Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

I can’t say that I’m often ahead of trends, but I bought a Stanley tumbler years ago. And, reader, I hated it, as did my husband and even my dog. The tumbler caused us all to jump whenever it fell over with a thwack, water pouring out around its straw. With its tapered base and top-heavy design, topple over it did…all of the time.

Thus, I was happy to find out that the Stanley’s lid was redesigned, with a silicone seal that holds the straw in place and (allegedly) prevents the sort of splashes that have caused me to utter many an expletive. That, coupled with the virality of the aforementioned ginormous cup (if you’ve been on TikTok lately, you’d be unsurprised to find out Stanley’s sales jumped from $194 million in 2021 to about $750 million in 2023, according to CNBC), made me want to formally test insulated tumblers—those from Stanley, Yeti, Owala, Hydro Flask, and more. 

To evaluate these tumblers, I drank from them (duh), tested their cold retention, looked at how much they leaked when tipped over, and more.

The Winners, at a Glance

This insulated tumbler had the best cold retention of the bunch and didn’t leak even when fully tilted on its side—no small feat, as you’ll read below. It was great to drink from, comfortable to hold (thanks to its large handle), came in a range of hues, and was about $30.

The Owala was one of three models that passed the leak test. Its cold retention was great, too, and its handle had an indent that ran its length, which made it nicely grippy.

This Stanley tumbler’s lid is much improved upon compared to the previous iteration. Its silicone seal stopped water from flooding out (though it’s not leakproof). It had solid cold retention and felt well-balanced. The silicone portions on its handle were exceptionally nice to hold, too. 

The Yeti was the only model without a silicone seal around its straw that did well (but not perfectly) in the leak test. Its lid presses in and pulls out without much fuss, too. Its rectangular handle has rounded edges and is nice to hold onto and its wide straw provides smooth sips. It’s available in two smaller sizes, which are the same shape.

The third and final tumbler that soared through the leaking test (along with the Simple Modern and Owala), this 32-ounce cup is smaller, lightweight, and comes with a lifetime warranty. 

With a wide, stiffer silicone straw, the Hydro Flask was pleasant to drink from (a boon for those who’d rather not sip from hard plastic). Its lid pressed in easily and it had solid cold retention. 

With good cold retention and a silicone-lined handle, the Corkcicle is a perfectly fine insulated tumbler. And while not all of its colors are retro-looking, the Sunglass Tan, Purple Dolphin, and 80s Windbreaker certainly have Saved by the Bell vibes.

The Tests

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-SchirmGeneral Use Test: I evaluated how easy it was to remove and put each tumbler’s lid back on and what it was like to hold and drink from. Leakage Test: I filled each tumbler with water, and then tilted it over the sink to see if it leaked.Cold Retention Test: After filling each insulated tumbler with 100 grams of ice and cold (45°F) water, I placed the lids on and took the temperature every two hours for 16 hours using an instant-read thermometer.Cleanup Test: I washed the tumblers by hand, then placed the dishwasher-safe models (which were all of them) in the top rack of the dishwasher to see how they fared. Long-Term Testing: All of my favorite tumblers have entered long-term testing (she writes, currently drinking from the Simple Modern). I will update this review with any notable findings. 

What We Learned

Twist-On vs. Press-In Lids

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

The insulated tumblers either had twist-on or press-in lids. Neither was better or more secure (both styles had winners that leaked and others that didn’t), so it’s a matter of preference. For those with dexterity or hand strength concerns, the press-in lids were easier to add and remove. The Yeti and MiiR in particular had sizeable plastic tabs on their lids, which you can press your thumb upwards on and use to pop the lid off (though the Yeti requires more force).

As far as the twist-on lids, I struggled at one point to thread them all but managed after a try or two. Ultimately, other factors (like the straw) superseded any lid qualms. 

Straw Placement and Size

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

A few of the tumblers (the Owala, Hydro Flask, and MiiR) had straws located in the center of the lids. For most (i.e. those who aren’t testing 10 insulated tumblers side-by-side) this placement will be unnoticeable. However, I did find straws that were located closer to the edge and set at a slight angle were more intuitive to drink from. This way, you don’t have to crane your neck over the top of the tumbler or tilt it when sipping. That said, this is somewhat splitting hairs and my winners include both straw placements.

The best insulated tumblers were also a joy to drink from, providing an ample amount of water effortlessly with each sip. A couple of the tumblers (the Swig Life and TeamVV) had narrower straws than the top performers, providing noticeably less water and more resistance when I drank from them. 

Leakage: Expect It

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

Unlike water bottles, you shouldn’t expect most insulated tumblers to be leakproof. With their tapered, narrower bases and uncapped straws, they’re bound to be tip- and leak-prone. However, this doesn’t mean water should flood from them when tilted. 

Most of the insulated tumblers dribbled during the leak test, specifically around their straws. The ones that didn’t (the Simple Modern and Owala, most notably) had tighter silicone seals holding their straws put. It was to the point where I had to forcefully pull the straw out of the Simple Modern to get it to budge. If a leakproof tumbler is your priority, you now know which one to get. 

All of the Insulated Tumblers Kept Water Cold

All of the insulted tumblers had double-walled insulation (the Owala and Corckcicle were even triple-layered) and kept the water cold for a substantial amount of time. After six hours, most warmed just a few degrees—though the Simple Modern was the only one with ice still in it. Even once 16 hours passed, the warmest tumbler was at 53°F. That’s still chilly!

The Criteria: What to Look for in an Insulated Tumbler

Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

The best insulated tumblers have large, comfortable handles, excellent cold retention, wide straws that provide a smooth sipping experience, and a reasonable amount of (or no!) leaking when tipped over. 

The Best Insulated Tumblers

What we liked: With the best cold retention of all the models, the Simple Modern impressed me—especially at such a reasonable price. Its handle was ergonomic and comfortable and its straw was wide and at a slight angle. It’s also leakproof: Nary a drop of water came out, even when I rested the tumbler on its side. It comes in a ton of colors, too.

What we didn’t like: The screw-on lid has a low profile, giving your fingers just a quarter of an inch to hold onto and twist to remove. 

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steelWeight: 1 poundStated capacity: 40 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesOther sizes available: 30 ouncesSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: Another leakproof option, Owala’s handle was one of my favorites thanks to an indent that ran down its length, providing a comfortable place for my thumb to rest. It did the second best in the cold retention test and its screw-on lid was large and grabbable. 

What we didn’t like: The Owala’s straw is located in the center of the lid, though it can be tilted slightly. I found this to be less of a convenient placement. 

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steelWeight: 1.6 poundsStated capacity: 40 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesOther sizes available: N/A
Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: Ah yes, the social media hydration superstar! However, this tumbler is actually great: Nicely balanced, its other highlights were a large handle with grippy silicone portions, a twist-on lid, an angled straw, and super-smooth sipping. 

What we didn’t like: It did leak a bit, but not the worst out of the bunch, and certainly not enough to not recommend it. 

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steel; powder coat finishWeight: 1.4 poundsStated capacity: 40 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesOther sizes available: 14, 20, 30, 64 ouncesSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: With a sturdy, press-in lid and angled straw, the Yeti is a joy to drink from. I like that its straw has a bumper on the bottom, so it can’t be accidentally pulled up and out of the lid. It didn’t have a silicone stopper but did shockingly well in the leak test. Unlike other brands, Yeti’s smaller sizes have the same shape and handle, so I can confidently recommend those, too.

What we didn’t like: It did well in the leak test, but it wasn’t impervious to drippage. 

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steelWeight: 1.7 poundsStated capacity: 42 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesSizes available: 25 and 35 ouncesSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: This smaller insulated tumbler has a press-in lid that pops in and out with surprisingly little resistance. That said, it was one of the three models that didn’t leak (thanks to its press-in silicone straw that formed a tight seal on the lid). 

What we didn’t like: Its straw is located in the center of the lid, and it’s not available in a larger size. 

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steel; powder coat finishWeight: 1.5 poundsStated capacity: 32 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: Yes, though hand-washing is recommendedOther sizes available: N/ASerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: Those with an aversion to sipping on a hard, plastic straw will like the Hydro Flask’s flexible, silicone mouthpiece. It did well in the cold retention test and was nice to drink from.

What we didn’t like: Water dripped from around the straw, which is located in the center of the lid. I wish the press-in lid’s tab was larger, as this would make the lid easier to remove.  

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steelWeight: 1.5 poundsStated capacity: 40 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesOther sizes available: 32 ouncesSerious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

What we liked: The handle on this insulated tumbler was great and grippy, thanks to a silicone piece that ran down the inside of it. It did very well in the cold retention test and if you get one of the brand’s multi-hued colors (bright blue and pink; pink and green!), the Corkcicle gives off a fun ‘80s vibe.

What we didn’t like: This model leaked around the straw and the lid’s slider.

Key Specs

Materials: Stainless steelWeight: 1.34 poundsStated capacity: 40 ouncesFits in a car cup holder: YesDishwasher-safe: YesOther sizes available: N/A
Serious Eats / Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm

The Competition 

Stanley IceFlow Stainless Steel Tumbler with Straw: Though this insulated tumbler had excellent cold retention, its straw (which locks into its lid) was hard to push up and press back down. Swig Life 40oz Mega Mug: The floppy silicone upper and overall smaller straw size meant this tumbler required more effort to drink from. It also leaked more than other models.TeamVV 40 oz Tumbler: I liked the silicone bumper on this tumbler, but the thin straw was less pleasant to drink from and the dual-sided lid leaked substantially.

FAQs

Who makes the best insulated tumbler? 

After testing 10 insulated tumblers, I named models from Simple Modern, Owala, Stanley, and more as top picks. However, all of the tumblers had excellent cold retention and were fairly comfortable to drink from.

How do you clean an insulated tumbler? 

All of the tumblers I tested were dishwasher-safe (some specified they had to be placed on the top rack). However, insulated tumblers can also be cleaned by hand with a sponge and hot, soapy water. I recommend buying specific brushes to deep-clean their straws, though.

Which tumbler keeps water cold the longest? 

In my test, the Simple Modern tumbler kept water the coldest, with it being the only insulated tumbler that still had ice in it after six hours.

Why We’re the Experts

Riddley Gemperlein-Schirm is the senior commerce editor at Serious Eats and has been with the site since 2021.She previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen, Food52, and EatingWell. She’s been reviewing equipment professionally for about six years and has written many reviews for this site, including dinnerware sets and air fryers.For this review, Riddley tested 10 insulated tumblers. She evaluated their cold retention, usability, leakage, and more.

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