140 F 110 F 100 F 60 F

While a few things didn’t surprise us (we knew there was a reason Grandpa loved his Stanley), there were some notable takeaways we noticed:

  • There’s a good connection between lid size and relative heat loss. Thermoses with relatively wide lids (like the Thermos Funtainer and the Hydro Flask Food Jar) lost heat much more quickly than their narrow lid counterparts. Since the lid is the only non-double-wall part of any thermos, it makes sense that a smaller lid will hold in more heat.
  • While we expected the YETI Rambler Mug to lose heat quickly, we were impressed that it was able to stay above 100 F for 4 hours.
  • The thermoses can roughly be grouped into two groups: those that were able to maintain at or about 100 degrees after 24 hours ( the Stanley Classic, Thermos Stainless King, Zojirushi, the Maxsos, and the Hydro Flask bottle) and those that fell to room temp (the Thermos Funtainer, Stanley Titanium, Contigo, Takeya, Hydro Flask Food Jar, and the YETI Rambler Mug).

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose a Thermos

Looking for your next thermos, you’ll likely want to ask yourself a few questions. Are you looking to have a day’s worth of coffee for the whole crew, or maybe just a swig of warm tea at the end of a hike? Do you need your thermos to be compact to fit into a school lunchbox or backpack?

Then, consider if you’ll need the features of a full-fledged thermos, or if you might be well suited with a bottle that’ll keep drinks both hot and cold. Bottles with integrated cups and handles like the Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle are born-and-bred thermoses, while the Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Bottle could easily be used for both.

Note that this is a constantly-changing list and that as new thermoses come out we’ll test and add them if we think they made the cut. If you’re looking for a water bottle, check out our lineup of the best insulated water bottles.

Best Thermoses Lineup
There’s a thermos for every kind of adventure; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Capacity

Determining your thermos capacity need comes down to two factors: the intended activity and if you’re sharing.

If you’re heading out for a day of ice fishing, lugging out a Stanley classic will be no issue, but if you’re embarking on an ultralight backpacking trek, a heavy metal thermos may not even make the cut.

Consider how much you usually drink or eat and if it will fit inside the thermos container. Then decide if it’s just for you or if you’re packing lunch or coffee for you and your partner. If you have multiple people sharing a thermos, then a larger capacity is ideal. However, if one cup of coffee is all you need, something closer to the CamelBak MultiBev will suffice.

CamelBak MultiBev Thermos
The CamelBak MultiBev thermos sports a unique split capacity design that allows for casual sipping from a smaller mug; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Insulation

The insulating capabilities of a thermos are what makes them so useful. Most on the market today will utilize vacuum insulation, but some may also use foam insulation. Vacuum insulation tends to work better than foam, making it the standard for quality thermos brands.

In our in-house temperature testing, we found that there’s a reason your grandpa loved his Stanley so much. The Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle only fell 50 degrees over a full 24 hours — down to 160 F. That’s still too hot to drink quickly! Close behind were the Thermos Stainless King as well as the Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-TA48.

Stanley Classic Legendary Thermos
The double-wall vacuum construction is what keeps your beverages toasty after a long hike or day of fishing; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Vacuum insulation uses a double layer of material to create a space between the walls. This gap of air (the vacuum) is what prevents heat from escaping or entering. While vacuum insulation has become the gold standard in thermos technology, the nature of the double-walled construction creates extra weight.

Though this may not be an issue for fishing or casual hiking, vacuum-insulated thermoses are not very practical for backpacking, climbing, or other activities that require prolonged carrying.

YETI Rambler Mug
With a broad plastic lid, the YETI Rambler mug is excellent for a quick cup of coffee, but won’t hold heat as well as other closed-top thermoses; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Durability

Most of us bring our thermoses outdoors, so they need to be able to take a beating. Top-quality thermoses are constructed using stainless steel of some kind for the body. A stainless steel body is harder to break, especially in cold conditions.

Many thermoses also have an additional coating to ensure that they’re well-protected. Be mindful of the handle and lid when considering durability as well. Some thermos lids have stainless steel exteriors, and the air-pressure lid is plastic because it isn’t directly exposed unless opened.

Some other designs have all-plastic lids, and this is usually the first part of the thermos to fail. If it does come with a plastic lid, double-check the warranty or if replacement parts are available if something breaks.

Stanley Titanium and Zojirushi Thermoses
The two welterweights of our testing: the Stanley Titanium Travel Mug and the Zojirushi Stainless Mug SM-TA48; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Lid Construction

Another aspect of the lid to consider is the seal and how you drink out of the thermos. If you have a food-specific thermos, consider how easy it is to pour from the opening as well.

Traditional thermos designs, like the Stanley Classic, have two lids: one air-locking lid on the inside and an exterior lid that doubles as a cup. These dual-lid designs are almost always leakproof, especially because both lids have a rubber seal of some kind. Having a secure lid design is necessary when carrying around a thermos of hot water or coffee — not only to prevent spilling in a bag but also for your safety.

Thermos Stainless King Thermos
The deep integrated cup of the Thermos Stainless King is a joy to sip from; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

Other thermos lids, like that of the Contigo Travel Mug, are more like a travel coffee container lid. They should have a rubber seal and a variation of Contigo’s SnapSeal to cover the drinking spout. These lids will vary from company to company, but be sure to pay special attention to how well the lid seals, especially if you intend to use it backpacking.

If you’re only using the thermos as a food container, look at the opening of the lid or top of the thermos to see how easy it will be to pour. The wider the mouth, the harder it will be to precisely pour. However, a wide mouth can make it easier to eat directly from the thermos.

Contigo Insulated Travel Mug
It’s easy sipping on the Contigo Travel Mug with the SnapSeal lid; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

When a thermos is meant for drinking, the lid construction determines how easy it is not to spill on yourself with every sip. Silicone lids usually create a decent seal but can be challenging to drink from. Plastic lids with a sipping hole or straw are usually the go-to for most nontraditional thermos lids.

Extra Features & Accessories

Extra features like a lid that doubles as a cup, an optimized handle design and grip, or a built-in spoon add a bit of versatility to a thermos. These aren’t necessarily aspects of the thermos that make or break its functionality, but they can add that little extra piece that makes your life easier or a little more comfortable when enjoying coffee on a cold winter morning.

Thermos Funtainer
Food-oriented thermoses like the Thermos Funtainer often come with foldable spoons for quick and easy lunches; (photo/Nick Belcaster)

FAQ

What Are the Best Thermos Cups?

As far as temperature control goes, the best thermos cups are designed by YETI or Hydro Flask. Both companies have mugs and cups that don’t utilize the traditional thermos air-pressure seal and instead have an insulated cup with a sipping lid. These aren’t spill-proof, but they afford the consumer the insulation of a thermos in cup form.

How Can I Best Clean a Thermos Flask?

Some thermos flasks can be cleaned in a dishwasher, but not all are dishwasher-safe. This is disclosed by the manufacturer of the thermos.

If it’s not dishwasher-safe, be sure to take the thermos apart completely and handwash after every use. Don’t forget to remove the rubber seal within the lid to ensure that no food or liquid is trapped underneath.

Which Thermos Stays Hot Longest?

Stanley thermoses have the best heat retention compared to any other brand. This is due to their quality materials, vacuum insulation, and tight lid seal. However, to create a thermos with the best heat retention, it did have to be bulkier and heavier than the others.

What Is the Best Thermos for Kids?

When sending your child off to school, it’s great to know they’ll feel well taken care of with cold water and a hot lunch. On this list, we’ve included high-quality kid-friendly thermoses designed for both liquids and food.

Most kids’ thermoses made to hold liquids feature an easy-to-use built-in straw. While straw tops are great and are generally preferred by kids, they’re usually not compatible with hot liquids.

Always read the manufacturer’s recommendations before putting hot liquid into your child’s drinking thermos. The combination of a straw lid and hot liquids can be dangerous.


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