The 10 Best Backpacking & Camping Mugs

Both backpacking and camping share a lot in common. If you had to pick one thing they share, however, I doubt mugs would be high on the list.

As it turns out, having a cozy cup of warm coffee or tea on the trail is as much of a morale booster as it is in camp. Waking up on a cool autumn morning and sipping a hot coffee from your camping mug makes the whole trip worth it.

Hiking mugs are made for the rigors of the trail. They’re durable, lightweight, and made to be packed. By choosing the best backpacking mug, you’ll earn a trusty trail companion that never leaves your side.

Finding the right hiking mug that is both lightweight and has all the features you need can be tough.

The best camping mugs are well insulated and durable. Camping mugs can be heavier or bulkier than hiking mugs since we don’t have to haul them around.

So, how do you find a camping mug that will keep your drinks warm and survive the hardships of camping?

Right now we’re going to take a deep look at the best backpacking & camping mugs and what makes them so great.

Comparison Chart

Best Camping Utensils

Price

Weight

Rating

Notes

~$20

2.7 oz

You can hold it over a flame or canister stove to heat it back up if it cools off

~$13

2.4 oz

Folds flat for compact packing

~$10

3.5 oz

Handle collapses for easier packing and storage

~$40

4.5 oz

Titanium is incredibly strong, corrosion-resistant, and will last forever.

~$25

13 oz

The full-loop TripleGrip Handle is comfortable for wider hands, so you can fit your mitts fully around your morning joe

~$17-$53

13.75 oz

Lifetime Warranty

~$23

16 oz

THERMOS vacuum insulation technology for maximum temperature retention, hot or cold, keeps liquids hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours

Best Camping Utensils

Price

Weight

Notes

~$20

2.7 oz

You can hold it over a flame or canister stove to heat it back up if it cools off

~$13

2.4 oz

Folds flat for compact packing

~$10

3.5 oz

Handle collapses for easier packing and storage

~$40

4.5 oz

Titanium is incredibly strong, corrosion-resistant, and will last forever.

~$25

13 oz

The full-loop TripleGrip Handle is comfortable for wider hands, so you can fit your mitts fully around your morning joe

~$17-$53

13.75 oz

Lifetime Warranty

~$23

16 oz

THERMOS vacuum insulation technology for maximum temperature retention, hot or cold, keeps liquids hot for 12 hours and cold for 24 hours

How to Choose the Best Backpacking & Camping Mugs

Mug Types

Camping mugs aren’t really defined by international regulation. Suprise. Figuring out where the line is between mug, thermos, and cup is honestly pretty blurry.

For the purposes of this article, I’ll try to roughly sketch out some definitions for us. Try not to see these as hard and fast definitions. Essentially what it boils down to is that backpacking & camping mugs can spread between several common types:

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    Thermos – Highly insulated mug designed to hold a large amount of beverage and keep it warm or cold for long periods. Non-spillable.
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    Mug – A large cup with a handle made for warm drinks. Can be insulated and usually lack a lid.
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    Cup – Non-insulated, usually lacking a handle or a lid.
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    Tumbler – Large insulated cups with lids.

You’ll probably find that other hikers and mug manufacturers use widely varying terms for these.

Mug Construction

One of the luxurious features of mugs is insulation. Insulated mugs tend to be more expensive but they keep drinks warm or cold longer.

For things like thermoses, good insulation is critical. The best thermoses can keep drinks warm for hours thanks to great insulation.

Insulation essentially comes in two flavors:

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    Vacuum Insulation – A double-wall cup has a vacuum between the layers which prevents the transfer of heat.
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    Foam Insulation – Foam is sandwiched between layers of the mug.

Vacuum insulation is technically more efficient when done right. It’s also more expensive than foam insulation.

Some mugs use a double wall construction without a vacuum which is mildly effective and very inexpensive to make.

Handles

Ideally, a mug has a handle. It’s like a rite of passage for a mug. But, when it comes to hiking and camping mugs the rules get blurry.

Handles on mugs are ideal but not always practical in hiking mugs. For camping mugs, handles won’t add too much weight or bulk.

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    If the mug is insulated a handle isn’t necessary.
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    If the mug is not insulated a handle is needed to keep from burning your hands.

That’s pretty much as complicated as it gets.

Multi-Use Mugs

Particularly when backpacking mugs are involved, choosing one that has more than one function can save weight and space.

People will always argue about the best backpacking mug, but pot/mug combos are a top pick. You can boil your water for meals in the same mug that you drink you morning coffee from. When you do this it cuts down on the weight and bulk of the total items you need to carry.

Choose a mug that is also part of your cooking system in order to be as efficient as possible when backpacking.

Best Backpacking Mugs of 2018

TOAKS earned the top spot on our list of best backpacking mugs this time. Why? Because it can be used as a mug or a pot to boil water.

  • Titanium construction
  • Folding handles
  • 2.7 ounces total
  • With or without lid

One of the first things I want to mention here is that you can buy this mug with or without the lid. Be sure you choose the correct selection for you when you checkout to avoid being disappointed.

Because this is a single wall, non-insulated mug it won’t keep your drinks warm for long. However, it does mean you can carry just one item for both your mug and pot.

When it comes to backpacking, having less weight and bulk is a priority over the luxury of insulation most times.

At 2.7 ounces with a capacity of 15 fluid ounces, it’s enough to boil water for freezer bag cooking. Actually, this mug is almost identical to my original Snow Peak 500mL pot.

There was a time when I would have ignored a piece of gear like this because it’s not “ultralight enough”. Yeah, I was that guy at one point. Fortunately, most of us realize that a collapsible silicone backpacking cup can be a great thing.

  • Collapsing design uses minimal space
  • Flexible when packed
  • 16 fluid ounce capacity
  • 2.4oz weight
  • Nests with other Sea to Summit bowls

I used a Sea to Summit collapsible silicone bowl for several summers of trip guiding. It turned out to exceed my expectations and I loved it – as I’m sure you will with this mug.

Being able to flatten the mug means tons of space saved in the pack. This is a feature you won’t find on any other backpacking mugs.

At just 2.4 ounces it’s lighter than most metal or plastic mugs of similar size for backpacking.

If you want a mug that will disappear in your pack until you want to use it, consider the X Mug. While you can’t cook in it, it won’t get in the way or weigh you down until you need it.

If you’re obsessive about your drinks and need a dedicated mug, stop here. This insulated hard sided mug has a sealable lid and handle. Everything you could want, in a trail sized package.

  • Sealable lid
  • Insulated mug
  • Collapsing fabric handle
  • 3.5oz weight

This mug is made from BPA free polypropylene which is durable and inexpensive. It does, however, run the risk of cracking under high stress. Don’t pack it near the bottom of your pack where it might get crunched when you set down the bag a bit too hard.

I like that they managed to put a handle on it that’s lightweight and collapsible. The use of fabric webbing is actually an ingenious idea in this instance.

Of all the mugs on our list so far, none have a truly sealable lid. If you want to be able to sip from your cup while keeping the lid on, this is your best shot at warm beverage glory.

I’d wager this backpacking mug is ideal for those with extremely high standards of hot drink indulgence. Plus it makes a solid choices as a camping mug when you need.

Ideally if it were the perfect backpacking mug it would serve more than one function – such as the TOAKS titanium pot/mug. Since that’s not the case it could be argued that this mug would make a better choice for camping than backpacking.

I wanted to make sure that a double wall backpacking mug made it on the list to give you the most options available. Double wall titanium is durable and keeps drinks properly warm. This is perhaps most comparable to your favorite ceramic coffee mug at home.

  • Double wall insulation
  • Two layers of titanium means extra strength
  • Can’t cook or boil water in it
  • 4.5oz weight

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can cook meals in this. If you want a dual function backpacking mug, go back to the TOAKS mug/pot. Because of the double wall design, you’ll likely warm and ruin the titanium by using it on a stove.

Because this mug also has folding handles it makes a superior choice to the household coffee mug. At just 4.5 ounces it’s way lighter and more compact. It weighs more than single wall mugs but solves the problem of insulation.

There’s no lid with this mug, however. So you’ll need to drink up before your beverage loses heat to the air. It won’t stay warm as long as something like the GSI Infinity Mug with a sealing lid.

Double wall titanium mugs like this are ideal for their durability and tasteless, inert metal construction.

Heavier, bulkier, and more expensive than almost all other backpacking mugs on this list the Yeti mug stands alone. So, why bother spending more and carrying more? Let’s find out.

  • True vacuum insulated double wall
  • Sealing lid
  • Stainless steel construction
  • 13oz weight

Seriously, why would anyone carry nearly a pound worth of backpacking mug? Because you won’t find any other mug that keeps stuff warm for this long.

Using a true vacuum sealed double wall design, these Yeti mugs will retain heat or cold way longer than just about anything else. Well made vacuum insulated mugs win the day over just about any other mugs available.

As a trade-off, however, you’ll have to be willing to carry more weight. These mugs are short, squatty, and made from stainless steel with a permanent handle. Not ideal designs for a backpacking mug.

Recommended only for the beverage elitists among us who prioritize a good drink above all else on the trail.

Best Camping Mugs of 2018

Yup, I’m going to do it. I’ve put this mug on here twice because it’s that good. It’s simultaneously the heaviest and bulkiest backpacking mug while also being one the absolute best choices for camping hands down.

  • True vacuum insulated double wall
  • Sealing lid
  • Stainless steel construction
  • 13oz weight

When it comes to backpacking, this mug pushes the limits of size and weight. For camping, however, it makes a perfect choice that has near to zero drawbacks.

While it’s heavy, weight hardly matters for most camping when you can use your car or RV to get to your campsite. It’s durable, so you can throw it in the camping tote and it won’t get squished, or toss it in the car trunk and forget about it until you need it.

With the benefits of a large, vacuum sealed mug with a fitted sipping lid and no need to worry about weight or size, there’s no argument here.

The YETI Rambler makes my personal top pick for the best camping mug available. Hey, you might even be able to use it for backpacking on occasion.

Hydro Flask is one of my favorite insulated mug makers. Their mugs are durable, rugged, and look great. They also happen to be available in tons of attractive colors.

  • Double wall vacuum insulated mug
  • Stainless steel construction
  • 5% of your purchase goes to charity
  • 13.75oz weight

Unlike the Yeti Rambler, the Hydro Flask mugs take a more upright thermos-like profile. There are also several variations of the Hydro Flask lid you can choose from after you order your mug.

I love the stainless steel construction and own a Hydro Flask myself. I can say that they will hold up to quite a lot of abuse. I’ve seen them severely beaten and dented and still functioning great.

Perhaps one of the best factors about the Hydro Flask mug is that you can get it in just about any color. That might seem like a trivial factor but they’re the only mugs on our list that really have a deep level of personalization.

These mugs lack a handle and instead seem to blend the category of thermos and tumbler. They’re also available in just about every size you can imagine. Just know that the extremely large versions are more like beer growlers than mugs.

I think we’d be a bit remiss to create a camping mugs list and leave out the legendary Thermos. They’ve been making insulated mugs and “thermoses” for years – in fact, they started the whole thing.

  • Double wall vacuum insulated
  • Stainless steel (no glass)
  • 16oz weight
  • Original makers of the Thermos

Honestly, the design concept isn’t much different from the Yeti mug or the Hydro Flask. So, what sets the Thermos apart? Years of nearly flawless raving reviews and feedback from millions of customers.

The vacuum flask was invented in 1892 and first produced in 1904 by the Thermos company. While it has undergone many iterations and changes over the years, the core remains.

Unlike my father’s old glass vacuum mug, this one is made from stainless steel so there’s less to worry about breaking. In fact, it’s virtually indestructible.

I chose this version specifically because it has a drinking ready top that makes it somewhere between a traditional Thermos and a coffee mug.

Conclusion

Buying a camping or backpacking mug can seem like quite the chore with so many choices. Fortunately, it’s easy to start looking in the right places.

When buying a mug you’ll have to make the initial choice of weight versus bulk and insulation. The truth of the matter is that you get either great insulation or lightweight. There are few middle grounds when it comes to this.

Therefore, backpackers should be looking for a minimalist mug that gets the job done. Understanding that lightweight means a lack of insulation is just part of the game.

Campers can afford the weight and luxury of a heavier and better-insulated mug. When you don’t have to fit it into a backpack and carry it all day, you can afford a few luxuries!

Of course, each of us has different priorities and preferences. Some take great pride in making delicious warm drinks on the trail and will be willing to carry a heavy, luxurious mug to enjoy that. Others may carry no mug at all in pursuit of ultralight nirvana.

When it boils down to it, I think camping mugs are a no-brainer. They make the trip more relaxing, fun, and enjoyable. Where it comes to backpacking mugs, the waters become muddy and each hiker must make their own decision.


About the author

Casey Fiedler

Professional ski instructor and backpacking guide, Casey Fiedler went to school with CWC and NOLS for Outdoor Education and Leadership.Want to read more about what it takes to lead great adventure trips? Casey writes about outdoor education at caseyfiedler.wordpress.com

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