What’s the best insulated cup of 2018?
If you want the shortest answer possible, the Yeti Tumbler is your best bet for cold drinks. It’s definitely not your cheapest option though, and it does have disadvantages.
Best Insulated Cups Reviews
No one likes taking a sip of their hot/cold drink only to find out it has gotten lukewarm. In an effort to remedy this globally felt issue, we have compiled a list of the best insulated cups of 2018.
Our list of the best tumblers was written after thorough research and testing. If you don’t have time to look into the details, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered.
- We’ll start by looking at two of the most popular tumbler options today – the Yeti and Rtic.
- Next, we’ll take a look at 3 alternative spill-proof options for storing your hot and cold drinks on the go.
- Finally, we’ll give honorable mentions to two other insulated cups worth mentioning.
Although it’s a high-end insulated cup with a relatively high price tag, the Yeti performs shockingly well at keeping drinks hot and cold.
We have compared it to many competitor models in hot/cold water retention tests and it has outperformed the majority of them. This fact combined with its premium construction make it our number one pick for the best insulated tumbler.
Even with a permanently open drinking hole in the lid, we have seen the Yeti hold ice cubes all day and keep coffee hot for several hours. You get what you pay for, and this has never been more true than with the Yeti.
- Great temperature retention that has set a standard in the industry
- 5-year limited warranty from Yeti
- Premium stainless construction with great durability
- Relatively expensive option
- Drinking hole in the lid cannot be closed
- Only 3rd party splash-proof lids are available
The Rtic tumbler is Yeti’s biggest rival. In fact, they were even sued by Yeti for having extremely similar product designs.
There is one major difference however, the Rtic cup costs significantly less than the Yeti. This makes it our top recommendation for a cheap insulated cup.
One might interpret this price gap as a sign of cheaper manufacturing or cut corners, but most tests show that the Rtic tumbler performs nearly identically to the Yeti. It too is great for cold drinks or hot – at a fraction of the cost.
- Highly affordable and a great value for the money
- Made of the same materials as Yeti
- Performed on par with Yeti in both Hot and Cold water testing
- Not dishwasher approved
- Must buy a separate lid for splash and leak resistance
- No warranty
Best Spill-Proof Option: Zojirushi Mug
At the same price as the Yeti Tumbler,
The Zojirushi spill-proof mug is elegant, simple, and easy to use. it also keeps drinks hot/cold for longer than anything else on this list – including the Yeti. Thanks to vacuum insulation and tight rubber gaskets, the entire bottle is airtight and leak resistant.
This makes it our number one Yeti tumbler alternative.
The amazon exclusive model also features “slick-steel” which uses electricity to polish the the stainless steel rather than chemicals or abrasion. This removes any chance of remaining residue from the factory – which most of the time is toxic. Along with BPA-free plastic, these features keep the bottle 100% clean and pure to drink from.
- Same price as Yeti
- The best at keeping drinks cold or hot thanks to vacuum insulation and and an airtight seal
- Simple safety-lock feature keeps mug spill-proof
- Amazingly elegant and user-friendly design
- Clean body and lid thanks to “slick steel” and BPA-free plastic
- Limited to 16 ounces
- Not dishwasher safe
Best Auto Seal Mug: Contigo
While this is not really classified as a tumbler, we thought readers might be interested in this highly similar product.
The Contigo Autoseal Mug does exactly what its name says – it seals automatically. Unlike most tumblers which have permanent holes in the lid, the Contigo has a button you hold to open the drinking spout. When you’re done drinking and let go of the button, the mug automatically seals and becomes leak-proof. This is great if you’re like me and chronically spill drinks all over yourself and your things.
It is vacuum insulated like the other products in this list, and claims to keep drinks cold for up to 18 hours or hot for up to 7 hours.
- “Autoseal” feature keeps drinks leak/spill-proof
- Contigo Lifetime guarantee provides warranty for American and Canadian customers
- Better insulation than tumblers due to a sealable lid
- Great ergonomic design for one-handed use
- Maximum size is 24 ounces
- Only the stainless steel version is dishwasher safe
Honorable Mention: Hydro Flask Tumbler
The Hydro Flask tumbler is another high-quality insulated cup like the Yeti. It is constructed of stainless steel and comes with a colorful powder coated finish.
Its performance and construction-quality are pretty much on par with the Yeti, but it differs by coming in many colorful flavors like pink and aqua.
How to make Tumblers Leak-resistant
Most tumblers will not come with a leak resistant lid. In fact, all the ones mentioned above will feature two holes drilled into the lid. Since there are no covers for these holes, a spill-proof lid must be substituted for the stock one. Many 3rd party manufacturers have come up with no-spill lids which can be found on Amazon. These lids are usually broken down by size and brands
One fantastic model we found, the i-Kawachi, is actually cheaper than most OEM lids and also fits all the brands mentioned above.
Convenient Tumbler Accessories
The tumblers mentioned above have many available accessories which make them more convenient to use. The most popular one is a handle to make it easier to grip for those with smaller hands. This makes tasks like filling the cup, pouring out remains, and taking sips much easier and less spill-prone.
The best one we found was the Thermik Handle which sits high up on the cup for more stability and cup holder compatibility.
How do Tumbler Cups work?
Tumbler cups retain temperature through vacuum insulation. This works by have two stainless steel container walls with a vacuum-gap in between. To be a little more scientific, this vacuum-gap has no air particles or other matter to transfer energy – or heat – between the air outside and the liquid held inside. The net result is an extremely slow transfer rate of heat which causes drinks to be hot or cold for a long period of time.
The only issue in insulated cups is the lid which contains holes and no insulation whatsoever. Although the surface area of the lid compared to the walls is small, it causes the most transfer of heat in the tumbler. That is why if you want the absolute best temperature retention you must look at some alternative products.
Insulated Cup alternatives
As you can see, Tumblers are great for convenience but suffer in portability due to being prone to spilling liquids. For those who intend to travel a lot with their tumbler, we offer some alternatives options that will keep your drinks hot/cold longer while simultaneously preventing accidental leakage.
First up is the Insulated Mug. This is the premier choice for individuals looking to drink hot liquids. Unlike the bottles mentioned below, mugs are usually designed with mouth pieces that resemble the one found on a coffee lid. They also keep drinks hotter much longer than insulated cups thanks to their airtight lids which seal with rubber gaskets. We recommend mugs for anyone who likes to sip on hot tea or coffee over an extended period of time.
Insulated bottles are double-wall vacuum insulated containers just like tumblers are – except they also seal with a cap. This makes it a great flask for cold water on long hikes or for ice cold alcohol on a hot summer beach day.
The most popular tumbler companies – Yeti and Rtic – also produce insulated bottles, and just like their other products, they differ heavily in price. The Yeti on one hand is expensive as usual, and the Rtic is once again a fraction of the cost.
3 Insulated Cup Maintenance Tips
These general maintenance tips should greatly increase the lifespan of your new tumbler. Use them to keep your cup clean and good to use.
- First check to see if your tumbler is dishwasher-safe. If it is not, use warm water and soap to gently rinse the container after every use. Over time, when you see residue that has built up, follow the soapy rinse by wiping with a soft sponge and a rinse with water.
- Don’t store your tumbler with items that could scratch it. If you’ve owned stainless steel appliances, then you know how easily they scratch. To avoid ugly scratches and blemishes on your new tumbler, keep it away from other hard objects like keys and sand.
- Be careful not to drop tumblers as they will easily dent. Many small dents over time can even break the vacuum seal and render the insulation useless.
How should you pick the Best Tumbler?
To find the best tumbler for your needs, consider the following criteria:
Price: Insulated cups will range from $10 to $40. The vast majority of these cups will differ in the quality of their vacuum seal and thus will retain temperature differently. Cheaper models will also “lose” their vacuum-insulation by leaking air into the container walls. They will also dent and scratch more easily. In choosing between a cheap and expensive tumbler, ask yourself how long you expect the product to last.
Size: Most companies produce cups with sizes ranging from 10 to 30 ounces. Depending on the size of your cup, you will have to accommodate cup holders and buy different accessories. For example, each size of cup will require a different sized lid and handle.
Performance: Most tumbler cups will keep drinks cold for 8 hours and hot for 4 hours. Of course, these are overly general statements and rough approximations at best. The actual length of temperature retention will greatly depend on the brand you choose and the temperature of the climate that you are in.
Warranty: The best tumbler brands will offer lifetime warranties to uphold their reputation for durability. One such company is Hydro Flask. They promise to replace any defects from manufacturing for the rest of the time they are in business. Others will offer short 30-day return programs like Rtic. The longest warranties will come from expensive brands as you would imagine.