The 10 Best Thermoses
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in May of 2015. One of these thermoses will keep your drinks nice and steamy or ice cold for hours, even when you’re at the beach, on the road, or patiently waiting for the fish to bite. They come in a variety of sizes and designs, including some big enough to accommodate stews and oatmeal, so you should be able to find one to suit your needs. We ranked them based on durability, value for money, and efficacy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
December 10, 2020:
Whether you want your meal to remain heated until lunchtime, your coffee to stay hot all day long, or your ice water to remain refreshingly cold for the long haul, these thermoses provide the durability and insulation you need. Today we rounded out the list a bit by adding a model designed for kids, the Thermos Funtainer. It holds up to 10 ounces and boasts a sturdy leakproof design. Its vacuum insulation technology ensures the contents retain their temperature for hours. It’s a great thermos for soup, pasta, fruit, and more, and its wide mouth makes it easy both to eat from and to clean. The rubberized lid makes it easy for little hands to open and close, and the rubberized bottom helps keep it from sliding around on top of a desk or a table. What’s more, it’s available in more than two dozen designs featuring solid colors as well as popular characters from cartoons and movies. It replaces the Thermos Vacuum 16 Ounce, which is a formidable choice but a bit similar to the 18-ounce stainless steel Thermos Hydration.
We’re still partial to the Thermos King, which has a lot to offer when it comes to a tight vacuum seal, reliable insulation, and a choice of attractive colors. It’s also got a convenient twist-to-pour stopper and a fold-flat handle for easy carrying and compact storage. It remains cool to the touch and condensation free. You can buy it with confidence, thanks to its five-year warranty. The Yeti Rambler is a force to be reckoned with when it comes with ruggedness, yet it’s lightweight enough to be taken on all of your adventures. It boasts a protective powder-coated finish, and is resistant to both rust and punctures. For a tough, no-frills choice that will fit right in on any busy construction site, check out the Stanley Classic, which comes in neutral green with a carrying handle and a cap that doubles as a cup. After a long day of work, just toss this low-maintenance choice into the dishwasher.
December 05, 2019:
Generally hardier than travel mugs, thermoses are meant to be rugged, amply-sized, and capable of keeping drinks at an optimal temperature for an extremely long time. This makes them perfect for camping and fishing trips, taking to job sites, and for bringing along on rough-and-tumble adventures. Many also come complete with lids that double as cups, making them even more convenient for outdoor use. Our list weighed options based on these factors, prioritizing durability, capacity, the ability to resist drops, dents, and punctures, as well as sweat and leak-proof designs.
For something no-frills that will last for years, the newly-added Stanley Classic is hard to beat. It can keep drinks iced for a whopping seven days, and it doesn't have too many moving parts, which makes it easy to clean and ensures it remains leak-proof. The Thermos Vacuum 16 ounce is similarly simple and hardwearing, and sports a sleek appearance and isn't too bulky, making it ideal for taking to work, on daily commutes, and even using around the house instead of a drinking glass.
We also love the Thermos Hydration for its straightforward design and efficacy. Bear in mind, though, that the manufacturer does not recommend it for hot liquids. This may be because its easy-pour spout allows beverages to flow quite freely, upping the risk of burning yourself. Many users have reported that it keeps hot drinks hot for an impressively long time despite the warning, but we think it's best to use a thermos dedicated to hot drinks for safety reasons.
Today we said goodbye to the Vremi Mug, which we love for its stylish appearance and nifty additions like a tea infuser, however, confirmed complaints regarding cap malfunction and other quality issues led us to remove it. We replaced it with the Yeti Rambler, a tried-and-true model from a leading and trusted manufacturer that exceeds expectations.
Purist Mover The 18-ounce Mover by Purist uses technology to harness self-cleaning properties by turning silicon dioxide into an ultra-thin, unbreakable glass interior lining that keeps drinks pure. It's double-wall vacuum insulated with a surgical-grade stainless steel interior and leak-proof design, and keeps beverages hot for 12 hours and cold for 24. It has an attractive, minimalist appearance and is available in a handful of subtle colors. puristcollective.com
Insulated Table-to-Trail Mug Featuring durable stainless steel construction with a watertight lid that prevent spills, this vessel is designed to stand the test of time and keep your coffee hot. It’s designed in Colorado and is available in your choice of designs that include Space Mountain, Southwest Camper, or Retro Cabin. It holds up to 17 ounces of liquid and is conveniently safe for the dishwasher. uncommongoods.com
Keep Your Molecules Shaking
It would be another 20 years before I discovered the principles and technology that allowed those dogs to stay so hot all morning.
I remember the first time I encountered a thermos. I was in the parking lot of Six Flags Great Adventure in southern New Jersey, on a trip to the park with my best friend's family. We sat on lawn chairs they'd packed into the vehicle, and my buddy's mom brought out this thing that looked like a fat little pitcher, except it had an upside down mug on top of it.
When she opened it, steam poured out along with the vexing aroma of cooked hot dogs. This was the fatter type of thermos that's ideal for transporting food, and it contained a dozen dogs she'd cooked just that morning.
It would be another 20 years before I discovered the principles and technology that allowed those dogs to stay so hot all morning. For the longest time I figured it had something to do with the seal at the top of the container, that it somehow kept the heat in all by itself. Little did I know that there was a miracle of science happening in the chubby little food bottle.
Let's start at the beginning, though. How did the hot dogs get hot in the first place? Well, when an energy transfer causes the molecules in a given substance to become excited, they move at an accelerated pace, heating them up. Both the dogs and the water in which they were boiled took the energy transferred into them from the flame on the stove and their molecules went bonkers.
Then, my buddy's mom put them inside the thermos, which works on a very simple rule of thermodynamics: a vacuum is the best insulator. That's because heat energy can't transverse a vacuum since there are no molecules there for the energy to excite. Infrared radiation can make the jump across a vacuum, however, which is why your thermos still feels a little warm to the touch, and is one of two reasons why your thermos eventually loses heat.
It is true that a few years ago, a handful of scientists designed a thermos with a vacuum that included a lining of very finely tuned photonic crystals, and that that prototype also blocked the infrared radiation from escaping, essentially doubling the prototype's insulating power. The only problem there is that each thermos made with photonic crystals would be prohibitively expensive.
An Honest Evaluation
There are a lot of industries out there that seem to thrive on inflating the statistics and capabilities of their products. Thermoses, somehow, have avoided this pitfall of cut-throat capitalism. Every thermos I've ever owned has kept its contents hot or cold for as long as–and often longer than–the company claimed it would.
The majority of thermal vacuums rely on glass or ceramics for their walls, and a tough drop can crack the material, causing a steep decrease in preservation times.
What that means for you is that you have three simple variables to consider when moving along our list. First among them is that preservation time. You'll notice that its easier for a thermos to keep a substance cold for longer periods of time than it can keep them hot, and that's pretty normal. Whatever the claims, you ought to be able to take them at face value, so reach for something that can keep your food or drinks where you want them for as long as you might need.
Secondly, you want to consider capacity. There's not much reason to keep only a morning's worth of coffee hot if you're going to need energy all day. I lived out of a sizable thermos at a job up in Alaska for a whole summer, filling it up with black gold each morning and drinking it down, hot and delicious, throughout the day.
Finally, there's style to consider. If you're getting a thermos as a gift for the gruff construction worker in the family, the Hello Kitty themed container might not be his first choice. It would suit your young niece a lot better than the industrial Stanley models, though.
One last note: be careful with your thermos. The majority of thermal vacuums rely on glass or ceramics for their walls, and a tough drop can crack the material, causing a steep decrease in preservation times.
How Do You Dewar?
In the late 1800s, a Scottish scientist named James Dewar created a partial vacuum between two brass chambers to insulate palladium in an attempt to determine the element's natural heat. In doing so, he invented the first vacuum flask, which gained tremendous popularity in the scientific community.
They became important parts of synergistic marketing methods employed by the entertainment industry in the 1980s and 1990s.
By 1904, a pair of German glass blowers took Dewar's idea, which he never bothered to patent, and commercialized its design, creating a consumer-friendly product that anyone could use to keep food and drinks hot or cold. They were the first purveyors of the vacuum flask to use the term Thermos in regarding and marketing the item.
For a time, the thermos was an integral part of the American child's lunchbox, sharing a themed design with the one printed on the outside of the box. They became important parts of synergistic marketing methods employed by the entertainment industry in the 1980s and 1990s. There was a brief dip in interest in the thermos, but as the generation of children who grew up with the devices in their daily lunch kits has kids of its own, use of the thermos is back on the rise.