Thermos Nissan provided us with four different mugs, each one with different purposes and designs. They included the Leak Proof Travel Mug, the Dual Purpose Mug, the Ultimate Desktop Mug, and the Espresso Mug. Thermos Nissan defines a mug as a drinking beverage that has a handle. If it doesn't have a handle, it's a tumbler.
All of the products in this roundup feature Thermos Nissan's 5 year guarantee.
We tested the products in this category in a variety of ways, seeking out different data points that matter most to consumer. We looked at heat retention, usability, design aspects, portability, and functionality of the lids and accessories with the cups (where valid).
The Leak Proof Travel Mug (#JMQ400C, avg price: $33)
This is an interesting mug - it's hard not to notice the huge handle (I called it the big ass handle around the office, as in "anyone seen the Nissan thing with the big ass handle? I gotta photograph it!"). This is designed to be the college student's thermal container, with an eyelet and an enclosed carbiner for attaching to a backpack or day bag.
It holds roughly 400ml (14oz) of liquid, and was the winner in our heat retention tests for this category - by a fair margin (81.7C after one hour). We did not test this product for cold liquid retention, but I would guess results would be just as impressive.
This mug is designed, as its name implies, to be leakproof. I personally tested this by putting carbonated water (club soda, Schweppes brand for those who may think I'm not detailed enough in what I write :)) in the container and shaking the crap out of it. Then I held it upside down, and shook it some more. No club soda escaped from this mug, but man, did it sploosh and spill all over the place when I untwisted the drinking cap.
| Leakproof - it's true. Easy to drink from left or right handed. Click to enlarge. |
Speaking of the cap, itís a design that is in some ways unique to this product - none of the other products we tested were engineered the same way. The Leak Proof Travel Mug incorporates a curved lip on the upper part of the mug and a twist cap with "drink here" embossed text. Turn the cap about 180 degrees, and you're ready to drink. The curved sidewalls make it a comfortable way to drink, except for one thing - if you have a big honker (nose), the bridge of your nose will touch the other rim, which feels sharp and edgy.
The cap and top portion of the container are designed to facilitate either left or right handed drinking, which is nice - as a lefty, I can state that far too many thermal mugs are designed for right handed people only. The cap is also insulated (a guess, but it's a solid piece with about .5cm of solid space between the narrowest portion, top to bottom), which leads its superior heat retention in this category.
| Insulated cap = better heat retention. Click to enlarge. |
The handle is comfortable, and features a slightly soft rubber inner grip, and the black plastic outer portion that also makes up the top part of the container. It is big, and sticks out quite a bit from the device, but the mug still fits in the drink holders in both of the vehicles we tested it in, as long as you rotate the cup a certain way. There is a place for a metal ring to go at the upper corner on the bend of the handle, and at first I thought this might make holding the cup uncomfortable, but this was not the case - the ergonomics of the handle are spot on, if big-ass big.
Overall, I liked the cup. I'm not sure if I would go out of my way to buy this particular design, but it is kind of cool looking and the ability to hang it from a backpack or shoulder bag is a perk to many. If your goal is a good sized beverage cup that can really retain heat, this is the winner in this category.
|Leak Proof Mug Temperature Tests|
The Dual Purpose Mug (#JMF502, avg price: $25)
I don't get it with this mug. It's supposed to be a coffee or tea mug but also a soup container?
The Dual Purpose Mug comes with two lids - one for drinking, and one for sealing tight. The drinking lid is not leak proof. The sealing tight one is. Thermos Nissan would do better to just make a leakproof drinking lid for the product.
The mug is bottom heavy, as it is designed to be wider at the bottom than at the top. This is great for stability while on a table top, but it didn't fit in one of our two test vehicles' cup holders.
The side walls seem at first glance to be polished steel, but closer inspection shows the brushed steel, just a bit smoother and brighter than some of the other products. One positive about this mug is that it had better "no slide" retention on the bottom of it than others - in other words, on a wood table top, it grips pretty well.
| The lid's drinking hole does not line up at 90 degrees with the handle when screwed on tight. Click to enlarge. |
Here's what really made this product strike out for me - the lid. First, it's designed for right hand use only - there's a cutout for the liquid to pour, and an angled surface, but when the lid is tight, it's only on the side closest to your mouth if you grip the mug with your right hand.
Second, the hole doesn't line up perfectly 90 degrees from the handle (see picture). A bit of an engineering goof here.
As a hot food keeper, as I stated above - I don't get it. Okay, it does a good job of keeping something like soup nice and toasty with the insulated second screw lid, but the design of the product does not facilitate using it as your serving container - you would have to pour your food into something else to easily spoon up your food (or soup).
As a hot drink keeper, it was the lowest scoring of the big mugs (the Double Expresso Mug did worse, but it's not a competitor for these cups). After two hours with the sipper lid, it was down to 56C, which is too cool for a hot beverage, in my opinion.
Overall, this was the poorest item in the Thermos Nissan lineup we evaluated. Fortunately, most of their other products rock. I think the performance of the other items made this one even more of a disappointment.
|Dual Purpose Mug Temperature Tests (with sipper lid)|
The Ultimate Desktop Mug (#JMM400 avg price: $25)
With the moniker "ultimate", Thermos Nissan is boasting about this cup - is it worthy? Our test groups were all over the map on it. Some really liked the cup and how the package "came together" as something that looks downright impressive and "wallah!" on the desk in one's cubicle. Others felt it was lacking in some regards. Personally, I liked the cup, except for one thing - the gimmicky lid, while functional, needs a re-think.
I think this is the best looking of the three big mugs tested. The handle is big, but not overwhelming like the Leak Proof MugÖ probably because this mug is angled wider on the bottom. The rubber middle ribs look great, but are pretty much decorative only, although I found I could look very intellectual and contemplative if I held it with both hands - one on the handle, the other holding the rubber grip on the body :)
(it's interesting to note that most Thermos Nissan products don't need rubber contact points - the vacuum keeps the outer surfaces cool to the touch. Other thermal products from other companies do need a rubber or foam grip because they let the outer wall surface get hot).
This cup is extremely left-handed friendly. Not only does the lid allow for left or right handed use, but the status-symbol "Nissan Stainless logo" faces the outside world when you're gripping it with two hands, looking intellectual and contemplative. :)
| The Ultimate Mug with lid dissasembled. Easy to clean, facilitates left or right hand drinking. Click to enlarge. |
But I digress. About the lid. Okay, I do get it - Thermos wanted to design a lid that could be easy to clean, easy to seal slightly (not leak proof, but keeps more heat in), and easy to drink left or right handed. But I've seen much better engineered lids on other similar products, and well, it was a bit too gimmicky for me. To this day, the one button pour stopper lid on the Zojirushi TuffSlim still impresses me as one of the best designed and engineered caps for a thermal product. Thermos Nissan has some that come close, but now that the company has perfected the thermal portion, I hope they toss more bucks towards the lid design area.
I'm not saying it's bad - please understand this - it's not - they are well made products with lids, caps and spouts that generally work very well. It's just that I think in some of the products, they could be better. And in some of our test products, they are.
Some of the people who evaluated this product felt that it was, in their words "a bit much" in that visually, the mug looks a bit too ostentatious. Not me. I think it looks cool.
As a heat retention device, it doesn't come close to the Leak Proof Mug, but it beats out the Dual Mug by an okay margin. Again, the lack of an insulated cap is the culprit here.
Overall, I liked this mug. I thought it looked awesome, it holds temps well, and it is exceedingly comfortable in the hands. It also makes you look intellectual, if you hold it just right.
|Ultimate Desktop Mug Temperature Tests|
Double Expresso Mug (#JMJ185, avg price, $10, 6/$55)
Besides the fact that the Canadian version of this product is called "Expresso" (ugh), this was actually my favourite product out of the entire testing group until the Multi-Function Cup arrived. Even still, I'm still using this cup every day, and well, you'll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands to get it away from me.
I liked it for one reason, and one reason only - every morning I make an Americano for myself - about 6oz of liquid, including a bit of milk. Every morning, I'm so bloody groggy and clueless for the first half hour or so that my first Americano is usually cold by the time I take my second sip. Blech.
Not so with this little baby. It's small, it isn't a super insulating wonder like the Leak Proof cup (70C after an hour, vs 81.7C for the Leak Proof Mug), but all I want is something that will keep my little 6oz (with milk) beverage hot enough for me to get over my first 30 mins in the morning as a complete zombie. This cup does that.
| I like this mug. Simple, does the job, perfect size for americano lovers. |
It also looks very, very cool doing it. Cool as in stylin', not cold cool.
I don't have a helluva lot else to say about this - it's a basic cup, it does the job, and does it well. The sipper lid can be placed in any position around the top of the cup, it is held in place by friction and the silicone gasket. The handle is comfortable and big. The cup is tiny. It's easy to clean, it has a brushed surface that doesn't attract fingerprints easily, and did I say it looks good?
Temp tests: I only tested this for one hour - started with a 82C Americano (with milk, of course), and after one hour of not touching it with the lid on, it was down to 59C - still warm enough to enjoy. I know - I drank it, and it wasn't half bad.