There are thermoses a’plenty if your only concern is keeping a beverage hot (we recommend the Zojirushi 16-ounce, in Smoky Blue, if it matters). However, if your everyday carry includes hot food — if you bring your own lunches to work or on a hike — you will want to consider some other options that are purpose-designed for keeping and eating your meal. In making our below recommendations there were two chief considerations taken in to account — first and foremost, all of our candidates needed to be able to be thrown in a bag and forgotten about until meal time (no leakers!). Second, each thermos had to be able to keep food hot for at least 8 hours. Keeping that in mind, here are our recommendations for the best thermoses for hot food.
Ah the venerable Thermos brand. It kept your parents’ food hot, it kept their parents’ gruel warm, and it’ll keep your kids’ Soylent tepid. There is a reason “Thermos” has been genericided like Kleenex and Clorox — they’ve been around forever and they work.
The King Food Jar comes with a folding spoon, which is handy if you don’t want to slurp your soup in the breakroom like a goddamn animal. As with all of our picks, the King Food Jar is double-wall insulated and will keep your food hot for more than 8 hours. The double-wall insulation does add some bulk, if not weight, and the King Food Jar measures 3.7″ wide and 5.6″ tall — definitely stout, but small enough to be tucked in to a bag. Its dishwasher safe and can be disassembled for easy cleaning.
Fun fact, the vacuum flask was invented by Scottish scientist Sir James Dewar in 1892, and he originally intended to use it for cryogenics. Dewar evacuated the air between two chambers and created the modern insulated container. Dewar never patented his invention, and a pair of German glassblowers commercialized it for its modern use. The Germans renamed the Dewar flask the Thermos and trademarked the name. Dewar sued to claim the rights to the Thermos, but lost. To honor Sir James Dewar, and just to be jaunty, consider referring your new Thermos your Dewar flask.
If “Thermos” hadn’t become synonymous for this class of item, “Stanley” might well have. The Stanley Adventure Vacuum food Jar will keep food hot or cold for up to 15 hours and, like all our picks, is leak proof and packable. It also comes with a lifetime warranty from Stanley, so if something goes awry you can get your money back or a replacement jar. Fact is, nothing is going to go wrong, these things are built like tanks.
Speaking of tanks, the Stanley container was invented by William Stanley Jr. The significant difference between the Stanley container and the Thermos was the all-metal construction of the former. Stanley figured out that he could weld two containers made of steel together, create a vacuum between them, and design a product that could take more of a beating. Stanley bottles have flown with B-17 pilots during World War II, carried human organs, and went with crews on deep sea explorations. Unfortunately, Mr. Stanley died in 1916 — well before his Stanley bottle became popular. Consider calling your new Stanley bottle … Stanley … in his honor.
At some point, Thermos realized the major issue plaguing the insulated food jar industry was that none of them were fun enough. Partly in response to competitors “Lametainer 10 Ounce Food Jar,” Thermos introduced the Funtainer, banishing boredom from the food container industry forever.
In addition to standing as a monument to man’s arrogance, the Funtainer is smaller than the other two picks, comes in a bevvy of colors and designs (you can have a Star Wars thermos, in 2017!), and will keep your food hot for 5 hours.