Does the Yeti Rambler Deserve All the Love It Gets?

Consumer Reports tested this insanely popular travel mug to see if it lives up to the hype

Yeti Rambler travel mug in black and silver John Walsh/Consumer Reports, iStock

It feels like there are only two kinds of coffee drinkers left in America: Those who love their Yeti Ramblers, and those who are tired of hearing about how much people love their Yeti Ramblers. Something about this travel mug seems to transform even the most casual users into instant brand ambassadors.

In fact, the mug is such a hit that it now accounts for about two-thirds of Yeti’s sales, far surpassing its sales of premium coolers—the product that made Yeti a household name. 

More on Travel Mugs & Coffee

While there’s no industry data tracking the best-selling travel mugs, it’s clear that Yeti is heading for world domination: “The Yeti Rambler is one of the most widely searched-for mugs online,” says Nish Suvarnakar, CR’s market analyst for the category. It’s also the top-selling tumbler on Amazon, where it has over 91,000 reviews. Yep, that’s three zeros. 

The Rambler has 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon, with a review section loaded with fawning fans who describe their Ramblers as “incredible,” “worth every penny,” and “the perfect mug for a coffee snob!”

All this begs the question: What, exactly, is so amazing about the Yeti Rambler? To find out, we did what we do best. We tested it. We also tested nine other mugs from brands like Contigo, Starbucks, and Thermos. How did the Rambler stack up against its competitors? Read on to find out. For more on the travel mugs in our tests, see our ratings of insulated travel mugs

Yeti Rambler Vitals

The Rambler is a hefty-feeling stainless steel mug, sold in about a dozen shapes and in capacities ranging from 10 to 30 ounces, for $12 to $35. We tested the 20-ounce Rambler, which is available in about 20 colors. You can add monogramming, custom words, or logos. The Rambler comes with a five-year warranty.

Buy at: Ace HardwareAmazonDick’s Sporting GoodsLowe’sYeti

How the Yeti Rambler Fared in CR's Tests

Temperature Performance
Perhaps the boldest claim Yeti makes for the Rambler is that it has vacuum insulation, “to protect your hot or cold beverages at all costs.” When CR’s test engineer Bernie Deitrick filled the Rambler with water heated to the temperature of freshly brewed coffee, he found that the Rambler kept liquids hot for 4½ hours. 

“That might be plenty for most users, and enough to earn a rating of Very Good in our test, but it was far from the best,” Deitrick says. “We found eight other mugs that performed better than the Rambler, including a Zojirushi which kept water hot for 13½ hours, which is about three times as long as the Yeti.” Almost 14 hours is probably overkill for most coffee drinkers, and frankly, the 4½ hours you’ll get from the Rambler might be, too, but it’s also clear that the Rambler is far from the front of the pack. 

Leaking and Spilling
The Rambler isn’t a leakproof mug, but to be fair, it isn’t designed to be. The perimeter of the Rambler’s lid is wrapped with a rubber gasket, and the lid sits snugly atop a lip inside the mug. That precision fit keeps coffee from splashing, say, if you go over a speed bump while driving, and it slows any leaks if the mug is knocked onto its side, giving you the chance to turn the mug right side up before your coffee leaks all over the floor. Its simple magnetic opening mechanism allows you to sip easily, then close the latch. 

Yeti makes clear that the Rambler isn’t leakproof, but we think it could fairly be called leak-resistant. For a lot of users, the Rambler’s design probably hits the sweet spot between easy sipping and a basic level of protection against the worst leaks. In our tests we found that things like extra latches, which help make a mug leakproof, also happen to make them a little more annoying to use—after all, it’s a pain to have to press a button or pop a cap up every time you take a sip of coffee.

Everyday Use and Cleaning
It’s hard to find a mug that’s skinny enough to fit in a regular car cup holder but still easy to clean by hand. But the Rambler fits that bill. 

That’s because it’s skinny where it needs to be. The Rambler’s tapered shape is slimmer at the base and wider at the top; it fit easily into the cup holders of four cars in our test—everything from a Toyota Prius to a Honda Pilot. And it was one of only two mugs that was a cinch to clean by hand—the others required a bottle brush. 

The Rambler also has a design with almost no crevices, which limits the places coffee can linger—the mug didn’t hold on to nasty odors, even after we let coffee and cream sit in the mug and lid for 48 hours before washing.

The top of the mug has a rolled lip, so it’s comfortable to drink even without the lid in place. If you ever break or lose the lid, you can buy a replacement from Yeti for $10. And if you happen to lose or break the magnetic latch on the lid, you can buy just that piece for $3. Some manufacturers don’t offer replacement lids, or replacement parts at all, so you’d have to buy a whole new mug if something breaks.

The Bottom Line

To understand what makes the Yeti Rambler so special, you have to understand where other mugs fall short. Too many mugs feel like they’re designed with engineers in mind, not casual coffee drinkers. They’re built to be beautiful, or to keep coffee hot at all costs, often resulting in designs that make the mugs downright annoying to drink from or clean. 

In many ways, the Rambler feels like it was custom-made just for you. Every mug makes some trade-off in performance to improve convenience, or vice versa. The Yeti Rambler seems to nail those trade-offs. 

It doesn’t keep coffee as hot as most other mugs, but it still keeps it hot for 4½ hours, which is plenty for most commutes. It isn’t leakproof or spillproof, but it’s heavy and sits firmly on a surface, plus it boasts a spill-resistant lid, all of which reduce the likelihood you’ll suffer a serious spill. That lid is also exceptionally easy to clean, not to mention easy to drink from. The 20-ounce Rambler also manages to be slender enough to fit in every cupholder we’ve tried, plus it can be cleaned by hand with a sponge. 

Given all that, it’s easy to see why the Yeti Rambler has such devotees. It’s not the mug you’d want to take to the top of Mount Everest, but it could be just what you need for your commute.  

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Paul Hope

As a classically trained chef and an enthusiastic DIYer, I've always valued having the best tool for a job—whether the task at hand is dicing onions for mirepoix or hanging drywall. When I'm not writing about home products, I can be found putting them to the test, often with help from my two young children, in the 1860s townhouse I'm restoring in my free time.