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The BEST Insulated Drink Tumbler

October 10, 2020

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I love a good tumbler for staying hydrated around the house, and I know you do, too! So many of you have recommended your favorites that I had to put them to the test and see which tumbler comes out on top. I ordered 16 of the most popular drink tumblers to compare them side-by-side. Most were recommended by you and others were simply highly rated online. 

There are a few key features that are really important to me and created a good benchmark of which brands to include. They had to be insulated for maximum chill factor (no one likes a warm drink), include a straw or a lid with room to add your own, fit in a cup holder, and be a large size. I did my best to keep the sizes comparable across brands, so each one has a capacity between 24 to 40 ounces.

Introducing the line up of contenders:

Simple Modern24 oz
Corkcicle24 oz
Ozark Trail30 oz
Built30 oz
Zak30 oz
RTIC30 oz
Bubba30 oz
SIC30 oz
Yeti30 oz
Iron Flask32 oz
Healthy Human32 oz
Swig32 oz
HydroFlask32 oz
Reduce34 oz
Stanley40 oz
Reduce (with handle)40 oz
16 Tumblers Tested

Tumbler Test Set Up

In order to make it fair, I filled each tumbler up with the same ice to water ratio: ⅓ ice ⅔ water. This ensures that the comparison is accurate despite some slight size differences. I took the capacity of the tumbler, multiplied by .3, and added that amount of ice to each one. Then I filled it to the top with water. Maybe that was a little overly scientific for a tumbler test, but could you really trust the results any other way?

We tested the tumblers with straws in each one to make sure it was an accurate representation of what temperature it would keep the water while in use in your house or car each day. We used tap water, so it wasn’t incredibly cold to begin with, but the initial temperature of the water didn’t matter as long as it was consistent across the board.

Tested Using the Straws

Temperature Test

I used a digital thermometer to test the water at 2 hours, 4 hours, 7.5 hours, and 10 hours.

I have to admit, I’m really surprised at how impressed I was by all of them. At the 4 hour mark, they all still had ice and were in the chilly 30 degree range. At 7.5 hour in, the only one that didn’t have ice was the Healthy Human, but it was still very cold.

It’s also worth noting that any tumbler with a metal band around the top did get a little condensation on the top even though it didn’t form anywhere else on the cup.

Condensations Forms on Metal Bands

The 10 hour mark was where the biggest differences began to show. Nothing had ice left, but surprisingly they all maintained a fairly cool temperature. I would say you could expect ANY of these brand to keep your water cold for at least 6 hours, which is really probably as long as you would need them to anyway. They aren’t necessarily meant to be multi-day cups, so I think they all performed really well.

Ultimately, the results showed the coldest ones as Iron Flask, Stanley, and Simple Modern. The tumblers that had the warmest water after 10 hours were SIC Seriously Ice Cold and Healthy Human.

Testing the Temperature with a Digital Thermometer

Feature Comparison

Handle

There are three that have a built in handle:

It is really nice to be able to grab a sturdy handle to carry them around. I don’t necessarily think one is better than the other, and they are all high enough that they can still fit in a cup holder.

Most of the others have handle accessories you can just slide up the cup, but throughout this test I have realized I don’t really like the ones that aren’t permanently attached. There were lots of times I would try to take the lid off and accidentally push down the handle which would tip over the cup. So that’s my personal preference, but maybe you prefer it for other reasons. To each their own!

Lid Types

The most common lid type is just a plastic lid with a silicone ring that you push down from the top. Most have a little tab that make it easy to remove. The only one of that style that I had a hard time with was the SIC. It has an incredibly tight seal (which is great in some ways), but it was incredibly difficult to take off without spilling water when it was full.

Some lids screw on and I found that I prefer these. I think it actually helps the drink say colder. They create a great, tight seal, but they are also easy to remove without a lot of effort. The ones with a screw on lid are:

Built-in Straw

Two of these tumblers have a straw built in to the lid: HydroFlask and Zak. The straw is a flexible silicone which makes it easy to drink from a variety of angles like reclining or laying down. The lids each push on, but the Zak has a tab to make it easier to remove, which I prefer.

Dishwasher Safe

This is kind of a loaded question, because they are all very similar. Each one is metal insulated tumbler so you probably could expect comparable experiences washing them. I know a lot of people who put their hand-wash only tumblers in the dishwasher with good results, but there are only a few that are advertised to be dishwasher safe:

Zak and Bubba advertise that their lid only is dishwasher safe.

Leak-proof

If you are looking for something completely leak-proof, most tumblers don’t fit that bill. If you are using a tumbler, you aren’t going to be putting them in a backpack or a purse, but many of you asked which ones don’t spill as readily. Any of the lids with an open drink area are going to just pour out if you have a straw in. You can take the straw out and close the tab, which will help. It’s worth noting that the Ironflask does not have that capability.

But the ones that will leak the least if it does tip over while in use with a straw are:

The Tumblers Gathered Together

Price Comparison

I think it’s safe to say that you can find a tumbler on any budget. One thing to consider while shopping is wether or not the tumbler comes with all of the accessories you might need. Here is a breakdown of the base prices.

Ozark Trail$8.74
Built$15.26
Reduce$17.99
Zak$19.99
RTIC$19.99
Bubba$19.99
Iron Flask$21.95
Simple Modern$22.99
SIC$29.99
Healthy Human$32.99
Corkcicle$34.95
Swig$39.95
Stanley$40.00
Yeti$44.96
Reduce with handle$44.99
HydroFlask$39-49

Which is the Best Tumbler?

This was by far the toughest water bottle test I have ever done when it comes to selecting a winner. I could only narrow it down to four, and honestly, I could choose many others!

Without further ado, here are four winners!

Winning Tumblers

Simple Modern

I have actually been using this one for a couple years so I can attest to how it holds up overtime. It pretty long and thin and it is easy to hold on to and comfortable. The screw on lid keeps things really secure and helps keeps the contents really cold. The flexible plastic straw seals really well. When you tip it over, it hardly leaks at all. It also comes in a bunch of fun colors and a variety of sizes which still remain long and thin. It is hand-wash, but I did wash the lid with no problems.

Iron Flask

Iron Flask is an awesome brand for its good value. For $22 it comes will all of the accessories you need: 2 plastic straws, 2 metal straws, 2 straw cleaners, and of course the lid. It was one of the best performing for keeping the contents cool. If it matters to you to be able to see inside, the Iron Flask lid is the only clear one from the top four. It is hand-wash, but I did wash the lid with no problems.

Stanley

There’s a lot of hype around it, but it lives up to it all! It holds a lot of water at 40oz, but it doesn’t feel super bulky because it is long and skinny. The handle is super sturdy and high enough that it doesn’t get in the way of a cup holder. The whole thing is dishwasher safe! It did a fantastic job of keeping the water cold. Although it isn’t leak proof, the lid screws on and off really easily and keeps the contents secure. It’s $40 but worth the investment.

Ozark Trail

I had to include the Ozark Trail from Walmart. It’s the biggest bang for your buck. It performed awesome, but it’s under 9 dollars! There are many different sizes and colors to choose from. You will need to buy your own straw since one is not included or just sip from the cap. When you close the lid, it is a pretty secure close but there is still a little leakage. And it’s top rack dishwasher safe! It would be a great tumbler for kids or high schoolers since it comes at such a great price.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention Tumblers

Zak

I actually really liked this tumbler. The design is very sleek with a thicker top and narrow bottom. It’s very comfortable to hold. The flexible straw is very convenient, but it is hand wash only.

Swig

It performed well, and I loved the fun prints and designs that are different than just a solid color. It is a little more expensive compared to some of the other ones, but it is dishwasher safe!

Final Thoughts

Really when it comes down to it, all of these tumblers have fantastic reviews and you will love any of them. They come highly recommended for a reason, and there isn’t one I would say is not worth the investment. However, that the Yeti and the Hydroflask are the most expensive ones. Both great tumblers, but it seems pretty clear you don’t need to spend that kind of money to get something fantastic. 

I’d love to know which features are the biggest determining factor for you!


Shop the Winners


I like to hang out on Instagram and share more in-depth tutorials on everything I make, create, and organize.  Come be a part of our Home & Kind Instagram community.

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