Why I’m Stocking Up on These Perfect Insulated Travel Mugs

Increasingly, all-inclusive resorts are banning Styrofoam cups, and travelers are instead bringing their own insulated tumblers. But whether or not you’re resort-bound, it’s worth packing these useful items for your next trip.

Why I’m Stocking Up on These Perfect Insulated Travel Mugs

Yeti Rambler tumblers come in all shapes and sizes, including a wineglass version.

Courtesy of Yeti

First it was plastic bags; then it was straws and then water bottles. Now, single-use polystyrene (better known by the trademarked term for a similar product “Styrofoam”) drink cups are disappearing around the world—and my Yeti tumblers and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Resorts are banning single-use cups

Insulated tumblers have been appearing on lists of what to pack for an all-inclusive vacation for a few years now. Not only is a good travel mug better for the environment, since you won’t need new disposable cup for every new cocktail, but it’ll keep your rum punch colder longer and your ice won’t melt in the time it takes to get from the bar to your beach chair. And while most resorts offer six- or 10-ounce cups, if you bring your own, you can opt for a pint-sized tumbler.

But now, what used to be a suggested item has become a ubiquitous one. Popular resort destinations are moving to ban single-use plastics and polystrenes altogether. Mexico, for example, passed an extensive ban on single-use items in May 2019. Rodrigo Esponda, managing director of the Los Cabos Tourism Board, notes that many hotels and resorts in Mexico began eliminating single-use plastics before that. “Sheraton implemented reusable bottles at check-in a while ago, and throughout the resort, there are refilling stations,” he says. “The destination has a long history of protecting the environment. Forty-two percent of the region is a natural protected area, so the culture of environmental protection has been there for many years.”

The Yeti Rambler 20-ounce Tumbler comes in 12 different colors, including the new River Green shade.

The Yeti Rambler 20-ounce Tumbler comes in 12 different colors, including the new River Green shade.

Photo courtesy Yeti; design by Emily Blevins

A branded bottle or mug can be a nice memento of your vacation—and it’s a great perk for those who haven’t hopped on the reusable bottle bandwagon—but to have more control over your drinkware quality and features, I recommend investing in and bringing your own insulated tumbler, especially if you’re a frequent traveler. But which one should you opt for? I’m glad you asked.

Just as nature abhors a vacuum, I abhor a room-temperature drink. I want my hot drinks hot and my cold drinks cold, so I’ve been building an extensive collection of insulated water bottles and mugs: I have insulated, stainless-steel Kleen Kanteen water bottles, S’Well bottles in wild designs, and Hydro Flasks in all different sizes and shapes. But I’m obsessed with Yeti’s Rambler tumblers. Here’s why:

Yeti Ramblers have excellent insulation

My Yeti Rambler 20-ounce Tumbler comes with me on most trips. In fact, it accompanies me almost everywhere I go. The superior double-wall vacuum insulation can keep my morning tea hot from 8 a.m. all the way through lunch time. And as for cold water? I’ve left ice in my Rambler overnight and woken up to ice cubes the next morning. AFAR contributor Kelly Bastone has successfully transported ice cream in the 36-ounce Rambler.

The Yeti Rambler line now comes with a MagSlider lid, which is made with BPA-free plastic. The lid is designed to reduce minor splashes, but the clever, sliding magnetic cover also keeps some heat from entering or exiting through the tumbler’s opening. And even though Yeti is very clear that the lid is not designed to be leakproof, I’ve had it turn over in my bag many times without losing a single drop of its contents.

Yeti Ramblers are extremely durable

As mentioned, my Yeti Rambler comes with me everywhere and has for over a year now. It’s been knocked over and dropped more times than I can count, but there’s not a dent on it. It looks as new as it did when I bought it. The grippy DuraCoat exterior just doesn’t scratch. Better still? The kitchen-grade stainless steel vessel is dishwasher safe.

Yeti Ramblers come in nearly any size you need

The 20-ounce tumbler is the most versatile of the Yeti Rambler line. At 6⅞ inches tall and 3.5 inches wide at the top, it’s big enough to hold a large latte from your favorite airport coffee shop on your morning flight and it will keep an afternoon pint of beer cold. It fits in most cup holders and backpack pockets, so you can bring it along filled with ice water for a road trip or a day hike. It is a bit heavier than most water bottles and not officially leakproof, so I wouldn’t recommend relying on it for long or multi-day hikes, but if you can only pack one vessel for a trip, this one can do many jobs.

Buy Now: Yeti Rambler 20-Ounce Tumbler, $35, yeti.com

Sometimes less is more when it comes to drinkware, and that’s where the Yeti Rambler 10-ounce Wine Tumbler comes in. Perhaps you don’t want to tote 20 ounces of wine on your evening beach walk. Perhaps you’d prefer to drink your lowball cocktail in cup more fitted for such a drink. The Yeti Rambler wine tumbler has all the same durability and insulation of the 20-ounce tumbler, but it’s the size and shape of an extremely comfortable stemless wineglass. Seriously, it’s fun to cradle in your hands. The 4.5-inch tall, 3.5-inch wide cup also comes with the MagSlider lid, keeping your pinot grigio cool and your pinot noir from sloshing out. This one comes with me on every camping trip for campfire cocktails, on every boozy picnic, and filled with wine for every spontaneous sunset viewing.

Yes, the Yeti Wine Tumbler was made for vino, but it’s also the perfect size for a cocktail or a bourbon on the rocks.

Yes, the Yeti Wine Tumbler was made for vino, but it’s also the perfect size for a cocktail or a bourbon on the rocks.

Photo courtesy Yeti; design by Emily Blevins

I have a deep, deep love for these two Yeti travel mugs—and if I were packing for an all-inclusive, these are the two I’d bring—but I’d be selling the Rambler line short if I didn’t mention that there are 14 other pieces of drinkware in the family: short, handled mugs, rugged gallon jugs, and more. There’s really a vessel for every occasion; it’s all about what you like and how much space you have in your suitcase.

Buy now: Yeti Rambler 10-ounce Wine Tumbler, $25, yeti.com

A note on drinkware rivalry

Water bottle aficionados can be an obsessive bunch. As much as I love my Yetis, others out there love their S’Wells, their Siggs, and their Hydro Flasks more. Hydro Flask in particular is Yeti’s friendliest rival. The two brands are at the top of the game and neck-and-neck in terms of quality, insulation, and variety. At some point it comes down to personal preference. I find the insulation in my Yetis better, but I tote my water for active adventures in a 32-ounce Hydro Flask with its swinging handle. Gear writer Bastone prefers the lip on the Hydro Flask tumbler lids to that on the Yeti tumbler lids.

Prefer Hydro Flask yourself? The brand offers a 20-ounce tumbler. Hydro Flask’s lidded wine tumbler is also 10 ounces, and it doesn’t bell out quite as much as the Yeti wine tumbler; think white wineglass versus red wineglass.

Buy now: Hydro Flask 20-Ounce Tumbler, $28, hydroflask.com; Hydro Flask 10-Ounce Wine Tumbler, $30, hydroflask.com

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a Yeti, a Hydro Flask, or some less-known brand holding your sundowner cocktail. And it doesn’t matter how many more resorts ban single-use cups. With the wealth of reusable options out there, you can be beverage-ready wherever you go.

Maggie Fuller is a San Francisco–based but globally oriented writer driven to provoke multicultural worldviews as a multimedia journalist. She covers sustainability, responsible travel, and outdoor adventure.
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