James Stanbury

See other accessory reviews written by James Stanbury

Travel mugs are handy on a long journey, but they're not all the same – read Practical Caravan's Brugo travel mug test to see how it compares to rivals

Overview

We love the convenience of travel mugs on a long journey, as well as the economy of avoiding shelling out for a round of drinks at the motorway service stations. So we've tested a collection of likely-looking travel mugs to see which brand and model is the best thermal mug to buy to enjoy hot teas and coffees on the go.

Now we all know that it can be a bit risky to eat and drink while driving at speed, but how about when you get stuck in a traffic jam? A hot drink and a snack definitely cheers everyone up in a queue.

Incidentally, we checked the legal position – is it illegal to eat and drink while driving? The good news is that we can reassure you – it's not illegal to drink soft drinks or eat while driving. The RAC does qualify that, however, by saying, "If you present a significant danger while snacking on the move, the police could prosecute you for careless driving if they consider you are not in proper control of the vehicle." The same goes for drinking soft and hot drinks while driving. The RAC quotes a study by Leeds University that found that motorists who ate while driving were 44% slower than usual, while those drinking soft drinks at the wheel were 22% slower and 18% more likely to show erratic lane control. So, take care everyone, and enjoy the fact that it's just a matter of common sense in Britain.

Whether you stop the tow car and caravan in a lay-by or at the service station, or take a few sips at the wheel to stay sane when the traffic is barely crawling along, travel mugs make the process safer and easier. They're easier to hold than more traditional cylindrical flasks, and are designed for safe sipping on the move.

Which travel mugs are the best in Britain right now? We tested a batch of rival products and we were blown away by one in particular – the winner of Practical Caravan's test of travel mugs is the Bodum Travel Mug, £20, awarded five stars by our judges. Close behind it, with four stars, is the Bodum Travel Press, £24, which is a hybrid between a cafetiere or tea pot with built-in filter and a travel mug. Next up, also with four stars, is the Aladdin Papillon, £12. Bringing up the rear, with just two stars apiece in this particular test are the Outwell Vacuum Bamboo Mug, £6.99, and the Brugo, £15, reviewed here.  

If you prefer your hot drink to be warm rather than piping hot, the Brugo may be the travel mug for you thanks to an uninsulated ‘cooling chamber’ just below the lid. When we also tell you that Brugo is fully leak-proof, has reasonable thermal characteristics, and isn’t unduly expensive, you’ll probably wonder why its score is so low. 

Well, the principle’s great, but the execution isn’t. The lid control is fiddly if you’re at the wheel, and the aperture the drink flows through is just too restrictive. The cooling chamber needs to be bigger as well. By administering only a couple of teaspoons per swig, the Brugo dents the appeal of getting it at the right temperature. 

On the plus side, it comes in a rainbow of 13 colours, so you could have a different shade for each passenger!

Technical specs

ColoursRed, brown, black, teal, light blue, dark green, neon pink, orange, lime green, dark pink, dark blue, yellow
Volume450ml with 25ml cooling chamber
MaterialsStainless-steel with chrome accents
InsulationDouble-wall insulation

Verdict

The cheery red Brugo travel mug looked promising on the Practical Caravan test bench, but unfortunately it failed to 'wow' us. It's leak-proof and well insulated, and we like the idea of the cooling chamber to prevent scalded tongues. Unfortunately the Brugo lid is difficult to undo with one hand and when you take a swig of tea, it delivers a tiny amount of liquid at a time. We think that this one's a design-in-progress that needs to evolve!

Conclusion

Pros

  • Leak-proof
  • Good thermal properties
  • Modest price
  • Cooling chamber prevents scalded mouth

Cons

  • Hard to get the lid off while driving solo
  • You don't get much liquid per sip
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