Updated June 2022
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Buying guide for Best picnic backpacks

Enjoying a meal with good company while surrounded by nature can be blissful, and a good picnic backpack may help. Picnic backpacks come in a range of styles and are equipped with different utensils, so you should consider your picnicking needs before choosing a backpack.

Some picnic backpacks are waterproof. Some carry enough plates, utensils, and other gear to accommodate four people, while others are designed for two. Additional accessories like a corkscrew and wine glasses may be included, and larger bags may include pockets for valuables. If you intend to bring chilled food with you, you’ll need a backpack with an insulated compartment.

A picnic backpack can be a fun and useful addition to your outdoor excursions, so as you plan the perfect picnic, let us help you choose the perfect picnic backpack.

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A good blanket can be as essential to a successful picnic as good food. Many picnic backpacks include a spacious blanket that seats up to four and protects you from any moisture on the ground.

Key considerations

Why opt for a picnic backpack when there are hiking backpacks and picnic baskets? If you’re planning to take a longer hike to your destination, a picnic backpack is a superior tool for the job. It’s more comfortable than carrying a basket, and it includes compartments and straps for utensils, plates, and bottles. When it comes to eating al fresco, a picnic backpack combines the best features of a hiking backpack and a picnic basket in one package.


Most picnic backpacks are made of a durable fabric, such as canvas, which may be waterproof.

  • Canvas backpacks have a classic appearance and a pleasant texture. While not fully waterproof, canvas is water resistant. If you want a backpack with a classic outdoor look, canvas is your best option.

  • Polyester or polyester canvas is more waterproof than canvas but has a slightly cheaper feel.

  • Vinyl is the most reliable when it comes to keeping water out of the backpack, but it has a somewhat plasticky texture.

The backpack’s lining material is typically different from the exterior material. In some cases, the lining is waterproof. This is often the case with canvas backpacks, so even if the backpack gets soaked, your lunch remains dry.

Utensils and accessories

Almost all picnic backpacks include basic utensils like cutlery and plates. The number and quality of the utensils may vary, however.

If you only plan to host two picnickers, you might want to opt for a smaller set. Of course, you can always leave unneeded utensils behind. And just because a backpack advertises that it can feed four doesn’t mean it includes everything you need. Carefully read the utensils list to see if anything is missing. Common utensils and accessories include the following:

  • Cutlery: The best utensils are made of stainless steel. Some may have wooden handles for style and comfort.

  • Plates: Plastic or melamine plates might seem cheap, but when you consider the weight and fragility of ceramic or china, you may reconsider.

  • Glasses: These are often plastic wine glasses. Like china, glass feels nice in your hand, but plastic saves you the extra weight and worry about breakage.

  • Cloth napkins

  • Cutting board

  • Salt and pepper shakers

Insulated compartments

If you plan to bring foods that could go bad in the heat, insulated compartments are a must, particularly if you’re hiking a long way to your destination. Many picnic backpacks have an insulated main compartment that can keep most foods safe from the heat.

Some backpacks might have additional insulated compartments for specific items. Insulated bottle holders may be essential if you intend to bring wine with you because wine can easily get too warm during a long hike. An extra pocket for valuables like keys, wallets, and phones can also be handy.

Picnic backpack features

Once you know what essentials you need in your picnic backpack, think about additional accessories and design features that will help you enjoy an idyllic picnic in the woods or at the beach.

Additional utensils and tools

You should think about additional tools that you might need on your picnic. Not all backpacks include items like a wine bottle opener or cheese knife. A cutting board can also be helpful, particularly if you plan to slice fresh cheese or fruit.

One important inclusion to look for is a good blanket. A comfortable blanket is nice when you’re dining on a mountaintop, but a waterproof blanket can prevent discomfort even if it isn’t as nice to sit on. And some picnic backpacks come with a soft blanket that has a waterproof side, giving you the best of both worlds. Take the blanket’s dimensions into consideration, too, because some backpacks that include utensils for four may include a blanket that’s too small to comfortably seat four adults.


Picnic backpacks come in a range of colors and styles, so you’re sure to find one that suits your tastes. Features like leather straps and metal buckles can go a long way toward making your bag stand out.


While drawstring or hook-and-loop closures are easy to use and may be aesthetically pleasing, they won’t go far in keeping ants from eating your lunch before you do. Zippers are your best bet for keeping out pests.


Unlike a hiking backpack, most picnic backpacks are too small to be supported by your hips, so they rest mostly on your shoulders. If you’ll be hiking a good distance with your picnic backpack, look for one with padded shoulder straps that adjust easily to fit your build. The backpack should fit snugly while still allowing some breathing room between your back and the backpack.

Picnic backpack prices


Less expensive picnic backpacks range from $35 to $55 and include plates and utensils, usually plastic, for two to four people. Even in this price range, most backpacks come with an insulated main compartment and may have an insulated bottle holder. Additional accessories like a blanket and cutting board may not be included.


For $55 to $90, you can find picnic backpacks made from high-quality materials with leather straps and metal clasps or buckles including plates and utensils for two to four people. Utensils are often made of stainless steel, and the plates may be made of melamine or ceramic. A cutting board and waterproof blanket may be included, too.


Not all types of food work well in the woods, but here are a few no-cook meals that most picnic backpacks can easily accommodate. And don’t forget to think about the extra space you might need for containers when estimating how much your bag can carry.

  • Breaded chicken fingers

  • Deviled eggs

  • Fruit salad

  • Gazpacho

  • Pasta salad

  • Pesto chicken wraps

  • Quinoa salad

  • Sandwiches and wraps

  • Soup (in a thermos)

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Many picnic backpacks include detachable compartments, such as a wine cooler, allowing you to lighten the load when you don’t need the extra storage.


Q. How long will meat last in an insulated backpack compartment?

A. If packed with ice, cooked meats should be safe for about two hours. Once out of the backpack, meats should always be kept covered until you’re ready to dine, and they should be eaten within an hour.

Q. How should I clean my picnic backpack?

A. You can wipe down the interior of most picnic baskets with a wet cloth or sponge and a bit of soap and water, and the same treatment may be safe for the exterior. If you have a canvas backpack, it may have a waterproof coating that requires special care. You should always refer to the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.

Q. Are the plates and utensils in picnic baskets dishwasher safe?

A. Not always. You should refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Even if they’re labelled as dishwasher safe, utensils with wooden handles should be washed by hand to protect the wood.

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