Zojirushi Stainless Travel Mug

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When you’re on the go, a travel mug can be your best buddy

Whether it’s hot coffee for your commute, ice-cold water for your workout, or cool rosé for your leisurely picnic, travel mugs are ideal for keeping your favorite beverage at its proper temperature. In the end, we had a runaway new favorite. The Zojirushi Stainless Mug (SM-SE) was beloved by all who used it. It was far and away the best at maintaining beverage temperatures, keeping hot coffee hot and safe to drink for 10.5 hours and cold coffee cold and safe to drink for 6.5 hours. It was incredibly simple to use as well. One of the narrowest models we tested, it was comfortable for hands of all sizes to hold, and its top was easy to screw on and off. It’s easy and hygienic to sip from, too: A quick press of a button and the hood on the mug’s top pops open, exposing the drinking spout, which otherwise stays clean and debris-free. And it comes with a locking mechanism, so you’ll never spill your drink by accident.

Zojirushi Stainless Mug


Testers raved about this travel mug, which not only kept coffee hot and cold for far longer than any other mug we tried but also was the easiest to use. Slim from top to bottom, it was comfortable for hands of all sizes to hold, open, and close, but because the opening is narrow, we had to aim a little more carefully when filling it. A simple push of a button popped open its lid, exposing the clean drinking spout within. Testers also loved that this leakproof mug came with an equally easy-to-use locking mechanism, which provided good insurance against accidental spills. Just a few minor durability issues: Like the other models, it dented when dropped, and it smelled of coffee even after several washes. Also worth noting: Because it’s so good at retaining heat, you may want to cool your favorite beverage to the temperature you prefer before sealing the mug or you risk a very hot surprise on your first sip.

We maintain strict objectivity in all testing.*
KEY: GOOD ★★★   FAIR ★★   POOR ★

Capacity: 16 oz
Dishwasher-safe: No
Opening Diameter: 1.9 in
Locking Mechanism: Yes
Time Coffe Was Kept Hot and Safe to Drink: 10.5 hours
Item Number: ATKZTM
Item Weight: 0.5 pounds

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How We Tested Travel Mugs

We bought eight models, priced from about $12 to about $33, including our previous winner. The market is glutted with travel mugs, so we narrowed our lineup using findings from previous testings. We decided to focus on insulated stainless-steel mugs, as we’ve found that they’re much better at retaining heat and cold than noninsulated plastic and ceramic mugs. Because most travel mugs are available in different sizes, we limited our lineup to models with capacities of about 16 ounces, the most common size, though we did include one popular model that came only in sizes of 20 ounces or more. We also chose models that could be operated with one hand, so you can safely drink from them while clutching a steering wheel or subway pole with the other hand. And we ruled out models with handles, as we’d found that these get in the way when the mugs are placed in car cup holders. With our lineup solidified, we got to work, testing to see how well they retained heat and cold, how easy they were to open and close, and how durable they were—repeatedly dropping, washing, and opening and closing them. Finally, we sent additional copies home with users for a full month to see how they fared with more extensive use. 

Winning Traits

  • Maintains liquid temperatures extraordinarily well
  • Narrow base is easy to hold
  • Narrow top is easy to open
  • Drinking spout is enclosed by lid, so it stays clean
  • Drinking spout is easy to uncover and access
  • Lid has locking mechanism to prevent accidental spills

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