KOTIS SWAGLAB
The Best Insulated Coffee Mug

Insulated mugs are a hot item right now, and as a swag category, drinkware is second only to t-shirts. That’s huge. Drinkware is versatile, practical and can get daily use – if it’s a high-quality item. Even the best tee can’t do that! With thousands of styles and variations out there, the options can be dizzying. We’re here to bring some clarity to the double wall craze.

We spent dozens of hours testing a handful of the most popular style for gifting – the insulated, thermal coffee mug. The beauty of this item is its versatility. It works well at your desk or around the campfire: keeping coffee, tea or cocoa hot for hours. It’s great for iced drinks (coffee or cocktails!) to keep things cool and refreshing. The insulated mug is highly coveted by anyone dissatisfied with room temp beverages.

After countless cups of coffee and many tests, we recommend the Camper Mug for its versatility and the Miir Camp Cup for an upgrade gift. While all mugs we tested maintained warm coffee for hours on end, the Camper Mug provides an affordable and durable gift that beat many name brands. For people who want the extra value that comes with a name brand, we recommend the Miir Camp Cup for its sleek design and brand promise.

THE CAMPER MUG
This reasonably priced mug has the largest range of color and print options and was one of the top performers in our heat retention tests. It has a great look that wraps up nicely in our favorite gifting box of the bunch.


OUR PICK

THE CAMPER MUG
This reasonably priced mug has the largest range of color and print options and was one of the top performers in our heat retention tests. It has a great look that wraps up nicely in our favorite gifting box of the bunch.

The Camper Mug excelled in all aspects we tested, from temperature tests to color options to overall look and feel. It held both hot and cold liquids with ease. The lid was easy to use and the handle provided good versatility among different hand sizes. Starting at $11.99, the Camper Mug was also the most affordable option we tested.

The Camper Mug comes in a recyclable box that was our favorite look for gifting. It has the most amount of color options (8 total, 3 more than the closest competitor). There is also an option for a single-color print on the handle, something no one else offered.

With its classic look and wide range of color options and print capabilities, this mug is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

MIIR CAMP MUG
Offering premium look and feel with a great brand promise, the Miir Camp Cup is a great, premium choice for businesses who want to make an impact with their gifting.


BEST UPGRADE FOR A GIFT

MIIR CAMP MUG
Offering premium look and feel with a great brand promise, the Miir Camp Cup is a great, premium choice for businesses who want to make an impact with their gifting.

If you’re looking to upgrade your gift, we recommend the Miir Camp Cup. Many of our clients prefer recognizable name brand products when gifting but does that perceived value match reality? With this Miir Camp Cup, we think it does. With clean design and great performance, this mug is likely to be a highly coveted piece of drinkware.

We loved that Miir partners with worthy causes all around the world to give back 3% of revenue. Additionally, Miir is a Certified B Corporation. We have found that many of our clients like to give gifts that are responsible and part of a broader mission, even if it means spending a little bit more. On the bottom of each Miir product is a code to track the cause your product is supporting. The Camp Mug we tested is supporting a sustainable, non-profit farm and incubator in Skagit Valley, WA called Viva Farms.

Miir’s premium elements and brand promise sets it apart from the competition. Even companies like Patagonia and REI trust Miir for their custom insulated mugs.

OTHER PRODUCTS WE TESTED

We tested several name brands and generic products. These mugs are some of our best sellers and most popular on retail channels. While most mugs did a great job keeping liquids hot or cold, we think that our picks are better suited for gifting.

YETI RAMBLER MUG

  • Double-wall vacuum insulated
  • Wide opening for access to contents
  • 14 ounces

ROVER CAMP MUG

  • Double-wall stainless w/ copper insulation
  • Cold for 24 hours / hot for at least 6 hours
  • Construction prevents condensation
  • Durable powder coating
  • 14 ounces. 18/8 grade stainless steel

ARCTIC ZONE TITAN MUG

  • Double-wall stainless w/ copper insulation
  • Cold for 24 hours / hot for at least 8 hours
  • Construction prevents condensation
  • Durable powder coating
  • Push-on lid w/ slide closure

YETI RAMBLER MUG

  • Double-wall vacuum insulated
  • Wide opening for access to contents
  • 14 ounces

ROVER CAMP MUG

  • Double-wall stainless w/ copper insulation
  • Cold for 24 hours / hot for at least 6 hours
  • Construction prevents condensation
  • Durable powder coating
  • 14 ounces. 18/8 grade stainless steel

ARCTIC ZONE TITAN MUG

  • Double-wall stainless w/ copper insulation
  • Cold for 24 hours / hot for at least 8 hours
  • Construction prevents condensation
  • Durable powder coating
  • Push-on lid w/ slide closure


WHY GIFT AN INSULATED MUG?

The most effective promotional products are sticky, meaning that your employees, clients, or fans are going to use and keep them for years to come. Since 90% of Americans have branded drinkware in their home or office (Advertising Specialty Institute), we think drinkware is a staple item that can be set apart by a good product and brand choice.

We recommend insulated desk mugs over standard plastic water bottles or other drinkware products to stand above the competition. They have secure lids to avoid spills and double-wall insulation to keep the heat (or cold) in, making them great, small travel mugs

Insulated mugs are durable and likely to last a long time. These products are going to sit on desks, accompany people on camping trips, and provide comfort throughout the year. Desk mugs are great gifts for any office worker, outdoor adventurer, or coffee aficionado.

Insulated coffee mugs carry reasonable minimum order sizes, making them perfect client holiday gifts or just a nice treat for employees around the office.


OUR RESEARCH

When reviewing these thermal mugs, we considered several categories: how efficiently they retained heat, the overall look and feel of the product, and the capability to decorate and customize the mug.

The Heat: The entire point of an insulated mug is to keep hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold. Room temperature is the enemy here. We tested all five of our mugs by boiling water and starting out at the same temperature – 196 degrees Fahrenheit. Every hour we measured the temperature of the water in each mug over the course of an entire eight-hour workday.

While there weren’t huge differences in our comparison, it is important to remember that all mugs we tested were high quality, thermal mugs. Compared to a traditional ceramic mug, where hot temperature is maintained for less than an hour, all insulated mugs kept coffee at a satisfying temperature for hours on end.

Quick note for coffee fans: Actual science has been conducted by the National Institutes of Health – the optimal temperature for serving hot beverages is between 155- and 125-degrees Fahrenheit. While individual preferences may vary, all mugs maintained this ideal time to consume the beverage for several hours.

In this heat test, the Camper and Arctic Zone mugs kept the contents hotter than the other three by at least a few degrees. For all mugs, we see the largest drop-off in the first two hours. However, most people will not be serving their coffee at near boiling temperatures, so users shouldn’t notice as much of a drop.

Some may wonder why there’s a difference at all in our heat test. The answer lies in a few factors. First, not all insulation is created equally. There are several different insulation options listed below in order of effectiveness:

  1. Single wall – this is your standard coffee mug. It’s a basic cup with a single wall made of any material (in most cases, ceramic). They are the most cost effective but do not retain the temperature of the liquid for long.
  2. Air insulated – this double walled container is very common in plastic tumblers, where the space in between the two walls is, you guessed it, air. While you may avoid rings on your table, this only provides marginal improvement in your temperature.
  3. Foam insulated – a step up from air, foam insulated has double walls with a layer of foam in the middle to increase the longevity of your beverage temperature.
  4. Vacuum insulated – this option removes all the air from between the walls for optimal insulation. Vacuum sealing a mug means that the air is removed from the space between the double wall construction, and heat (or cold) can’t use the air to escape. The Yeti and Miir mugs use this method.
  5. Vacuum insulated + copper – the double wall construction is vacuum sealed and has a lining of copper on the inside that allows the temperature of the contents to evenly disperse over the container. This helps in maintaining the temperature of the beverage for the longest period. The Rover, Camper, and Arctic Zone mugs utilize this method of insulation

The lid and surface area also play a role in temperature over time. All tested mugs have plastic lids, but only the Camper and Arctic Zone have a way of covering the drinking spout when not in use (this is likely why they performed slightly better in our test).

The Aesthetics: We like the classic look of the camp style mug, something grandpa would have in his camping box – next to the Coleman lantern and hatchet. The Rover and Miir mugs come closest to this rustic vibe, with classic design and angled handle that’s comfortable to hold. These mugs feel like they’re ready for adventure, waiting for a carabiner to attach them to a backpack.

Many of our clients like choice, which includes color options. The Miir aims for classic look and feel, offering just white and black in their “medical-grade” stainless steel. The Camper Mug presents more options, with a whopping eight colors to choose from. It also has a nice brushed stainless rim around the top, giving it a retail finish.

Decorating Capability: For these thermal mugs, you can take advantage of two decoration styles: print and laser. Printing allows for more flexibility and color. Laser engraving, on the other hand, provides a more permanent feel, but without the color options.

Each mug comes with different capabilities for decoration. Some are only able to be laser engraved, some recommend only print, while others do both.

The Camper Mug provides great flexibility when it comes to decoration. There’s no limit to the amount of colors you can use (pending the clarity in the art) and there’s an option for a single-color print on the handle, something no one else offered. Some of its competition limits colors to three or allows for laser engrave only.

Our upgrade pick, the Miir Camp Cup, recommends laser engraving, but print is possible as well. Consider the look and feel you are going for from a design perspective before selecting the mug to gift.


CARE AND MAINTENANCE TIPS

All tested mugs are built with longevity and durability in mind. With that being said, we have a few tips to keep your insulated coffee cup in tip top shape.

Most insulated mugs are listed as handwash only. While you can likely get away with putting them on the top rack of the dishwasher, we still recommend hand washing with a gentle dish soap and warm water to keep the powdered, brushed steel material in pristine condition. Some of the premium models, including the Miir Camp Cup, tout having stainless steel that will prevent odors from setting in.

Be mindful if consuming a carbonated drink. While you don’t need to worry about corrosion from soda or sparkling water, if you’re on the move with the mug, the carbonation can add pressure and cause drink explosions if an airtight lid is on.

Insulated mugs are made from a form of steel, so they are not microwave safe. Additionally, most manufacturers don’t recommend freezing the mugs themselves. Warm or cool your liquid in another vessel before transferring to the thermal travel mug when hitting the road or trail.


WHY TRUST KOTIS

Kotis has been decorating and shipping insulated coffee mugs for as long as they’ve been around. Our goal has always been to create the best swag for our clients, and we’re happy to work with you in that endeavor. Shaina Rogers, our product expert, spent weeks using, testing, and reviewing these products.

Over the years, we have distributed tens of thousands of mugs. We utilize the feedback from our clients, combined with our testing to create these recommendations. These are not endorsed by any supplier, we simply want to help make your life easier when choosing merch. Let’s do swag together.

*Prices are current at time of publishing, please reach out for updated cost and styles