Tumbler vs Coffee Mug | What’s the Difference?

DISCOVER IF A TUMBLER OR TRAVEL MUG IS BEST FOR YOU

There are endless examples of the same word describing two different things, or two different words describing the same thing; even just writing that sentence was confusing enough.

But in the vast sea of homonyms, the terms 'tumbler', 'coffee mug', 'travel mug', and variations of the three are some of the most common examples of this - and we're here to fix that.

Set the record straight and learn the difference between a travel mug and tumbler to finally discover which one is best for you.

Topics Covered in This Guide

Before we get to the difference between tumbler cup and common drinkware tumblers, we have to define the difference between the two.

DEFINING A TRAVEL MUG AND TUMBLER

Before we get started, let's clearly define what a travel mug is and what a tumbler is. If you already know, click here to skip to their differences.

The big difference between mugs and tumblers is that mugs are made with a thinner and lighter material and have a cover made of a different type of plastic.

WHAT IS A TRAVEL MUG?

Also known as a travel coffee mug, a travel mug is a 12oz to 16oz container made for drinking hot beverages on the go, such as coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. They are typically insulated, made of 18/8 steel, and are characterized by screw on lids and attached handle.

A tumbler works with hot or cold drinks and reduces waste from disposable plastic vessels.

WHAT IS A STAINLESS STEEL TUMBLER?

Also known as travel tumblers or insulated tumblers, stainless steel tumblers range from 20oz to 40oz and are best for both hot and cold beverages. They are usually double walled vacuum insulated, made of stainless steel, and are characterized by either straight sides or sides that taper down.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A TRAVEL MUG AND A TUMBLER?

Generally, there are four ways you can tell the difference between a tumbler and a stainless steel mug by looking at the handle, shape, size, and lid; a travel mug is smaller with straight edges and has screw on leak resistant lids with an attached handle. A tumbler on the other hand is taller with tapered edges, does not have a built-in handle, and features a splash proof press on lid.

Let's go a bit deeper into these four defining characteristics:

HANDLE

Most reusable travel coffee mugs have a handle built right into their lids for easy on-the-go transportation and access.

On the other hand, tumblers are completely handle less and do not have a handle built in, but there are options to purchase a handle that slides on in order to convert it into a travel mug.

Greens' Tips: Travel mugs have built-in handles, tumblers do not.

Shape

Travel mugs tend to have straight sides and are shorter than tumblers; tumblers however are taller and have a wider opening that taper down to a more narrow base.

Size

Many styles of travel mugs come in 12oz and 16oz sizes, but generally do not go above 16oz. Some tumblers may have 16oz options, but they are most commonly available in 20oz, 30oz, and 40oz options.

LID

Finally, travel mugs generally feature specially designed leak resistant lids that are screwed on and secured by a rubber grip. As mentioned above, there is also a handle attached to the screw on lid.

Conversely, tumblers are characterized by a push- or snap-on splash proof lid with a larger opening to allow for sipping out of straws; some tumblers even come with a built in straw.

Both plastic tumbler lids should be free of toxins and bpa.

Greens' Tips: Travel mugs have screw-on leak resistant lids while tumblers feature push-on lids that are splash-proof.

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LEAK PROOF AND SPLASH PROOF?

Leak proof lids is one that prevents any liquids from spilling out of a container if it were to be knocked over or dropped. A splash or spill proof lid is one that prevents any liquids from spilling out due to minor disturbances such as walking quickly or bumps in the road.

In other words, leak resistant lids are much better at containing liquids than splash proof lids.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

DECIDING WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOU

Naturally, the structural differences between tumblers and travel mugs point to different functions between the two, meaning each one is suited better for different lifestyles as outlined below.

WHAT SHOULD YOU USE TRAVEL MUGS FOR?

Given the more compact design and robust spill proof lid, a travel mug is a perfect fit for active, on-the-go lifestyles and outdoor events. For those who prefer to sip on smaller cups of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate throughout the day while running errands, travel mugs are the better option.

Greens' Tips: The storage capacity of a travel mug is limited and they are better suited for drinking hot drinks than for cold drinks.

WHAT SHOULD YOU USE A TUMBLER FOR?

Tumblers on the other hand can keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours and cold drinks cold for up to twelve hours and have a larger storage capacity, making them perfect for adding ice to subtle summer cocktails, soft drinks, iced teas, and other beverages - but are not as resistant to spills as a travel mug. For those looking for a bigger drink container that holds more liquid to stay hydrated for work, driving, school, or going on a road trip, tumblers are the way to go.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN SHOPPING

When shopping for a travel mug or tumbler, make sure that either one has all of the following six characteristics.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

DOUBLE WALLED INSULATION

As outlined in a previous article, double walled insulation is key to keeping hot or cold drinks at the preferred temperature for longer periods of time and prevents your hand from being burnt.

18/8 STAINLESS STEEL

Aside from being eco-friendly, food-grade 18/8 stainless steel tumbler cups are made to last longer, prevent rusting, and don't leach a metallic taste into your drink; don't settle for anything less.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

HIGH TEMPERATURE RATING FOR HOT OR COLD BEVERAGES

Check the temperature retention stats to make sure that the tumbler or travel mug you're browsing keeps heated drinks hot for up to six hours. When shopping for a tumbler, also confirm that it can drink cold drinks cold for up to twelve hours.

QUALITY LIDS

As we mentioned above, travel mug lids should screw on and be 100% leak proof while tumbler lids should be leak-proof. Regardless, the lids should be made from BPA free plastic and secure tightly enough to not spill while you're running errands.

While tumblers are best for kicking back cold ones and mugs are better than tumblers when it comes to on-the-go lifestyles, they are both superior when compared to a plastic cup or drinking glass.

CUP HOLDER FRIENDLY

Although it seems obvious, many people overlook this; make sure that the tumbler cups you're shopping universally fit in cup holders!

DISHWASHER SAFE

This isn't a deal breaker, but a tumbler or travel mug that's dishwasher safe not only makes it easier to maintain, but also points to the durability of the tumbler cups.

Greens' Tips: Check out our Care Guides to learn how to clean a travel tumbler or mug.

WHAT'S THE BEST TRAVEL MUG?

The best reusable travel mugs on the market are the Greens Steel Reusable Coffee Cups. Featuring a 100% leak-proof lid, six hour temperature retention to keep drinks hot, dishwasher safe 18/8 food grade stainless steel construction, and cup holder friendly base, you won't find a better option out there.

When compared to a travel tumbler, this travel cup mug and glass is made with less material and is one of the best reusable travel mugs in history.

Greens Steel Reusable Travel Mug

100% leak-proof travel coffee mug available in 12oz and 16oz in three different colors. Comes with a lifetime warranty.

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WHAT'S THE BEST TUMBLER FOR COLD OR HOT DRINKS?

With over 60,000 reviews on our Amazon and website review pages, the Greens Steel BEAST Tumbler is the best one you'll find on the internet. Featuring multiple color and size options, an unbreakable shatterproof BPA free plastic lid, a cup holder friendly base, and made with dishwasher safe 18/8 food grade steel, the BEAST does it best.

Plus, it comes with two stainless steel straws and a straw cleaning brush all packaged in a sleek, eco-friendly gift box.

The Greens Steel tumbler cup mug weighs over eight ounces, keeps beverages hot, and features a cover made with bpa free plastic.

Greens Steel BEAST Tumbler

20oz, 30oz, and 40oz options available in 19 different colors. Comes with a lifetime warranty.

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CAN A TUMBLER BE USED FOR COFFEE?

Yes, a tumbler is an excellent option for on-the-go caffeination as it prevents any leakage and can keep your coffee hot for up to six hours. Plus, it's easy to clean and eco-friendly.

Overall, both drink containers serve the same purpose; choosing which one is best for you simply comes down to personal preference and lifestyle.

I personally have multiple travel tumblers and two travel coffee mugs so I always have an option based on wherever the day takes me. If you're the same way, you can order multiple of both and save up to 25% with our limited bundle offer.

Thank you for stopping by Greens Steel, if you have any more questions just send us an email at contact@greenssteel.com and we'll be right with you.

All the best,

Jenn

STAINLESS STEEL TUMBLER CUPS

We also offer a wide variety of tumbler cups in multiple size and color options.

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