I’ve started using my Smart Mug in the last couple weeks and I got to say, after all the praise I’ve heard for it I’m a bit disappointed. The concept is great, the mug plugs into the cigarette lighter, you set the temperature and it heats up to that temperature. I don’t know if I have a defective one, but I found it to take an incredible amount of time to get to it’s max temperature of 160. It spent most of it’s time in the 120′s. It seems to be more for maintaining heat than actually heating.
The pluses are that it fits in the cupholder quite nicely, and the interior cup screws out and is easily washable (dishwasher safe too, though it’s not like I have one of those in the back of the van). Definitely functional, and I’ve appreciated having hot food without having to buy it that way.
I’ve made both tea and ramen in the mug, and did have it full each time, so certainly a lot for the mug to heat up, but still I found the ramen to take about an hour to cook. I can see myself making this at some campground when I’m not in any hurry to eat some breakfast, (yes, I love ramen for breakfast), but I’d have to get it ready and plug it in right away after waking up. Might be better for tea in that case.
An hour is a long time, though. Luckily I have two plugs in the front of the van (and one in the back, though I haven’t used that one yet), and one of these supplies power even without the key in the ignition. This means that my most successful morning breakfast of ramen involved plugging in the Smart Mug and setting the temperature first. Then filling the smart mug with water, ramen powder, and three-fourths of the noodles, (all that would fit before the noodles softened). Then, because a watched Smart Mug never boils I left the van and ran a quick errand to Staples, came back out, put the rest of the noodles in, drove to the gym, went in for a quick workout and a shower, and then drove to work and ate before going in.
So not ideal, but it does work and it is nice to have something nice and hot in the morning. I like the idea of being able to use this and heat food with the rechargeable car battery rather than a propane campstove. I can see myself really liking this when I’m out on the road in cold weather and don’t want to get out of the van and set up the campstove, or when I’m not at a campground and can’t get out the campstove. That being said, I’m taking suggestions for other brands that heat faster, and I’ll be watching at truck stops once I’m on the road. (Or if you have a Smart Mug and yours doesn’t take this long let me know; Maybe I’ve got a defective one). I really like this mug in theory, but it’s not looking like it’ll be as helpful as I was hoping. I’d like to be able to heat canned soup, but I’m afraid that anything with chunks of vegetables won’t work very well, since those will take even longer to heat to the core.
To sum up, I’ll keep it and use it until I find a better one.
As a side note, I’m at the possibility of a small solar oven. It would definitely need to be something that folds up and packs away small since it would be a total luxury item. Anyone have suggestions?