Give Me Your Best Insulated Cup Comparison - YETI, Ozark Trails and RTIC

There are lots of insulated cups on the market.  Are the premium brands worth the extra money?  We have three brands of insulated cups at our house.  I decided to give them a test to see how well they held hot and cold liquids.

Left to right:  YETI, Ozark Trail, and RTIC insulated cups with lids
The three brands that I have and tested are:

Ozark Trail 20-Ounce Double-Wall, Vacuum-Sealed Tumbler  
This 20-ounce tumbler is less than $8 at Wal-mart.  I think we actually paid about $9 for ours when we purchased it.  These cups are the least expensive of the insulated cups that we have.  But, don't let the price fool you.  Price does not really indicate the overall quality.

RTIC 30 oz. Tumbler
We have a 30-ounce RTIC tumbler that I got at work.  It is a little bigger than our other two cups.  However, the price for this cup is what I would consider being mid-range.  A 30-ounce cup is around $23 and the 20-ounce cup is about $20.

YETI Rambler 20 oz Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Tumbler with Lid (Stainless Steel)
YETI has consistently been the most expensive on the market for these types of cups that I have seen.  On Amazon, the 20-ounce cups are about $25.  However, I typically see these at stores for $30 to $35.

I did a side by side comparison of each of these cups for two different uses:
  1. Keeping ice and cold beverages
  2. Keeping coffee/hot liquids
So how did these three cups perform?

Each cup was filled with the same amount of ice and filled the remaining portion with water.

I used a measuring cup to count out a number of ice cubes that went into each cup.

For keeping ice and cold beverages, I lined up these cups and added 9 ice cubes into each cup and filled the remaining portion of the cup with tap water.  I closed the lid on each and left them to sit on my kitchen counter overnight for 8 hours.  After 8 hours, this is how they stacked up.
  1. RTIC - has most of the ice remaining, almost all
  2. YETI - has a small amount of ice but not the least
  3. Ozark Trails - all of the ice was almost melted
Each cup was sealed with their lid after I filled with ice and water.

From the top:  YETI with remaining ice (number 2); Ozark Trail with the least amount of ice; RTIC with the most amount of remaining ice.  This was after 8 hours left on the counter.
The water was cold in each cup.  But the RTIC did stand up the best.  One thing that I have noticed about my RTIC is that the lid has a really snug seal around it.  I think this really adds to its performance.

When I tested the hot water, I ran water through my coffee pot just as I was making coffee for us in the morning.  I filled each cup with hot water and took them temperature to see where I started and tested every few hours to see how it would do over the course of the next 8 hours.

All three cups started at 160 degrees.  After around 3 hours, each one had decreased by a small amount.  However, the RTIC was a steady 10 degrees warmer.

This was the starting temperature I measured after I filled each cup with water from my coffee pot.
After 8 hours, the RTIC was still 10 degrees warmer than the YETI and Ozark Trails cups.  

After 6 1/2 hours the temperature of the RTIC cup was 120 degrees.

After 6 1/2 hours the Ozark Trail and YETI cups were 110 degrees each.
For the warm liquids, this was my final finding:
  1. RTIC cup stayed consistently warmer by 10 degrees over time.
  2. Ozark Trails and YETI tied being 10 degrees cooler than the RTIC cup.  
One thing that I am not sure of over the long haul is quality and how these cups will hold up over time.  I can say that the YETI cups we have tend to stain with coffee easily.  We use all of our cups all the same.  But the YETI always stains.  I'm not sure why.  I clean it out with baking soda and vinegar and give them a good scrub every so often to help.  Stains always come back.  

What is my final verdict?  The RTIC cups are definitely a winner in my book in terms of hot and cold insulation.  These cups are moderately priced and work great.  However, I do think that the Ozark Trails cups are made well and perform fine really.  Are you actually going to be needing to keep a drink ice cold or piping hot for a full 8 hours?  Most of us would have finished our drink, hot or cold, by this time.  So, if the price is a factor, Ozark Trails may be the way to go.  I don't think they are inferior cups.  I think they are well made and work just fine really.

I love my YETI cup.  It works great.  It is actually a gift from my work.  No complaints from me.  If you are purchasing a cup for yourself, it might be hard to justify the price.  Name recognition is as much of a commodity as the cup itself.  I don't think that you get a better cup with the bigger price or the brand.  

I really like the Ozark Trails cups for our camper and traveling.  They provide what we need at a great value.  And, if we loose one it isn't as big of a loss.  These cups also come in lots of colors that I like.  

What cup do you have?  We have all three, but I think I know what brand I would purchase going forward for any new ones based on what I found out for myself.  In the performance category, RTIC is the winner.  The price is moderate and performance is superior.  If the price is a factor, Ozark Trails worked as well as the YETI.  Price and performance as always big players in my pocketbook.  I hope that this helps and may even save you a little money too!

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