Think Stanley, and you probably think of steel. But the 107-year-old company recently launched a line of drinkware unlike anything it has offered before. Stanley’s newest cup and mug are made from double-walled titanium instead of steel, the metal the company has been using to make its unbreakable vacuum-insulated vessels since 1913.
So why change something good? The brand hopes that by branching into a new material it will appeal to ultralights who want to shave ounces while keeping their drinks hot. The Titan line, available exclusively from REI until 2020, has a design that “lives up to Stanley’s promise of durability and is lightweight at the same time,” said Eric Shear, Stanley’s global vice president. “Our titanium pieces are 40 percent lighter than stainless steel,” says Shear.
Titanium’s impressive strength-to-weight ratio has made it fast and light mass enthusiasts who don’t mind paying a premium for durable pots, cookware, and other outdoor gear to ease their load. Titanium also resists corrosion and has just enough elasticity to flex (not crack) under tension. Also, says Shear, “Titan has a seal of approval.”
While titanium may be a new material for Stanley, the double-walled construction is not. Company founder William Stanley Jr. invented the first insulated all-steel bottle in 1913. At the time, traditional vacuum bottles relied on glass, making them too fragile and impractical for normal use, he wrote in his patent application. Instead, Stanley suggested creating an airless layer between two steel sheets.
Today the TiVac project draws on more than a century of knowledge and experience in double-walled insulation, this time using a premium metal – titanium.
The airless gap – and not the walls themselves – gives double-walled vessels their insulating power. This is because the vacuum lacks molecules and the molecule-free barrier prevents energy particles from moving via convection or conduction (two main forms of heat transfer). The metal walls don’t have to be thick, and neither does the vacuum layer (Stanley’s standard is 3mm). TiVac parts can be appealingly light and slim.
Titanium may be more expensive than steel, but as the company adapted its double-walled construction methods to the more expensive material, it has continued to prioritize its lifetime warranty. The TiVac pieces are also competitively priced when compared to other titanium drinkware options on the market.
Stanley’s most expensive offering, the Stay-Hot Titanium Travel Mug, is $ 100 (compared to $ 160 for the slightly smaller version of a competitor). It comes with a leak-proof flip-top cap and holds 14 ounces. Its 2.5-inch diameter makes it slimmer than most travel mugs and cup holder-friendly, and a rubber base prevents it from sliding off the surface of a table. According to Stanley, it keeps drinks hot for four hours, cold for four hours, and iced for 16 hours.
There’s also the 10-ounce Stay-Hot Titanium Multi-Cup ($ 80) that doubles as a portable mug or canned koozie (it’s the perfect size to slip over a cold one). Finally, there’s the 12-ounce Stay-Hot Titanium Camp mug ($ 90) with a removable cap for on the go. Both keep bevvies hot for two hours, cold for three hours and icy for 10 hours.
All three TiVac parts can only be washed by hand.
Earlier this summer, Stanley sent me the three new TiVac models to test this item out. I carried them on backpacking trips and stowed them in my RV for road trips through Colorado and Utah. Every ship excels in different situations.
Good enough for home or patio use but light enough to secure a spot in my overland setup, the Stay-Hot Titanium Camp mug has become my favorite starter. The elegantly curved, solid titanium handle is easier and more comfortable to use than that of similar mugs with collapsible handles. In addition, with its beautiful color and modern aesthetic, it makes my coffee ritual a little more special than with my earlier, inconspicuous vessel. It is certainly the first piece in my measuring kit that “makes me happy” (the clear lawyer Marie Kondo would be proud).
Because of its versatility, the Stay-Hot Titanium Multi-Cup is ideal for trips that require efficient packaging. I fill it with a hot drink in the morning and rinse it out later in the afternoon and slip into a cold can of beer or seltzer. While much slimmer than the double-walled YETI Rambler Colster I used, the Titanium Multi-Cup keeps drinks cold just as well (remember: only the vacuum layer insulates, not the metal it contains).
When hiking and biking in the city, I reach for the Stay-Hot Titanium Travel Mug. Its slim shape slips easily into the most crowded packages, and the leak-proof lid has kept my papers and laptop from getting soaked in hot tea. Plus, at just 8.3 ounces, it’s ridiculously light. It will be a must during winter ski touring.
I’ll admit my husband doesn’t love this mug because the lid’s hinge grips his mustache. (The cam-action design opens the beverage valve when you flip the lid.) And the mug’s slim circumference means it won’t fit snugly into his car’s cup holder. it tends to ricochet or tip over on winding roads or bumpy double lanes.
Another discovery: after wedging a few pieces of titanium in my RV and bouncing around on a 4WD washboard for 10 miles, I noticed that one of the titanium mugs had a small bump (or “dimple,” as designers call titan’s small blemishes) . Titanium isn’t the hardest metal on the planet, but such dimples don’t affect vacuum insulation, Shear says. My tests confirmed this: the cup with the pimples kept the coffee just as hot as before.
Perhaps the best thing about titanium, at least for lovers of a clean, streamlined design, is the way the material forces restraint. “Titanium cannot be stretched like steel. It doesn’t want to be a cup, ”explains Shear. When some of Stanley suggested adding more functionality (“more jazz” as Shear calls it) to the items in the TiVac collection, they were thwarted by the challenges of making the metal. The end result: a collection that is the most elegant and simplest that Stanley has ever offered.