Best Camping Mugs: The Top 6 of 2018
|Top Pick: Yeti Rambler||
|$29.99||12.7 oz||20 oz|
|Best Insulated Camping Mug: Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug||
|$30.00||15.9 oz||20 oz|
|Hydro Flask Tumbler||
|$29.95||12.5 oz||22 oz|
|Hydro Flask Coffee Flask||
|$27.95||10.5 oz||20 oz|
|Budget Buy: RTIC Coffee Cup||
|$10.99||11.7 oz||12 oz|
|GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Camp Cup||
|N/A||7.7 oz||15 oz|
After performing heat and ice retention tests on six of the best camping mugs, using them in our daily lives for over a month, and field testing them on a car camping trip along the California coast, we think the Yeti Rambler is top option — especially for weekend warriors who want a mug that’s just as suited to the morning commute as it is to hanging out around camp.
The Rambler is rugged, insulates exceptionally well, and offers some protection against spills. Plus the lid design was our favorite out of all the mugs we tested.
Alternatively, for people who want the camp mug that insulates the best, we recommend the Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug. It kept our coffee steaming hot for over 11 hours and was completely spill-proof.
Read on for our full reviews.
If you’re looking for lightweight mugs you can take backpacking, check out our guide to the best backpacking mugs.
Top Pick: Yeti Rambler
The Yeti Rambler struck the perfect balance between excellent insulation, spill-resistance, and usability.
This was the mug we found ourselves wanting to use every day, whether commuting to work or hanging out around camp.
The stainless steel construction feels durable and solid, as does the plastic lid. The color coating provides a little extra grip and — despite being knocked around quite a bit during our adventures — has yet to show any signs of wear.
While it wasn’t the top performer in our insulation tests (that honor went to the Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug), it still did excellent, keeping water hot for well over 7 hours, and ice for over a full day.
Our favorite feature of this mug was its lid — the magnetic tab was easy to open and close, but held securely when shut.
It’s definitely not spill-proof, but we found that, even when left tipped over on its side for a few minutes, only a small trickle of liquid spilled out.
Really, we couldn’t find anything to criticize about the Yeti Rambler. It’s durable, spill-resistant, does an excellent job at insulating, and was our favorite mug to actually drink from.
Best Insulated Camping Mug: Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug
We love that Stanley kept their iconic design and classic olive green color. This mug looks and feels bomb-proof.
When it comes to insulation, the One Hand Vacuum Mug blew the competition right out of the water.
In our heat retention test, it took this beast over 11 hours to drop from boiling down to 120 degrees — almost 3 hours longer than the next in line.
It fared almost as well in our ice tests, with 3.7 oz of ice left after 28 hours at room temperature.
A full two days later, there were still a few small chunks of ice knocking around. This was also the only mug we tested that was completely spill-proof.
So why wasn’t it our Top Pick?
Our issue with this mug was the lid. The design requires that you push a button on the side of the lid, which activates a spring mechanism that lowers a small foam tab, allowing liquid to flow out.
To drink, you have to hold the mug at the top and keep the button depressed. This comes down to personal preference, and we were split between not minding it and finding it awkward to drink out of.
The lid is by far the most complex mechanism of any that we tested, and other reviewers have had issues with one of the many moving pieces breaking after a few weeks or months of use.
While we personally didn’t experience this, we could certainly see it being an issue. (It does seem that Stanley will send a replacement lid under their lifetime warranty if this happens.)
We also found that this mug was so good at insulating that it was hours before our morning camp coffee was even drinkable. The only way to let it cool down faster was to completely remove the lid — a recipe for a major spill.
In the end, we preferred to sacrifice a bit of insulation performance for the comfort and ease of use of the Yeti Rambler. But if you want a mug that’s airtight and guaranteed to have your coffee still piping hot after your day of adventuring, this is your mug.
Budget Buy: RTIC Coffee Cup
At $10.99 retail as of this writing, the RTIC Coffee Cup is our budget pick.
It did surprisingly well in both heat and ice retention, and the stainless steel construction feels solid and durable.
We were also impressed at how spill-proof this thing was. Despite our best attempts, we couldn’t get more than a few tiny drops to leak out when it was fully closed. Not bad for an $11 mug.
We were disappointed with its lid design, though. The flip tab is so tight that to open it you almost need to set the mug down and use two hands to steady it.
The tab also didn’t flip back all the way and had a tendency to poke you in the nose while drinking.
While we had the same issue with the Hydro Flask Coffee Flask, it was more pronounced with this mug.
Finally, the seal on the lid just wasn’t quite tight enough. Boiling hot beverages actually created enough pressure to push the lid up slightly, although not enough to cause a leak.
If you can get past the design flaws in the lid, we think the Coffee Cup’s performance and solid construction justify RTIC’s $10.99 price tag.
Reviews of the 3 Other Camping Mugs We Tested
Although these mugs didn’t win any awards, competition was fierce, and they are still excellent options.
Hydro Flask makes a great product, and their Tumbler mug is no exception.
It’s got a sleek, stylish design and despite the lack of any kind of closure on the lid, it absolutely crushed it in all of our insulation tests. It was also easy and comfortable to hold and drink from.
Performance-wise, it was a toss-up between the Hydro Flask Tumbler and the Yeti Rambler, our Top Pick. The Tumbler had slightly better heat retention and ice test scores.
However this is the last mug that you want to knock over, as it results in an immediate spill catastrophe.
It’s a great camping mug with a beautiful design and excellent performance — a solid option as long as you’re not a total klutz.
We love the sleek designs and bright, peppy colors offered by Hydro Flask.
The narrow Coffee Flask was actually our favorite design. It was the most comfortable to hold and fit the easiest into just about any cup holder it encountered.
With its completely closed thermos-style lid, this mug is fairly spill-proof. We managed to get a few drops to come out after literally shaking it upside down, but we didn’t worry too much about spills while carrying it around in a bag or backpack.
It kept pace with the Hydro Flask Tumbler and Yeti Rambler in the heat retention tests, keeping drinks piping hot for a little over 7 hours.
It fared respectably, though not quite as well, at retaining ice.
We weren’t huge fans of the flip lid. Even though it latches all the way back, it still tends to bump you in the nose while you are drinking. We also found that liquid seemed to hang onto the tab and ended up getting on our noses.
That might sound like a minor nitpick, but after a couple hours of wiping coffee off of your face every other time you take a sip, it gets annoying.
Our annoyance with the lid was enough for us to bump this one down in the rankings. Otherwise this is a stylish, durable, and high-performing mug.
We liked the design and style of this mug, and enjoyed sipping our morning coffee from it.
However, its performance just didn’t stack up with the other camping mugs we tested.
The Camp Cup took only 2 hours and 14 minutes to drop from boiling to 120 degrees. After four hours, it had lost nearly half of the ice we put in it. Within 12 hours, all the ice had melted.
In comparison, the RTIC mug held heat for over twice as long. And it had almost 2 oz of ice left after 15 hours at room temperature.
Still, we liked the design, and actually enjoyed using this mug more than the RTIC. The handle on the mug limits its use — it’s impossible to get it into most cup holders — but it’s pretty nice to use around camp.
If this mug was just a little cheaper to reflect its performance, we’d probably have already bought a few of them to keep in our car camping box.
Here are the best camping mugs:
- Yeti Rambler
- Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug
- Hydro Flask Tumbler
- Hydro Flask Coffee Flask
- RTIC Coffee Cup
- GSI Outdoors Glacier Stainless Camp Cup
How to Choose the Best Camping Mug for Your Needs
Types of Camping Mugs
Tumbler: Tumbler-style coffee cups are the most popular and versatile. They tend to be tall and tapered toward the bottom, shaped similar to a water glass.
The lack of a handle makes them fit easily into cup holders. While usually not completely spill-proof, their lids prevent total spills and help retain heat and cold.
Thermos/Flask: These tend to be completely spill-proof and prioritize insulation over ease of drinking. They are best for people who want to keep their drink hot or cold all day long.
Mug: Certain camping mugs are closer in design to the classic ceramic mug. They are shorter and broader with a built-in handle. The handle makes them more comfortable to hold, but it also prevents them from fitting in most cup holders, limiting their use.
We found this to be one of the most important features, as the design of the lid determined not only how spill-proof the mug was, but also whether or not we actually enjoyed drinking out of it.
Lidless mugs are the simplest and easiest to drink from. However, they provide no protection against spills.
Lids with a tab that slides or twists are usually very easy to open and close, and offer some protection against spills.
Flip lids, where a piece of plastic latches down over the hole and can be flipped up, tend to be fairly spill-proof. If the tab doesn’t flip back far enough, though, they can bump you in the nose while drinking.
Some camp mugs also have their own unique lid designs. For example, the Stanley Classic One Hand Vacuum Mug opens by pressing a button on the side of the lid, and Hydro Flask sells a lid with a built-in straw for enjoying cold beverages.
Stainless steel is one of the most common materials for camping mugs because of its durability and relatively low price.
While some people can taste a metallic tang from their stainless steel mugs, high-quality stainless steel shouldn’t change the taste of your hot beverage. All of the mugs we tested were stainless steel.
Plastic is cheap and lightweight. Generally, though, it doesn’t insulate as well, isn’t as durable, and can impart a funky taste to drinks — not to mention the potential for it to leach chemicals into your beverage.
Ceramic and glass are fairly inexpensive materials that won’t impart any taste into your drinks. They make good everyday mugs, but we don’t recommend them for camping for lack of durability.
All of the camping mugs we tested used a double-wall design, with two layers of material surrounding your beverage. Single-wall mugs are out there, but they are fairly uncommon for camping mugs, since they are less durable and offer little insulation.
The top performing mugs combine double-wall construction with vacuum insulation between the two layers. The vacuum minimizes heat transfer and greatly improves insulation.
How We Tested
Heat Retention Test
We filled each mug to the brim with boiling water (204°F at 4,000’ elevation), and timed how long it took to cool down to 120°F using a cooking thermometer.
We also filled all of the mugs with boiling water at the same time and measured the water temperature after four hours.
A mug’s ability to keep your coffee hot is really its main function, so we weighted these test results heavily in our scores.
On the whole, through the Heat Retention Test and Ice Test described below, the trends that emerged were pretty apparent: the Stanley mug was significantly ahead of its competition, the two Hydro Flasks and the Yeti were all pretty much on-par with each other (well within the margin of error for our experiments), the RTIC did surprisingly well for such an inexpensive mug, and the GSI was consistently in last place.
Although most people we know drink mostly hot beverages out of their mugs, keeping drinks ice cold is still an important feature. We filled each mug with ice, and, after 15 hours and 28 hours, poured off the melted water and measured how much ice remained.
Note: All the ice in the GSI Camp Cup melted by 12 hours into the test.
For this super scientific test, we filled each mug with water and then knocked it over. Those mugs that didn’t immediately disgorge their contents we turned upside down, shook, and did generally everything we could to get them to spill.
We brought these mugs car camping along the California Coast with us to test how practical and easy they were to use in common camping situations. We also used them on our daily commutes and around home.