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The Best Hot Food Thermoses for Camping

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Most folks, especially those deeply ingrained in the world of outdoor adventure and/or physical fitness, are familiar with vacuum-insulated water bottles. And while that marks a quick fix for hydration on the go, that’s only half of the sustenance equation. For longer jaunts on the trails and camping trips, food is absolutely a necessity.

If you’re headed out to your favorite campsite, you can always turn to MREs and emergency rations, but they’re not exactly appetizing. Of course, you could also cook over the fire or bring food from home, but then you might run into issues with storage. But there’s actually a handy solution for that. You see, a number of brands that make those handy vacuum-insulated water bottles have also put that technology into other storage containers specifically designed to carry food and keep the temperature consistent for hours on end. We’ve rounded up the best of the best here on our list of the best hot food thermoses for camping.

Best Hot Food Thermoses

Temperature Safety Zone

Before taking a bite out of your soup you made hours ago before leaving the house, you should know about the temperature safety zone. Essentially, the guideline states that in normal conditions, cooked food should remain above 140ºF for as long as possible. After it comes below that threshold, the food is much more likely to grow bacteria and can be unedible as quickly as 2 hours later. This can be pushed to 4 hours if needed, especially if other conditions (such as lack of oxygen and external moisture) are optimal.

What to Look For in a Thermos

Size: The size of your food thermos will depend on what you’re using it for. If you’re looking to pack a small serving for lunch at work then you won’t likely need anything too big. However, if you’re heading out for a day’s journey and are looking to return to a helping of soup or tea or coffee every once in a while, you’ll want a larger container.

Heat Retention: Heat retention is key to any thermos. However, when it comes to heat, insulated containers can only keep the temperatures at a fraction of the time that in can keep cold for. But note, the more air is inside of your container, the shorter time it stays hot for.

Lid: Make sure you know if the lid of your thermos is leakproof before stuffing it away in your backpack for the day.

Material: Not that it really differs, but you’ll almost always want food-grade stainless steel construction when it comes to keeping foods hot. Not only will you not have to worry about any leeching materials but it will significantly increase heat retention. You’ll also want to make sure that it’s thick enough and insulated enough so that you can hold the container from the outside without burning your hand.

*NOTE: Heat retention times are estimates and will be more accurate if the container is full.

Thermos Stainless King 16-Ounce Food Jar

THERMOS Stainless King Vacuum Insulated Food Jar
  • Good price
  • Perfect size
  • Accompanying spoon is collapsible
  • Lid doubles as bowl
  • Can get dented

Best Overall: Like Kleenex, Thermos is so synonymous with insulated food and beverage storage that its name is often used interchangeably. Of course, they’ve also earned a reputation for being one of the best in the game, so that association isn’t simply due to chance. That can be seen in abundance via their Stainless King Food Jar you see here. It’s built from stainless steel, can keep up to 16 ounces of food hot for up to nine hours or cold for fourteen, comes with its own collapsible and packable folding serving spoon, and the lid doubles as a bowl for easy eating anywhere.

Size: 16oz
Heat Retention: 9 hours

Stanley Adventure Vacuum Food Jar

  • Totally leakproof
  • Integrated spork attaches to the side
  • Lid doubles as bowl
  • Wide opening makes it easy to eat out of
  • It’s attachable thanks to ring on side
  • Default spork could be better

Runner-Up: Thermos probably has the most recognizable name in food and beverage storage, but the Stanley brand is quite literally legendary in the outdoor world — so it should come as no surprise to find them on our list. Their Adventure Vacuum Food Jar can store up to 18 ounces of food inside it and keep it warm for up to a whopping 12 hours. It’s also built from sturdy stainless steel, is completely leakproof, comes with an integrated spork, and the lid doubles as a bowl. Undoubtedly, this is one of the all-time best vacuum-insulated food containers.

Size: 18oz
Heat Retention: 12 hours

Thermos Stainless King 24-Ounce Food Jar

  • Long heat retention
  • Ergonomic outside for holding in hand
  • Lid doubles as a bowl
  • Harder to eat out of with spoon

Best Large Thermos: As they’re so dominant in the gear category, it should come as no surprise to find Thermos on here twice. This particular version of the Stainless King Food Jar boasts many of the same features that make its smaller brethren great: stainless steel double-walled insulated construction, a lid that doubles as a bowl, and more. It doesn’t come with an integrated spoon, but it does make up for that with a much larger 24-ounce capacity and a longer heat-retention period of up to 14 hours (24 hours for cold contents).

Size: 24oz
Heat Retention: 14 hours

YETI Rambler Lowball

YETI Rambler 10 oz Lowball
  • Good for beverages
  • Dishwasher safe
  • Cupholder-compatible
  • Lid isn’t leakproof

Best Small Thermos: Technically, YETI’s Rambler Lowball container was actually intended for campground beverages. But its wide-mouth design and dishwasher-safe stainless steel vacuum-insulated construction also makes it an exceptional food container. Granted 10 ounces is not a ton of space and it doesn’t have a leakproof lid, but it will still keep whatever you have in it warm (or cold) for hours and it’s available in a multitude of colors. Just make sure you’re extra careful not to let this one tip over while it has food inside of it. Plus, once you’re done eating, all you need to do is give it a quick wash and you can fill it with coffee in the morning or whiskey at night.

Size: 10oz
Heat Retention: 6+ hours

Energify Vacuum Insulated Food Jar

  • Several size options
  • A myriad of color choices
  • Has handy loop for attaching
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Not dishwasher safe

Best Budget Thermos: Energify’s Vacuum Insulated Food Jar has a lot of the same features you’ve seen repeated on this list: a stainless steel construction, double-wall insulation, a leakproof cap, an included folding spoon, and a lid that doubles as a bowl. But it also has a couple of handy features you might not find elsewhere. That includes a flexible handle for easier carrying and, perhaps most importantly, a lifetime guarantee. It’s also available in 12, 17. or 24 ounces and a number of different colorways.

Size: 12, 17, or 24oz
Heat Retention: 12 hours

Stanley Classic Legendary Vacuum Insulated Food Jar

  • Classic aesthetic
  • Handle helps with pouring or drinking
  • Large capacity
  • Long heat retntion
  • Has gone down in quality a bit over the years
  • Could be cheaper

Best Vintage-Style Thermos: As previously mentioned, Stanley is legendary in the world of outdoor gear. As such, they’re more than deserving of multiple spots on this list, especially when one of those spots is taken up by their iconic Classic Legendary Vacuum Insulated Food Jar. With a 24-ounce capacity, this food thermos is a bit bigger than many of the others on this list — making it perfect for sharing — but that also means you’ll probably want some longer camping utensils to suit. Of course, you could also pour your food into the cap, which doubles as a bowl, and it will keep everything inside hot or cold for up to 15 hours. It also comes with a lifetime guarantee, which is just another added bonus.

Size: 24oz
Heat Retention: 15 hours

Hydro Flask Food Jar

Hydro Flask 20 oz Insulated Food Jar
  • No-slip grip
  • Looks nice
  • Wide mouth for easy eating
  • Pricey

Best High-End: Hydro Flask has made a name for itself as one of the most reliable and stylish insulated water bottle brands available on the market. As it turns out, they have also taken their expertise and pared it into a handy TempShield double-wall vacuum-insulated food jar perfect for camping. Available in a 20-ounce capacity and a trio of beautiful colorways, it’s built from food-safe BPA-free 18/8 pro-grade stainless steel and it’s powder-coated so you don’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hands. If we had to pick one downside, the price is a bit high and the lid doesn’t turn into a bowl. Other than that, this camping-ready food container is spectacular.

Size: 20oz
Heat Retention: 5+ hours

The Best Dutch Ovens for Camping

Best Dutch Ovens 0 Hero
Photo: Camp Chef Deluxe

If you’re in need of some food to fill up your thermoses, check out our guide to the best Dutch ovens for camping.