Insulated flasks have become an essential over the past 12 months. With all those socially-distanced walks you’ve been going on and the exciting rule-of-six gatherings you might have planned, you’re probably going to want a decent vessel to put your tea, coffee, wine, or water in.
But investing in an insulated flask now will serve you well for future as well. It’ll come in handy on camping trips or long journeys – wherever having a refreshing hot or cold drink is essential.
The other bonus of buying one is that they are reusable and usually pretty durable, which means you only need to buy once and it’ll be useful for years to come. It also means you’ll waste less.
We’ve tested around 15 different insulated flasks, bottles and mugs to find the best products on the market right now.
To put them through their paces, we tried hot and cold drinks in all of them, drinking either at our desk or out on dog walks when easy-sipping is essential. Each has been considered for ease of use in the car, and practicality for carrying on the move.
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Lifeventure flip-top thermal mug, 300ml
Best for: Affordable drinks on the go
Small but well made, this Lifeventure flask is brilliant for drinking on the go – especially if you don’t have a big budget. It’s vacuum insulated with a double wall and made from stainless steel, and it has a great matte finish that makes it easy to hold. You’ll have to be careful not to burn your tongue when you drink, as the flow is pretty fast from this lid. But the flip-top, single-button open mechanism is a brilliant touch that makes drinking one-handed really easy. It keeps drinks hot for six hours and cool for 12.
Slim enough to fit in all car cup holders and compact enough to go in a handbag or small backpack, it’s a great versatile vessel. It holds 300ml – perfect for a cuppa or short coffee – keeps drinks hot or cold for three hours respectively and comes in a sleek black colour.
Buy now £16.00, Cotswoldoutdoor.com
Waterdrop tumbler, 400ml
Best for: Style and substance
Not only is this flask an attractive little thing, but it’s also practical and well made. It’s a stainless steel, double-walled insulated bottle with a plastic cap that has a flip-up mechanism for easy drinking. It keeps drinks warm for six hours and double that for colder beverages. Unlike lots of direct drinking flasks (as opposed to flasks that require separate cups), the liquid doesn’t flow too fast meaning you’re unlikely to burn your tongue if you’re sipping hot tea or coffee. It’s a fairly wide bottle so for small hands it could be easily dropped if you’re on the go, but the matte finish offers non-slip grip.
We found the flip-top lid a little stiff but for a leakproof top it’s worth the minute struggle. The only major con was that it was too wide to fit in the cup holders of our 15-year-old Ford Fiesta, though it does well in more modern cars with larger holders.
Buy now £31.90, Waterdrop.com
Hydroflask wine bottle, 25oz
Best for: Boozy picnics
Our Hydroflask wine bottle has been a mainstay of boozy picnics and socially distanced drinks in gardens throughout this pandemic – especially during those hot summer days of 2020. While the bottle doesn’t promise to keep your wine at optimum temperature for a minimum number of hours, it has never failed to keep our chardonnay cool.
It’s stainless steel, so flavours won’t be passed on from one wine to the next, and it’s double-skinned which means its vacuum keeps it insulated. It has “pure pour” technology which means no drips when you’re dishing out the drinks, and its silicon base means it won’t slip off a wonky picnic table. It also comes with a lifetime warranty, so if you manage to break it somehow, you’ll get a replacement directly from Hydroflask.
Buy now £39.95, Greavessports.com
Stanley trigger-action travel mug, 350ml
Best for: Excessive use
Stanley is something of a stalwart in the insulated gear world. It’s got everything from giant growlers to vacuum food jars with attached forks. There are flasks of varying sizes, with attached mugs, but the best is the trigger-action travel mug. A hardy stainless steel, double-walled flask with a clever plastic top, which has a button you push to release the liquid. It flows easily, and not too fast, keeps drinks hot and cold for five and eight hours respectively and is easy to clean as the lid comes apart for washing (it’s even dishwasher safe).
The 350ml model is nice and slim, making it a pleasing fit in the hand and meaning it’ll fit in handbags, car cup holders or even in large coat pockets. If you’re a regular user of insulated flasks and think you might drop it a few times too many, this is the one for you.
Buy now £22.00, Blacks.co.uk
LifeStraw go stainless steel with filter, 710ml
Best for: Adventures in the wild
This is the flask for hikers and campers. The Lifestraw bottle is stainless steel and double-walled so it’ll keep your water cool in the sun (but it’s not advised to use this for hot drinks). However, its USP is its two built-in filters that allow you to fill up from almost any natural water sources, except the ocean.
The double filter acts as a straw, so as you suck through the flip-up mouthpiece it filters out all the harmful stuff, from bacteria, parasites and microplastics to chlorine, organic chemical matter, dirt, and sand. It even reduces cloudiness and improves the taste of your water so you can fill up from lakes and rivers knowing you won’t get sick afterwards.
The bottle is quite large, so it’s not one to carry by hand – you’ll need a backpack for this – but it does come with an attached carabiner for easy transportation. The only major con with this is that you’re going to have to change the filters – the one in the top of the straw lasts for 100l of use, while the membrane filter (the longer one in the centrifuge of the straw) lasts for 1000l of use. Filters cost around £13 and £25 respectively.
An added bonus is that by buying this bottle, you’ll be helping Lifestraw provide a year’s supply of safe water for a child in need somewhere in the world.
Buy now £61.99, Addnature.co.uk
Yeti rambler bottle with hotshot cap, 340ml
Best for: Keen walkers
This flask is a sturdy stainless steel number with a matte effect on the exterior for good grip. It’s sleek in black and stainless steel and it’s double walled for maximum insulation. But the best thing about it is the cap. The “hotshot” technology offers 360-degree drinking. That means you can sip from anywhere on the rip of the cap and you’ll get a good glug (careful not to burn yourself) of whatever is inside your flask.
The cap comes apart easily (twist counter clockwise until it clicks twice) and the entire thing can go in the dishwasher for deep cleaning. It’s a fairly wide bottle, but fits in most modern car cup holders.
Buy now £29.99, Yeti.com
Drenched smart bottle, 300ml
Best for: High tech desk tea
We love this clever insulated flask for one core reason: it makes loose-leaf tea drinking simple. It’s double-walled stainless steel keeps drinks hot for eight hours or cold for up to 20, but the greatest feature is the removable infuser pod. Here you can put your favourite tea leaves in for hot drinks or fresh fruit for flavoured cold water. Once the liquid has been infused by turning the flask upside down, you can remove the pod and drink as normal.
It also has a smart cap, which shows the temperature of the liquid inside on an LED display, so you’ll know when it’s at optimum drinking temperature. The only major downside is the size of this bottle – it’s fairly small and holds just 300ml, so it’s not great if you’re a glugger. This is still our go-to for fancy desk teas, though.
Buy now £20.00, Drenched
Camelbak multibev 500ml drinks bottle with 350ml mug
Best for: Versatility
This is a clever flask that doesn’t skimp on the right tech. Camelbak – best known for its hands-free drinking vessels that fit into rucksacks – has now entered the world of insulated flasks with the same mind for practicality.
This is a two-in-one flask: it has a 500ml stainless steel, double-walled drinking bottle, and the bottom half detaches to create a 350ml double-walled mug. Inside the cap, you’ll find a foldable silicon lid for the mug, too. Hot drinks will stay so for 16 hours (four in the cup) and cold for 24 hours (12 in the cup).
The two vessels can be used separately, which means you can share your tea with someone else without having to use the same drinking tools. The only major drawback here is its weight: when it’s all combined, even without liquid inside, it weighs a total of 630g which can be a bit much to carry.
Buy now £54.99, Camelbak.co.uk
Vango magma flask, 1l
Best for: Simplicity
For straightforward storage of your hot or cold beverages, this flask is a bargain. It’s less than £10, keeps hot liquids warm for up to 24 hours, and fits a whole litre of whatever it is you’re drinking. This makes it brilliant for family picnics, camping trips in the summer and will be ideal if you want to bring cool lemonade or some warming tea with you.
There are no bells and whistles here, but it has a good non-slip grip on the outside and the top doubles as a cup. There are smaller sizes too should you prefer something a little less bulky.
Buy now £8.99, Vango.co.uk
Ocean Bottle, 500ml
Best for: Sustainability
Made from recycled stainless steel with a recycled plastic top, this bottle has serious sustainability credentials. Plus, for every bottle bought, the brand promises to rescue the equivalent of 1,000 plastic bottles (around 11kg) from the sea to keep our marine environments safe and clean.
It’s not all about green kudos, though. It’s actually a well made, cleverly designed bottle. It’s double-walled for best insulation (keeping drinks warm for nine hours and double that time for cooler beverages), and the cap comes off in two places. There’s a simple screw-cap bottle top, and a wider screw-cap beneath that which, when removed as one piece, doubles up as an upside-down teacup, using the silicon carry loop as a handle.
Buy now £40.00, Oceanbottle.co
The verdict: Insulated flasks
The Lifeventure insulated flask is a steal at £12, which is why it’s our best buy. But we also loved the Stanley – it was the ideal bottle for drinking on our dog walks, and we were really impressed with how the cap came apart for thorough cleaning.
Even though we remain hopeful of a holiday abroad, just in case, we’ve rounded up everything you might need for a staycation, from hiking boots to backpacks
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