Stainless Steel Travel Mug Contigo Travel Mug Review

We’ve written a ton about stainless steel water bottles; but as the school year approached I began to consider how I was going to transport tea to school. We had previously gotten rid of all of our BPA-infused travel mugs…we are now BPA-Free! So, I explored my options and settled on a Contigo Travel Mug.

Contigo was kind enough to send a few of their Contigo travel mugs for review. Here are my thoughts.

The Best Stainless Steel Travel Mug?

Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Stainless Steel Travel Mug

I would venture to say that the Contigo travel mug is the best stainless steel travel mug there is. It has honestly revolutionized my life.

Why?

It’s leak proof. Totally 100% leakproof.

So leakproof that I put it in my laptop bag (next to my laptop) filled with hot tea. I’m not much of a risk-taker, and honestly it took me awhile to trust my Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug enough to be able trust it, but it really can be tossed in a bag and it won’t leak. I do usually turn it up and down just to be sure it’s sealed.

Spill-Proof Stainless Steel Travel Mug

Not only does the mug not leak when I travel with it, it also is spill proof when I knock it over.

BPA-Free

Besides the BPA-free stainless steel travel mug, Contigo also sells BPA-free plastic. I use this to heat up water in the microwave at school to make my tea. (Probably not the best idea to put plastic in the microwave, but it works.)

Insulated

Did I mention it’s double walled and vacuum sealed? During October, when we had unseasonable cold weather and snow, I filled my Contigo travel mug with tea heading off to school. Two hours later (after waiting for the bus outside for a good while) the tea was still warm. I love using my Contigo for tea, but if you’re looking for a tea-specific travel mug, you might want to check out Teas Etc.’s travel mug set. (For more tea-specific travel mug ideas, read this.) It wasn’t piping hot, but warm enough to comfortably drink.

Kids Sippy Cups

Contigo also makes their autoseal cups for kids!

Downsides to the Stainless Steel Travel Mug

My only negative thought about this mug is that it does retain smell/taste. If you don’t wash it out right away it can really smell; we had to use a vinegar soak in it one after leaving coffee in it for a few days.

Also, since Kimberly drinks coffee and I drink tea, we’ve found that even with a good washing it still maintains the smell taste just slightly. So, I would recommend that if you drink multiple hot beverages you get two — use one only for coffee and the other only for tea. Alternatively, you could remember to wash it out every night and not leave it in the car for a week…

Would I Recommend It?

I would highly recommend Contigo’s Stainless Steel Travel Mug for any traveler, student, or commuter. It really will change your life.

Here’s what Contigo’s website says about their mugs:

AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Travel Mug (Vacuum Insulated)

Never spill another drop! 100% spill- and leak-proof travel mug uses exclusive AUTOSEAL® technology to prevent accidental spills. Press the AUTOSEAL® button to sip, and release the button to automatically seal. This self-sealing lid technology is combined with a double-wall, vacuum-insulated, stainless steel mug, providing exceptional temperature retention. Beverages stay hot for 4 hours or cold for 12 hours.

Benefits:

  • Patented AUTOSEAL® lid is 100% leak-proof and 100% spill-proof.
  • Drinking made easy! Press to sip. Release to seal. The AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Mug automatically seals between sips to ensure no spills.
  • Vacuum-insulated technology keeps beverages hot for 4 hours, and cold for 12 hours.
  • Contoured body makes this travel mug easy to hold and easy on the eyes.
  • The AUTOSEAL® Stainless Steel Mug will hold up to 16 oz. of your favorite beverage and fits most standard car cupholders.
  • Constructed with a double wall and stainless steel inside and out for maximum travel mug performance.
  • BPA free.

Specs

Volume: 16 oz.

Weight: 0.8 lbs.

Dimensions: 3.6”L x 7.9”H x 3.3”W

With go-anywhere style and convenience, this thermal mug features AUTOSEAL® technology for 100% spill- and leak-proof performance. Double wall construction helps retain beverage temperature and prevents external condensation.

Other Stainless Steel Travel Mugs

If you’re not interested in a Contigo, we’ve heard good things about these Stainless Steel Travel mugs (though we haven’t tried any of them):

Thermos Nissan 12-Ounce Stainless-Steel Tea Tumbler with Infuser

No matter what you use it for, the Contigo Stainless Steel Travel Mug is a truly fantastic product. It’s BPA-free, safe, and convenient. I would highly recommend it for coffee, tea, or anything else you like to drink warm.

Comments

  1. By Jones on

    Is the lid closure really cleanable? I take my coffee & tea with cream and I’ve found that many of the ‘no spill’ lids have nooks & cranies that can’t be properly cleaned.

    • By Christine on

      The lids clean well in the a dishwasher. For hand washing, use regular dishwashing liquid and hot water, and occasionally pour in peroxide and let it sit. It will bubble away any debris that gets adhered the the parts you cannot reach.

  2. By on

    Almost everything is made in China these days, even when U.S. companies have their names on the products. I am unaware of any that are still made here. I believe there is one brand that comes from Spain and the actual manufacturing is done in Spain.

  3. By Elizabeth on

    @BillyO I haven’t heard of the brand that’s made in Spain. I’ve checked every lead and all stainless steel travel mug products seem to be made in China.

  4. By on

    Not to disparage the quality of Contigo’s product, but it seems like the claim of 100% leak proof is optimistic. I mean, it’s one thing to spill a little when you are biking or hiking or whatever, but to risk your laptop? Yikes!

    Guess I’ll have to test it myself! :)

  5. By Elizabeth on

    @ Patty, unfortunately, like Stainless Steel Water Bottles, Stainless Steel travel mugs are impossible to find when they are made in the US. If you hear of a company that does, let me know

  6. By Elizabeth on

    @ Bill, I’ve been using my mug for the entire school year and it really is leakproof. I do turn it upside down before I put it in my bag to double check that I’ve screwed it on all the way; but I’m truly amazed with Contigo’s product.

  7. By Brendan on

    The USA doesn’t seem to know how to manufacture anymore. But some of the Thermos brand products are made in Malaysia (though not all, and it’s hard to find out which ones online). A Korean company call Jong Won makes some very neat insulated stainless steel sport bottles but I cannot find them.

    For kids, rumor has it Nalgene’s children’s cups are made in USA but I cannot verify it.

  8. By Brendan on

    Followup to my previous post. Jong Won’s manufacturing facility is in China.

    Thermoserv (www.thermoserv.com) products are made in USA. Not quite comparable to the Contigo product line though.

  9. By Eli on

    Why all the hostility toward china? If they make better mugs, thems the breaks of capitalism.

    Besides, their booming economy is precisely what’s pushing them closer and closer to democracy each year. Act as a world citizen, and lose that old-fashion patriotism stuff!

    BTW these mugs look awesome.

    • By Joe on

      Why Hostility towards China? Drywall that killed people, Mattresses that killed people, toys with lead paint, baby formula contaminated with chemicals which killed 6 US babys, melimine, cyanuric acid,ammeline and ammelide in dairy products, toxic children’s pajamas (900 times the safe level of formaldehyde, contaminated dog and cat food that caused kidney failure and killed people’s pets, contaminated cow feed (steak anyone?), farmed shrimp with high amounts of mercury. Getting the idea because the list goes on! I wouldn’t put anything made in China near my mouth. Now with veggies, fish and meat being imported into the U.S. from the most polluted country in the world (China) . Go into your grocery store and look ,you will see these products on the shelves or in the freezers. the Chinese Shrimp is selling very well because it’s CHEAP! People don’t read the labels that say Product of China. I wouldn’t put anything made in China near my mouth or any other part of my body. The way they kill animals for fur is terrible, skinning them alive and throwing them in a pile in the sun to slowly die.

      • By Danny Dugan on

        Joe, you are SO right! I am so tired of seeing everything made in china. They don’t care how they make money. No regulations, contaminated materials, child slave labor, and the way they abuse animals. I will NEVER buy anything from china.

        • By Dee on

          I work for a US headquartered company that off-shores manufacturing to other parts of the world, namely Singapore, China, and India. You guys do realize its born-in-the-USA execs who ultimately decide to offshore right? The cheaper products from China only means one thing: higher margins for those Americans. So be careful where you point the finger of blame – they are only a tool in this cog of the new American business, like it or not.

          That being said, I don’t like to generalize – some of those Americans take those higher margins and do good things with it, like higher more American people, donate to charity, etc. Although I would say that’s probably the minority where the typical businessman/woman probably just wants more dough = contaminated materials, child slave labor, animal abuse.

          If you own an iPhone – you’re making American’s rich, not the “they” that @DannyDugan points out. Check out their management chain their and the worker living conditions and you tell me to my face that “they” are getting rich.

  10. By Jo on

    Truly is the best mug I have ever used. Comfortable mouthpiece as well as the non leak-proof lid. It releases a hiss (and sometimes spits a little) when you first push the button to drink. The only time I have had a leak was when I put it in my bag and the release button was pressing against something. That did open the mouth piece and some coffee spilled so now I am very careful to put it in the bag (yes, sometimes with the laptop) and make sure that the button cannot accidentally be pressed . Just a word of caution….

  11. By jay on

    Do none of you actually drink hot coffee? I just purchased one of these mugs because I know that it will keep my coffee hot with the vaccum bottle design. I tried to drink out of it and nearly scalded my tounge because of the horribly designed mouthpiece. Then I decided to pour it out into my regular travel mug so I tipped it and pressed the button (like I saw them do on HSN) and hot coffee SHOT out of the lid. Not only through the mouthpiece but also through the button! Oh, it may be drip proof but for hot beverages it’s certainly not spray proof. It may be perfectly fine for cold beverages but I’ll be surprised if there isn’t a recall on these because of the potential for scalding. I’m taking mine back.

  12. By on

    @ Jay – Yes it truly does keep your coffee hot. I use it for hot tea (boiling water) but usually don’t end up drinking from the cup for 1-2 hours after I’ve poured it so it’s no longer scalding.
    In terms of the shooting coffee – I always depress the button right after I fill the mug which releases the steam and prevents the issue you’re describing.

  13. By Mike Evans on

    It is made in China, But the problem we have is that it is impossible to clean. We have tried by hand ,in the dishwasher, and all kinds of brushes. Nothing works ! I was just looking to see if had been recalled, when I ran across this site. Could not go on without posting a reply. I would not ever use this mug again ! It is not safe to use ! It is one of the worst thought-out ideas I have ever seen !

  14. By Elizabeth on

    @ Mike Why do you say it’s unsafe to use? Is it because of where it’s made? Or because it’s difficult to clean.
    I agree that it can be tough to clean. We usually just soak the top in some warm soapy water and that seems to do the trick pretty well.
    But I like @ Jeanne’s waterpik idea! Thanks Jeanne!

  15. By Anna on

    I bought two sets of these mugs from Costco last year falling for their advertised spill proof feature; and that they keep hot and cold beverages for hours! While these mugs don’t spill if they tip over, they do not handle heat well! I’ve had several incidents of leakage with hot liquids (underneath the button where you push to open the sip part to drink. Worst of all, I have had several incidents of the lid popping open/off when filled with hot coffee!!! The first couple of times, I thought perhaps I had not turned the top on correctly/tight enough. Thus, I’ve learned to routinely double check after each closure. And just for “insurance,” I typically place it in a zip lock bag that I keep in my purse for that purpose.

    This morning I had the “final” incident! From my short ride from home to the train station, it must have accumulated too much pressure. When I put my purse over my shoulder with the mug filled with hot coffee, I heard the top pop and coffee spilled out all in my purse and over my dress. Needless to say, I had to go home and redress for work.

    I called Costco customer service this morning and confirmed that even though I no longer have the box nor receipt, I could return them to their stores!

    So…I’m curious..it appears that nearly every reviewer raves about this product. Am I the only “lucky” person that has met this fate with this product??? I swear my IQ & EQ surpasses double digit; I’m passed mid-life; and I’m not blonde!!! Okay…okay….before you curse my name, have a sense of humor!!! As a matter of fact, I’m Chinese and should have known better than to purchase products made from my ancestors’ home town … ;)

  16. By Elizabeth on

    @ Anna – I’m glad to hear Costco let you return the product.
    Question about the leaks – did you press the button once after filling it to let the steam out? It sounds like too much steam just built up in your cup – I can’t remember if mine came with directions or if I just figured it out on my own, but I would always depress the button once after filling and closing the mug; because there is no other way for the steam to escape unless you manually let it.

  17. By BayArea on

    @Eli: Really? I am not going to list fact after fact of things that would prove you wrong, because I am sure you could spit facts back at me that would prove me wrong as well. But, I will give my opinion, obviously you’re 100% entitled to never read or care about what I say. Bottom line: Capitalism, like free speech, has shown to be rather volatile and potentially counterproductive without regulations. Unfortunately, **IMO**, China has failed miserably in regulating much of anything except the Yuan… and in that case China has artificially devalued their own money to negatively affect other countries and their economy. Furthermore, **IMO** China has been grossly negligent in their efforts to combat intellectual property piracy (at one point China was pirating 98% of software in use). It’s also the reason why China has never gone thru with a NAFTA’esque agreement. They stand to lose too much if they should decide not to infringe on people’s patent, TMs, license etc. Okay I’m done. I’m sure this wasn’t the appropriate forum for this but I felt the need to respond to the query.
    Anyway, it is next impossible to find stainless USA travel mugs. Only ceramic.

  18. By marc on

    These mugs are horrible. I have owned 3 mugs at $20 eash. They leak inside the rim to allow coffe to get inside and spoil. It cannot be cleaned.
    After they redesigned and fixed, now I can’t keep a hot coffee warm for 30 minutes. I fill it up and by the time I get to work 45 minutes later it is ice cold. They really need to figure this out..

  19. By Julia on

    I recently purchased the Contigo travel mug set from Costco. If this product is truly BPA free why dosen’t it state this on the packaging? Most people are looking for products that are BPA free and it seems that stating this clearly on the package would be an important selling point. I had to go to this website to find this information and I’m still not convinced. What’s up with that? I’m thinking about returning these mugs for that reason.

  20. By Janet on

    Wow… I am glad I found this site. Not only will I not purchase because of it being made in China but I would not want to have to buy a water pik to clean it!

  21. By Pat on

    You can also use a 12cc syringe with a curved tip (Monoject) which can be purchased at drug stores – cheaply. Or…ask your dentist for one – free! The fine tip really blasts into crevices. Much cheaper then a Waterpik.
    I find that all travel mugs have lids that trap the liquid in their “workings.” I am going to give the Contigo a try – lots of good recommendations from colleagues at my dental office.

  22. By Lisa/PA on

    I found this site because I was looking for info on the mugs (which I refust to buy since they are not American made) and I find myself enraged at Eli and his attitude about China. I agree with Bay Area and feel Eli is not realizing the multiple dangers of blindly accepting products from China.
    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I have believed for years terrorists can most easily get to Americans whom they HATE by feeding into our insatiable desire for cheap, useless possessions we allow our KIDS to play with, we eat off of, we decorate our houses with, etc. They need not bomb us or commit “typical” terroristic action; Just taint what is made right next door in China and let it be shipped to YOUR front door – they’ve poisoned our consumerism because Americans eat up this cheap stuff and the terrorists know it! Seriously, you’ve already read about it in the papers( KIDS’ jewelry, formula…)
    Wake UP!

  23. By George on

    To the clueless person who made the comment about “hostility towards China”… There’s a VERY GOOD reason many of us look for mugs made in the USA. Recall the drywall that was destroying people’s homes in the south and making them sick? It was made in China. Remember the small children getting sick from their toys? That was traced back to toys made in China. Remember the baby formula incident? Made in China! Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs that explode and possibly catch fire when they fail? Made in China. Look these things up if you don’t believe it. It can all be verified with ease. There’s no way I want to eat off or drink out of anything made there unless I have absolutely no choice. Capitalism works and socialism almost always fails miserably: the former Soviet Union, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, etc.? Extreme socialism and poverty/misery go hand in hand. A primary reason China’s economy is booming so much is that they manufacture everything so cheaply without regards for safety. If China truly moves towards democracy and manufactures quality products then good for them. Until then I’ll shop around for things made in the USA, especially if it has to touch my mouth.

  24. By john on

    I’ve been using this mug for a few months. It does not leak. It keeps drinks hot or cold for a long time. But, the main downside is that it really retains the taste of whatever was in it previously even after a vigorous rinsing. I attempted to counteract this problem last night but leaving soapy water in it overnight then rinsing it thoroughly this morning. Today my coffee tastes like dish soap : (

  25. By danny dugan on

    Right on George! I was going to get one of these but since it’s made in China, F-that. I will NEVER buy any crap from China. It will fail soon, and there’s a huge possibility that they use contaminated materials to make it. F-that!

  26. By Edie on

    I received this travel mug for Mother’s Day and am amazed at how hot my coffee stays and for the length of time, not to mention this is the first time I’ve ever had a mug that did not leak. Ever. I’ve never put the lid in the d/w but “borrowed” Mom’s denture cleaning tablets to soak it in overnight. It did help but I still had to work to get the gunk completely out. I am disgusted with myself for not being more observant to the inside of the lid all along, but will now be sure to soak the lid in hot soapy water every night and occasionally use my waterpik on it. Great tip.

    There are people in the US who want to manufacture quality products and I hope there is someone who could take this on. They would have a gold mine, especially with the Made in USA label. Frustratingly, our govt is not condusive to mfg in this country and they wonder how we have so many unemployed people. I always search for products made here but there are times when they simply can’t be found.

  27. By kato on

    Anything with a mechanism that activates with a pressure system is inherently not leak proof. If you have this in your backpack getting on to the bus/subway and you have no squeeze past someone that could slightly push down of the button and maybe leak a little. That is a deal breaker for me. Nice idea but def not something more than a car to office mug.

  28. By CC on

    We love the mugs for leakproof and keeping the coffee hot but the lids are impossible to get clean. I’ve used an old toothbrush, qtips, toothpicks and different other things but there is always gunk left in there. I’ve soak them overnight with powdered dishwasher soap and that helps a bit. I’ve broken two of our lids trying to push something through the top of the sip entrance. The springs have let go and they are no longer leak proof. Can you buy just the lids, the cups are still perfect?

  29. By kevin on

    I could be wrong. However I believe some Nissan Thermos cups are made in Japan. Yes Nissan cups, spelled the same way as the car manufacturer. Search on google or amazon.

  30. By ruth on

    I love the cup too and I have taken great care to ensure I clean them thoroughly But the other day my husband was drinking from his. He felt something on his lips when he took a drink. He looked and he said something was stuck in the little opening where the coffee comes out. He held the button and tried to remove it. A long dark brown worm of scum came out ugh He said it was gross. He, of course, stopped drinking it and when he got home, I found him boiling the lid in a pot on the stove. A lot more “stuff” came out. It is no longer leakproof. NOW both he and I are paranoid almost to the point of abandoning use. double ugh We really did like the fact that you could throw it in a bag and that it kept the coffee hot. Too bad. Hope they manufacturer sees these messages and does something about the cleaning problem. It just needs to be made so it will come apart for cleaning and easy reassembling.

  31. By Flex on

    I clean my mug every night for several months and one night I noticed the buildup. I did some research then put the lid upside down in hot water and I was shocked at what came out. Lid was filled with stuff I can’t mention. I’m not impressed and won’t use the mug again. Try this and you will change your mind like me.

  32. By Judy on

    Every re-usable coffee mug is going to have build up in the lid…..give your head a shake. This coffee mug is fantastic, so it takes a little TLC to keep clean. I love the no leak feature, I can easily toss in my work bag and it frees a hand to open doors, etc.. To keep smells down, after hand washing the mug, let it completely air dry without the lid on. I have used vinegar at times.

  33. By Theresa on

    My husband & I both use the Contigo Vacuum Sealed Coffee Mug. They were purchased at Costco fall of 2010. YES – it actually does keep your coffee HOT for up to 2 hours! So HOT – my husband’s coffee stays TOO hot to drink until he gets to work. I add cream to mine, so I’m able to drink it sooner.

    Recently I’ve discovered my nooks & crannies are not very clean, so my new routine is to rinse the LID with VERY HOT water once I’ve finished my coffee (at work). Our water dispenser has a hot & cold setting for those who want tea or instant soup, so I just drop the lid in a ceramic coffee mug and let it soak until I’m done for the day. You really don’t want to see what might come out. If that’s not available, a vegetable sprayer using hot water is just as good and soaking in vinegar one a week will surely loosen up any debris in the unreachable mechanics in the lid. All of these small efforts have paid off in making my travel mug “smell less”. You just cannot beat the spill-proof design! I’ve owned MANY, MANY travel mugs & now use ONLY 1 =)

  34. By Randy on

    I am using one for hot water with lemon and one for my green tea. I am not sure if its just me but Im pretty sure I can taste metal in my lemon water. Is this normal or is this metal leaching into my water?

    It makes me not want to drink from it anymore… Anyone care to share if this is a normal thing or if the lemon is doing something its not supposed to?

  35. By Weeze on

    Randy — I drink black coffee from this mug and from a different stainless steel mug I drink hot water with lemon. I have started to taste metal and I can’t figure out — is it this mug, or is it my hot water with lemon? I taste it more when I drink my coffee. The Contigo mug, when I compare it to the interior to my Nissan mugs, looks like the interior stainless has some kind of coating, but I can’t find anything about that when I research. While I like the design of this mug I’m wondering about the metal used in it and likely will return to my Nissan mug.

  36. By Michelle on

    For Made in the USA, Liberty makes an aluminum container, and Life Factory makes a glass one. Haven’t seen any Stainless Steel made in US though. I will give Contigo a try because I’m looking for leak-proof!

  37. By Ian on

    I was looking for information on contigo when I came across this site, I love the contigo mugs they work great and although time consuming can be cleaned properly with some patience. But you guys a ridiculous. Seriously, all the things said about never buying or using a product from china. Where do you think your computer or tablet or cell phone is primarily made. It may be assembled in united states but open it up the electronics are all made in CHINA. QUIT COMPLAING.

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