Bringing your own food with you on the go has several benefits. Whether you are taking your lunch to work, spending the day running errands, hitting up the beach or attending your kid’s softball tournament, traveling with your own food has a long list of pros. People tend to eat healthier when they prepare food at home and are less likely to purchase high sugar, high-calorie snacks and drinks. Bringing food from home is also typically less expensive and can have positive environmental effects, with take-out food typically resulting in excessive single-use packaging and waste.
But none of these benefits will come to fruition if your food is spoiled by the time you’re ready to eat. That’s why when we way take our food to go, we pack it in an insulated lunch bag with a strap.
Using an insulated bag means that cold food will stay cold longer and warm food will stay warm. Insulation helps protect against food spoiling, which can be a waste of money and make people sick. Essentially, it’s a lunch box for grownups, which is why the best insulated lunch bags have a more mature, professional design.
The world of lunch bags is highly saturated, from tiny unicorn print designed options that can fit half a sandwich and a granola bar for preschool students, to oversized lunch bags that can handle breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks for an adult. We’ve highlighted bags that land somewhere in the middle and are large enough to hold one to two meals and snacks or a large number of drinks. Check out some of our favorite insulated lunch bags with straps below.
1. MIER 2 Compartment Lunch Bag
Keep cold food cold and hot food hot with this convenient and portable lunch bag. The durable lunch bag is made with Eco-friendly PEVA material and features a smart design that allows users to separate their food into dry and wet areas. The top section has insulation to keep hot foods warm and the larger bottom section is leakproof thanks to heat-welded seams, ideal for cold items, including drinks. A front zippered pocket is designed for holding personal items and two side pockets can also be used for additional snacks. A detachable padded shoulder strap provides for a comfortable hands-free carrying position.
Pros: The Mier is available in seven colors and two size options including medium (shown here), which measures 9.1 by 7.1 by 10.6 inches and a large, which measures 10.2 by 7.9 by 11 inches.
Cons: There is not a dedicated exterior pocket to allow easy access to large drinks.
2. HSD Lunch Bag
For a lunch bag that can stand up to punishment and still keep your food protected and cool, we recommend the HSD Lunch Bag. Made with military-grade 600D waterproof polyester that is phthalate, formaldehyde and lead-free, the HSD is ideal for users who leave their lunch bag in tough environments, including warehouses, construction sites, and outdoor workspaces. HSD makes their insulation extra-thick, using 8mm PE Foam with a durable aluminum foil lining, which is designed to keep food colder longer. Featuring waterproof polyester, the HDS is large enough to hold 12 cans or several meals and snacks. Two exterior mesh pockets are perfect for holding extra snacks or water bottles. A large zippered front pocket is designed to hold personal items and the HDS features YKK zippers that can be unzipped with one hand. The detachable and adjustable padded strap provides a convenient carrying solution. Available in five colors and two sizes (the largest shown here), the lunch bag matches the HSD diaper bag.
Pros: The back of the bag has MOLLE/PALS webbing that provides a convenient place to attach carabiners and keychains or to attach the lunch bag to a larger bag.
Cons: The HDS is designed as one large container, which makes it difficult if users want to separate hot and cold food.
3. PackIt Freezable Deluxe Lunch Bag
For a lunch bag that will keep food cold for hours even in warm conditions, we recommend the PackIt Freezable Deluxe Large Lunch Bag with Shoulder Strap. Place the entire bag in the freezer overnight for 12 hours and enjoy cool food all day. The PackIt eliminates the need to use ice packs, instead serving as a giant insulated ice pack. Featuring a zippered closure and exterior pocket for utensils and snacks, the PackIt has enough room for a full meal, plus a 24-ounce drink and snacks. When not in use, the PackIt folds flat for compact storage. The adjustable shoulder strap and top handle makes it easy to carry the PackIt. We also like that the PackIt comes in standard black as well as other fun, bright patterns that make it easy for users to spot their lunch bag in communal fridges and breakrooms.
Pros: The PackIt is made using nontoxic poly canvas material that is free from PVC, BPA, phthalates, formaldehyde and lead.
Cons: Like the Mier 2, the PackIt doesn’t include an external pocket for drinks and the shoulder strap is not padded.
4. MOKALOO Large Capacity Lunch Tote
For a lunch bag that doesn’t look like a lunch bag but still includes all the features you want in a carrying case for your food, we recommend the MOKALOO Large Capacity Lunch Tote. The fashion-forward lunch tote features brown canvas trim set against a durable and waterproof dark gray fabric, which is BPA free and easy to clean. The Mokaloo’s large compartment features a leak-proof liner and the outside of the bag includes non-fraying stitching and strong zippers. A removable shoulder strap can be adjusted and the bag includes two top handles, giving the bag a high-end look and feel. Both the front and the back of the bag have large zippered pockets for additional food or personal items. Side pockets can hold drinks, snacks or a small umbrella.
Pros: The ‘doctor bag’ style tote has a large top opening that makes it easy for users to organize the contents of the bag.
Cons: The Mokaloo can keep contents cool with the use of an ice pack for a few hours but not an entire day. The purse-like design may be a turn off for some men.