The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Lunch Box Cooler: Reviews, Tips, and Recommendations
Looking for the best way to keep your lunch fresh and delicious throughout the day? Look no further than the best lunch box cooler! Whether you're packing a meal for work, school, or a picnic, a lunch box cooler is a must-have accessory. In this article, we've rounded up the top picks for lunch bags, insulated bags, and cooler bags to suit all your needs. We'll also delve into the benefits of lunch coolers, how to clean them, and what to consider when buying one. Read on to discover our verdict, analysis, and test results, as well as some excellent lunch set options. Get ready to say goodbye to soggy sandwiches and hello to the best lunch box cooler you've ever had!
Best Overall Lunch Box
YETI Daytrip Lunch Box
Insulated: No | Leakproof: YesREASONS TO BUY
The YETI Daytrip Lunch Box received our highest recommendation due to its exceptional durability, easy-to-clean waterproof material, and leakproof storage capabilities. With a sturdy and rigid frame, it is simple to pack and offers the added benefit of being one of the few lunch bags with a waterproof liner. During our testing, it outperformed most other models in maintaining both hot and cold temperatures, with only the PackIt Freezable surpassing its performance. Additionally, the magnetic closure and large zipper on the lid provide secure and easy access to your food. Made from robust materials, this lunch box can even stand on its own when carried by one of the three handles on the outside.
Our thorough testing involved filling the YETI Daytrip Lunch Box with various foods to assess its performance on the go. While it proved to be mostly leakproof, there was a slight leakage issue at the zipper, which is its weakest point. Furthermore, its rigid design, which offers advantages in terms of easy packing, cleaning, and food protection, also makes it slightly bulkier compared to more flexible designs that can be compressed when empty. Nevertheless, the YETI Daytrip Lunch Box is an excellent choice for individuals seeking superior temperature regulation and a durable, protective lunch cooler.
Click here to buy the YETI Daytrip Lunch Box
Top 10 Picks for Lunch Bags
For picnic enthusiasts, we have compiled a list of the best lunch coolers based on extensive reviews, endorsements, and customer recommendations. These products have been thoroughly tested and proven by users, making them highly reliable options. With each lunch cooler offering unique features, take the time to explore and find the one that best suits your needs.
1. PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure
The PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure is ranked first among customers for several reasons. It stands out with its built-in freezing gel, eliminating the need for separate freezing gels and providing more space for food. By folding it neatly and placing it in the freezer overnight, you can ensure your favorite meals stay fresh and your drinks remain cold for hours. This long-lasting insulating ability allows you to bring food home, minimizing waste and saving money.
With dimensions of 25.91 x 11.91 x 21.08 cm, this lunch bag can conveniently accommodate all your favorite food and drinks while maintaining the ideal temperature. The strong seams prevent water from entering, ensuring your food and drinks remain safe and intact. The bag is made of safe and non-toxic polyester material, free from lead. It also provides convenient buckles, allowing you to carry it with ease. You can attach it to tote bags, backpacks, or trolleys, making it highly versatile. If you struggle with transporting your perishable meals, the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure is the ideal solution. Additionally, it offers a variety of designs to suit your personal style.
- Easy care: simply wipe clean
- Folds into a compact size of 12.7 x 5.08 cm
- PackIt's innovative cooling mechanism
- Can be carried with one hand or attached to other bags
- Stylish choices
- One-year warranty for factory defects
2. Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner
If you're in need of a spacious lunch cooler, the Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner is a perfect choice. With dimensions of 23.88 cm in height x 17.02 cm in width x 25.91 cm in length, it can hold up to 9 cans of beverages and accommodate larger meal servings. The zippered main section features heat-resistant linings that prevent leaks and keep melted ice from soaking the bag. This highly sought-after feature ensures bacteria and molds are kept at bay, preserving the freshness of your food and drinks.
The removable liner of this lunch cooler allows for easy cleaning. If you prefer not to use the liners, you can opt for ice as a substitute, maximizing the available space. The bag is equipped with multiple sections outside, providing convenient storage for tissues, utensils, and extra food. To accommodate the weight of a fully-packed lunch cooler, it features a multi-way strap and large handles on the sides, allowing you to carry it comfortably.
The Coleman 9-Can Soft Cooler with Removable Liner alleviates worries when planning a picnic. With ample space for all your food and beverages, you can enjoy the company of your loved ones without compromising on delicious cooking.
- Removable and multi-way strap and shock cord
- Antibacterial lining
- Suitable for large meal servings
- Multiple sections and compartments
3. MIER Adult Lunch Box Insulated Lunch Bag Large Cooler Tote Bag for Men, Women, Double Deck Cooler
For those seeking a lunch bag suitable for both picnics and everyday use, the MIER Adult Lunch Box Insulated Lunch Bag Large Cooler Tote Bag is an excellent choice. This bag is available in two sizes: medium and large. It features a convenient handle on top for easy carrying. If you prefer slinging the bag over your shoulder, it offers an adjustable strap that can be shortened or lengthened as desired. The bag is equipped with top and bottom compartments, allowing for easy organization, with the added benefit of a front zipper and pockets for additional storage.
The top compartment is designed for smaller food items such as chips and cookies, while the bottom compartment comfortably accommodates larger meals and cold beverages. The pockets and front zippers offer space for utensils and other accessories. The inner insulators in the bottom compartment ensure temperature balance, enabling your hot meals or cold drinks to remain at the desired temperature regardless of the external environment.
Whether you need an all-around lunch bag for daily use or special occasions, the MIER Adult Lunch Box Insulated Lunch Bag Large Cooler Tote Bag is a reliable option. With two sizes to choose from, you can easily arrange your food to suit your preferences.
- Thick internal insulators
- Convenient carrying handle on top
- Suitable for large meal servings
- Strong braced seams
- Well-made buckles for straps
- Foldable and supple material
- Two available sizes
4. Insulated Lunch Bag S1/S2: InsigniaX Lunch Box/Cooler/Lunch Bag for Adult Women Men Work School
If you're someone who enjoys having a variety of meals to choose from, the InsigniaX Lunch Box is the perfect lunch cooler for you. With its spacious interior, this bag can comfortably accommodate your sandwiches, burgers, drinks, and side dishes. Its generous size allows for the inclusion of a thermos or lunch containers due to its dimensions of 25.4 cm in height x 12.95 cm in width x 23.37 cm in length. Made from toxic-free polyester material, it can withstand the weight of multiple meals and beverages.
To maximize space, the InsigniaX Lunch Box offers a front zippered pocket and two side net pockets where you can conveniently store soda cans and water bottles. The insulation provided by the foam padding and polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) insulators ensures the longevity of your food and beverage temperatures. While it requires a separate ice pack, this lunch cooler's sturdy handles, removable and adjustable straps, and top handle make carrying it effortless. The robust zippers prevent food spillage, making it the perfect companion for all your food-carrying needs.
- Sturdy zippers
- Spacious interior
- Toxic-free material
- Refundable and exchangeable
- Available gift-wrapping
- Side pockets for beverages
- Suitable for large meal servings
5. Everest Cooler Lunch Bag, Black, One Size
If you're searching for the perfect lunch cooler for a picnic date, the Everest Cooler Lunch Bag is here to meet your needs. With dimensions of 21.29 x 15.24 x 18.42 cm, this bag can accommodate meals for you and your companion. Its compact size makes it ideal for work or school lunches as well.
Featuring an adjustable strap that extends up to 116.84 cm, this lunch bag can be carried conveniently anywhere. It provides useful storage for your favorite snacks during road trips, with front pouches and side pockets for placing tissues, spoons, forks, cans, or bottles. This lightweight and durable lunch cooler comes in various designs to suit your preferences and can store both hot and cold drinks. The reliable zipper, coupled with vinyl liners, ensures the temperature remains constant. Cleaning this lunch bag is hassle-free due to its simple structure.
With the Everest Cooler Lunch Bag, your favorite snacks, meals, and drinks can easily accompany you to any destination, satisfying your personal needs and those of your date.
- Sturdy zippers
- Lightweight and easy to carry
- Deep inner opening
- Convenient bottle holders on the side
- Adjustable strap
- Various designs to choose from
Best overall: Coleman - 9-Can Soft Cooler
The Coleman - 9-Can Soft Cooler is the top choice for its exceptional value and impressive features. With a hard plastic "tub" style liner, convenient pockets, and all the essential elements of a basic cooler, this lunch box is a versatile option that is well worth its affordable price of around $14. It is perfect for adults as a lunch box or as a picnic bag for two.
While the Coleman cooler isn't the absolute best at keeping lunch cold without ice, its primary purpose is ice retention. To ensure the safety of perishable food, plentiful ice is necessary, and this cooler is designed for just that.
The removable hard liner functions as an ideal ice bucket, making it ideal for keeping a six-pack buried on a scorching hot day or accommodating a 12-pack without ice on less intense outings. The design of this lunch box for men couldn't be better.
One standout feature of the hard tub liner is its ease of cleaning and drying compared to the soft zip-in liners found in many other coolers. Attempting to remove the last few drops of water from a vinyl bag can be quite a hassle, but the Coleman cooler dries without any issues and is easily wiped clean with a towel.
This cooler is also excellent for large or bulky lunches, with a zippered mesh pocket in the lid that can hold a small ice pack. Additionally, there is plenty of room inside the tub for additional ice packs.
The only reason to choose a different bag would be if you specifically require separate compartments for keeping hot and cold food separate. With its single large compartment, you must decide whether you want everything warm or ice-cold. However, even in a small insulated bag, most hot food cools quickly. Unless you're using a vacuum-sealed container for soup, maintaining a hot lunch for over an hour is unrealistic.
Another drawback of the Coleman cooler is its inability to accommodate the picks from our water bottle review. With a 2.9-inch diameter, the 20-oz Kleen Kanteen barely fits into the mesh side pocket. While it may technically fit, using it on a daily basis is likely to cause the elastic to tear. Most non-insulated 12-ounce water bottles should fit in the pocket, but the cooler has enough room inside to hold your water anyway.
If you don't require a large lunch bag and prefer something less bulky, there are other options available. However, considering its superior value compared to even the smallest lunch bags we tested, we highly recommend that everyone consider the Coleman - 9-Can Soft Cooler first.
- The Coleman - 9-Can Soft Cooler offers a spacious size for larger lunches and provides ample room for ice in its hard liner "tub."
- Coleman designed this bag with excellent features and options considering its price, making it a well-built and practical choice.
Benefits of Lunch Coolers
Safe and Fresh Food
Lunch coolers are essential for maintaining the original temperature and freshness of your food and beverages. Regardless of how far your picnic site is from your home, you can rest assured that your meals will remain safe and fresh. With a lunch cooler, you can enjoy a hot meal and cold drink as if they were just prepared and refrigerated.
When it comes to purchasing products, convenience should always be a top consideration. Fortunately, lunch coolers provide the advantage of packing all your favorite picnic meals in one container. This eliminates bulkiness and space constraints while offering durability to accommodate different types of meals with ease.
Lunch coolers offer cost savings because they are not only suitable for picnics but also for various other purposes. You can use them to store your meals for work or pack your kids' lunch for school.
They are also highly useful for traveling, eliminating the need to purchase food from restaurants or local fast-food chains. Instead, you can bring your favorite home-cooked meal with you while avoiding the high costs of eating out.
Cleaning Lunch Coolers and Eliminating Foul Smell
Maintaining the cleanliness of your food containers is crucial, as they hold the sustenance you consume. Thoroughly clean your lunch cooler to ensure the well-being of your body.
- After each use, remove any leftover food from the lunch bag to prevent a mixed food smell from lingering. If the bag develops an unpleasant odor, you can use a small amount of baking soda to eliminate the bad smell.
- For regular cleaning, utilize antibacterial tissues or wipes and towels to remove dirt and ensure cleanliness. If desired, some lunch coolers can be placed in the washing machine for a complete clean. However, it is important to note that not all lunch coolers are the same. Although they may share similar materials, each cooler has specific cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer to maintain its quality.
What Should You Consider When Buying Lunch Coolers?
When making a purchase, it is essential to consider whether a product meets your standards and fits within your budget. Understanding the usage and frequency of use is crucial in selecting the right item.
Choosing lunch coolers is no exception to these considerations.
While picnics may not occur every day, lunch bags are often needed on a daily basis. When it comes to food storage, it is important to be meticulous in your selection to ensure the safety of your health.
Budget should not be limited to affordability alone. Quality should always be prioritized over quantity. Therefore, consider whether the price of a product aligns with the service it provides. It is crucial to be practical and avoid purchasing items with single-use capabilities. Below are a few factors to keep in mind when buying the best lunch cooler.
One crucial factor to consider when buying a lunch cooler is its size. The size should be determined based on the portion size of your meals or the number of meals you plan to bring on a picnic. For smaller groups, a compact size is practical, while larger crowds require a cooler that can accommodate all meals.
Lunch coolers come in a variety of styles, ranging from simple black and white designs to vibrant floral patterns. Some lunch coolers feature multiple layers to separate hot and cold meals. Additional compartments may be included for utensils, plates, and even tissues. Ultimately, the choice of the best lunch cooler design is entirely up to your personal preference.
Since lunch coolers are designed for portable use, it is important to consider their sturdiness and handle quality to ensure confident and spill-free transportation. The seams, zippers, and handles should be capable of supporting the weight of meals. Choose a lunch cooler that offers convenience and ease of carrying.
Lunch coolers typically feature internal insulators made of multiple coverings. The outer construction of the cooler is durable, despite being lightweight materials such as vinyl, plastic, or polyester. The inner covering consists of leak-proof materials such as aluminum and foil.
In-between these coverings, insulating foam provides temperature regulation within the lunch cooler. The insulating foam is commonly made of polystyrene or rigid urethane material.
Thicker insulator foam generally results in better insulation and more effective temperature maintenance inside the lunch cooler.
Why Choose Lunch Coolers Over Picnic Baskets?
A lunch cooler, also known as a lunch insulator, resembles a traditional lunch bag but contains insulating materials to maintain food temperature. While both lunch coolers and picnic baskets serve the purpose of storing meals, lunch coolers offer the additional advantage of insulation, which picnic baskets lack. With their lunch-box-like design, lunch coolers are convenient and easy to carry to the perfect picnic spot.
When it comes to picnics, I have complete peace of mind regarding the quality of my picnic food, especially perishable items. The meals I bring in a lunch cooler remain fresh and maintain their original taste. I no longer worry about whether the food will stay warm on a breezy day or if my beverages will remain cold when enjoying sunny weather.
Whether the food is hot or cold, I can simply place it in the lunch cooler and carry it with ease. Of course, I am still mindful of the weight of the food, ensuring it is proportionate to the size and capacity of the cooler.
Rest assured that lunch coolers are durable and built to last, as they are not intended for daily use. With the best lunch cooler, you can enjoy perfectly served meals. It's a fair deal, isn't it?
When it comes to construction lunch boxes, our top pick is the Arctic Zone lunch box for construction workers. It combines exceptional quality, versatility, and ample capacity to meet the needs of most users. The Stanley Classic lunch box for construction workers also deserves recognition for its timeless design and reliable performance at an affordable price.
Analysis and Test Results
Whether you're looking for a lunch box that can accommodate all of your food preparations, ensure food safety, or simply a stylish bag to bring to the office, we have a recommendation for you. We thoroughly analyzed and tested ten different options, including insulated and non-insulated lunch boxes. After a week of packing food and assessing their functional qualities, we ranked each lunch box based on three key metrics: temperature control, leakproof performance, and design (capacity, ease of cleaning, and unique features).
To assess each model's ability to retain temperature, we placed cold yogurt in each lunch box and added an ice pack where applicable. We measured the temperature every hour to determine which lunch box maintained its temperature most effectively. We also conducted a similar test using hot water and hot food. The PackIt Freezable Classic performed exceptionally well in temperature control, both for hot and cold food, due to its freezable insulation that successfully maintained the yogurt at refrigerator temperatures. While none of the models kept food piping hot, the unfrozen PackIt Freezable still served as a good insulator for warm food. The YETI Daytrip also excelled in temperature control, keeping food well insulated for extended periods.
Pictured here is our temperature control test.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
We conducted a similar test using hot water and hot food.
Here we're measuring the hot food temperatures, using the To-Go Ware stainless steel.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
To test the leakproof capabilities of each lunch box, we filled them with water and observed if any leakage occurred through the liner and exterior. Specifically, lunch containers such as To-Go Ware Stainless Steel, Lille Stackable Thermal Compartment, and Black Blum Stainless Steel were placed on their sides and rolled to check for leakage. The lunch boxes that passed the leakproof test included the YETI Daytrip, Maxforce Original Lunch Bag, Lille Home Stackable Stainless Steel Thermal Compartments, HANGO Insulated Set of two, and Black Blum Stainless Steel. It's important to note that the zippers on lunch bags are not waterproof, so while the YETI, Maxforce, and HANGO lunch boxes protect against small leaks, the Black Blum Stainless Steel and Lille Home Stackable Thermal Compartments provide a seal against liquids, ensuring cleanliness when stored in a work bag or backpack.
Here we're pouring water into the liner of each lunch box to test its leakproof capabilities.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
For lunch containers like To-Go Ware Stainless Steel, Lille Stackable Thermal Compartment, and Black Blum Stainless Steel, we filled them with water and placed them on their sides, rolling them to check for leakage.
The Lokass Lunch Tote liner is not leakproof...
Credit: Kristin Anderson
To evaluate design, we measured capacity by determining how many cans of sparkling water each lunch box could hold. We also considered ease of cleaning and the various features of each lunch box, assessing whether these features enhanced functionality and ease of use. Many of the lunch bags offered ample capacity, with the Baloray, Lokass, and Fit and Fresh Insulated Totes boasting the largest capacities, making them ideal for those who engage in food preparation and need a bag that can transport multiple meals to the office. We were particularly impressed with the Black Blum and Lille Home Stackable Compartments in terms of ease of cleaning, as they can be cleaned like dishes. Most models require more effort to clean and may need extra cleaning power. In terms of features, the YETI Daytrip stood out for its rigid and easy-to-clean shape, waterproof lining, magnetic lid, and sturdy zipper.
The Lokass lunch box features a large, secure drink holder on the side.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
Good Matching Lunch Set
Fit and Fresh Insulated Kit
Insulated: Yes | Leakproof: NoREASONS TO BUY
Comes in a variety of colors and patterns
Includes a water bottle and Tupperware containers
REASONS TO AVOID
Less effective temperature regulation
The Fit and Fresh Insulated Kit is a fantastic lunch kit for those seeking a matching set. This kit includes a water bottle and two food containers that click together and stack. The bag offers ample capacity to accommodate your nourishment needs.
While we appreciate the Fit and Fresh set as a complete lunch kit, it fell short in the leakproof test, with some leakage observed through the liner and canvas exterior. Moreover, its temperature regulation was not as efficient as other models, likely due to the lack of a zip closure. Instead, the closure system of this bag consists of a strap with a snap button. Nonetheless, it is a convenient option for individuals seeking a lunch kit that provides all the essentials for daily packed lunches.
The Fit and Fresh Insulated Kit includes two containers, a water bottle, and an ice pack.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
A High-Quality Stainless Steel Option
To-Go Ware 3-Tier Stainless Lunch Box
Insulated: No | Leakproof: NoREASONS TO BUY
This To-Go Ware 3-Tier Stainless Lunch Box is made of food-safe stainless steel material, ensuring safety while storing food. It offers adjustable sizes, allowing flexibility in portion sizes. Additionally, it is easy to clean, simplifying the maintenance process.
REASONS TO AVOID
Since it is not insulated, it cannot maintain the temperature of the food items. Furthermore, it is not leakproof, which may result in spills or leaks during transportation.
The To-Go Ware 3-Tier Stainless Lunch Box impresses with its large storage capacity, featuring three tiers of food storage in secure, food-safe stainless steel containers. It stands out for its ability to store up to three separate food items in each container, making it highly convenient for packing a variety of flavors and servings. Moreover, its adjustable design allows the top container to be carried individually when a smaller profile is desired. During testing, the top tier, which serves as the lid, had a secure and leakproof fit, even when filled with water. We successfully stacked curried lentils, rice, and a yogurt dish without experiencing any food leaks. Cleaning this lunch box is as simple as washing a dish.
However, it is important to note that this lunch box is not insulated. As a result, when hot food is placed inside, the containers can become too hot to hold. Thankfully, it features a handle on the top, which makes it easier to carry. One downside is that the clasps that hold the tiers together cannot be detached from the box. As a result, the bottom tier has long metal arms, which can be inconvenient when eating directly from it. Additionally, while the top tier demonstrates leakproof capabilities, the bottom two tiers do not provide the same level of snugness, leading to potential water leakage. Therefore, it is advisable to pack thicker and drier food items in these tiers. Similar to the Lille Stackables, there may still be food on the bottom of the dishes upon unpacking. Overall, this To-Go Ware lunch box is an excellent choice for individuals who prioritize variety in their packed meals and prefer a clean and food-safe stainless steel container.
Click here to purchase the To-Go Ware 3-Tier Stainless Lunch Box.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
Outstanding Thermos-Style Lunch Box
Lille Home Stackable Stainless Lunch Box
Insulated: Yes| Leakproof: YesREASONS TO BUY
Leakproof design ensures no spills or leaks during transportation.
Easy-to-clean feature simplifies maintenance.
Adjustable size allows flexibility in portion sizes.
REASONS TO AVOID
Limited thermal qualities may lead to less effective temperature control.
Not suitable for use in microwaves.
The Lille Home Stackable Stainless Lunch Box impresses with its leakproof design, ensuring no spills or leaks during transportation. It offers three compartments that stack securely on top of each other, thanks to the reliable screw tight threads. This lunch box is constructed with plastic compartments lined with stainless steel, providing durability and heat resistance. When storing hot food, the insulated container maintains a comfortable temperature on the exterior, allowing for easy handling. During testing, we successfully carried curried lentils, rice, and a yogurt dish in the tiers without any leaks. Additionally, it features a smart design that allows for separate portioning and easy organization of different courses. The lunch box comes with an attractive felt case and a long, adjustable strap for convenient carrying. Cleaning is a breeze as it can be washed and left to air dry on a dish rack.
However, it is important to note that the Lille Home Stackable lunch box is primarily designed for warm or room temperature food. During testing, it did not effectively keep hot food warm for an extended period. After four hours, the food temperature was only slightly above room temperature. To enhance the thermal retention, it is advisable to pre-heat the thermos compartments with hot water before packing hot food. It is also worth mentioning that this lunch box is not suitable for use in microwaves. Additionally, condensation from hot food or food remnants can accumulate at the bottom of each dish when unstacking them due to their lid-like function. This may require having napkins on hand. Despite these limitations, the Lille Home Stackable Stainless Lunch Box remains a top choice for individuals who prioritize leakproof and versatile food storage solutions.
Click here to purchase the Lille Home Stackable Stainless Lunch Box.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
Superb Reusable Model with Added Features
MAZFORCE Original Lunch Bag
Insulated: Yes | Leakproof: YesREASONS TO BUY
Waterproof liner ensures no leakage.
Sleek design offers a visually appealing lunch bag.
REASONS TO AVOID
Average temperature control may result in less effective insulation.
Cleaning the interior liner can be slightly challenging.
The MAZFORCE Original Lunch Bag features a leakproof liner, providing reliable protection against spills or leaks. The seamless design of the liner eliminates any weak points, ensuring superior leak resistance. This lunch bag also boasts a waterproof exterior, further enhancing its leakproof capabilities. Additionally, it offers an exterior zip pocket for storing utensils or napkins, as well as a convenient drink mesh holder on the outside. Its sleek design adds a touch of sophistication to the lunch bag.
However, it is worth noting that the MAZFORCE lunch bag offers average temperature control. While it effectively insulates the food items, it may not provide the same level of thermal retention as other options. Cleaning the interior liner may also pose a slight challenge due to its shapeless structure and lack of attachment to the exterior frame. Nevertheless, the MAZFORCE Original Lunch Bag remains an excellent choice for individuals looking for a stylish and reliably leakproof lunch bag.
Click here to purchase the MAZFORCE Original Lunch Bag.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
Exceptional Food Safe Choice
PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box
Insulated: Yes | Leakproof: NoREASONS TO BUY
Offers excellent temperature control for keeping food cold.
Boasts a visually appealing and soft design.
REASONS TO AVOID
Not leakproof, which may result in spills or leaks during transportation.
The slouchy design may make it slightly more challenging to pack efficiently.
The PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box stands out with its exceptional ability to maintain cold temperatures. Its walls have a re-freezable gel, effectively turning the entire bag into an ice pack. By freezing the bag overnight, you can enjoy a lunch box that keeps your food cold throughout the day. During testing, it successfully maintained the temperature of yogurt within a two-degree range of the refrigerated temperature for a duration of six hours. The soft fabric and construction of the bag contribute to its visually appealing and sleek profile.
However, it is important to note that the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box is not leakproof. While it excels in temperature control, both the liner and the zipper are prone to leakage when exposed to water. Additionally, the heavy reusable insulation may result in a slouchy and less convenient packing experience. Despite these drawbacks, the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box remains an excellent choice for individuals who prioritize food-safe temperature retention.
Click here to purchase the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box.
Credit: Kristin Anderson
Other products we tested
(Editor’s note: For this 2023 update, we tested three additional products: TuErCao Lunch Bag, Foundry Lunch Bag, and kinsho Bento Box. Reviews of each follow.)
TuErCao lunch bag
The TuErCao lunch bag was our favorite of the three products we tested for 2023. It stands out for its super-elegant design, combining both fashion-forward style and exceptional functionality. The bag's thick insulation kept ice intact and maintained the temperature of drinks and food cold for an impressive 12 hours. It's worth noting that the TuErCao lunch bag bears a striking resemblance to a woman's handbag, featuring high handles, stylish gold zippers, and piping. Despite its feminine design, the TuErCao lunch bag is available in various colors, including three options that are suitable for both men and women.
With ample interior space, the bag's deep pocket can hold up to 16 cans, although it may become slightly difficult to close the zipper when fully stuffed. The bag also includes two zippered pockets—one smaller pocket for a phone and a larger pocket for utensils. Additionally, there are mesh pockets on each end of the bag and a shoulder strap is included for convenient carrying. The bag stands upright and remains stable even when fully loaded, ensuring that nothing spills out from the zipper. Considering its high quality, the TuErCao lunch bag is reasonably priced.
Foundry Lunch Bag
The Foundry Lunch Bag is another stylish addition to the range of lunch boxes available. Boasting a sleek and sharp appearance, this compact bag is perfect for both office use and beach-day trips. Unfortunately, it did not perform well in our tests. The Foundry Lunch Bag includes two convenient one-cup containers that fit snugly inside its thinly-insulated interior, leaving just enough space for a banana and a couple of forks. While it is possible to fit an ice pack beneath the containers, using ice directly in the bag is not advisable as it lacks proper insulation, leading to ice melting within two hours.
Furthermore, the bag is poorly designed to stand upright as an 8" x 11" rectangle, sealed by a zipper all around. This design flaw became evident during our testing when the melting ice caused water to pour through the zipper. For these reasons, we do not recommend the Foundry Lunch Bag.
kinsho Bento Box
As far as bento boxes go, the kinsho Bento Box/Lunch Bag is a sturdy and well-made option. It comes with plenty of containers to hold a decently sized lunch. The box itself features six compartments, including four 1/2 cup compartments, one 1.5 cup compartment, and a 1/3 cup compartment specifically designed to hold the child-size plastic fork and spoon that are included. The box is fully waterproof, as demonstrated by our rigorous testing in which we filled it with water and shook it vigorously without a single drop leaking out.
The bento box fits snugly into a lightweight, mylar-insulated matching bag. The kinsho boxes come in a variety of cheerful colors, and the bag zips up similarly to the Foundry lunch bag. However, the kinsho bag has a horizontally-placed handle, which requires packing the box tightly. It's important to avoid packing anything drippy, such as a salad, as the contents may shift when lifting the bag by its handle. Although a small ice pack is included, we recommend using a larger one for longer cooling. Overall, the kinsho Bento Box impressed us with its performance.
Jaxx – FitPak
The Jaxx FitPak has one major drawback: a lack of flexibility. It does not have a shoulder strap or a removable liner, and its design makes it challenging to divide your food among the provided containers, which include four two-cup containers and two one-cup containers.
This FitPak set is designed with gym enthusiasts in mind, which might make it too specialized for most users. While it is a reasonable size for a family's lunch needs, there are other bags on the market that offer similar functionality at a lower price. Many of these alternative bags also come with shoulder straps, providing added convenience. Unless you specifically require the accessories included in the Jaxx FitPak, we find it difficult to justify its price.
Everest – Cooler Lunch Bag
The Everest Cooler Lunch Bag is a simple product that meets all the basic criteria. It is sealed against leaks and reasonably well-built. However, it lacks a removable liner or any additional perks such as extra pockets. For just a few dollars more, the Coleman 9-Can Cooler offers easier cleaning and greater capacity, making it the preferable choice.
PackIt – Freezable Lunch Bag
PackIt's Freezable Lunch Bag presented an interesting concept, but it fell short in execution. While it serves its purpose as a lunch bag, its small size and frozen, stiff texture make it challenging to carry. Moreover, liquids placed inside the bag caused leakage through the inner liner. If you primarily carry dry lunches, this bag might be suitable, but be aware that it may accumulate unpleasant smells over time due to its inability to handle liquids effectively.
Although the idea of a self-contained ice pack is commendable, the compromises made in the construction of this bag outweigh its potential benefits. The High Sierra and Rubbermaid bags offer superior options, as long as you are willing to freeze a water bottle, make ice, or purchase a separate freezable gel pack.
Oniva – Pranzo
Reviewing the Pranza "Picnic Time" bag from Oniva proved to be a challenging task. The bag includes several carefully thought-out features, including dual-compartment insulation for hot and cold storage and a full set of silverware for a romantic picnic day trip.
However, the bag's main compartment is slightly too small and lacks a removable liner, which prevents the Pranza from receiving a special mention. The eBags - Crew Cooler II offers all the functionalities of the Oniva bag and more, as long as you are able to procure your own silverware.
Arctic Zone – Titan
The Titan cooler bag from Arctic Zone offers similar features to the Coleman 9-Can Cooler, but with a non-removable liner, a hard lid, and velcro closures instead of a zipper.
While we appreciate the removable shelf and the capacity provided by this cooler, its positioning in the middle of the size range raises concerns about its suitability for group packing. Additionally, the hard lid does provide better durability than the soft lid found on the Coleman cooler, but it fails to hold water when flipped upside-down. Moreover, the long-term effectiveness of the Velcro closures compared to a zipper remains uncertain.
If you require greater capacity than the Coleman bag offers and can find the Arctic Zone Titan on sale, it may be worth considering. However, at the list price, purchasing two Coleman bags would yield more drinks for the money.
Igloo – Maxcold Gripper 16
The Maxcold Gripper 16 from Igloo would have been our preferred bag if it had included a removable liner and a better pocket, without substantially increasing the price.
If you need a lunch bag capable of carrying an entire twelve-pack, with ice kept intact and hot sandwiches stored in the insulated lid for an hour, this bag is fantastic. However, it does not provide a water bottle pouch, and the patch-style pockets are not large enough to accommodate anything bulkier than flatware.
The bag features a basic but well-made shoulder strap, a comfortable handle, and reinforced stitching. The zippers are not heavy-duty, but the main zip is sewn with a liner tape to ensure snag-free zipping. While the antimicrobial lining effectively prevents water leakage, a removable liner would be preferable.
The Igloo Maxcold does not possess the features necessary to compete with expensive coolers like the Mojecto. However, it also fails to offer a price point that would justify selecting it over our top pick. The Coleman nine-can cooler surpasses the Maxcold in almost every aspect and is available at a lower price.
Ramaka – Large Insulated Lunch Bag
Ramaka's Large Insulated Lunch Bag is a basic option that performed well during testing. It includes all the necessary features except a removable liner. The bag is equipped with sturdy YKK zippers, a comfortable strap, and a large water bottle pocket capable of holding a large Nalgene bottle. Nevertheless, it offers only a slight increase in size compared to the Coleman cooler, and its lack of a removable liner makes cleaning more challenging.
BF Systems – Extreme Pak
We had hoped that BF Systems' Extreme Pak would be a good budget-friendly option, but compromises were made that proved detrimental. The most significant issue lies with the bag's liner, which although sealed with seam tape, still allows some water leakage during testing. While not a severe leak, it may lead to puddles if you carry ice throughout the day. Consequently, we do not recommend this bag.
PackTOGO – Bento Lunchbox (Discontinued)
The PackTOGO Bento Lunchbox offers a budget-friendly option compared to other bento box choices. Its main drawback is its smaller size, featuring three small compartments that limit the variety of foods that can be packed. If you enjoy meticulously arranging your meals artistically, this lunchbox may be an ideal choice, especially considering its transparent lid. However, if you prefer to include larger items such as celery or carrots, the Monbento box's deep rectangles would be a more suitable option. We also observed that the white plastic of the PackTOGO may stain more easily over time compared to the black plastic of the Monbento.
PlanetBox – Rover (Discontinued)
The PlanetBox Rover, with its all-metal construction, exudes retro cool, and its earth-friendliness may appeal to certain individuals. However, when considering practicality as a lunch carrier, this box falls short. Without a means of carrying ice, it requires refrigeration to keep its tray from chilling uncomfortably.
While the compartments within the Rover are functional, they are quite small. The standout feature is the securely-sealing soup cup, but most individuals likely already own a reusable container that fulfills this purpose. At its current price point, we struggle to find a compelling reason to invest in this lunch box.
Stanley – 7QT Heritage Cooler (Discontinued)
The Stanley Heritage Cooler portrays a stalwart representation of the old school, and our experience with it evoked mixed feelings. On the one hand, this cooler boasts extreme durability, capable of withstanding significant force. However, carrying the cooler is not a simple task, despite the inclusion of a handle. Unfortunately, its divided compartment holds fewer cans compared to similarly-sized coolers. The 15.5-inch frame can accommodate nine cans and ice, whereas the EvoVox cooler, which spans just 13 inches, can hold 21 cans.
The Heritage Cooler lacks significant thermal performance and leak-proofing. Its insulation and inability to retain water add to the overall disappointment. For optimal long-term food preservation, ample ice is required, and alternative options for carrying ice offer superior performance and value.
Despite its drawbacks, the Stanley cooler includes an impressive vacuum-insulated 'Thermos' flask, which can be purchased separately. Alternatively, individuals could consider investing in a quality travel mug if that particular function is all they require.
Mojecto – Cooler Bag (Discontinued)
The Mojecto Cooler Bag is essentially a smaller version of the eBags Crew Cooler II, differing from it by approximately four inches in height and accommodating fewer drink cans when tightly packed. The similarities between these two bags extend beyond their overall design, even including features like the expanding-wing water bottle pockets. While the Coleman cooler boasts a more robust zipper, the Mojecto bag does offer a slightly superior shoulder strap.
If the extra space provided by the Mojecto bag is unnecessary, or if it can be obtained at a lower price, it is a viable choice. However, the Mojecto cooler is priced higher than the eBags cooler, making the larger bag a more cost-effective option.
EvoVox – Insulated Cooler Bag (Discontinued)
EvoVox's Insulated Cooler Bag is a superb option that almost merited selection as our preferred large-capacity cooler. Its rugged construction and stiffer sides, potentially made of neoprene or a similar material, offer greater protection compared to the spongy foam used in other bags. However, these improvements do not correspond to enhanced insulation properties.
The reason why this bag did not rank higher than the eBags Crew Cooler or the Mojecto bag is because it only features one compartment. If you do not require additional items that do not fit in the pockets, this bag may be an excellent choice. Nevertheless, we found the flexibility of the two-compartment system in the other coolers to be more desirable when packing them with ice.
GreEco – Large Capacity Cooler Bag (Discontinued)
For individuals seeking maximum capacity at an affordable price, GreEco's Large Capacity Cooler Bag provides a winning combination. Priced at $12, this bag can hold up to 18 cans within its super-tall compartment.
Throughout our testing, the GreEco bag remained leak-free, while its construction proved to be satisfactory. The shoulder strap, however, was relatively short. This bag serves as a basic option that can be conveniently folded and stored in a glovebox. While the Coleman cooler offers a more favorable everyday lunch bag experience, the GreEco bag excels in providing capacity per dollar.
In conclusion, when it comes to finding the best lunch box cooler, it's all about determining your specific needs and preferences. Whether you're looking for a lunch bag for your kids, a cooler bag for work, or an insulated bag for outdoor adventures, there's a perfect option out there for you. From the durable and spacious eBags Crew Cooler II to the sleek and practical Monbento, our top picks have been carefully selected to meet various demands. We've also highlighted the benefits of lunch coolers, offered tips on cleaning and maintenance, and discussed important factors to consider when making a purchase. So, say goodbye to soggy sandwiches and lukewarm drinks, and invest in a lunch cooler that will keep your meals fresh, your beverages cold, and your taste buds satisfied.
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