Thermos Nissan has a fair amount of products in their "tumbler" category - by my count, some 9 or more, all with different shapes, designs, and purposes. Some are long running products, like the JMH400 Travel Tumbler, which I first saw back in 1993 or 1994. Others are new models, some falling under a new design philosophy called "second skin" products that serve a couple of purposes.
To Nissan, a tumbler appears to be any sipping beverage holder that does not feature a handle. If you can drink straight from it, and it holds hot or cold liquid in a "single serving size" (say under 20 ounces or 600ml), it is usually a tumbler.
We got to look at three products under the tumbler category, each one with a slightly different design or marketing philosophy behind it. None of these are leakproof; however one is leak resistant. We also got to torture one of the tumblers, in a variety of ways.
As with most pages on this website, clicking most images will show you a larger image in a popup window. When in doubt, try it!
Note: I've lost my cold temperature test numbers for most of these products during a hard drive crash a few weeks ago. As a result, I'm retesting them all over the next few days. Check back for updated results by the weekend
Travel Tumbler (#JMH400, avg price: $22)
This is one of Nissan's longest running products, and for me at least, one of their most recognizable. I've seen it in almost every medium-to-upscale kitchen supply shop I've been in.
I bought one several years ago, and have always liked it.It has stood up to a lot of abuse, including an ex girlfriend who put (blech) tea in it.
(ed.note: oxyclean helps remove things... like tea smells).
| The lid on the travel tumbler is easy to use, though not leak proof. |
The lid on the travel tumbler is definitely not leak proof, nor is it insulated. However, it does have a flip and lock lid for the drinking hole, and surprisingly enough, even without the top insulation, is a champ in the temperature keeping department. It beat out the other two tumblers in our round up by a slight margin.
It's a good looking cup, large, but easy to grip thanks to the rubber grip in the middle of the cup. The grip is there purely for usability and aesthetics - like all the products we evaluated, the outside skin simply doesn't get hot, no matter how sizzling the interior liquid temps are.
Because it was a good looker and a good performer, I felt kind of bat, uh, bad about some of the things I decided to do to this cup. Namely, it underwent the baseball bat test, and the drop it from a fast moving car test. The car test is to see how this product would stand up to being left on a roof of a car, as one drives away. The bat test? I dunno what that simulates. I guess I was getting rid of a little anger that day. Whatever the reasons, I have to stress here - do *not* try this at home. This will void your warranty, your guarantee, and possibly your sanity for doing such things on purpose to an expensive thermal product.
(video still being prepared).
(stills from video)
Start 1hr 2hr 3h
Cold 3.5C compile.
Hot 98.9C 75.2C 58.4C 43.1C
Easy Sip Travel Tumbler (#JMT401, avg price: $25)
Funky cold madina. This tumbler looks like a black ice cream cone on a stainless steel scoop. Feels a bit like it too in the hand. Except it isn't cold (or hot) to the touch.
This is a new product by Nissan, with a unique lid system designed to allow drinking from 360 degrees around the top. Does it work? It sure does, though the flow of liquid is a bit slow.
The lid's design is such that inside it has cutouts all the way around the inner ring - this is where liquid passes through, under certain conditions. The part of the lid that screws into the cup has a series of notches that will "seat" themselves in one of three positions - marked "remove", "open" and "closed" in embossed, raised lettering on the side of the cup. In addition, the lid has three notches outside of its rim, and you line up one of those three notches with the "remove" notch on the cup to put the lid on the cup.
| Hey, this is technical. The JMT has three "settings" in its lid for how to use it. |
| A surprisingly complex inner plastic portion makes the three-click lid work as well as it does. |
Sounds complicated, but in practice it isn't. It works well, although it may take a few tries to "get it". The result is a lid that doesn't really "screw down" into the cup, but instead moves into one of three positions, each one with a more or less solid lock in feel as you hit them. When in the open position, you can drink - and while liquid does flow, it is restricted - the cutouts in the bottom of the lid are fairly shallow and not a lot of beverage passes through. It's not bad, don't get me wrong here - it's just not as fast as one may like, or get from other types of lids.
When the lid is in the closed position, it is, as Nissan puts it, "leak resistant". Suffice to say, this didn't pass my carbonated water and shaking test. But if it's accidentally knocked over, you can usually recover it before any coffee spills out.
As for ergonomics, the cup does well. It is fairly light (although the Low Cost Tumbler, listed below is lighter), and it is easily held in most hands. At 400ml capacity, it's enough for a big 14oz coffee. This is one of the cups the piano students and teachers used, and they complained it kept their tea too hot. Inneresting.
One complaint I have about the cup is due to its unique shape. It's a bit difficult to clean inside, especially just under where the bottom of the lid is - the metal inside is a bit recessed away from the black plastic portion, and if you use a wash cloth, stuff snags. If used in a dishwasher upside down, I almost imagine little food particles getting wedged in there, or simply not falling out.
Overall though, it's a good cup, it fits in both our vehicles, it looks good (and quite different from your run of the mill tumbler) and hypothetically, it could actually serve as an ice cream cone - the lid is so recessed, in our very scientific testing, we could get almost 3 full scoops of ice cream in there! While this is surely not Nissan's intent, it does make it a "multi function" product for the intrepid!
Start 1hr 2hr 3hr
Hot 98.1C 73.5C 57.7C 42.0C
Low Cost Travel Tumbler (#JMI400, avg price $15)
This is one of the late arrivals to our massive and humongous testing facilities (aka the back porch, because I don't have any room left in the basement for all these Nissan products), but I sure am glad it came along. It turned out to be my personal favourite tumbler, for three reasons. First, it holds a lot. Second, it keeps stuff icy cold (or boiling hot) yet has a super thin side wall. Third, it's cheap (relative to other Nissan products). It's called "low cost" because, well, it is. It should retail for around $16 or so, and does not include a box, like most of the other products in the Nissan lineup.
This cup holds the same amount of liquid as the two others in this roundup do (400ml), but for some reason, this seems to be smaller in the hand, lighter in the hand, and more comfortable overall for me. One reason for this is a lack of rubber on the side walls, but also it uses the super thin Thermax insulation technology - and when I put my index finger on the inner wall, and my thumb on the outer wall, I'm like, "damn, this is thin!".
The performance of the cup is pretty good as well. It isn't as good as the other two tumblers, but nothing to sneeze at. I guess one thing that impressed the heck out of me was this - I was up late one night writing something, maybe around 1am. I put some Perrier and fresh OJ in this tumbler, along with four ice cubes (the liquids were from the refrigerator), and I didn't put the lid on it.. I drank maybe half of its contents, and forgot about it (as I frequently do with drinks - hence, I am a good target market for thermal beverage makers). The next morning, some 10 hours later, I noticed the cup, grabbed it and moved to the sink to dump out the contents, when I heard tiny clinks from inside. I looked, and there were still tiny little bits of the ice cubes in this cup with no lid. Wow.
| Yeah, it's basic, but it works. Nice cup! |
| This is one thin mama jamma. But read about my "does it get hot" test with the threat of major personal injury to myself! |
Third thing? It's cheap. Okay, fifteen bucks may not be super cheap, but in the Nissan world, it's rock bottom, and worth every penny, if not more so.
Other elements about the cup - the lid is a basic, smoke-black translucent affair, with holes drilled all around the inner part, making it a "Drink Anywhere Lid" as Nissan puts it in their literature. The base is the same translucent smoke black material. It fits just fine in both our vehicles' cup holders, and another thing that amazed me - when doing my prep for the hot beverage temperature testing, I was initially worried about holding this cup while steaming the contents with my espresso machine wand - the walls were so thin, I though, okay, heat has to transfer in this cup. It doesn't. I had a rolling boil in the cup, but the outer wall was "normal". Not even warming up a bit - just normal. Sweet.
I was going to torture this thing, but in the end, the honours went to the JMH400 model - I liked this one too much.
I did do one torture test - to myself. I wanted to see how "cool wall' the Thermax line and Nissan products in general were, so I divised a really goofy test. I boiled a kettle of water, then half filled my test containers. This was the first one I tested (and also the last).
Then I went to my trusty, nifty Pasquini Livia with its instant steaming ability. I wanted to generate a rolling, burbling boil in the cup, to see if my hand could "stand" the heat. Well, my hand didn't last long, but not because of the cup's insulation.
As I got a rolling boil commenced, and was going to myself "wow, the outer wall is still room temperature! I can't feel it...", well, the roll got a little, uh, vigorous really quick and started splashing the back of my left hand. Big time ouch. I had a giant red welt from the boiling water burn.
But, uh, these products do stay cool on the outside even if you're doing a rolling boil inside. At least I think all of them do, based on this one test with one product. :)
Back to some sense of seriousness (and no, I'm not going to sue Thermos :)), out of all the tumblers I tested, this one impressed me the most for the low cost and excellent design and thermal ability.