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Planning a picnic or just want to be ready when the invitation arrives? You don’t want to show up unprepared — or empty handed. Picnic baskets have a long (and sometimes convoluted) history, but it’s generally agreed that the portable wicker basket began its service in 16th century France as a way for travelers to carry wine before evolving to social-salon status among the upper crust. By the 19th century, picnics had become more commonplace and moved to outdoor settings, from grassy knolls to graveyards. Parasol Umbrella
These days, you can picnic almost anywhere, as long as you’ve got the basics on hand. We’ve rounded up the best picnic baskets according to style, features, and the best occasions for busting them out. We love the look of a traditional wicker picnic basket, but, depending on your plan, they can be cumbersome to carry and clean. That’s why for our overall pick, we chose the Sunflora Picnic Backpack for Four. This insulated, all-in-one backpack is easy to carry, simple to clean, and comes with all the basic accessories you need for a successful picnic.
Here are our picks for the best picnic baskets, backpacks, totes, and bags.
Why We Love It: It’s a high-quality, hands-free, and all-in-one picnic set where everything has its place.
What to Consider: The wine bottle-on-the-side design can cause uneven weight distribution (and sore backs, depending on the distance you’re carrying it).
Sunflora’s Picnic Backpack for Four has everything you need to pull off a great picnic — all included. We’re talking a picnic service setup for four (melamine plates, thermoplastic glasses, stainless steel flatware) along with other necessities like a bamboo cutting board, corkscrew, insulated main compartment, and roll-up 50 x 58-inch picnic blanket. Plus, it includes thoughtful extras like an insulated wine pouch, cheese knife, removable food pouch, and metal salt and pepper shakers. All this in a convenient backpack design that leaves your hands free and reduces the chances of accidentally dropping the goods. One of our unexpected favorite features of this backpack is the removable, waterproof pouch that you can use to store dirty plates, cutlery, and glasses.
This backpack comes in six colors and is also available with accessories for two, but we like the ability to be flexible with our picnic guest list and know we could host up to four people comfortably with no problem. All picnic accessories have specific storage spaces in the front pocket of the backpack, while the blanket and wine pouch are strapped into the sides of the pack (which, unfortunately, can make for lopsided weight distribution that can be a literal pain).
Weight: 6.59 pounds | Dimensions: 16.3 x 12.7 x 7.9 inches | Material: Cationic cotton
Why We Love It: It’s a modern take on the classic wicker basket with matching picnic accessory basics packed right in.
What to Consider: This bag is not insulated.
The picnic basket-turned-tote design of the Promenade Picnic Tote (or the Abingdon Picnic Basket if you’re on Williams Sonoma) is great for grab-and-go plans. We love it because the woven wicker bottom nods to the material found in traditional picnic baskets while the durable canvas tote design gives more mobility and versatility than those classic accessories. The leatherette straps are comfortable on shoulders and the collapsible canvas sides keep storage minimal. This bag comes with a durable plastic picnic setup for two, inclusive of matching print napkins and a roll-up flatware pouch. One drawback is that the bag isn’t insulated, so keep this in mind when packing your picnic.
Weight: 2.25 pounds | Dimensions: 14.75 x 11.5 x 13.5 inches | Material: Canvas, leatherette, and wicker
Why We Love It: The Old World style gives a big vintage feel while the interior features and accessories bring this picnic basket into contemporary times.
What to Consider: The included corkscrew is dinky and may have a short life.
The TwentyNext Wicker Cooler Picnic Basket With Double Lid is a contemporary take on America’s classic double-lid picnic baskets (like the one toting Toto in the original “Wizard of Oz”). On the outside, you get the full classic look with a woven wicker basket topped with flat wooden double lids. On the inside, things get more modern with a zippered cooler compartment designed to keep food and drink warm or cool. Thick fabric straps are riveted to the side of the bag and feature a wide PU leather and velcro grip for easy and even carrying. Two sets of durable plastic plates and wine glasses and stainless steel flatware come in a roll-up cloth carrier with elastic slots. You’ll likely want to replace the dinky corkscrew, but the small salt and pepper shakers are a nice touch.
Weight: 3.85 pounds | Dimensions: 16.9 x 13 x 7.8 inches | Material: Willow
Why We Love It: It’s a high-quality, English-style wicker basket perfect for nearby noshes.
What to Consider: Since there’s no insulation, this basket is best for picnics with a short transportation window.
The Picnic Time Piccadilly Picnic Basket (or the Mayfair Picnic Basket, if you’re looking on Williams Sonoma) features the classic English-style wicker picnic basket design with checkered fabric interior. We love the W-shaped, double-lidded top, thick handle for easy carrying, and details in the leatherette hinges. Picnic accessories are stored inside the basket via faux-leather straps with velcro enclosures (which reduce the overall amount of space inside for food and drinks). The basket comes with the basics for two, including 8-inch melamine plates, a convenient roll-up set of wood-bodied cutlery, a corkscrew, and acrylic wine glasses. While this practically nails the classic picnic basket look, the lack of insulation means you’ll need to enjoy it somewhere nearby.
Weight: 6 pounds | Dimensions: 16 x 9.5 x 14.5 inches | Material: Willow wicker
Why We Love It: It’s waterproof, insulated, and collapsible, making it great for impromptu picnics and saving space.
What to Consider: There is only one food storage compartment.
The AllCamp Insulated Portable Picnic Basket sports a collapsible design that takes up less room than a traditional picnic basket or backpack. We love how it resembles the classic oval-shaped, double-lidded picnic baskets of the past and features the convenience of collapsibility. A sewn-in aluminum frame helps support shape when in use and provides a flattened profile when collapsed. This basket has a reinforced zippered closure at the top, a soft-grip aluminum handle, and an interior double-layered thermal compartment ready to keep up to 65 pounds of picnic provisions hot or cold (though one catch-all food storage area means you’ll have to choose between the two).
Weight: 2.2 pounds | Dimensions: 15 x 9.5 x 9.8 inches | Material: Polyester canvas
Why We Love It: It’s a stylish and professional picnic backpack with versatile uses.
What to Consider: There are no exterior pockets or compartments.
We didn’t know city picnic chic was a vibe until we saw The Backpack by Modern Picnic. This is where purse meets picnic — a picnic bag that looks as good in the office or train as it does out on park grass. Forget the wicker, checkers, and shiny aluminum interior, this minimalist design is made with water-resistant vegan leather and features two slim straps and a rolled top handle. Cleaning is a cinch, just wipe the inside or outside with a little soap and water, and the light interior insulation keeps your food warm or cool. While we appreciate the added interior padded sleeve that fits up to a 13-inch laptop and dual cutlery slots, the sleek design doesn’t leave room for exterior storage.
Weight: Not listed | Dimensions: 14.25 x 11.5 x 6 inches | Material: Vegan leather
Why We Love It: This backpack’s modular and durable design and features cover most basic hiking and picnic needs.
What to Consider: You’ll need to use frozen cold packs instead of loose ice in the insulated compartment.
The Vogano Tactical Picnic Backpack is a lightweight picnic and hiking backpack that allows for hands-free hiking and a full picnic setup. Flashlights, first aid kits, climbing lines, and more can be clipped onto the bag’s exterior MOLLE straps, and the waterproof-sided fleece blanket can be used over damp terrain. A bottom front pocket holds a set of durable plastic glasses and plates, a plastic cutting board (most picnic sets use wood), salt and pepper shakers, cloth napkins, and a corkscrew/bottle opener. An additional top front pocket can be used to store dry foods such as power bars or hydration packs. The main compartment is aluminum-insulated and can be packed with ice packs — it’s not great with loose ice — for keeping food and drinks cool on long hikes.
Weight: 5 pounds | Dimensions: 10.2 x 8.2 x 16 inches | Material: Scratch-resistant polyester
Why We Love It: It’s fully insulated with two wine pouches and a portable table tray you can set up in the sand.
What to Consider: Besides a table, this tote does not include any picnic accessories, and the interior insulation layer is not rip-resistant.
The Inno Stage Insulated Tote With Bamboo Snack Tray keeps your food hot or cold and supplies you with a sturdy tray table to keep your snacks, drinks, and wine bottle out of the sand. Cutouts in the tray table stabilize and fit standard cans, glasses (including wine glasses), and a 750-milliliter bottle of wine. The 40-liter, aluminum-lined interior also includes two insulated wine pockets, though you’ll have to supply your own corkscrew and glasses. When you’re ready to go, you can slip the foldable table into the magnetic side pocket and zip your leftovers into the waterproof main compartment. Be careful not to carry any sharp-edged items, such as a corkscrew, inside the tote as it may tear the interior lining.
Weight: 5.2 pounds | Dimensions: 19.7 x 9.4 x 13 inches | Material: Aluminum lining
Why We Love It: This accessories-heavy picnic set takes care of practically everything but the food and drink, making it great for impromptu picnics with small families or groups.
What to Consider: Fully-loaded, this backpack can get heavy and would be more comfortable to carry with a waist or chest strap to help distribute weight.
The Romali Family Picnic Backpack is loaded with picnic accessories — and then some — making this a pack-and-go picnic lifesaver for busy families or impromptu group get-togethers. This black hole of a bag manages to fit cutlery, plates, napkins (cloth!), and glasses for four, along with a waterproof picnic blanket, insulated wine pouch, folding cutting board/tray, corkscrew, salt and pepper shakers, and a removable plastic compartment where you can store dirty dishes on the trip home. It also has a laptop compartment and a built-in USB charging port so you can work-from-picnic and keep everyone’s phones charged and the music playing. Something it’s missing? An extra strap or two to take some of the weight off your shoulders when the bag is full.
Weight: 8.22 pounds | Dimensions: Not listed | Material: Not listed
Why We Love It: You get a classic style plus all the basic picnic accessories, including a corkscrew and detachable tray table.
What to Consider: The real glasses and plates are breakable; and the shoulder strap-only handles can make for awkward transport.
Finding a flat and sturdy surface to slice your cheese or safely set down wine glasses can be a challenge on natural ground. The hamper-style Willow Weave Wicker Picnic Basket solves this with a quick flip of the lid and pulldown of its hidden support legs. The table also features cutouts for holding wine glasses and is detachable so you can set up the sprawl of your picnic as you see fit. Snug leather straps hold a set of stainless steel cutlery, real glass wine glasses, and ceramic plates for two inside the basket. However, for all this picnic basket has going for it, we wish there were a few carrying options as the bulkiness of the basket combined with the padded leather shoulder strap can feel a bit awkward (this is also why we recommend the smaller size for two).
Weight: 9.58 pounds | Dimensions: 15 x 11 x 10.25 inches | Material: Natural willow and canvas
Picnic baskets can be sold as well-stocked sets or with nothing more than the carry basket. It can be tempting to reach for the basket with all the fixin’s, but it's best to be realistic about what you’ll need and use. Not everyone is going to need a folding tray table, four sets of servingware, or a pouch for wine.
When it comes to materials, think about how, where, and when you’ll be using your picnic basket the most. Cute, romantic setups in the backyard or corner park won’t require the same materials as a rewarding picnic after a four-mile hike. The classic look of wicker is always a nice touch but can be a hassle to clean and may not hold up to inclement weather or bumps as well as a waterproofed canvas bag.
Choose handles, insulation features, and style on the premise that you’ll be carrying around your picnic basket — fully packed — until you reach your destination. If you’re going to be stuck carrying your basket for a distance, you’ll probably want to spring for a backpack or tote design over the traditional basket. A quick walk or car ride? The basket will work just fine. Insulation is a good call for picnics that will be transported for longer than 15 to 20 minutes.
Again, remember you’ll have to carry whatever you pack, so keep it as light as possible. Consider if items can easily be crushed or smooshed or may open and leak during transport. The best items are usually packaged, dry, sealed, and not too heavy. Items that spoil or sweat easily are also ill-advised unless you can ensure they’ll stay at the needed temperature.
Many of the picnic baskets in our picks are insulated, which means you’ll have a bit of leeway when it comes to how long cold items will stay cool in your basket. Tossing an ice pack into the insulated cooler area can also help to keep items cooler longer.
Katherine Alex Beaven is a picnicking enthusiast who believes a proper picnic can turn any location into the perfect lunch spot. For this best-of list, she researched hundreds of products and put them to the test in several of her favorite pinicking scenarios (either real or in retrospect).
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