CamelBak Forge 16oz Travel Mug

I bought a 16 oz CamelBak Forge to see if it could beat two other travel mugs I’ve tested before (Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop and Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA).

Out of the CamelBak’s competition, the Zojirushi holds heat the best, but the Contigo is easier to use and clean.

The CamelBak is at least as good as the Zojirushi at retaining heat. I consider the CamelBak superior to both the Zojirushi and Contigo.


The competition for this mug is stiff. The Zojirushi is a competent heat retainer while the Contigo is easy to use and clean.

The initial base for all of these tests is a cheap plastic travel mug my wife bought me some years back, against which I tested the Zojirushi and Contigo.

So it’s only fair to use the plastic mug as a base for testing the CamelBak against.

In the end, the CamelBak Forge doesn’t just beat the plastic mug, which is to be expected, but also the Zojirushi and the Contigo.

Read on to see why.

The cheap plastic travel mug, a gift from my wife a few years back. This formed the basis for my travel mug tests
The cheap plastic travel mug, a gift from my wife a few years back. This formed the basis for my travel mug tests.
The three mugs I put through their paces. From left to right, Zojirushi, Contigo, CamelBak
The three mugs I put through their paces. From left to right, Zojirushi, Contigo, CamelBak.

TL;DR

For those who don’t want to read the whole post, here are my findings, abbreviated.

Heat retention

I ran two heat retention tests for each mug (the cheap plastic mug, the Zojirushi, the Contigo and the CamelBak).

In the first test I poured coffee into each mug, took the temperature, closed the mug for 6 hours and 26 minutes, opened the mug and took the temperature.

In the second test I poured coffee into the mug, took the temperature, closed the mug and opened it every half an hour to take the temperature.

The CamelBak beat the Contigo easily and drew with the Zojirushi in this department.

Toughness

The CamelBak’s as tough as a metal mug will be.

Its body will bend under strain or dent when knocked and the lid won’t bear a beating either, so handle it with care.

This is not unique to the CamelBak though. They design travel mugs to hit the sweet spot in a number of areas; it’s impossible to create a product that’s indestructible, retains heat well, is easy to clean and use AND doesn’t weigh a ton.

Spilling and leaking

The CamelBak is leakproof.

I filled it with coffee, turned it upside down and shook it. Nothing spilled.

So I turned it right side up and opened it. It released some air and splattered a few drops of coffee.

Then I turned it upside down again and nothing leaked from it.

The splattering of coffee got me curious.

Would this mug splatter drops of coffee every time I pressed the button to open the lid for a sip?

So I went through the motions of drinking from it, paying attention to what happens whenever I open it.

It did NOT sputter coffee when I opened it.

The only reason it did so when I tested it for leakage, was because I shook it while holding it upside down, which caused pressure buildup in the mug.

But it won’t leak. So don’t worry about coffee seeping out of it if ever the CamelBak finds itself on its side in your car.

The CamelBak Forge is leak proof, as this picture of it dangling upside down from my hand shows
The CamelBak Forge is leak proof, as this picture of it dangling upside down shows.

Lockable

This is one area where the CamelBak loses to the competition.

It does not come with a lid lock, which means inquisitive young hands might pick up the mug, press the wrong button and spill something.

However, the button you press to open the drinking spout is solid. A baby won’t be able to open it easily.

Besides, with enough fiddling, even a mug with a lock could end up being opened.

Warranty

CamelBak’s warranty is far too involved to post here.

They offer what they call the Got Your Bak lifetime guarantee.

You can read more about it at camelbak.com/en/customer-service/warranty.

It’s probably the most comprehensive warranty I’ve ever come across.

In the box

The CamelBak didn’t come in fancy packaging. It arrived with tags attached to it, in a box, but it wasn’t wrapped.

No dents, unlike the Contigo

when I tested the Contigo, one thing that miffed me was that both the Contigos (I bought two) came with dents.

They weren’t big dents, and it’s not a big deal, but my money had no dents. One expects a new product you pay for to not have even the slightest defect.

The CamelBak Forge came nickfree, despite the lack of fancy packaging.

Before using it

Take these steps before using the CamelBak Forge:

  1. Unscrew the lid from the body.
  2. Remove papers from the mug (if there are any).
  3. Wash the lid & tumbler.
    1. See cleaning instructions below.
  4. Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.

Maximum beverage temperature

You don’t want to use your travel mug to melt gold in; you want to drink coffee or tea from it.

Provided you use it with common sense, you should be able to fill the CamelBak Forge with a piping hot beverage often and not damage it.

Heat retention tests

I ran two heat retention tests with the CamelBak.

For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker, poured the coffee into a metal jug and transferred it to the CamelBak.

For both tests the starting temperature was 66 degrees Celsius.

I made a cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the CamelBak Forge
I made a cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the CamelBak Forge.

First test

In the first heat retention test I poured coffee into the CamelBak and measured the temperature at 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit).

Then, for the next five hours, I opened the CamelBak every half an hour to measure the temperature.

The coffee’s temperature dropped a total of 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over a period of five hours.

Below is a table showing the difference in temperature over a five hour period.

This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in a CamelBak Forge and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
TimeframeCamelBak Forge (Celsius)Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)CamelBak Forge (Fahrenheit)Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5451129,2123.8
60 minutes later5240125.6104
90 minutes later4931120.287.8
120 minutes later453011386
150 minutes later4329109.484.2
180 minutes later402510477
210 minutes later3923102.273.4
240 minutes later372398.673.4
270 minutes later342193.269.8
300 minutes later342193.269.8

These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the CamelBak Forge…

…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug I tested the CamelBak Forge against…

Second test

In the second heat retention test I poured coffee into the CamelBak and measured the temperature at 66 degrees Celsius.

After 6 hours and 26 minutes, I unscrewed the CamelBak’s lid and measured the temperature again. It measured 33 degrees Celsius.

That’s a drop of 33 degrees Celsius (91.4 degrees Fahrenheit), which turns out to be similar to the first heat retention test.

Note: These tests weren’t done in a lab, but in a room in a normal home.

Ideal coffee temperature

The Coffee Detective says that the ideal temperature range for coffee is between 155°F to 175°F (70°C to 80°C).

Driftaway Coffee‘s Scott says coffee should be between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).

It’s down to personal preference.

And then there’s the growing interest in cold brew coffee, which is a different, and dare I say, superior beast, to traditional coffee.

How to use it

Unscrew the CamelBak’s lid, pour your beverage of choice into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.

You could screw the lid back on immediately, especially if you want to keep your beverage scorching for a long time.

But if you’re like me, who uses a travel mug more for the convenience of having coffee securely on the go, rather than for having it as hot as possible for as long as possible, you might want to allow the contents in the tumbler to cool down before you screw on the lid.

Before you screw the lid on

When you wash your CamelBak, you remove the lid set from the tumbler, flip open what CamelBak calls the arms of the lid set and clean it, either with a brush or in a dishwasher.

But before you screw the lid back onto the tumbler after you’ve washed it and want to use it again, make sure the arms are in the correct position. If they’re in the wrong position and you try to put them in place after you’re screwed the lid on, you won’t be able to do so.

How to drink from it

Drinking from the CamelBak is similar to drinking from the Contigo.

To drink from the CamelBak:

  1. Press the button at the back of the lid.
    1. This releases the spout lock (which extends from what CamelBak calls the arms of the lid).
    2. Make sure you hold the mug away from your face when you press the button, because it can build up pressure while standing.
  2. Put your lips to the Forge’s spout.
  3. Tilt back your head and sip.

Lock it in the open position

If you want to keep your CamelBak’s spout open permanently, simply press the button to open the spout, as you would when you take a sip, then press the little button on top of the arms down to lock the arms in place, thereby leaving the spout unblocked.

How not to use it

Although the CamelBak doesn’t come with a manual, you should use it with care.

Do that by following these guidelines:

  1. Don’t let babies or kids use it.
  2. Ensure that no parts (like the rubber seal) are missing before using it.
  3. Make sure the lid’s arms close after you’ve taken a sip.
  4. If it stops retaining heat, stop using the CamelBak.
  5. Hold the mug away from your face when you press the button to take a sip.
  6. Don’t put your CamelBak in a microwave oven.
  7. Don’t drink and drive.
  8. Don’t drink from it too quickly. Take it easy.
  9. Don’t shake the mug while it’s filled with something.
  10. Don’t fill it with dry ice.

Can you use it for soup?

I don’t know if the CamelBak Forge is supposed to be used for drinking soup from, but I was going to find out in any case, since I tested the Zojirushi and Contigo in a similar fashion.

I used a creamy tomato soup, the same one I used for testing the other mugs.

I prepared the soup according to instructions, then strained it into a jug to remove lumps.

From the jug I poured the soup into the CamelBak.

It worked.

I could drink soup from the CamelBak easily.

But you use it for this kind of thing at your own risk. I suspect they make the CamelBak for use with coffee and tea, not soup.

How to clean it

Follow these steps to clean your CamelBak Forge:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add detergent.
  2. Place the CamelBak in the water.
  3. Remove the lid set from the tumbler.
  4. Clean the lid set.
    1. Open the arms by pressing the open button.
      1. This flips open the arms and keeps them open, since the lid set is not connected to the tumbler.
    2. Soak in warm water.
    3. Use a small, soft brush to get to hard-to-reach places.
  5. Remove the lid set from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  6. Wash the tumbler.
    1. Use a soft sponge.
  7. Remove the tumbler from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  8. Place the lid set and the tumbler on a drying rack and leave to dry.

The CamelBak is easier to clean than both the Zojirushi and the Contigo.

It’s not hard to beat the Zojirushi in this department, since the Zojirushi requires you to remove parts from it when you clean it.

The Contigo, however, is easy to clean.

So the fact that the CamelBak is even easier to clean than the Contigo is a big deal.

Dishwasher safe?

The CamelBak Forge’s lid SHOULD be dishwasher safe, but don’t quote me on that. It’s hard to find info on this mug, and since I promised to gift mine to a friend after the test, I didn’t want to sacrifice it for the sake of a test.

The tumbler is NOT dishwasher safe.

Technical details

Tech specs for the CamelBak Forge. Metric and Imperial.
 MetricImperial
Body materialFood-grade stainless steel
Lid materialPolypropylene
Height (assembled)219mm8.62 inches
Height (lid set)61mm2.4 inches
Height (main body / tumbler)183mm7.2 inches
Maximum width (lid)106.5mm4.19 inches
Maximum diameter (main body / tumbler)72.5mm2.85 inches
Weight (assembled, dry)330g11,64 oz
Weight (assembled, filled with water)750g26.45 oz
Weight (lid)84g2.96 oz
Weight (main body / tumbler)246g8.67 oz

Construction

The CamelBak Forge is made from a variety of materials, including BPA-free polypropylene (the lid) and stainless steel (the tumbler).

Sizes

The CamelBak Forge comes in two sizes:

  • 12 oz
  • 16 oz

I only bought the 16 oz for this test. I can’t see how anybody would be happy with only 12 ounces of coffee. It just does not compute.

Does it fit inside a cup holder?

This obviously depends on the diameter of your automobile’s cup holder.

The CamelBak Forge tapers up from ~70mm.

Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm, which means the CamelBak Forge fits fine.

My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9, the cup holder of which the CamelBak fits into.

Does the AeroPress fit?

Like with the Contigo, the AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak, which means the Zojirushi wins this round, since the AeroPress fits snugly into it.

If you make AeroPress coffee for the CamelBak you’ll have to make it in another container, like a stainless steel jug, and pour it into the CamelBak.

Tip: when you press AeroPress into a metal container, preheat the container so it doesn’t cause the coffee to lose too much heat.

The AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak
The AeroPress does NOT fit into the CamelBak.

Colors

The Zojirushi comes in ten colors:

  • Aubergine
  • Black Smoke
  • Blaze
  • Blue Street
  • Bronze
  • Deep Sea
  • Ghost
  • Ghost Berry
  • Olive Sky
  • Slate

Price

I bought the CamelBak Forge for under $30.

However, you’ll need to check the current price on Amazon. I think it’s gone up.

The CamelBak Forge’s price is also affected by size and color.

Final thoughts

The CamelBak is a great travel mug, the best out of the three stainless steel travel mugs I’ve tested.

It’s leak- and spill proof. Although it doesn’t come with the locking system you’ll find on the Zojirushi and Contigo, the CamelBak won’t spill liquid easily.

It keeps your drink hot. The CamelBak keeps up with the Zojirushi and beats the Contigo in heat retention tests.

It’s easy to clean and use. The CamelBak is as easy to use and clean as the Contigo, which is much easier to clean and use than than the Zojirushi.

The Contigo AUTOSEAL is a GREAT mug, but if you want a travel mug that’s as easy to use, easier to clean, won’t spill and keeps your drink hotter, the CamelBak Forge is for you.

Zojirushi SM-YAE48 Travel Mug

I bought three mugs online to test and use. Two of those were Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loops, and one was a Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. I gifted the two Contigos and kept the Zojirushi. Here’s my review of the Zojirushi.

(Want to know which of the two is best? Read my Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA VS Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop article.)


When you hit the road, you want a comfortable mug of warm coffee perched on your lap or sitting in the cup holder.

What better way to spend a long drive than with a good companion (my wife), Morrissey’s ‘Everyday Is Like Sunday’ oozing from the CD player and a warm mug of caffeine to snuggle up to?

In this review I pit the Zojirushi against a cheap plastic mug my wife bought me some years ago. I followed the same route with the Contigo West Loop mug (read my Contigo review). In another post I compare the Zojirushi to the Contigo. Better sign up to receive more of this sort of thing.

Here’s why you’ll want to buy the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA travel mug.

Heat retention

The plastic mug showed a drop in temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five-hour period.

The Zojirushi showed a drop of 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over five hours.

The Zojirushi—because of its double wall stainless steel construction—does a far better job of retaining heat than a plastic mug.

Toughness

Plastic is a great option for container products. It makes a tough travel mug too.

The problem is, plastic doesn’t retain heat as well as metal.

So you can have your tougher plastic mug, but if you want warm coffee, you need double wall stainless steel insulation.

The Zojirushi gives you double wall insulation.

So it’s as tough as a metal mug can be.

If you drop it, it will dent or bend. The lid won’t last either.

So, even though it’s tough, you need to handle the Zojirushi with care.

Spilling and leaking

The Zojirushi’s lid clips into place when you close it. It also features a lid cover gasket, made from silicon, that seals into the sip area when you clip the lid cover into place.

The lid set screws onto the main body with a stopper gasket—also made from silicon—that keeps your Zojirushi’s contents inside.

The Zojirushi doesn’t leak even a little bit.

The Zojirushi is leak proof. Here I'm helping it do a handstand with a belly full of coffee, cos it can't stand on its head by itself. No leaking.
The Zojirushi is leak proof. Here I’m helping it do a handstand with a belly full of coffee, cos it can’t stand on its head by itself. No leaking.

Lockable

The Zojirushi’s lid set contains a safety lock. This is next to the lid set’s button.

Why is this important?

Let’s say you decide to buy a travel mug; a cheap one, cos buying a Zojirushi is a waste of money.

You make coffee and fill your cheap new travel mug. You’re proud of having saved money by not buying the Zojirushi. The coffee tastes the same in the cheap mug, after all.

Your cheap mug doesn’t lock, but that doesn’t bother you. You told yourself to be more careful when you use it; you won’t allow your little one near it.

You grab your mug of delicious coffee and head for the porch, where you ease into a hammock chair. You place the mug next to you on the tiled floor.

Your little one’s waddling around in the lounge. She’s in a good mood, but driving you nuts with her incessant humming and singing.

You lay back your head and close your eyes. You could do with a quick snooze.

Something’s up. Your little one’s gone quiet.

You hear a muted plonk, followed by a, “Whoopsy!” next to you.

You turn to see your new mug lying on its side, bleeding coffee, your little one squatting next to the accident, covering her mouth in mock shock.

You’ll have to make another cup and you can’t set it on the floor, but you’re thankful, because it could have been worse.

What if she’d tried drinking the hot coffee? You don’t want to think about the consequences.

The Zojirushi’s lock adds another layer of security to your travel mug. A little one will have a difficult time opening it.

Warranty

I found the following on a Zojirushi product page…

5 year warranty on heat retention

That doesn’t say much, so I emailed Zojirushi USA for more info.

Jacqueline kindly replied with the following email:

Thank you for contacting Zojirushi America.

The vacuum mugs are non-Electrical products that come with a 5 year heat retention warranty.

Parts however, such as the lid, are not covered under this 5 year warranty.

You have up to five years to exchange the main body, but not the lid set, if I understand their warranty.

In the box

The Zojirushi came in a neat box, along with usage pamphlets in various languages.

No dents, unlike the Contigo

The Zojirushi had no dents when it arrived. That’s because Zojirushi ships their product in a box. It handles a journey better.

Both the Contigos I ordered came with minor dents, because Contigo doesn’t package their products in a box.

Before using it

Take these steps before using the Zojirushi:

  1. Unscrew the lid from the body.
  2. Remove the pamphlet from the tumbler.
  3. Wash the lid & tumbler.
    1. See cleaning instructions below.
  4. Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.

Maximum beverage temperature

Unless you drink molten lead, metal, lava or something similar, the Zojirushi will handle what you fill it with.

Use it for coffee, tea or a similar beverage and it won’t give you trouble.

Heat retention tests

I ran two tests to compare the Zojirushi’s heat retention to the plastic mug’s. (The plastic travel mug can’t compare to the Zojirushi.)

For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker. I measured the contents immediately after filling the mugs.

I boiled the water for the coffee to 100 degrees Celsius, but by the time I was done with the AeroPress, the coffee’s temperature had plummeted.

I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the Zojirushi
I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the Zojirushi.

First test

For testing the Zojirushi, I compared data collected from testing the Zojirushi, to data collected from testing the plastic travel mug for the Contigo article. There’s no need to duplicate the plastic travel mug test.

For the first test, I poured coffee with a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit) into the Zojirushi and the plastic travel mug.

In both cases I measured the coffee’s temperature every half an hour, for five hours.

For me, 66 degrees Celsius is warm enough, but some might find it too cold. I wasn’t concerned with the drinking temperature; I wanted to test the Zojirushi’s heat retention capability.

The temperature of the coffee in the Zojirushi dropped 32 degrees Celsius (57.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.

The temperature of the coffee in the plastic travel mug dropped 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.

Here’s a table showing the difference in temperature over a five-hour period, measured every half an hour.

This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in a Zojirushi and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
TimeframeZojirushi (Celsius)Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)Zojirushi (Fahrenheit)Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5851136.4123.8
60 minutes later5340127.4104
90 minutes later4931120.287.8
120 minutes later4630114.886
150 minutes later4429111.284.2
180 minutes later4125105.877
210 minutes later402310473.4
240 minutes later372398.673.4
270 minutes later35219569.8
300 minutes later342193.269.8

These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the Zojirushi…

…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug…

Second test

For the second test I poured coffee into the Zojirushi at 10:42 am in the morning. It measured 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit). I measured it again at 17:08 pm. That’s six hours and 26 minutes later. It measured 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

That’s a drop of 35 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit). The second test showed similar results to the first.

Note: These tests were done in a normal home in a normal suburb of a normal little town on a spectacular coast.

Ideal coffee temperature

The Coffee Detective says that the ideal temperature range for coffee is between 155ºF to 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC)

Driftaway Coffee‘s Scott says coffee should be between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).

It’s down to personal preference.

How to use it

Unscrew the Zojirushi’s lid, pour your beverage into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.

If you don’t want to scorch your lips, wait a few minutes before you screw the lid onto the main body after having filled it.

How to drink from it

To drink from the Zojirushi:

  1. Press the release button at the front of the mug.
    1. This releases the lid cover and it pops open.
    2. Don’t do this close to your face. The mug can build up pressure when sealed.
    3. Make sure the lid cover is flipped open all the way.
      1. If it’s not, it’ll touch your forehead when you drink from the mug.
  2. Put your lips to the Zojirushi’s sip area.
  3. Tilt back your head and sip.

How not to use it

The Zojirushi comes with a booklet chock full of warnings. Here’s what they say you shouldn’t do with it:

  1. Don’t allow small kids or babies to use it.
  2. Before using it, ensure that the lid cover gasket and stopper gasket are attached.
  3. Don’t fill it while the lid is attached to the main body.
  4. Make sure the lid cover is clipped into place after taking a sip.
  5. Stop using the mug if it doesn’t retain heat anymore.
  6. Don’t open the lid cover with the mug close to your face.
  7. Don’t heat it in a microwave oven.
  8. Don’t drink from the mug while driving.
  9. Drink slowly from it.
  10. Don’t shake the mug if it contains a beverage.
  11. Don’t put dry ice into it.

Can you use it for soup?

Zojirushi’s usage pamphlet says to not use it for drinking the following liquids:

  • Liquids high in sodium
    • Soup
    • Kombucha
  • Dairy
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit pulp
  • Tea leaves

I wanted to see whether it would handle soup.

I used the same soup I used for testing in the Contigo. It’s a creamy tomato soup.

I prepared it according to the packet’s instructions and strained it into a jug to remove large lumps. I poured the soup into the Zojirushi.

It wasn’t necessary to strain the soup, since the drinking hole is big enough. But I wanted to emulate the Contigo soup test.

The soup poured from the Zojirushi like a river.

The verdict?

Zojirushi says you can’t use it for soup. I’ve proven that you can use it for soup. But if you use it for soup, you do so at your own risk.

How to clean it

Follow these steps to clean your Zojirushi:

  1. Fill a sink with warm water and add detergent.
  2. Place the Zojirushi in the water.
  3. Remove the lid set from the main body.
    1. Remove the lid cover gasket from the lid set.
    2. Remove the stopper gasket from the lid set.
  4. Clean the lid set.
    1. Soak in warm water.
    2. Use a small, soft brush to get to hard-to-reach places.
  5. Remove the lid set from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  6. Wash the main body.
    1. Use a soft sponge.
  7. Remove the main body from the soapy water and rinse in clean water.
    1. Shake a few times to assist in drying.
  8. Place the lid set, cover gasket, stopper gasket and main body on a rack to dry or use a cloth to dry.
  9. Place the stopper gasket and cover gasket back onto the lid set once all parts are dry.

Dishwasher safe?

The Zojirushi is not dishwasher safe. Wash it by hand.

Technical details

Tech specs for the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. Metric and Imperial.
 MetricImperial
Body materialFood-grade stainless steel
Lid materialPolypropylene
Gasket materialSilicon
Height (assembled)218mm8.58 inches
Height (lid set)70.6mm2.78 inches
Height (main body / tumbler)170mm6.69 inches
Maximum diameter (lid)86.2mm3.39 inches
Maximum diameter (main body / tumbler)82.1mm3.23 inches
Weight (assembled, dry)298g10.51 oz
Weight (assembled, filled with water)760g26.8 oz
Weight (lid)96g3.38 oz
Weight (main body / tumbler)203g7.16 oz

Construction

They make the Zojirushi’s lid from various materials, including polypropylene. They make the gaskets from silicon. The lid set contains small metal parts too.

They make the main body (tumbler) from a food-grade stainless steel.

Sizes

The Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA comes in one size:

  • 16 oz

Zojirushi makes more models in other sizes, including 12 oz and 20 oz.

Does it fit inside a cup holder?

That depends on the cup holder’s diameter.

The Zojirushi tapers up from ~69mm.

Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm. The Zojirushi fits.

My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9. The Zojirushi fits the Evo’s cup holders.

Does the AeroPress fit?

Great news.

The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi. Can’t say the same for the Contigo West Loop.

Why is this important?

When you make AeroPress coffee in a different container and pour it into your travel mug, you lose heat with the transfer.

I made coffee inside the Zojirushi straight from the AeroPress and the temperature measured 73 degrees Celsius. When I made coffee in a stainless jug and poured it into the Zojirushi, the temperature measured 66 degrees.

The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi
The AeroPress fits into the Zojirushi.

Colours

The Zojirushi comes in four colours:

  • Cherry red
  • Dark cocoa
  • Lime green
  • Stainless (plain silver)

Price

I bought the Zojirushi for under $30.

Size and colour determine the Zojirushi’s cost. The dark cocoa Zojirushi is the cheapest offering, while the cherry red is the most expensive.

Final thoughts

The Zojirushi is a good travel mug.

It’s leak- and spill proof. The locking system ensures that your coffee (or tea) goes nowhere when you’re juggling or shaking the Zojirushi.

It keeps your drink hot. The double sealed walls ensures that your Zojirushi’s contents remain hot for long. It retains heat better than the Contigo.

It’s not as easy to use or clean as the Contigo, but if you place a high premium on keeping your drink warm, get the Zojirushi.

Want to know which travel mug is the best between the Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA and the Contigo West Loop? Click here.

Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop Travel Mug

I got tired of a cheap plastic travel mug not preventing my coffee from spilling, so I bought three superb travel mugs online.

Two of them are 16 oz Contigo West Loop AUTOSEALs, one of which I gave to my wife, the other to a friend. I tested my wife’s before handing it over. Here’s my review.


A few years ago my wife bought me a cheap plastic travel mug for Christmas. This was before we were married. She didn’t want to spend money on me before she was sure I’d commit.

I enjoyed the gift. I still have it. It says “KEEP CALM AND GROW A MOUSTACHE” on the side. When she bought it I was in the process of growing a beard the size of a personal barley meadow, so the inscription made me smile.

But it’s a junk mug.

It doesn’t keep my coffee warm and it’s messy. The lid is recessed. When I drink from the mug, it leaves drops of coffee on the inner rim. I end up sucking on the lid to keep it dry, instead of savouring my coffee.

At a prayer meeting a friend showed us his Contigo travel mug.

Following that introduction I bought two travel mugs: the Contigo, as well as a Zojirushi SM-YAE48RA. The Zoji would be mine, while my wife could have the Contigo.

I’ve written a review of the Zojirushi mug too, but let’s focus on the Contigo in this post.

I recommend you buy a Contigo West Loop. It’s a fantastic travel mug. Here’s why…

Heat retention

The plastic mug showed a drop in temperature of 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five-hour period.

The West Loop showed a drop of 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over five hours.

At the higher temperatures, the drop is more gradual in the West Loop than in the plastic mug.

The AUTOSEAL West Loop’s double wall design is better at retaining heat than the plastic mug.

Toughness

In some ways a plastic travel mug is tougher than a stainless steel mug like the West Loop. A plastic mug won’t dent or bend if it falls. It won’t chip either, if it’s a good plastic.

But plastic does a poor job of retaining heat.

You need a metal double wall mug to enjoy a warm cup of joe long after it was poured.

The West Loop is as tough as a metal mug can be. But Don’t drop it. It’ll dent, like any metal mug. The lid might break too.

But it’s tough enough, considering the first-class drinking experience it provides.

Spilling and leaking

The Contigo does not leak at all while it’s shut.

I asked a friend to pass the Contigo to me from a distance of two metres. One of my fingers pressed on the AUTOSEAL button as I caught it. This opened the spout and spilt a drop of coffee. But it wasn’t the mug’s fault, and it wasn’t a large amount.

We also flipped the mug a few times. It didn’t leak.

The West Loop does a fine job of keeping content inside.

The West Loop is leak proof. Here it's standing on its head with coffee in its belly
The West Loop is leak proof. Here it’s standing on its head with a belly full of coffee. No leaking.

Lockable

The lid contains a lock that prevents the release button from working, for peace of mind.

Let’s say you buy a travel mug; a cheap, bottom line mug. You think it a waste of money to buy a better model. Surely the West Loop can’t be much better than an el cheapo model?

You make yourself a lovely cup of joe, fill your travel mug and take a sip. It leaks a bit, but for that price you’re not complaining. You’re chuffed with yourself for having saved money.

You plonk down on a couch in your living room and take another sip. The coffee’s delicious. You smile.

Your little one’s toddling around the room, happy to explore.

You’re tired. You place your travel mug on the coffee table, put up your feet, lie back and close your eyes.

Just a few minutes…

A scream slashes through your REM and rips you from the couch.

On the floor next to the coffee table sits your toddler, his face dripping with coffee, the mug rolling around, spilling liquid like a sinking oil tanker.

No parent wants that to happen. That’s why the West Loop’s lockable lid is a splendid feature.

Warranty

The Contigo West Loop comes with a limited lifetime warranty. This, from their website

We’re extremely proud to stand behind the design, quality, materials and workmanship that goes into every Contigo® product. We go to great lengths to create the best product that we can and then we back that excellence with the Contigo Limited Lifetime Guarantee.

The Contigo Limited Lifetime Guarantee applies to:

COVERED:

  • Material Issues
  • Workmanship Issues
  • Defective Products
  • Mugs, Bottles, Replacement Lids
  • Purchased in the US & Canada

NOT COVERED:

  • Normal Wear & Tear
  • Dents & Scratches
  • Fading & Paint Chips
  • Accidental Damage (like a dropped product)
  • Product Misuse & Improper Care
  • Cleaning Related issues
  • Accessories (straws and brushes)

If you experience a material or workmanship issue with your Contigo product please fill out the form and we’ll respond to your inquiry within 2-3 weeks. Please note that it may be faster and more convenient to return your Contigo product to the retail store that you purchased from in order to minimize replacement time and avoid return shipping charges.

We do not offer monetary reimbursement nor is the Guarantee transferable. Contigo will repair or replace, at its discretion, any defect in materials or workmanship for the lifetime of the product. We strive to quickly replace defective products with current inventory and sometimes that means a comparable product or color.

The total liability of Contigo for any loss or damage, whether based on contract, warranty, negligence or otherwise, shall not exceed the purchase price of the Contigo product. In no event shall Contigo be liable for consequential, incidental or special damages of any kind. This warranty gives you specific legal rights, and you may also have other rights which vary from state to state.

In the box

The online store I bought from shipped the two mugs in a box, but Contigo doesn’t package their products in their own boxes. They wrap the bottom half of the mug in a transparent plastic with a wraparound label.

Dents included

Both mugs had a minor dent each when they arrived.

My wife was miffed about this. She loves the mug, but the fact that there was a dent even before she used it, didn’t sit well with her.

Contigo’s warranty doesn’t cover dents. If you tear off the wrapping from their product and there’s a dent, there’s no way for you to prove that the mug came with a dent. They’re not liable for the damage, in other words.

That’s what it looks like from here.

Not cool.

Perhaps you should video the unboxing and unwrapping of your Contigo product.

Inside the AUTOSEAL West Loop is a pamphlet with usage and cleaning instructions.

See large resolution photos of the AUTOSEAL West Loop’s instruction pamphlets at goo.gl/photos/Hsjg9T3UfarVB1UbA.

Before using it

Do these five things before using your AUTOSEAL West Loop:

  1. Remove the plastic from the West Loop.
  2. Unscrew the lid from the tumbler.
  3. Remove the pamphlet from the tumbler.
  4. Wash the lid & tumbler.
    1. See cleaning instructions below.
  5. Dry with a cloth, or place on a rack to dry.

Maximum beverage temperature

Water boils at a 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit). The west Loop handles boiling water, although I don’t know who’d want to drink boiling water.

Use the West Loop for coffee, tea or a similar beverage and you won’t have any trouble with it.

Heat retention tests

I ran two tests to compare the West Loop’s heat retention to the plastic mug’s retention.

The West Loop does a far better job than the plastic mug.

For both tests I made coffee in the AeroPress coffee maker. I measured the contents immediately after filling the mugs.

I boiled the water for the coffee to 100 degrees Celsius, but by the time I was done with the AeroPress, the coffee’s temperature had plummeted.

I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the West Loop
I made a delicious cup of AeroPress coffee to test in the West Loop.

First test

For the first test, I poured coffee with a temperature of 66 degrees Celsius (150,8 degrees Fahrenheit) into the West Loop and the plastic travel mug.

In both cases I measured the coffee’s temperature every half an hour, for five hours.

For me, 66 degrees Celsius is warm enough, but some might find it too cold. I wasn’t concerned with the drinking temperature; I wanted to test the West Loop’s heat retention capability.

The temperature of the coffee in the West Loop dropped 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.

The temperature of the coffee in the plastic travel mug dropped 45 degrees Celsius (81 degrees Fahrenheit) over a five hour period.

Here’s a table showing the difference in temperature over a five-hour period, measured every half an hour.

This table shows the drop in temperature of coffee in an AUTOSEAL West Loop and a cheap plastic travel mug, measured every half an hour, for five hours.
TimeframeAUTOSEAL West Loop (Celsius)Cheap plastic travel mug (Celsius)AUTOSEAL West Loop (Fahrenheit)Cheap plastic travel mug (Fahrenheit)
Initial temperature6666150.8150.8
30 minutes later5651132.8123.8
60 minutes later5140123.8104
90 minutes later4431111.287.8
120 minutes later403010486
150 minutes later362996.884.2
180 minutes later342593.277
210 minutes later332391.473.4
240 minutes later322389.673.4
270 minutes later312187.869.8
300 minutes later30218669.8

These pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the West Loop…

…and these pics display the drop in temperature of coffee in the cheap plastic travel mug…

Second test

For the second test I poured coffee into the West Loop at 07:40 am in the morning. It measured 66 degrees Celsius (150.8 degrees Fahrenheit). I left for work and measured it again at 14:06 pm. That’s six hours and 26 minutes later. It measured 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit).

That’s a drop of 36 degrees Celsius (64.8 degrees Fahrenheit). The second test showed the same result as the first.

Note: These tests were done in a normal home in a normal suburb of a normal little town on a spectacular coast.

Ideal coffee temperature

The ideal temperature for coffee ranges from between 155ºF to 175ºF (70ºC to 80ºC). That’s according to Coffee Detective.

Scott at Driftaway Coffee prefers his coffee between 120°F and 140°F (48.88°C to 60°C).

It comes down to personal preference.

How to use it

Unscrew the lid from the tumbler (if it’s attached), pour your drink into the tumbler and screw the lid back on.

Contigo recommends leaving the lid off for three minutes after filling it, to ensure that the content cools down.

How to drink from it

To drink from the West Loop:

  1. Press the AUTOSEAL button at the back of the mug.
    1. This releases the silicon spout.
    2. Don’t do this close to your face. The mug can build up pressure when sealed.
  2. Put your lips to the West Loop’s spout.
  3. Tilt back your head and sip.

Can you use it for soup?

Contigo warns not to use the AUTOSEAL West Loop for drinking chunky liquids.

But can you use it for drinking soup?

I bought a packet of creamy tomato soup, prepared it according to packet instructions and poured it into the West Loop.

Before pouring it into the West Loop, I strained the soup into a jug. This removed large lumps that might clog the mug.

The soup came pouring out of the West Loop like water through a hole in a dam wall.

The verdict?

Use your West Loop for soup, provided it’s a runny, non-chunky kind.

How to clean it

Follow these steps to clean the AUTOSEAL West Loop:

  1. Remove the lid from the tumbler.
  2. Clean the lid.
    1. By hand:
      1. Flip open the PUSH TO CLEAN button.
        1. The Easy-Clean lid makes it easy to clean.
      2. Rinse the lid under warm running water.
        1. Make sure you cover every nook and cranny by using a mini dish scrub brush.
    2. In the dishwasher:
      1. Place the lid on the dishwasher’s top rack.
      2. Switch on the dishwasher and allow it to complete a cycle.
      3. Remove the lid.
  3. Clean the tumbler.
    1. Fill the kitchen sink with warm water.
    2. Add a mild detergent.
    3. Immerse the tumbler in the water and wash with a dish scrub brush.
    4. Rinse with clean water.
  4. Leave parts to dry on rack, or dry off with a cloth.

Dishwasher safe?

The lid is top rack dishwasher safe. The tumbler is not. Wash the tumbler by hand, not in a dishwasher.

Technical details

Tech specs for the AUTOSEAL West Loop. Metric and Imperial.
 MetricImperial
Body materialFood-grade stainless steel
Lid materialEastman Tritan BPA-free plastic
Height (assembled)199mm7.83 inches
Height (lid)61mm2.4 inches
Height (tumbler)171mm6.73 inches
Maximum diameter (lid)90.5mm3.56 inches
Maximum diameter (tumbler)76.6mm3.02 inches
Weight (assembled, dry)332g11.7 oz
Weight (assembled, filled with water)810g28.57 oz
Weight (lid)92g3,25 oz
Weight (tumbler)240g8.46 oz

Construction

They make the West Loop’s lid from an FDA approved Eastman Tritan BPA-free plastic. It contains small metal parts too, but the bulk of the lid is plastic.

They make the tumbler from food-grade stainless steel.

The AUTOSEAL West Loop is made with Contigo’s trademark Thermalock system. This double wall insulation system keeps heat locked in.

Sizes

The Contigo West Loop comes in three sizes:

  • 16 oz
  • 20 oz
  • 24 oz

Not all colours are available in all sizes. Check the price table below to see available colours, sizes and prices.

Does it fit inside a cup holder?

It depends on the cup holder.

The 16 oz West Loop is 76.6mm at its widest diameter. It tapers up from ~74mm.

Our Mitsubishi Pajero’s cup holders have a diameter of ~76mm. The West Loop fits.

My wife owns a 2006 Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 9. The West Loop fits the Evo’s cup holders.

Does the AeroPress fit?

The AeroPress does NOT fit into the West Loop. You’ll have to make your AeroPress coffee in a stainless steel jug and pour it into the West Loop.

The AeroPress does not fit into the Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop
The AeroPress does NOT fit into the Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop.

Colours

The Contigo West Loop comes in 12 colours:

  • Biscay Bay
  • Black
  • Bright Lavender
  • Deep Blue
  • Grayed Jade
  • Latte
  • Monaco
  • Polar White
  • Radiant Orchid
  • Stainless Steel
  • Stormy Weather
  • Violet

Some colours are more expensive than others. Check the price table to see the cost for each colour and size option.

Price

Size and colour play important roles in Contigo’s pricing structure.

Not all colours are available in all sizes. Some mugs weren’t available at all, at the time of writing.

Some larger mugs are priced lower than their small counterparts. For instance, the 20 oz Latte coloured mug is cheaper than the Latte 16 oz mug.

Here’s a sortable table with sizes, colours and prices, excluding shipping and transport costs.

Prices of the different AUTOSEAL West Loop mugs.
AUTOSEAL West Loop colourSizeList priceDiscount price
Biscay Bay16 oz$23.08$19.93
Black16 oz$13.43-
Black20oz$23.90$19.99
Bright Lavender16 oz--
Deep Blue16 oz$20.99-
Grayed Jade16 oz$20.99$19.15
Latte16 oz$19.99-
Latte20oz$15.34-
Monaco16 oz$18.99-
Polar White16 oz$15.95-
Radiant Orchid16 oz$20.99$13.69
Stainless Steel16 oz$16.99$14.99
Stainless Steel20oz$15.65-
Stainless Steel24oz--
Stormy Weather16 oz$20.99-
Violet20oz$22.47-

Final thoughts

The Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop is a fantastic travel mug.

The AUTOSEAL system ensures that the West Loop is leak and spill proof. Flip the West Loop on its head, it won’t leak.

The AUTOSEAL button lock makes the West Loop tamper proof. Leave your drink standing on the coffee table. Your small child is safe from getting burnt.

The Contigo Thermalock system ensures that your drink stays hot for hours.

The Contigo AUTOSEAL West Loop is a premium travel mug. I recommend you get one.