Stanley insulated drinkware is classic gear that has become the center of an unexpected craze.
I never thought I’d live to see the day that Stanley insulated mugs became trendy, let alone controversial, but here we are. I wonder if the folks at Stanley were as surprised as I am when their 100-year-old products, traditionally marketed to working class dudes, started experiencing a weird Tik-Tok-fueled takeoff.
Maybe. Or maybe the whole thing was a carefully orchestrated marketing move. Either way, those of us who have been using the same rugged Stanley mugs for decades can scoff at the idea of buying a dozen of them in exclusive collectible colors, let alone waiting hours in line for the privilege.
And yet, as I sit here sipping a still-hot cup of coffee that I’ve been slowly nursing for the better part of an hour, I have to admit this: Stanley makes a darn good mug.
Measurements & Specs
As always, let’s start with a quick rundown of what you’re getting and what it’s made of. Stanley makes mugs and tumblers an increasingly wide range of shapes, sizes and colors. This particular one, part of Stanley’s “Classic Series” and billed as “The Legendary Camp Mug” is about as proudly old-fashioned and un-trendy as it gets.
The Camp Mug has a 12 oz. capacity and weighs 8 ounces. It measures 4 inches tall and 3.5 inches in diameter (not counting the handle, which adds another 1.25”). It’s made of 18/8 stainless steel, which contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel, making it highly durable and essentially impervious to corrosion and oxidation.
The only part not made of steel is the lid, which is made of Eastman Tritan plastic. It’s a very tough, glass-like plastic that is both durable and BPA-free. It’s the same stuff that Nalgene has been making its water bottles out of in recent years.
Stanley’s whole thing has always been that their insulated mugs and bottles can basically stop a bullet. That remains unchanged, and the current iteration of their classic Camp Mug is just as rock-solid as ever.
The 18/8 stainless steel is really, really tough stuff. And because the mug itself is all steel—as opposed to a lot of insulated drinking vessels that are glass-lined—you do not have to be gentle with it. You can drop it on concrete, let it roll around in the bed of your truck and generally neglect it, and it will probably be just fine, though doing so will definitely void your warranty.
The plastic lid is nearly as tough as the metal mug itself. Tritan plastic is much stronger than your run-of-the-mill cheap plastic. It has just enough flex to keep it from cracking under pressure, and it can withstand a wide range of extreme temperatures.
It’s hard to specifically evaluate how well an insulated mug keeps your drink at a stable temperature. There are a lot of variables at play. Stanley’s basic claim is that their Camp Mug will keep hot drinks hot for up to 1.5 hours, cold drinks cold for up to 3 hours, and drinks with ice cold for up to 15 hours.
I’d say their claim holds up pretty well. As a test, I filled mine with fresh, a-bit-too-hot-to-drink coffee, locked the lid in place, and let it sit. After 45 minutes, the temperature had fallen to what I would consider the ideal coffee drinking temperature. After another 45 minutes, it was a little cooler than I like, but still warm.
This is all happening at room temperature. The Stanley Camp Mug does well in colder conditions too, though it will lose heat just a little bit faster. The weak link is the lid, which does allow heat to escape more quickly than the insulated steel walls of the mug, but it’s still pretty impressive, all things considered.
Comfort & Sippability
The Stanley Camp Mug doesn’t look like it was designed with comfort in mind. It’s basically a steel cylinder with a thin steel band for a handle. Even so, it’s surprisingly comfortable to hold and drink from. The handle fits my hand just right, being just about wide enough to accommodate three adult man-sized fingers.
Most of the mug has a textured, stonewashed finish but there’s a band of smoother steel around the rim, which has a beveled edge for comfy sipping. The lid has a good-sized mouth hole that helps prevent spillage and dispenses your beverage at a good sipping rate. Avoid overfilling it, which can cause the liquid to back up and then come gushing out as you tip the mug to drink through the lid.
Cleaning & Care
Cleaning and caring for the Stanley Camp Mug is simple and straightforward. Both the mug and lid are dishwasher safe, with a couple of small caveats. Stanley advises against washing the mug “in commercial-strength appliances or on high heat settings” to avoid vacuum failure and reduced thermal performance.
Detergents that contain high levels of chlorine or bromide should be avoided for the same reason. To be on the safe side, I usually just give mine a scrub and a rinse with some warm water and natural dish soap.
Opinions vary on whether or not stainless steel absorbs or imparts flavors. I haven’t had any noticeable issues with my Stanley mugs, but stainless steel is slightly porous, so it is hypothetically possible that it could absorb off flavors. That’s something to consider if you use yours for things other than coffee.
Final Thoughts on the Stanley Camp Mug
I sometimes hesitate to review gear that has been around for a long time and become firmly established. Even so, it’s worth remembering that classic stuff is often classic for a reason. I would also point out that as retro-looking and timeless as Stanley Camp Mugs may appear, they have evolved over the years. If you happen upon one of the old plastic mugs Stanley made in the ‘90s, you’ll see what I mean.
Today’s Stanley Camp Mug is about as solid and dependable as a travel mug gets. It’s perfect for camping, as its name suggests, but also great any time you’re on the go. I often use mine at home, just because I drink coffee slowly and don’t like having to warm it up over and over again.
The only situation I don’t like it for is backpacking, because its 8 oz. weight is just too bulky for me. There are other, lighter travel mugs that I prefer if I’m traveling on foot. Also, if you’re looking for something that fits into your vehicle’s cup holders better, you might consider Stanley’s FlowState Insulated Tumblers instead.
Just don’t camp out overnight in the Target parking lot so you can be the first to buy one in an exclusive color. That’s something crazy people do.
Blair Witkowski is an avid watch nut, loves pocket knives and flashlights, and when he is not trying to be a good dad to his nine kids, you will find him running or posting pics on Instagram. Besides writing articles for Tech Writer EDC he is also the founder of Lowcountry Style & Living. In addition to writing, he is focused on improving his client’s websites for his other passion, Search Engine Optimization. His wife Jennifer and he live in coastal South Carolina.