Biking Bonobo Seeks Badass, Kong-Quality Caffeine Carrier
August 31, 2010 7:10 PM   Subscribe

Remember those luggage commercials back in the last century that had a big gorilla tossing around the suitcase to show how much abuse it could stand? I'm looking for the commuter coffee-tumbler version of that.

I am hard on my gear. Not on purpose, but it's a fact of life. This has meant that I have managed to break/disable/render inoperable for one reason or another every coffee mug I've tried. This one is tough but absolutely uninsulated and more than once the carabiner failed while I was pedaling. This one got dropped once on it's head while full of hot java and cracked. The Chantal came close until it's weak-ass gasket ripped during cleaning. The Contigo was most unimpressive on the survive-the-fall front.

I'm looking for a coffee carrier that fulfills the following criteria:
-Keeps the coffee hot for a reasonable amount of time
-One-handed drinkability (bicyclist)
-Fits reasonably in a backpack (without leaking) or your average bike bottle-holder
-Can stand up to being repeatedly dropped while full of hot beverage without breaking. This last one is the deal-breaker as it is what has caused most of the others to fail.

If it can't stand up to the gorilla treatment, it's not for me. Tough, rugged, gorilla-proof, hot coffee on the go is what I need.

I'm not looking for the "Hunting rifle shot through the padlock and it still holds" commercial (unless you know of a coffee tumbler than can get shot and survive. In that case I'm interested!)

But if you have doubts about your suggestion's ability to fall from 5' onto the pavement while full of hot, steam-pressure-building coffee and reply with Scraped and dinged, but the coffee is hot and the seal is tight, maybe it's not for me.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I just lost this travel mug that is branded Starbucks. It looked a lot like this one, only it didn't have that rubber grip on it, it was straight aluminum. The best part about it was the way it totally sealed when you flipped the lid closed. The lid screwed on and then the sippy part fully closed. I tossed the thing in my backpack along with my laptop and never had a leak. I rode with it on my motorcycle and still had warm coffee when I got to school.

The one online that I linked to isn't exactly what I had, but it probably has the same closing mechanism. Thanks for asking this question; I'm in need of a replacement.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:37 PM on August 31, 2010

This mug survived my boyfriend and me throwing it in our backpacks and biking to class for several years until it was sadly stolen by some dumb grad student from the kitchen at my work. My bf is extremely rough with stuff (he dropped my macbook multiple times) and the mug took his abuse. The only thing you have to be careful with is to not fill it up too much because then it leaks. Also, if you leave the valve open and then put it in your bag it will spill. Yes, bf can be a little absentminded! I'm not sure we ever dropped it while biking but the lid is pretty hefty. Plus, the stainless steel inside and out is really nice!
posted by rachums at 7:42 PM on August 31, 2010

I often fill my nalgene with hot tea. I toss it in the book bag, drop it on the ground, realize I've been carrying it in my bag upside down, drop it down stairs, step on it (this I don't recommend, as it caused me to fall over), and it has never once faulted.

It might not have the thermal qualities you're looking for (you could always pop it in a koozie or wrap it in a towel to keep it warm longer), but even after trekking it along for a half hour or more in the Chicago winters (again, in my book bag), my tea is always still HOT.

I don't know what kind of magical pixie dust they're made out of, but the nalgene gets my vote for durability and leakproofness. And no, the plastic of the bottle is not going to melt and leach into your drink.
posted by phunniemee at 8:05 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about the Thermos Nissan Stainless Steel Travel Mug? It's supposed to be almost indestructible and has pretty good ratings on keeping things hot for a long time. The only bad thing is that the top comes completely off, which some people don't like.
posted by garnetgirl at 8:24 PM on August 31, 2010

This Nissan is awesome and leak proof as advertised. It is the most Metafilter approved from the many previous commuter mug threads if memory serves - and that is why I bought it. I haven't tried dropping it a lot but it does seem rather sturdy - as sturdy as a commuter coffee mug is probably going to get.
posted by fieldtrip at 8:49 PM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can't speak to its usefulness while riding, but this REI mug is what I use. It goes in my tailbag during my hour-long morning (motorcycle) commute through (friggin' cold-ass) SF bay-area weather (often at 80 MPH+) and keeps my cuppa nice and toasty. It's also got a really well-designed screw and gasket setup, never leaks a drop, and I'd have no doubt that if I ever contact a fender at speed, it'll make a dent somewhere.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:10 PM on August 31, 2010

I am going to recommend the Thermos Element for insulation, tight seal and durability.
But it takes two hands to open and will not fit in the bike holder.
It comes with its own caribbeaner though, and can clip on to lots of loops and wires. I bought one for my husband and it turned out to be fantastic for him.

You might like to try the hydration bottle instead. It uses the same insulation, but looks narrower, and the top looks like it has one handed operation.
posted by SLC Mom at 11:11 PM on August 31, 2010

We have two of those OXO Good Grips mugs mentioned above, and we're very satisfied with them. The one thing you have to watch out for is that the sealing gasket will leave a couple of drops of liquid in the headpiece after you seal it. It's easy enough to seal it and then drink the last couple of drops out of the mouth of the mug - once it's sealed, nothing else will come out.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:22 AM on September 1, 2010

A couple others already mentioned the Thermos Nissan, but not the one I have which I think would fit your qualifications better. I've had this Thermos Nissan 16-ounce Backpack Bottle for a few months now and it travels really well. It's definitely one-handed, as long as you don't use the little metal "clip" that keeps you from accidentally hitting the button that pops open the top. It keeps my coffee hot for literally hours, and since it doesn't have a handle it fits well into backpacks, water bottle holders, etc.

As for dropping it...well, the top and bottom are plastic-y, which means if you drop it from five feet onto concrete you will probably crack the lid. It should still work if you do that, though. I have not yet dropped mine on anything other than carpet, and sorry, but I'm not willing to try it out for you. :-)
posted by bibbit at 5:43 AM on September 1, 2010

I came in to mention the Oxo mug rachums linked to. I have in fact dropped it five feet onto concrete, which dented the bottom a little but had no other ill effect. But I've only dropped it once or twice*, so YMMV. I agree that it can leak a bit from the lid if you fill it up too much, so I was never totally comfortable tossing it into a full backpack. It should fit in a water bottle holder, I think, and honestly it's probably safe to put in a backpack if you're careful filling it and you're not as paranoid as me.

*Onto concrete, that is. I've dropped it plenty of times onto tile floors/carpets, which have had no effect on it at all.
posted by pemberkins at 6:17 AM on September 1, 2010

Chiming in to concur with the recommendation for the Nissan linked to by fieldtrip. I've had it for ten years, and although it has a few dents it is absolutely leakproof and keeps coffee hot for hours. I cycle to work (commute is only ten minutes) and throw this thing in my messenger bag along with work clothes and it has never leaked. I never tried drinking while riding, but I think you would need to use two hands to loosen the screw-style cap.
posted by crLLC at 7:24 AM on September 1, 2010

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