The Best Insulated Lunch Bags
To help you find the perfect insulated lunch bag, we continuously put forth the effort to update and expand our list of recommendable insulated lunch bags. Our team collects, edits and publishes new information, in order to present it to you in an accurate, significant and neatly arranged way.
Runner-ups: 10 Best Insulated Lunch Bag Alternatives
Table of Contents
Buying Guide for Insulated Lunch Bags
The first soft-sided lunch boxes were constructed using vinyl or plastic to cover cardboard pieces shaped into squares and rectangles. Compared to the metal lunch boxes, the vinyl bags were not durable or effective in preserving lunch food and drinks. Brown bags became a popular option for packing sack lunches for students and workers. The brown bag, which was disposable and made of paper, became so prevalent that brown bagging became symbolic of frugality and practicality.
Shifting to Function over Form in Lunch Bag Designs
Brown bags and most of the predecessors did not keep lunches fresh without refrigeration. A vacuum flask, made by Thermos, became an essential component of the lunch kit. The Thermos allowed cold or hot liquids to retain their temperature until consumed. The vacuum flask was later redesigned to use insulated foam covering a glass or plastic liner. Much later, the entire lunch box was insulated to maintain the quality of food for a few hours. Today’s lunch bags are typically soft-sided and made from high-grade plastic, vinyl or canvas.
Choosing a Lunch Bag
The selection of lunch bags for carrying snacks, lunch food and beverages is virtually unlimited. Designs continue to update and upgrade as new insulation technologies are introduced. Today’s insulated lunch bags are designed to carry canned or bottled drinks along with sandwiches, salads and other snacks.
The first thing to do when choosing an insulated lunch bag is to consider what you are most likely to store in the bag. This is especially important if you intend to store oversize drink bottles or rigid lunch boxes in your bag. Insulation qualities vary from one item to the next, also affecting price and affordability. One thing is assured: Given the wide selection of lunch boxes, you are bound to find the ideal one for your purposes no matter how specialized your needs may be.
Choose a size that will accommodate what you usually pack for lunches for yourself or for your kids. For the younger set, you want an insulated lunch bag that will fit inside the backpack. Some users may prefer to carry their lunch bag separately from their school bag especially if the school provides a separate storage place for lunches. Workers typically prefer small to medium-sized lunch bags just to have enough space for lunch, two snacks and even breakfast. You should have a general idea of the container sizes that you will be storing in your lunch bag.
Shape is important when you want to use specific containers with your lunch bags. The height of the bag should be enough to accommodate a beverage or reusable beverage container in the standing position to prevent spillage and leakage. It should also be wide enough at the base to allow storage of rigid-shape lunch boxes.
Some insulated lunch bags are designed with rigid walls to prevent crushing of the contents. These storage options are popular for those working in hard-hat job sites. Most insulated lunch boxes are soft-sided, but there may be a limit to the flexibility of the walls. It is not a good idea to over stuff you lunch bag as this may tear the inside lining or affect the zipper closure.
Lunch bags are items that you or your kids will be carrying around almost every day. Make sure that your lunch bags are provided with a shoulder strap, a short durable handle or both. Kids lunch bags should have a heavy duty clip for attaching to the back pack as needed. Adult lunch bags are now designed to look like totes or purses, and there is a wide selection available so that you can pick one to match your work gear.
Non-rigid insulated lunch bags are designed using the double-wall technology used in making rigid coolers. However, instead of Styrofoam, the insulation material used is some type of flexible foam, thermal batting or other flexible thermal products. The insulating material is encased under industrial foil or polyvinyl interior lining to keep it dry and safe from soiling. The foam or thermal insulation should be thick enough and dense enough to maintain temperatures at the desired level for several hours.
Manufacturers may claim that they incorporate state-of-the-art insulation that can keep food at ideal temperatures for longer periods. Nonetheless, the USDA recommends keeping cold foods at temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent bacterial growth in perishable foods. To achieve this, your lunch bag should have space for at least two ice sources, one of which could be a frozen gel pack. Some lunch bags may come with the gel pack while some of the newer models have incorporated an advanced gel technology for insulation. This type of lunch bag, which will not require ice packs, is folded flat and chilled in the freezer overnight to create the insulating barrier that can last a few hours until lunch time.
Outer Shell Materials and Exterior Features
The outer shell of your insulated lunch bag should be made of a durable material that will not tear or stain easily. Look for plastic, vinyl, industrial grade polyester and other heavy fabric for the exterior shell. The material should be moisture resistant and capable of wicking moisture because insulated lunch bags should not show condensation.
Additionally, you may want an insulated lunch bag with compartments on the exterior for a drink bottle and a cell phone with smaller compartments for coins and keys. The outer shell should be easy to clean by wiping down. The exterior shell and the rest of the insulated lunch bag should also be easy to wipe dry or air dry after cleaning.
Interior Materials and Extra Features
It is usually not necessary to have compartments in the interior of the lunch bag. Some users may prefer a design without compartments especially if you will be packing food in plastic containers. At the very least, look for a side compartment using netting that keeps contents visible and easily accessible. You may also consider choosing an insulated lunch bag with a separate, zip-up compartment at the base or top if you like keeping your lunch separate from your snacks.
The interior lining should be resistant to odors. Plastic and vinyl are easy to clean and air dry to make sure that the insulated lunch bag does not absorb food and moisture odors. The lining should be durable because even a little tear will expose the insulating material to spills, food particles and odors that can be difficult to eliminate once it sets in.
Zippers are the most common closures used in insulated lunch bags. Make sure the zippers are high grade, and inspect the workmanship to check for zipper snags on the lining or exterior shell. Some designs may use magnetic flaps for some compartments, but this type of closure may not be effective given the weight of the contents of the lunch bag. Velcro is also used on fold down flaps, but these lunch bags are generally intended for light use only.
Finding the Perfect Lunch Bag
Insulated lunch bags can be found in many retail stores, including office and school supplies retailers, groceries and department stores. These items are also available online. These are the types of items that you can buy confidently without prior handling. Pay attention to the description of materials especially the insulation type to make sure that you are choosing one that can keep your food and drinks at safe temperatures for many hours.
Top Rated Insulated Lunch Bags
If you're looking into finding the best rated insulated lunch bag, you should probable check out the Rubbermaid LunchBlox Bag. We looked at various sources of reviews and found this one to have the best mix between review count and average rating stars.
Often, going for the best price is a simple but good option. With a price of $7.99 (last checked on April 24, 2019), we do not list any other insulated lunch bag cheaper than the MIER Portable Thermal Cooler Bag. Just remember that it's not always the best option to go for the cheapest one.
The Insulated Lunch Bag with the Most Reviews
With at least 4829 reviews and counting, the Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Ice Packs for Bags/Lunch Boxes/Office/Jobsite/Camping/Beach/Picnics/Golfing might be another option to consider. This large amount of reviews signalizes that many people are using it, with most of them beeing satisfied.
It's quite rare that the saying "You get what you pay for" turns out incorrect. If you have the money on the sideline, feel free to choose the most expensive item from our list: The DTBG Lokass Bags currently sells for $27.99.
Most Clicked Insulated Lunch Bag
If you trust us and our users, feel free to check out the MAZFORCE Original Box Bag. Our statistics say that it is the most favorite Insulated Lunch Bag from the list above.
If you're still undecided, I would recommend that you go with the masses and choose the top selling insulated lunch bag: The Rubbermaid LunchBlox Bag for currently $9.04 on Amazon (last checked on April 24, 2019).
That's it for now, please remember that this list is updated on a regular basis.
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Further Reading on Insulated Lunch Bags
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A flexible insulated lunch bag adapted for transportation and storage of food comprises a liner disposed in the interior thereof, means for opening and closing the bag attached near its top and a carrying means affixed to the upper portion of the bag. When empty, the bag …
… US4211267A (en) *, 1977-09-23, 1980-07-08, Skovgaard Leif O, Thermal insulating and cushioned bag, especially a carrying bag. US4211091A (en) *, 1979-02-23, 1980-07-08, Campbell June H, Insulated lunch bag. Patent Citations (13). * Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party …
… US4211091A (en) *, 1979-02-23, 1980-07-08, Campbell June H, Insulated lunch bag. US4375828A (en) *, 1980-10-14, 1983-03-08, Biddison Bradley O, Portable insulated container … US4211091A (en) *, 1979-02-23, 1980-07-08, Campbell June H, Insulated lunch bag …