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Best Travel Mug: Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Leak-Proof Travel Mug SK1005MB4

Updated on August 24, 2011

Thermos Stainless King Travel Mug

The King has arrived!
The King has arrived! | Source

No one does it better than Thermos

When they say no one does it better than Thermos, it's no joke!  Thermos has been around for ages (since 1904, actually).  When you think about insulated food and drink containers, Thermos is usually the first name to come to mind.

I've had several insulated travel mugs, of differing brands.  Up till now, my favorite was  a Joe Mugs cup.  It had lasted me a long time, and did a reasonable job of keeping my coffee warm at work. 

Recently an unfortunate accident sent me on the prowl for a replacement mug.  My venerable Joe Mugs cup was accidentally sent through the dishwasher… with undesirable results.

A Mug of My Own

Looks kind of a dark purple, but it's called Midnight Blue
Looks kind of a dark purple, but it's called Midnight Blue

Last Mug Standing - Thermos Stainless King 16 ounce leak-proof travel mug

I spent a lot of time online comparing one cup with another, eliminating one by one.  The last mug standing was Thermos' Stainless King 16 ounce leak-proof travel mug  (model SK1005MB4). 

This cup is the Excalibur of coffee cups… no, really… it's got some neat stats, and I'll get to those in a moment.  But there are 2 things that I really want in a travel mug, and the Stainless King is perfect in both regards.

It's all right here

Comes with full documentation
Comes with full documentation

Keeps Hot Hot... All day long!

First, temperature. My last mug worked well enough. I had to pre-heat it with hot tap water for maybe 10 minutes before I made the coffee. The resulting drink would stay warm at work for at least 2 hours, and above room temp for another hour.

The Thermos Stainless King… brace yourself… here's the story: First morning, pre-heat my mug like I always do, then fill it with hot-hot-hot coffee like I always do, at 8:40 in the morning. It was busy, so I forgot about it until after 10:00. Not thinking, I took a sip and scalded my tongue. Got over the shock, thought, wow, great mug, and forgot it for an hour. A little after 11 in the morning, I went for another sip; and STILL burned my tongue! By 12, it was still too hot to drink. At 2:00 that afternoon I STILL COULDN'T DRINK MY COFFEE! By around 4:00, it was finally drinkable, and when I finished the cup shortly after 7:00 pm, it was still warm.

Did you follow all of that? The Thermos Stainless Steel King is truly the King. More than 10 hours later, my coffee was still warm! And according to the documentation, it's ability to keep things cold is even better than it's ability to keep them hot.

Submarines need seals this good

When it's closed, nothing can escape
When it's closed, nothing can escape

Leakproof means... Shaken, not stirred

After all of that, the other thing I really wanted is nearly an anticlimax.  I can be a klutz sometimes.  It's true.  So I wanted a travel mug that doesn't spill.  Let me tell you, this mug is magnificent.  The Drinklock sealing lid is as slick a piece of work as I've ever played with.  When you turn the lever to "Close", it means business.  Nothing spills out.  Turn it upside down.  Shake it.  Stand it upside down.

It's so good at not leaking, I can now mix my coffee in an all new way.  Put the coffee in, pour the creamer, add some sweetener if I'm in the mood for it… close the lid, and shake it up.  No spoon, no stirring any more.  Talk about convenient.  Have you ever taken a sip of your coffee and realized it's not stirred enough?  Just close the lid, and shake a bit.  Good to go.

Thermos Stainless King is Ultra Durable

By this point, we've dealt with my two main concerns.  Let's go ahead and go over the rest of the specs:

The Thermos Stainless King is an ultra-durable travel mug constructed with an unbreakable stainless steel interior and exterior.  This doesn't mean you can drive a tank over it.  This means the mug is tough enough to survive a number of rough-and-tumble environments where a normal mug might be broken.  I work in an office, but who knows?  Someday I might need a tough mug, and this one's built like a Sherman tank.

Mike's Story - A Day in the Life of the Thermos Stainless King

Thermax Vacuum Insulation

The two walls of stainless steel are part of Thermos' TherMax double walled vacuum insulation design.  Rather than styrofoam, plastics, or some other space-age insulation, Thermos uses… a lack of air!  As pure a vacuum as mankind can generate is created between an inner and outer layer of stainless steel to create the best insulated travel mug I've ever come across.

According to the included documentation, the Thermos Stainless King is rated to keep cold things cold for 9 hours, and hot things hot for 5 hours.  In my personal experience, it does the job for a lot longer than that.

Fill-To Line visible on the inner wall

just a ridge on the wall, the line between not enough and too much
just a ridge on the wall, the line between not enough and too much

Do not cross the line

Volume: The Stainless King is a 16 ounce mug, with a nicely contoured shape that's easy to grip. The base will fit most standard drink holders. It seems a bit oversized for a 16 oz container, but that's because the lid takes up a good bit of space. There's an embellished line inside the mug that acts as a "fill to" guide. If you go over that level, the lid may not seal correctly. Considering how well the entire system works, I'm not inclined to doubt - I make sure not to cross the fill-to line.

Stainless King Lid Mechanism


Thermos Stainless King - Leader of the Pack

When it comes to cleaning, The Stainless King is still leader of the pack. The lid comes apart into 5 different parts. It's easy enough to take apart, clean, and put back together. Just in case you're not sure, check out the video. It's a very thorough and well-done step by step guide to cleaning your Thermos Stainless King travel mug.

This is a much bigger issue than you'd think. Most mugs have no way to deep clean the lid, and eventually stuff builds up where you can't reach.

Thermos allows the user complete access to the entire lid and it's parts. You'll never have  trouble cleaning this mug. A good brush might help, but that's mainly to get in where fingers might not be able to reach.

How to disassemble and clean the lid

Dishwashing instructions and more

Click to see full sized
Click to see full sized

Hand-wash versus Dishwasher-safe?

As far as hand-washing versus dishwasher-safe, the website states it is NOT dishwasher safe, and should be hand washed. On the other hand, the instructions included with the mug not only say it's okay, but give specific instructions on how to wash it in the dishwasher.

Personally, I think if it's printed on the packaged instructions, that's probably the more accurate statement. On the other hand, I'm a hand-washer by nature. I'm the main dish-washer in our home, and prefer to do them by hand. So it's not going to be an issue here.

Buy the version Without the handle

I've only run into one flaw. There are two versions of the Thermos Stainless King 16 oz Leak-Proof Travel Mug. One with a handle, and one without. I found three references to the handle having a tendency to break easily. Only three complaints may not be a big thing, but it was a factor for me. I chose the one without a handle. As you can see on the right, it's more expensive than the non-handle mug, which is also a factor to consider.

Another point to consider is heat transfer. Since the Stainless King never gets too hot to hold, a handle is just an unnecessary accessory.

Final point - Since the lid is leak-proof, I don't really need a handle to keep the mug vertical. I can (and do) carry it sideways, in the most comfortable grip. No spills. No handle. No problem.

Thermos Stainless King 16-oz Travel Mug

It's the best of all possibilities. Keeps my coffee hot an incredibly long time; no spills; and as durable as a travel mug can possibly be.

I'm going to enjoy my Stainless King travel mug for a very long time... every single day!

The World's Best Travel Mug

Nicely contoured design
Nicely contoured design | Source

King of the Travel Mugs

Oh, by the way- in order to drink my coffee while I'm still at work, I no longer pre-heat my mug. And I leave the lid off for a while so it can cool a bit quicker. This results in a coffee I can lightly sip without scalding my tongue, and it stays hot till the last sip sometime later in the day.

I'm in awe. I've never in my entire life owned a travel mug that keeps drinks so hot for so long.

The Thermos Stainless Steel King 16 Ounce Leak-Proof Travel Mug… long may it rule!


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    • Crewman6 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Philip, thanks for the read and the very nice comment!

      I'm still enjoying my Thermos - I use it for work, and have to deliberately NOT heat the water to the max or I can't drink my coffee until time to go home. My travel mug has really lived up to it's reputation!

    • philipandrews188 profile image


      7 years ago

      WOw! Wonderful and amazing article.THanks for the info.

    • Crewman6 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Word, thanks for the comment; I've found conflicting reports that mine is/is not dishwasher safe. Personally, I'm not going to experiment on it. I still like mine a lot. I took it on a trip at 9:00 this morning, by 9:51pm tonight, the coffee I forgot to drink is still hot!

      Good luck on your search for a good mug. Sometimes finding something that meets every requirement can take a lot of work!

    • profile image

      Word Draw 

      7 years ago

      I'm trying to find a good travel mug, but I didn't like that this model was hand wash only. I need it to be dishwasher safe.

    • Crewman6 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Thanks asimov47- I appreciate your thoughts, and agree about function trumping aesthetics. By the way, great name... I love Asimov's writing!

    • asimov47 profile image


      7 years ago from San Jose, CA

      Great read! Aesthetically speaking, I personally like the stainless exterior and steamlined shape of some of the ones pictured at the end, like the Nissans, but I think functionality must be the most important. When the current generic thermos I'm using is ready to be retired, I'll definitely check out the Thermos King!


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