Like all good things, trends happen in cycles. We seem to be in a “camping is cool” trend right now and I have to say that I kinda enjoy it. It’s cool to see so many companies making good outdoor gear for those of us that enjoy that kind of stuff. Some high-tech and some low-tech, and both appeal to me for different reasons. I’m one part retro-grouch and one part gadget-geek I guess.
One of the trends lately is that many companies seem to now have a camp mug. It’s like they are the custom water bottle of our time. I’ll admit that I wish I had a custom camp mug with a Frontage Roads logo but I have a few good ones so I guess it’s not a need, only a want. So with that in mind I thought I’d share the mugs I use and point out what I like or don’t like about them.
Here are the main ones that get used. From L-R, Smokey Bear Magic Mug, Poler/Stumptown Enamel Mug, Snowpeak Ti 450 Single Wall, Best Made Enamel Mug and Snowpeak Ti 450 Double Wall Mug.
I’ll start with my top three. The two Snowpeak Ti mugs and the Best Made are the best, most useful mugs I have. All three have been on many trips now and have proved their value in the field as well as at home.
The two Snowpeak Ti mugs are the best of the three for out in the field use. The Snowpeak Single Wall Ti probably being the best of the top three, as you can boil water in it. In fact, I carry it in a small homemade bag that includes my Catfood Can stove, matches, lighter and bandana so it’s always ready to go at a moments notice. The bottom of the cup shows some wear from some heavy usage, but that’s what gives it character. The drawback to the single wall, and the enamel mugs for that matter, is that it gets really hot. I use the “Hot lips” on this mug because I’ve learned the hard way that you need let the mug cool before taking a sip. You can also see some strategically placed Sugru on the mug handles and side for the same reason. A bandana does the same trick but it’s good have some extra protection, unless you like burned fingers of course. The trade off of being able to cook in the Single wall is that the contents can cool off quickly. That’s where the Double Wall comes in.
The Double Wall Snowpeak Ti mug takes care of the heat loss from the Single Wall. However, you cannot set it on your stove. Inside the Double Walls is a layer of air that keeps your hot things hot and your cold things cold. This means that to use this mug you’re gonna need to bring a separate pot or kettle to boil your water. Not a deal breaker but something to consider. What you get though is a longer lasting warm drink for that morning coffee or evening tea. Also, the insulating lid will help to extend this time.
Next up is the Best Made Camp Mug. Now these are kinda fancy I’ll admit it, but this mug is built to last. It’s comparable to the Poler mug only in that it’s a camp mug. It costs twice as much, but it feels like it will last a lifetime. I’m not opposed to paying a little extra for something that is quality and will last forever. This mug is comparable to my Swrve Denim Jeans and my Red Wing Boots. It will get better with age and I hope to hand it down to my nephew some day. (Not any time soon!) These mugs, while they do get hot and can be hard to handle, will probably outlast all of the other mugs I own, maybe even the Ti mugs.
The Poler mug is similar to the Best Made except that you can feel the difference immediately. It’s a little smaller than the Best Made but very similar. Where they differ is the quality. This cup feels so much thinner and lighter. It came with a couple bumps, which isn’t the end of the world but I would prefer to dent and ding up my stuff myself. Also, the enamel coating isn’t as good as the Best Made. There are a couple areas on each cup where the coating has small holes in it. I think that over time these Poler mugs are going to get spots of rust on them if they aren’t kept dry and clean. That can be tough when using them outdoors all the time.
Honorable Mention goes to the Smokey Bear Magic Mug. This mug is the baddest of the bad and coolest of the cool. You can find them online, but I got mine from Topo Designs. When you pour hot water in it the trees burn up and Smokey gets bummed. Ok, he doesn’t really get bummed, but you know he is bummed when the forest burns. I mostly use this mug at home because I don’t want to damage it, but I would take it out on a car camping trip. It’s just too good to be cooped up in the house all the time.
So those are my camp mugs. I’d love to know what your favorite camp mug is. Do you use the same ones? Leave a comment and let me know!