In all my years of traveling for work as a journalist, I’ve encountered a number of pretty awful and pretty great beverages–but sometimes all I want is a massive lot of it in my own thermos. Personally, I’m part of two tea clubs and collect teas of many different varieties. I trade with friends, gift some of it, etc. And when I’m out and about in the summer, nothing is better than some of the freshly made iced tea that I make at home still nice and cold within said thermos. The same goes for my favorite blend of chai. So over the past few months, I decided to spend more money than a sane man should on thermoses and figure out which ones are best for photographers. Most importantly, which ones won’t leak all over your camera bag.
This testing means that yes, indeed there were some thermoses that leaked all over my bags, my hands, my coat, etc. I bought all these thermoses after obsessively researching for functional yet fashionable thermoses that can also withstand the abuses that are often thrown at camera gear. And in my travels, these were my favorites.
S’Well Stainless Steel Travel Mug
Standout Feature: The Shape and the built in coaster which prevent it from tipping over.
The S’Well stainless steel travel mug is one that honestly surprised me. I wasn’t too sure about it at first but after reading a ton of reviews and seeing the many different colors and patterns offered, I sprung for it. I was pleasantly surprised and I still am to this day. What I found about the S’well is that it has this pretty unique shape that make it ergonomically friendly to hold it and also make it perfectly suited to being slipped into the side pocket of a backpack. Lots of backpack style camera bags have straps on the side along with the pockets. The neck fits perfectly into the straps and so the S’Well will sit nice and snug in the side.
And of course, it will keep your coffee really hot for a number of hours. The longest I’ve had something in here is 7 hours and even then it was still warm. Best of all, it hasn’t leaked at all on me.
Buy Now $30: Amazon
Stanley Master Series Vacuum Bottle
Standout Feature: The, well, everything.
The Stanley Master Vacuum Bottle is honestly my favorite of the bunch simply because it has it all:
- Solid build quality
- Keeping liquids warm for over 24 hours
- Keeping liquids cold for well over 24 hours
- A built in cup
- It holds around 25 ounces of liquid
- Slim enough and tall enough to be sufficiently hugged by a side pocket
The contents of the Stanley Master Vacuum Bottle can last me all day if I really want it to and that’s one of my favorite features about it. I’ve filled it up with coffee from my local bagel shop for a few bucks and taken it with me to the Bronx Zoo to test a lens. On other occasions, I’ve made Harney and Sons Peppermint Green tea and filled it up. But most amazingly, after I’ve made tea I can transfer it into this and it will keep it warm for a very long time. Then as I want it throughout the day, I just draw some into a cup. The Stanley Master Vacuum Bottle is honestly the ultimate one on this list. And you’re arguably paying for it. But in my mind, $45 is well worth a bit of peace of mind for me to stay hydrated in the long run.
The Stanley has never leaked all over my camera bag. But if you fill it above where the black part of the thermos ends, it has a chance of running over when you close it up. But that’s user error more than anything else. Otherwise, it’s perfect for a long editing session on a laptop while on-location.
Buy Now $45: Amazon
Zoku Stainless Steel Water Bottle
Standout Feature: The looks and the design of the cap which promotes a zero chance of leakage.
The Zoku Stainless Steel Water bottles are pretty special. For the more eccentric and stylish among us, you’ll be elated to know that there are a ton of different patterns such as this pretty nice floral pattern you see above. Of any on this list, it’s also the thinnest. Plus it has a little thick rope on the end that lets you hang it on a hook or secure the bottle to something else. Because it also arguably holds the least liquid, you might be on the search of constant refills.
If you’re a photographer that rolls around with a messenger bag or a smaller camera bag to begin with, the Zoku is perfect for you.
Buy Now $30: Amazon
The Tea Spot Voyager Tumbler
Standout Feature: The lid that allows you to drink with the press of a button.
The Tea Spot Voyager is probably my most used of all the thermoses on this list. It combine portability with security and the ability to make the drinking experience really simple. The Voyager keeps liquids hot for maybe around 8 hours if you need, and also has a tea steeper if you feel you need one while on the go. But the best thing about it is the ingenious design of the lid. On top of the lid is a little button that you press to let the liquid flow through the spout and into your mouth. Providing that you don’t fill the liquid all the way to the top and instead fill to just below the indents for the female part of the screw on lid, the Voyager won’t spill a drop. However, when you first press the button down, there will be a lot of air pressure if there is hot liquid inside. So it will come out with a bit of a splash.
The nice thing about the Voyager is that the spout ensures that you don’t drink too fast. So you keep the liquid around for a pretty long time while out on location.
Buy Now $33.95: Amazon