An insulated water bottle or travel mug may be enough to get you through the day most of the time, but there’s no replacing a proper thermos for times when you need to keep a few cups of coffee piping hot on a chilly day, or make sure you still have a cold drink at the end of a blistering hot one.
While the basic thermos may not have changed all that much over the years, there have been some improvements to the traditional design. Many now have wide-mouth openings that make them both easier to fill and to clean, and newer materials and construction techniques have led to models that are lightweight but still plenty durable. Manufacturers distinguish themselves through a variety of cap and lid designs that promise better pouring and no need to worry about leaks.
How We Chose These Thermoses
To select these thermoses, we relied on our own experience and previous reporting and testing of a wide variety of thermoses over the years at Popular Mechanics. We also broadly surveyed the market to cover all options available today and considered customer reviews from various retailers and expert reviews from trusted publications.
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Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle
Another of the most time-tested thermoses around, Stanley’s Classic Vacuum Bottle is available in a range of sizes (and two different colors)—all of which come with a lifetime warranty and the same rugged design. The standard 1.1-quart container promises to keep drinks hot or cold for up to 24 hours (other sizes vary slightly), and the 8-ounce insulated lid will hold a decent-size cup of coffee.
Klean Kanteen TKPro Vacuum Bottle
Klean Kanteen’s travel mugs and water bottles are great for single servings, but the company’s TKPro Vacuum Bottle is also worth a look if you’re after a more traditional thermos. The bottle is available in 16 and 32-ounce versions, each of which have a double-walled stainless steel cup and a pour-through lid that helps to retain as much heat as possible. The company also promises that its new Klean Coat powder-coated finishes are four times more durable than its previous finishes.
Yeti Rambler Gallon Jug
The Rambler Jug is Yeti’s largest insulated container, so you know it’s not going to come cheap, but it will give you your money’s worth. It’s big and durable with a solid rubber grip that makes it easy to lug around, and its double-wall vacuum construction ensures its contents stay hot or cold for hours on end. As one customer review points out, it’s even big enough to chill a bottle of wine in a pinch.
RTIC Half Gallon Jug
If you’re looking for a sizable jug but aren’t ready to pay the premium for Yeti, RTIC’s jugs are a well-reviewed and considerably cheaper option. The half-gallon and one-gallon jugs each promise to keep drinks cold for a full 24 hours or hot for six, and come in a wide range of colors. Just don’t expect the same five-year warranty or level of durability you’ll get with Yeti.
Stanley Master Series Vacuum Bottle
Stanley’s Master Vacuum bottle is an updated take on the classic stopper + lid thermos design. The stopper prevents the contents from spilling; the stainless-steel lid doubles as a cup for the bottle’s contents and is insulated as well to keep your coffee or soup hotter longer than a regular mug or bowl. The bottle itself can keep its contents on the appropriate side of the temperature spectrum for a truly impressive 27 hours.
Thermos Work Series
Thermos’s name is synonymous with, well, thermoses, so it’s hardly surprising that its many insulated containers remain among the best-selling and highly rated. The 40-ounce Work Series Thermos is one of the company’s more heavy-duty models, which promises to keep drinks hot or cold for up to 24 hours and also to endure job-site conditions. If you don’t need quite that level of durability, you can save a bit with the standard Stainless King model.
Hydro Flask Standard Mouth Water Bottle
This stainless-steel, BPA-free bottle from Hydro Flask has a small enough diameter that it can fit in a backpack side pouch or a standard cupholder. While it won’t give you quite the same heat-retention capabilities of a heavier-duty thermos, it’ll still keep beverages hot for up to six hours (or cold for 24), and it’s lightweight, durable, and available in several colors. Fill it with ice water before a hike, and it’ll still be cold at the summit; hot tea or coffee will stay well above lukewarm for hours.
Zojirushi Stainless Bottle
There’s no shortage of people who buy Zojirushi’s insulated water bottles, and the company’s larger bottles and containers are equally well-regarded. This one is an ample 68 ounces with a large mouth opening, making it easier to clean than narrower thermoses. You’ll also get a collapsible handle and a carrying strap for easy transportation.
Yeti Rambler Vacuum Bottle
With its comfortable carry handle, this dishwasher-safe Yeti bottle is perfect if you’re carrying water for two on a short trip—or if you’re bringing your first pot of coffee to work with you. Double-wall vacuum insulation keeps the outside at room temperature to prevent the bottle from sweating or burning your hand.
Thermos Stainless King Food Jar
You can use any thermos for soup or another hot lunch, but if you’re regularly doing so, you may be better off with a more purpose-built container like Thermos’ Stainless King Food Jar. It’ll keep your meal hot for up to 12 hours (or keep things cold for up to 24), and you’ll have an easier time both filling the container and eating or drinking from it, whether it’s straight from the thermos or from the insulated lid that doubles as a serving bowl.
Zojirushi Stainless Steel Food Jar
Zojirushi’s popular food jar thermos comes in a variety of options that should suit just about everyone, with four sizes to choose from, each available in five colors. Wirecutter found it to be among the best at keeping food hot the longest of the 10 thermoses it tested, while the jar’s well-thought-out design makes it easy to clean and easy to grab with one hand.
Coleman FreeFlow Autoseal Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Coleman’s hiking and camping gear is always a go-to for a great value, and the company’s water bottles and thermoses are no exception. The FreeFlow Autoseal bottle doesn’t have a cup, but its unique button-operated lid with a spout will let you get a quick drink when you need one while also preventing leaks. You can also choose from 24- or 40-ounce sizes and a range of colors.
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