The value of a warm beverage on the trail when temperatures are dropping is hard to calculate. Wen you need it, though, a great thermos will keep tea, coffee, soup, or other ‘pick-me-ups’ warm for hours. Carrying a thermos is also a great way to avoid pulling out your stove and spending unnecessary time heating up water while you could be moving along on your way.
The Thermos brand is obviously one of the most trusted names out there, but there are a variety of companies that also offer quality thermoses. Our list of the Top Ten Thermoses will help you narrow down your selection.
Also, be sure to read past our top-10 list and onto our Buyer’s Guide and Frequently Asked Questions sections. These will provide all the important information you need to make the most informed selection of the best thermos for you!
1. Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce
Coming to you in matte black (but also available in cranberry and stainless steel), the 16-ounce Stainless King from Thermos is great for hot drinks or single-servings of warm soup. It’s also great for keeping cold liquids cold, as it offers double wall vacuum insulation for maximum temperature retention, whether hot or cold.
This thermos also features durable stainless steel on the interior and exterior, as well as an extra wide mouth for easy filling, serving, and cleaning. The 16-ounce Stainless King will keep liquids hot for 7 hours and cold for 9 hours. Last but not least, this thermos boasts a compact and insulated serving bowl, as well as a full-size folding stainless steel spoon.
2. Stanley Classic
From another trusted name in thermoses, we bring you the Stanley Classic. This thermos is made with 18/8 stainless steel that won’t rust and is naturally BPA-free. It’s the perfect thermos to maintain the temperature (hot or cold) of up to 1.1 quarts of liquid.
The Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle’s insulated lid doubles as a cup that can hold up to 8 ounces of liquid. With dimensions of 3.8 L x 4.5 W x 14.25 H inches, this thermos is completely leak proof and full packable for any adventure.
3. Hydro Flask Travel Coffee Mug
Hydro Flask brings you this compact, convenient travel mug that’s perfect to take coffee or tea with you wherever you go. It’s also the perfect thermos to buy if you want to give back, as Hydro Flask donates 5% of every purchase to a charity of your choice.
This thermos offers a double-wall, vacuum-insulated, stainless steel design that’ll keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot up to 6 hours. It’s made from premium-grade 18/8, BPA-free stainless steel and offers a powder-coated matte finish that never sweats. Perhaps best of all, Hydro Flask offers a Lifetime Warranty (1).
4. Thermos Stainless King 24-Ounce
The larger version of the Stainless King from Thermos holds up to 24 ounces of hot or cold liquids. Just like it’s 16-ounce cousin, this thermos is perfect for keeping hot drinks hot or cold drinks cold for hours on end.
The Stainless King 24-ounce thermos features a wide mouth that makes for easy cleaning, filling, and serving. It also boasts Thermos’ vacuum insulation technology and durable stainless steel design on the interior and exterior.
5. Contigo AUTOSEAL
The AUTOSEAL thermos from Contigo is a great option for the commuter that wants to keep their smoothie cold all the way to work. It’s also a skinny thermos that’ll fit easily into the side pockets of any backpack to keep water cold on hot days.
This thermos features THERMALOCK double-walled vacuum insulation that’ll keep drinks cold for 28 hours. It offers an easy, single-hand-operated button that seals the lid between sips to eliminate leaks and spills. This thermos also boasts an integrated carrying handle for easy transport and the lid is top-rack dishwasher safe. The body should be hand-washed only.
6. Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug
The Zojirushi Stainless Steel Mug is another thermos that’s a great option for commuters and wilderness adventurers alike. Its design allows you to keep up to 20 ounces of liquid hot or cold without taking up excessive space or adding too much weight to your pack.
This thermos offers a stopper that disassembles for easy cleaning and a new pictograph lock with stainless steel vacuum insulation. Both the plastic and stainless steel used in this bottle are BPA-free and Zojirushi offers a 5-year warranty on this bottle’s heat retention (2).
7. 45 Degree Latitude
45 Degree Latitude’s Stainless Steel 64-ounce thermos is the perfect beer growler for anyone that wants to enjoy their favorite craft beer out on the trail and keep it cold until you reach your desired camping destination.
This thermos boasts a vacuum-insulated design that keeps brews fresh and cold for up to 6 hours while maintaining the integrity of the beer’s carbonation. It also features the necessary government warning on the bottom of the bottle to ensure that you won’t be turned away when you head into your favorite microbrewery to fill up!
8. Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle
With the Simple Modern Summit Water Bottle, you’ll never have the need for koozies or coasters ever again! This thermos is double-walled, vacuum-insulated, and copper-lined for increased insulation, which means it’ll never sweat or be hot to the touch.
This thermos features a powder-coated 18/8 stainless steel design. It is BPA-free and will never rust or leave a concerning metal taste in your mouth. It also boasts a number of cup holder friendly sizes (10, 14, 18, and 22 ounces), as well as larger sizes (32, 40, 64, and 84 ounces) to bring all the hot or cold liquids you need anywhere you go!
9. RTIC Stainless Steel Bottle
The RTIC Stainless Steel Bottle is another great thermos that keeps ice up to 24 hours and beverages hot for up to 6 hours. Unlike other thermoses, RTIC’s design features an easy-to-carry, three-finger grip that can be clipped on the outside of a bag or pack using a carabiner.
This thermos offers a double-wall, vacuum-insulated, no-sweat design and 100% leak-proof screw top lid for easy filling and cleaning. It’s made from durable, kitchen-grade steel to guarantee longevity under even the most undesirable conditions.
10. Thermo Tank Insulated Water Bottle
The Thermo Tank Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle is a thermos that’s specifically designed to keep beverages cold, and it can do so for up to 36 hours using both vacuum-insulated and copper technology. It can also keep your coffee from ending up lukewarm before you even leave the house!
This 25-ounce thermos offers a design that includes vital vacuum space between two layers of impenetrable steel. This vacuum space is then lined with a layer of copper to create additional insulation and protection against the elements.
Since James Dewar invented the thermos in 1892 (3), a number of companies have improved (or stolen) his design to create the many thermos options we see today. To help you find the right thermos for you, our buyer’s guide will focus on best materials, volume, and cap design. As you may have noticed some of the items are mentioned in our Insulated Water Bottle article.
It’s probably clear from the Top Ten list we provided above that plastic isn’t the best material for a thermos. Poor plastic can actually retain more heat than you want when storing cold beverages and heating plastic up to much can make it extremely fragile and susceptible to shattering or breaking.
Metal (ideally stainless steel) is far and away the best material for thermos construction. Stainless steel is much more durable than plastic and is also corrosion-resistant, which ensures that your water bottle won’t rust over time.
Some thermoses employ the use of glass, but without another material to improve durability, this solution isn’t very practical. The thermoses that do use glass (as well as a rubber protective layer) tend to be more expensive due to the use of additional materials.
When selecting a thermos that’s right for you, how much you wish to carry in it on a regular basis is an important factor. Smaller (16 or 24 ounces) thermoses can be great for bringing an extra serving of coffee or tea along on your morning commute, but may not be best for transporting larger quantities of hot (or cold) liquids for a group outing.
Larger thermoses, especially those with a lid that doubles as a cup or bowl, tend to be best for group outings where you’re carrying enough liquids to satisfy a number of hands. Consider how much liquid (per person) you wish to have conveniently on hand before you select a thermos that’s too small for your next group adventure.
Cap design has a lot to do with how long a thermos keeps liquids hot or cold. Because most thermoses use vacuum-insulated, stainless steel construction, the difference in cap design can often be the difference between a thermos that barely keeps liquids hot for a 30-minute drive to work and one that keeps ice cold for more than 24 hours.
Some bottles use glass caps with corks, which can often leak because they won’t fully seal. Others can be fitted with valves, which often run into the same issue if the valve gets damaged or dirty. The optimal choice for a thermos cap design is a screw-top lid. This design has proven to be the most effective in keeping heat stored inside and minimizing heat loss.
Frequently Asked Questions
According to safety.com (4), the CDC estimates that approximately 1 in 6 Americans gets sick from a foodborne disease every year. Improper food storage is one of the many reasons for this startling statistic, so simply buying a Thermos to help with food and beverage storage isn’t enough.
Our Frequently Asked Questions section will also help you learn how to properly use and clean your new thermos, in addition to a few other sweet nuggets of knowledge.
What is the best way to clean a thermos?
The optimal means of cleaning a thermos is to use baking soda and vinegar. Start with about 1-inch of vinegar in the bottom of the thermos and add a single tablespoon of baking soda for every 2 cups the thermos can hold. Then, quickly fill the thermos with boiling water. Let it sit for several hours, then scrub and rinse.
How can I maximize the effectiveness of a vacuum thermos?
The best way to do this is by preheating or precooling. Fill the thermos with hot or cold water and let it stand for five minutes before you fill it with the liquid you’ll eventually consume.
What can’t go in my thermos?
As you may guess, milk or dairy products are not recommended for use in a vacuum-insulated thermos. This is because these products are more prone to bacteria growth and can ferment over time, which leads to a build-up of pressure in the thermos that can be dangerous when you attempt to remove the cap.
Furthermore, dry ice is another product that shouldn’t be placed in a sealed container for an extended period. The rapid evaporation of CO2 from solid to gas can also produce unwanted pressure in your thermos.
What is 18/8 stainless steel?
This metal is composed of 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It is highly sustainable, food-grade, and non-reactive.
What does it mean to be ‘BPA-free’?
‘BPA’ stands for Bisphenol-A, which is a chemical that imitates estrogen. It has been found to have negative health effects on humans, especially in the fetal and infant states. BPA-free thermoses don’t contain this harmful chemical.
Why is copper used in some thermoses?
Copper is generally known to be a better conductor of heat than stainless steel, which is why it’s slightly curious that some bottles employ copper in addition to stainless steel. This doesn’t result in the outside of the bottle heating up to unsafe levels because of the vacuum space that is included in all of these thermoses.
A quality thermos will eliminate the unpleasantness of cold coffee or hot water forever. You’ll be drinking your preferred beverage at its preferred temperature from here on out. Many people include a thermos in their bug out bag list, and we think that is a good idea too. We hope you’ve found this article helpful and wish you the best of luck buying the best thermos for you!