The 4 Best Picnic Backpacks

by Anne Loreto Cruz

Picnics offer a great excuse to get outside, but it can be a hassle to transport everything you need in a standard backpack. The best picnic backpacks are insulated and have a large capacity to fit a blanket, food, and utensils — bonus points if the backpack comes with its own set of reusable utensils and glassware.

Picnic backpacks differ from standard backpacks in that they're specifically designed to transport food and drinks, so the interior compartment of the bag should have an insulated lining. If you plan on using ice to keep drinks cold, it’s also a good idea to look for a leakproof pack to prevent melted ice or other spills from ruining your picnic-perfect outfit. It's also worth thinking about whether you prefer a top-loading backpack or a front-loading option with a panel that opens out, which can double as an additional surface for your picnic spread.

Additionally, consider whether or not you need an option that comes with plates, glasses, and utensils. Many picnic packs have their own dishes and cutlery that are easily stored in individual slots or pockets, but some people might prefer a simpler pack that just keeps food insulated and cool.

If you choose to go for a picnic backpack that comes with dishes, think about whether you'll need service for two or four people. You may also want additional accessories, like a picnic blanket with a waterproof lining to keep dew from seeping into the fabric, or an insulated pouch designated to hold a bottle of wine or a thermos.

With all that in mind, here are some of the best picnic backpacks that you can buy on Amazon.

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1. The Best Overall

This cute front-loading picnic backpack has plenty of pockets and slots to keep its contents tucked away and organized. It comes complete with enough glasses, plates, and utensils for a four-person service, as well as a detachable bottle holder and picnic blanket that are secured to the sides of it with straps. The picnic blanket also has a separate carrying strap if you want to use it on its own.

The pack itself has wide, comfortable straps, as well as a mesh lining that helps keep you cool while carrying it to your picnic destination. The small front pockets keep your phone, keys, and other accessories accessible and separate from your food. Both the food compartment and the bottle holder of this backpack are insulated to help keep items at the optimal temperature for hours. The bottle holder fits a standard wine bottle or thermos.

One reviewer wrote: “This thing is awesome. If you like having a picnic on a bike ride, hiking, around town, etc this is a great little bag to have. Love the sturdy non plastic cutlery and the ability to have dry storage, wet storage, and wine cooler. Blanket is a little small but not bad for two people. Highly recommend”

2. The Best Budget Picnic Backpack

If you’re looking to pack the ultimate picnic meal for two people, this insulated picnic backpack has a large 16-liter capacity, and a two-person dining set with napkins, glasses, dishes, and silverware. There’s also a small plastic serving board and a corkscrew included with the dining set, which is accessed by unzipping and folding out the front compartment of the backpack. The small front pocket is handy for keeping your phone, keys, and wallet accessible, and you can secure the included picnic blanket and bottle holder to the sides of the backpack with easy-to-use straps. If you’re looking for the same large capacity with enough flatware and glasses to serve four people, ALLCAMP also offers the same backpack in a four-person option.

One reviewer wrote: “Perfect find for the fancy day hiker. My little sis started doing day hikes and wanted something she could use for dates. The pieces are convenient, and the bag isn’t too heavy.”

3. The Best Top-Loading Backpack With Dishware

This top-loading picnic backpack from California Picnic is great for bringing along picnic essentials with minimal bulk. The included waterproof blanket attaches to the bottom of the backpack with leather straps, and dishes, napkins, and glasses for two are packed away in a foldable insert that goes inside the backpack’s insulated main compartment. The set also comes with a corkscrew, a small cheese board, and tiny salt and pepper shakers to go along with your meal. If you ever want to use this picnic backpack as a cooler without all the extras, you can simply pull out the insert to make more space for drinks or snacks.

One reviewer wrote: “I bought this for a Christmas present but I couldn’t help opening the box and now I have to buy another present because I must keep this picnic basket! It is absolutely perfect. They have thought of everything and have fit all the essentials in a super stylish and compact way. I was concerned about the weight because of the cutlery but it is surprisingly lightweight. This is a perfect picnic basket for a day at the park or the beach.”

4. The Most Durable Picnic Backpack

Yeti’s top-loading cooler backpack is designed to keep your meal and drinks cool and dry during even the most extreme picnic adventures. There are also pieces of webbing stitched to the front and sides of this pack that you can use to attach carabiners, water bottles and other gear you may need during your adventure. The water-resistant exterior of this cooler backpack also makes it great for keeping other picnic essentials like blankets, plates, or napkins, dry when walking across streams or in wet weather. Since this backpack doesn't come with dishes or other picnic extras, it’s also great if you’d rather use your own plates, napkins, and flatware. I’ve used the Yeti Hopper to carry ice, snacks and drinks for more than six people during a climbing trip in Vegas and it kept our sandwiches and beer cold even after sitting all day in the desert sun.

One reviewer wrote: “If you are on the fence about this cooler (especially because of the price) I can tell you--you won't find anything comparable in a backpack cooler in terms of quality. It is large, and is heavy when filled, but because the weight is distributed so well due to the design of the cooler and the straps, it is much easier than lugging (or rolling) a large cooler across the sand, or uneven surfaces (and steps!) It's also great that your hands are free- in my case to carry other things to the beach! That said, it is an all-around good investment as I'm sure it will last for years.”