James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

The Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug is one of the cheapest travel mugs tested by Practical Caravan, so how does it compare to more expensive camping mugs?

Overview

If you're looking for cheap travel mugs, then the £6.99 price tag of the Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug is quite a plus-point, compared to other camping mugs we tested.

On the Practical Caravan test bench we checked the Aladdin Papillon, which cost £12, a mug available in 13 colours called Brugo, at £15, the Bodum Travel Press, at £24 and the Bodum Travel Mug, which cost £20. 

All the travel mugs went through the same tests. We checked them to find out if they were leakproof at any angle, or merely splashproof and best placed carefully in cup-holders in your tow car. Given that travel mugs are mostly double-walled vacuum cups, we checked their thermal properties to find out how long it took for a scalding hot drink to cool down to tepid or cold. 

How easy is it to use and clean each mug, we asked ourselves, and proceeded to take them apart for cleaning, where possible, and reassemble them. Some of the mugs were dishwasher-friendly, ideal for a spring clean between caravan holidays.

We checked the outer materials used to see if the travel cups were strong enough to withstand being bumped about in a locker when not in use. And we favoured travel cups with stainless-steel inner linings, or superior plastic linings, because they were least likely to be tainted by all the different hot and cold drinks they'd held in the past.

Some travel cups were designed so that you could use them as all-purpose camping mugs on holiday, providing a handle and giving you the choice of drinking through the spout in the lid or taking the lid off entirely and drinking from it, as you would with a normal cup. Some could even be used in a microwave, which could be very handy if you forget to drink your delicious hot chocolate, vanilla latte, Americano or Earl Grey en route and need to reheat your drink on arrival at the caravan park!

The Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug is an attractive travel mug with very sound eco credentials: the blue outer skin is from a biodegradable bamboo-based material. It doesn’t really resemble bamboo in any way, but its appearance is refreshingly different and its eggshell-like texture is nicer in the hand than shiny plastic or cold metal. In fact, this is a lovely mug to use.

The lid’s rounded edge and deep profile make it feel very much like a domestic mug as you drink. With the lid removed, there’s a well-finished stainless-steel rim for completely unrestricted drinking.

That stainless-steel interior means that the mug should taste of the current drink, whatever that might be, rather than harking back to that strong coffee or energy drink that you had last time. 

The Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug measures 18cm high and 8cm in diameter and it holds 0.4 litres, which is slightly more than most.

The overall score was hurt by its poor thermal performance and by the lid’s splash-proof, rather than leak-proof, design. Another small downside is that there's no handle, which many people might like, especially when using it as an insulated camping mug during caravan holidays.

Technical specs

Volume0.4 litres
Height18cm
Diameter8cm
Outer body materialBiodegradable bamboo
Inner liningStainless-steel

Verdict

The Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug is certainly a budget-friendly purchase, so it's bound to be popular with busy parents who need to buy travel mugs for all the family. It's good enough at the job for most people – but it was out-performed on test by the Bodum Travel Mug, £20, our overall test winner, and its filter-featured stablemate, the Bodum Travel Press, £24. The choice is yours!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Cheap and pretty
  • Good to drink out of, with or without the lid
  • Stainless-steel interior means it won't taste of previous drinks

Cons

  • Drinks cool down quickly in this travel mug
  • No hand-grip or handle
  • Splash-proof but not leak-proof
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