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10 best travel mugs and insulated flasks for drinking on the go

Keep a cuppa warm all day, or a cold drink from freezing on a wintry walk with one of these clever containers

Lottie Gross
Thursday 20 January 2022 16:54
<p>We put plenty through their paces with both hot and cold drinks</p>

We put plenty through their paces with both hot and cold drinks

Insulated flasks became an essential during those socially distanced walks. We wanted vessels in which to put our tea, coffee, water or wine in. But these are items that can serve you well into the future, too.

A top-quality insulated flask will come in handy on camping trips or long journeys – pretty much wherever having a refreshing hot or cold drink is an essential.

The other bonus is that they are reusable and usually pretty durable, which means you only need to buy once and it’ll be useful for years to come. It also means you’ll waste less, ultimately being helpful and better for the planet.

How we tested

We’ve tested around 15 different insulated flasks, bottles and mugs to find the best products on the market right now.

To put them through their paces, we tried hot and cold drinks in all of them, drinking either at our desk or out on dog walks when easy sipping is a necessity. Each product has been considered for ease of use in the car, and while carrying on the move.

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The best insulated flasks in 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Lifeventure flip-top thermal mug, 300ml: £16, Cotswoldoutdoor.com
  • Best for style and substance – Waterdrop tumbler, 400ml: £29.90, Waterdrop.com
  • Best for boozy picnics – Hydroflask wine bottle, 25oz: £26.95, Bergzeit.co.uk
  • Best for frequent use – Stanley trigger-action travel mug, 350ml: £21, Blacks.co.uk
  • Best for adventures in the wild – LifeStraw go stainless steel with filter: £60.99, Addnature.co.uk
  • Best for walkers – Yeti rambler bottle with hotshot cap: £29.99, Yeti.com
  • Best for loose leaf tea – Drenched smart bottle, 300ml: £27.99, Stay-drenched.co.uk
  • Best for versatility – Camelbak multibev 500ml drinks bottle with 350ml mug: £45, Camelbak.co.uk
  • Best value flask – Vango magma flask: £13, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best sustainable flask – Ocean bottle, 500ml: £35, Oceanbottle.co

Lifeventure flip-top thermal mug, 300ml

Best: Overall

  • Material: BPA-free plastic
  • Capacity: 300ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Six hours for hot, 12 hours for cold

Small but well made, this Lifeventure flask is brilliant for drinking on the go – especially if you don’t have a big budget. It’s vacuum insulated with a double wall and made from stainless steel - plus, it has a great matte finish that makes it easy to hold. You’ll have to be careful not to burn your tongue when you drink, as the flow is pretty fast from this lid. But the flip-top, single-button open mechanism is a brilliant touch that makes drinking one-handed really easy. It keeps drinks hot for six hours and cool for 12.

Slim enough to fit in all car cup holders and compact enough to go in a handbag or small backpack, it’s a great versatile vessel. It holds 300ml – perfect for a cuppa or short coffee – keeps drinks hot or cold for three hours respectively and comes in a sleek black colour.

Waterdrop tumbler, 400ml

Best for: Style and substance

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 400ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Six hours for hot, 12 hours for cold

Not only is this flask an attractive little thing, but it’s also practical and well made. It’s a stainless steel, double-walled insulated bottle with a plastic cap that has a flip-up mechanism for easy drinking. It keeps drinks warm for six hours and double that for colder beverages. Unlike lots of direct drinking flasks (as opposed to flasks that require separate cups), the liquid doesn’t flow too fast meaning you’re unlikely to burn your tongue if you’re sipping hot tea or coffee. It’s a fairly wide bottle so for small hands it could be easily dropped if you’re on the go, but the matte finish offers non-slip grip.

We found the flip-top lid a little stiff but for a leakproof top it’s worth the minute struggle. The only major con was that it was too wide to fit in the cup holders of our 15-year-old Ford Fiesta, though it does well in more modern cars with larger holders.

Hydroflask wine bottle, 25oz

Best: For boozy picnics

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 739ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Six hours for hot, 24 hours for cold

Our Hydroflask wine bottle has been a mainstay of boozy picnics and socially distanced drinks in gardens throughout the pandemic – especially during those hot summer days. While the bottle doesn’t promise to keep your wine at optimum temperature for a minimum number of hours, it has never failed to keep our chardonnay cool.

It’s stainless steel, so flavours won’t be passed on from one wine to the next, and it’s double-skinned which means its vacuum keeps it insulated. It has “pure pour” technology which means no drips when you’re dishing out the drinks, and its silicone base means it won’t slip off a wonky picnic table. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, so if you manage to break it somehow, you’ll get a replacement directly from Hydroflask.

Stanley trigger-action travel mug, 350ml

Best: For frequent use

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 350ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Five hours hot, eight hours for cold

Stanley is something of a stalwart in the insulated gear world. It’s got everything from giant growlers, to vacuum food jars with attached forks. There are flasks of varying sizes, with attached mugs, but the best is the trigger-action travel mug. A hardy stainless steel, double-walled flask with a clever plastic top, which has a button you push to release the liquid. It flows easily, but not too fast; keeps drinks hot and cold for five and eight hours respectively, and is easy to clean as the lid comes apart for washing (it’s even dishwasher safe).

The 350ml model is nice and slim, making it a pleasing fit in the hand and meaning it’ll fit in handbags, car cup holders or even in large coat pockets. If you’re a regular user of insulated flasks and think you might drop it a few times too many, this is the one for you.

LifeStraw go stainless steel with filter, 710ml

Best: For adventures in the wild

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 710ml
  • Max temp preservation times: N/A

This is the flask for hikers and campers. The Lifestraw bottle is stainless steel and double-walled so it’ll keep your water cool in the sun (but it’s not advised to use this for hot drinks). However, its USP is its two built-in filters that allow you to fill up from almost any natural water sources, except the ocean.

The double filter acts as a straw, so as you suck through the flip-up mouthpiece it filters out all the harmful stuff, from bacteria, parasites and microplastics to chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, and sand. It even reduces cloudiness and improves the taste of your water so you can fill up from lakes and rivers knowing you won’t get sick afterwards.

The bottle is quite large, so it’s not one to carry by hand – you’ll need a backpack for this – but it does come with an attached carabiner for easy transportation. The only major con with this is that you’re going to have to change the filters – the one in the top of the straw lasts for 100l of use, while the membrane filter (the longer one in the centrifuge of the straw) lasts for 1000l of use. Filters cost around £9 and £21.99 respectively. 

An added bonus is that by buying this bottle, you’ll be helping Lifestraw provide a year’s supply of safe water for a child in need somewhere in the world.

Yeti rambler bottle with hotshot cap, 340ml

Best: For walkers

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 340ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Up to six hours for cold drinks

This flask is a sturdy stainless steel number with a matte effect on the exterior for good grip. It’s sleek in black and stainless steel, and it’s double-walled for maximum insulation. But the best thing about it is the cap. The “hotshot” technology offers 360-degree drinking. That means you can sip from anywhere on the lip of the cap and you’ll get a good glug (careful not to burn yourself, though) of whatever is inside your flask.

The cap comes apart easily (twist counter clockwise until it clicks twice) and the entire thing can go in the dishwasher for deep cleaning. It’s a fairly wide bottle but fits in most modern car cup holders.

Drenched smart bottle, 300ml

Best: For loose leaf tea

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 300ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Eight hours for hot, 20 hours for cold

We love this clever insulated flask for one core reason: it makes loose-leaf tea drinking simple. Its double-walled stainless steel outer keeps drinks hot for eight hours, or cold for up to 20, but the greatest feature is the removable infuser pod. Here you can put your favourite tea leaves in for hot drinks, or fresh fruit for flavoured cold water. Once the liquid has been infused by turning the flask upside down, you can remove the pod and drink as normal.

It also has a smart cap, which shows the temperature of the liquid inside on an LED display, so you’ll know when it’s at optimum drinking temperature. The only major downside is the size of this bottle – it’s fairly small and holds just 300ml, so it’s not great if you’re a glugger. This is still our go-to for fancy desk teas, though.

Camelbak multibev 500ml drinks bottle with 350ml mug

Best: For versatility

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 500ml
  • Max temp preservation times: 500ml bottle is 14 hours for hot, 20 hours for cold; 350ml is three hours hot, six hours cold

This is a clever flask that doesn’t scrimp on the right tech. Camelbak – best known for its hands-free drinking vessels that fit into rucksacks – has now entered the world of insulated flasks with the same mind for practicality.

This is a two-in-one flask: it has a 500ml stainless steel, double-walled drinking bottle, and the bottom half detaches to create a 350ml double-walled mug. Inside the cap, you’ll find a foldable silicone lid for the mug, too. Hot drinks will stay so for 16 hours (four in the cup) and cold for 24 hours (12 in the cup).

The two vessels can be used separately, which means you can share your tea with someone else without having to use the same drinking tools. The only major drawback here is its weight: when it’s all combined, even without liquid inside, it weighs a total of 630g which can be a bit much to carry.

Vango magma flask, 1l

Best: Value flask

  • Material: Stainless steel
  • Capacity: 1,000ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Up to 24 hours for hot

For straightforward storage of your hot or cold beverages, this flask is a bargain. It’s less than £15, keeps hot liquids warm for up to 24 hours, and fits a whole litre of whatever it is you’re drinking. This makes it brilliant for family picnics, camping trips in the summer and will be ideal if you want to bring cool lemonade or some warming tea with you.

There are no bells and whistles here, but it has a good non-slip grip on the outside and the top doubles as a cup. There are smaller sizes too should you prefer something a little less bulky.

Ocean Bottle, 500ml

Best: Sustainable flask

  • Material: Recycled stainless steel
  • Capacity: 500ml
  • Max temp preservation times: Nine hours for hot, 18 hours for cold

Made from recycled stainless steel with a recycled plastic top, this bottle has serious sustainability credentials. Plus, for every bottle bought, the brand promises to rescue the equivalent of 1,000 plastic bottles (around 11kg) from the sea to keep our marine environments safe and clean.

It’s not all about green kudos, though. It’s actually a well made, cleverly designed bottle. It’s double-walled for best insulation (keeping drinks warm for nine hours and double that time for cooler beverages), and the cap comes off in two places. There’s a simple screw-cap bottle top, and a wider screw-cap beneath that which, when removed as one piece, doubles up as an upside-down teacup, using the silicone carry loop as a handle.

The verdict: Insulated flasks

The Lifeventure insulated flask is a steal at £16, which is why it’s our best buy. But we also loved the Stanley – it was the ideal bottle for drinking on our dog walks, and we were really impressed with how the cap came apart for thorough cleaning.

We also really love our Hydroflask wine bottle, which even has a matching insulated tumbler (£25.54, Amazon.co.uk) for sneaky park bench sipping.

Voucher codes

For the latest discounts on flasks and other drinkware offers, try the below links:

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