Travel mugs are made from a variety of materials.
But when it comes to the main part of the tumbler, it is generally made from one of four materials: stainless steel, plastic, ceramic and glass.
Each has advantages and disadvantages. Which is is best will likely depend on your personal preference and intended use.
For most people, I would recommend either a ceramic travel mug or a stainless steel one. These are the two best types and the main difference between them comes down to how you feel about the flavor imparted by each on your drink.
While some people claim stainless steel imparts a metallic flavor (and some say it doesn’t), everyone agrees ceramic imparts none. We’ll go into more detail below.
How Are Travel Mugs Made?
Travel mugs are made from one of the four materials below. Each section details why to get each type of mug and also why not to get them.
Why Get A Stainless Steel Travel Mug?
Stainless steel mugs are the most durable, along with plastic. They are also lightweight and they insulate well. The metal on its own does not insulate, but these mugs combine some kind of insulatory material with the steel. In the best ones, this material is simply a vacuum.
These vacuum flasks keep your drinks hot longer than anything else, but they also cost more. Another potential disadvantage was mentioned above: they may impart a metallic taste on your drink. Some say they do; others say they don’t.
Either way, there are stainless steel mugs available that have ceramic on the inside, which gives you the best of both worlds. Naturally, these are more expensive.
All metal mugs also include some plastic components. These are things like a lid or a handle.
Why Get A Ceramic Travel Mug?
Ceramic mugs are heavier, more brittle and they do not insulate as well as metal. So what are their advantages? Well, they do not add any flavor to your drink. Standard cups are made from porcelain for this very reason. In addition, porcelain is an easier material to clean.
The biggest disadvantage is that a ceramic mug will break when dropped. It also won’t insulate your drink as well, but if you get a double walled version, it does a much better job. It will never be as good at insulating as a metal mug, though.
The lids on these mugs are sometimes made from ceramic as well, but most of the time, they are made from silicone rubber or plastic. Ceramic tumblers also seem to have the largest variety of designs. Check out these cute cat mugs, for example.
Why Get A Plastic Travel Mug?
Plastic is the lightest and cheapest material. It is also extremely durable. It does not insulate as well, however.
The biggest disadvantage is the possibility of a hot drink melting minute particles of the plastic from the cup and getting them in your drink. Any good cup will use food-safe plastic, but we can’t really be sure there isn’t some other harmful component in there that hasn’t been discovered yet.
Why Get A Glass Travel Mug?
Short answer: you probably shouldn’t.
Glass mugs are the most brittle and they don’t insulate well. They are also heavy.
The only real advantage is that they do not leach any particles or flavors into your drink, but the same is true for ceramic. I would always recommend a ceramic mug over a glass one.