The Best Camping Mug: A Coffee Addict's Guide to Choosing
We’re camping coffee addicts and over the years we’ve gone through countless camping mugs on our travels.
A handful of breaks, dozens of spills, and hundreds of cups of camping coffee later we finally settled on the fact that there is no clear winner for the title of “best camping mug.”
At least not yet! But we hope to equip you with the information you need to select the right one for you, as well as point you in the direction of some of the best camping mug options we’ve found along the way.
*(This post contains affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See our full disclosure.)
There are two primary aspects to consider when selecting the best camping mug for your next adventure: material composition and design.
Selecting The Best Camping Mug Part 1: Material Composition
Ceramic, stainless steel, and plastics are the primary materials used in constructing a high quality camping mug.
Each has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to durability, inherent heat retention ability, and potentially even the flavor they may impart to your otherwise delicious camping coffee.
Some options use exclusively one type, while others combine the materials to try to offset their individual disadvantages.
Ceramic Camping Mugs
Durability is generally low in a purely ceramic camping mug.
Due to the nature of glass/ceramics they have a tendency to chip, scratch, and/or break much easier than other options
Heat Retention of most ceramic camping mugs is higher than plastic, but generally lower than vacuum-sealed stainless steel camping mugs
Flavor Impact is non-existent. This is the best material choice for those with a very discerning palate, or those concerned with your camping mug impacting the flavor profile of those artisanal fair-trade organic single source beans! Gasp! Not over my dead body!
Plastic Camping Mugs
Durability is fair to good in a purely plastic camping mug.
They generally handle drops and falls without issue but do wear faster than other options, and, depending on the type of plastic used, can begin to develop cracks over time, scratch easily, or break as the plastic degrades from sun exposure or washing.
They also stain more easily than other options. Make sure if choosing a plastic camping mug that it is non-leaching polypropylene plastic and BPA-free.
This is the best material choice for those with budget in mind as they’re typically cheaper than other options.
Heat Retention - plastic camping mugs have the lowest insulating ability compared to ceramic and vacuum insulated stainless steel options
Flavor Impact is low to non-existent in plastic camping mugs unless the quality of plastic used in construction is very low.
Stainless Steel Camping Mugs
Durability - This is the most durable material as they don’t crack, break, chip, or degrade.
This is invaluable in anything that sees use day after day in the outdoors, and if there are weak points it’s generally in only the plastic portions of a stainless steel camping mug’s construction.
Heat Retention is incredible in the vacuum insulated variants, but it is terrible in strictly single-wall stainless steel mugs - so make sure your camping mug is double walled and vacuum insulated before you purchase.
Flavor Impact - this is the downside, as cheaper stainless steel camping mugs can impart a metallic taste and potentially ruin your camping coffee.
The good news is there are options out there that do not have this effect.
**A good rule of thumb is to never stir your coffee with metal utensils (especially when you have a stainless steel camping mug)as this can have the same negative effect.
Selecting The Best Camping Mug Part 2: Design
There are literally hundreds of design options when it comes to camping mugs: handle, no handle, narrow, wide, tall, short, spill-proof, auto-sealing, vacuum insulated, even temperature controlled! And a lot of this boils down to personal preference and need.
However, there are some of these design characteristics we consistently look for when selecting the best camping mug for our own adventures.
Spill-proof or Spill-resistant Lid -
You want some assurance that when (not if!) your camping mug gets knocked over that you won’t be left without your morning caffeine dosage, AND that you won’t have a huge mess on your hands.
This is especially important when kids are part of the adventure. So make sure your camping mug has a lid that provides some protection.
Wide Opening -
Though not a deal-breaker, some of the best camping mugs we’ve had have a larger that average opening.
This makes using camping coffee devices like the Aeropress* much easier, and also helps to make the inside of the camping mug more accessible for cleaning.
Insulation virtually defines the best camping mugs. If it doesn’t keep your coffee hot then what good is it?!
Make sure your selection is up to the task by checking the manufacturer's hot/cold rating (generally in hours) if offered.
Three of The Best Camping Mug Options:
1. Yeti Rambler 14 Camping Mug with Rambler Magslider Lid
The Rambler 14 has a nice wide base so it doesn’t tip easily, the opening is also wide enough for the Aeropress, and with the Rambler Magslider Lid (which really should just come standard issue in our opinion) spills are kept to a minimum.
Obviously, being a Yeti product the price is higher, but so is the quality and insulating ability.
We’ve also grown to love the built in handle, and we’ve never experienced an impact to the coffee’s flavor - even with daily use. It would be nice if they offered a ceramic-lined version though.
2. GSI Infinity Camping Mug
The GSI Infinity* is the best camping mug for those who are budget-conscious, as they can generally be had for under ten bucks.
Because its made of non-leaching BPA-free polypropylene plastic it won’t impart any flavor to your coffee.
The low insulation of plastic is offset by the neoprene insulating sleeve with handle that slides around the exterior to keep things hot or cold longer than a typical plastic camping mug would.
It also has a nice sealable lid to protect against spills, and a wide enough opening for an Aeropress!
3. Contigo Ceramic Lined Stainless Camping Mug
The Contigo Ceramic Lined Stainless Mug* is the best camping mug for those with a discerning palate, as it offers both the strength and high-insulating properties of vacuum insulated stainless steel, but has a ceramic coating inside that prevents any potential impact to the coffee’s natural flavor.
It also has a spill-proof lid!
The only caveat is that it has a narrower opening that requires the use of the Aeropress funnel adapter when using this brewing method.
Whatever your choice may be, we hope you found this informative and helpful in your own pursuit of the best camping mug.
Be sure to check out our Definitive Guide to Camping Coffee - so you have something great to put in that camping mug!
For more on our adventure as a truck camping family of three, click SUBSCRIBE!
As always, thanks for reading!
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