We Tested the Stanley and Owala Tumblers to See Which One Keeps Water Colder

stanley tumbler owala tumbler on a marble table
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren
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This vs. That features a comparative analysis of two trending products, offering a technical review of both items and cutting through internet discourse with authority. For our first installment, we compared the viral Stanley Tumbler against its popular counterpart, the Owala Tumbler. Read the full review below.

Ever so often, a product comes along and manages to captivate the entire internet's attention. UGG's whimsical Fluff Yeah Slides dominated fashion discourse for much of 2021. In 2022, Lululemon's sporty belt bag became a TikTok hit. In 2023 (and thus far, 2024) it's Stanley's viral tumbler that's created an almost inescapable mania online and in Target stores across the country (see these TikTok videos of customers manically clearing out display stands for further proof). Like many viral internet trends, the popularity of the Stanley Tumbler has translated into very real sales for the company; according to data from CNBC, Stanley's annual sales jumped from $75 million to a projected $750 million in 2023 alone.

As with most things that transcend mainstream popularity, the cup's meteoric success has garnered legions of both fans and doubters, with many consumers questioning whether or not the tumbler is really worth all of the internet hype — especially in comparison to other water bottles. I've done the research, scrolled aimlessly through comment sections, and have discovered that if there was ever a product to rival the success of Stanley's stylish tumbler, it's Owala's equally chic and functional tumbler, which boasts a pretty loyal fan base of its own. Both the Stanley and Owala tumblers have similar builds, are available to shop in a variety of fun colorways, and are each made from a signature stainless steel material that's durable and designed to provide long-lasting insulation for all types of liquids.

With all the noise surrounding these two products on social media, I wanted to cut through the discourse to see what precisely it is that makes each cup so great. In POPSUGAR's first installment of the "This vs. That" series, I explore the similarities and differences between these tumblers — from their weight and design style to the functionality of each cup's lid and which model truly provides better insulation for liquids. Keep reading for a full breakdown of everything to know about the Stanley Tumbler ($45) and the Owala Tumbler ($38).

Differences Between Stanley and Owala Tumblers

Don't let their similar builds fool you — these two tumblers are actually different in more ways than one. For starters, despite both being 40 ounces in size, the Owala Tumbler is slightly cheaper than the Stanley Tumbler. Each cup is made from a sturdy and rust-resistant stainless steel material, but the Stanley Tumbler is actually lighter; per the brand's website, Stanley's model weighs 1.4 pounds while the Owala Tumbler boasts a weight of 1.61 pounds. Despite its heavier frame, I've actually found that the Owala cup is much easier to hold thanks to the convenient design of its handle. Unlike Stanley's model, the Owala Tumbler has a squishy contoured spot on the top of the handle that's perfect for thumb placement.

lifting the stanley tumbler owala tumbler
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren

If you're someone who values style and might prefer a tumbler with more flair, the Stanley cup is available to shop in quite a few more colors than the Owala; there are 21 different shades on Stanley's site compared to the five on Owala's.

The functionality of each tumbler also varies. I've found that the Stanley Tumbler is much easier to clean thanks to its dishwasher-safe design, while the Owala Tumbler features a dishwasher-safe lid, but the cup itself must be washed by hand. Personally, I prefer to wash both by hand just to ensure that they're cleaned thoroughly, but if convenience is a top priority, the Stanley cup might be a more practical option for you.

The straws are also (quite literally) central to the entire appeal of each tumbler. While both are made from a BPA-free silicone material, the Owala Tumbler's straw is located in the center of the cup rather than on the edge like the Stanley's. I prefer the center straw design because it means I don't have to rotate the cup every time I go to take a sip of water from it. Additionally, the Owala Tumbler's lid seems to have a larger straw hole that's much easier to move around compared to the Stanley's lid.

Does the Stanley or Owala Tumbler Keep Water Colder For Longer Periods of Time?

There's a lot of debate about which tumbler actually has better insulation and can keep water colder for longer periods of time. Per Stanley's website, the brand promises that the product's double-wall vacuum insulation can keep drinks cold for "up to 12 hours" and "iced for up to 48 hours". Alternatively, Owala doesn't provide any specifications with how long its tumbler can keep water cold, but promises that its water bottle (a similarly made model) can keep liquids cold up to 24 hours. Rather than throw around different estimates, I turned to my trusted laser thermometer to log the exact temperature of the water within each cup over an eight-hour period. First, I poured 15 ice cubes into each tumbler and filled them both up with three cups worth of cold water from my refrigerator. The initial temperature of the Stanley Tumbler was 54.8 degrees Fahrenheit, while the initial temperature of the Owala Tumbler was 57.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

stanley tumbler owala tumbler testing the water temperature experiment
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren

After the first four hours, the temperature of the water in the Stanley Tumbler was 56.3 degrees Fahrenheit, and the Owala Tumbler's water temperature landed at 59.7 degrees Fahrenheit. For the final phase of my experiment, I then took the water temperature at the eight-hour mark, and discovered the Owala Tumbler's water was 63.6 degrees Fahrenheit, while the Stanley Tumbler's was 60.9 degrees Fahrenheit. The ice in both tumblers had melted entirely by the end of the experiment, and the final result proved that the Stanley Tumbler did indeed keep water cooler after an eight-hour period.

Of course, there are external factors that could influence different results for this experiment, like the temperature of my apartment or the varying sizes of the ice cubes poured into each tumbler. But all in all, it seems the Stanley has an edge when it comes to providing better insulation for the longterm.

What's Worth Noting About the Stanley and Owala Tumblers

Recent discourse surrounding the Stanley Tumbler revealed that the brand's viral cup tested positive for lead, with many online users expressing concerns about the safety of drinking from the tumbler with possible contaminants. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), lead exposure can have "serious consequences," particularly for the health of children. The brand released a statement, citing that it follows "industry-standard" manufacturing practices, and further explained: "At Stanley, one of the key features of our products is our vacuum insulation technology, which provides consumers with drinkware that keeps beverages at the ideal temperature. Our manufacturing process currently employs the use of an industry standard pellet to seal the vacuum insulation at the base of our products; the sealing material includes some lead. Once sealed, this area is covered with a durable stainless steel layer, making it inaccessible to consumers."

Jun Wu, PhD, a professor of environmental and occupational health at UC Irvine Public Health, previously told POPSUGAR that most vacuum-insulated reusable water bottles use lead soldering in some capacity, saying: "It's not just Stanley." Owala reportedly does not use any lead in its manufacturing process, but as with most products, it's important to double-check the item's makeup to ensure you're purchasing something that best aligns with your standards. For more information, check out our explainer on whether or not you should be worried about lead in your Stanley cup.

Who Are The Stanley and Owala Tumblers Best For?

There are a lot of factors to consider when purchasing the best tumbler for your lifestyle. If you're someone who is constantly on the go and want a cup that you can comfortably carry along on your commute, I think the Owala is ultimately the better option. It's cheaper, has a more comfortable handle design for carrying purposes, and minimizes spills much more than the Stanley. Alternatively, if you're in the market for a stylish option that'll keep your liquids colder for a longer period of time (or warmer, depending on what you fill it with) and is easier to keep clean thanks to its dishwasher-safe design, the Stanley Tumbler is definitely your best bet.

stanley tumbler owala tumbler spilling water
POPSUGAR Photography | Kyley Warren

Additional Details:

  • Both the Stanley and Owala tumblers are made from stainless steel materials; Stanley's model in particular is crafted from a 90 percent recycled 18/8 stainless steel, BPA-free material.
  • Each cup is available to shop in a variety of colorways.
  • Unlike most large tumbler cups, both of these models are designed to fit within standard-sized cup holders, so they're easy to travel with outside of the house.

Where Are The Stanley and Owala Tumblers Available to Shop?

The Owala Tumbler is available to shop at Amazon, Target ($38), REI ($38), and Owala. The Stanley Tumbler is available to shop at Amazon, Dick's Sporting Goods ($45), REI ($45), and Stanley.