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10 best picnic bags

Transport your food and drink in a fully-equipped holdall with these tried-and-tested carriers

Chillout time: picnic backpacks are more durable, easier to carry and keep your food chilled for longer ( )

Conjure up an image of a quintessentially British picnic and chances are a traditional wicker basket will appear in your thought bubble. But truth be told, picnic bags tend to be more practical and less cumbersome. With many, you can throw the strap over your shoulder or even use it as a backpack. And where there’s an insulated compartment for food, it’s better at keeping it chilled for longer too. 

Make sure yours has everything you need. Some come with the bare basics of plates, cutlery and glasses. Others have everything but the kitchen sink – napkins, bottle openers and even cheeseboards and picnic rugs. One of our picks even comes with stools. Make sure it has all the compartments you need (some have separate ones for small eats and another for wine), as well as all the space required for your al fresco feast. And it should be comfortable to carry too, especially if you plan on a long walk to reach your ideal picnic destination.

Joules Rucksack: £39.95, Joules

You can always count on Joules to come up with a classy and practical new picnic bag for the warmer season ahead. This year’s comes in grey florals or navy with white and red stars and can be easily carried on the back, thanks to the slightly padded straps. Great for family days out, it has plenty of room for food, plus a wine holder on the side, along with four plastic plates, napkins, crockery, plastic wine glasses, salt and pepper shakers, bottle opener, cheese knife and wooden chopping board. There’s an easy-to-carry picnic rug available in the same print too.

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Vonshef Ash Picnic Holdall for 6: £42.99, Domu

It’s not that easy to find good picnic bags for more than four people, but this stylish holdall will do even large families and groups of friends proud for their al fresco outings, with six of everything – cutlery, plastic plates and wine glasses, napkins, shakers, cheese knife, chopping board and bottle opener, all stored across the three outer pockets that are easy to access. We love the grey woven fabric, which looks much more expensive than it is, and the insulated cooler is lovely and roomy.

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Fortnum’s 2 Person Canvas Picnic Carry All: £80, Fortnum & Mason

You better have some posh nosh on hand to do this stylish pack some justice. Be warned there’s no room for food, but that means it’s beautifully compact and can stay meticulously clean and tidy for picnic after picnic. The set contains two of everything: plates, crockery, napkins, salt and pepper grinder and – arguably most important of all – corkscrew. The canvas comes in a sophisticated mushroom colour, with the elegant Fortnum’s green accented on all the bits and bobs inside. Shame there are no glasses, but that’s what keeps it small and handy.

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Yellowstone 2 Person Picnic bag: £19.99, Studio

If you don’t want to spend a fortune on your picnic bag, this is good for under 20 quid. It’s got three compartments – the larger one at the back for food and the smaller front one with enough cutlery, spoons, wine glasses and napkins for a couple, plus a small pocket at the front to keep your essentials such as phone and money. There’s an adjustable shoulder strap, but only one so you’ll have to carry it like a handbag and it isn’t padded. It’s not the most chic-looking bag, but it is lightweight, practical and a bargain. There’s a larger, four-person one available too.

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Next Geo Filled Picnic Backpack: £40, Next 

This comprehensive and durable bag in vogueish greys has four plates, plastic glasses and cutlery sets, along with a spacious insulated compartment for your food, and a bottle holder. And there’ll be no need to curse that you’ve gone and left the blanket behind because you even get one of those attached to the side – complete with a waterproof base. It’s comfortable to carry on your back, thanks to the adjustable padded shoulder straps. But it’s a shame the white plastic cutlery is a bit on the shoddy side.

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Vonshef 2-in-1 Picnic Backpack with 2 Stools: £22.99, Domu

This gets 10 out of 10 for ingenuity. The backpack has a built-in stool and there’s an extra one attached too for a second person. And both are surprisingly comfy, with no wobbling as long as you find level-ish ground. There’s everything you’d expect and more – two sets of cutlery, plates, glasses, napkins, shakers, cutting board, cheese knife and bottle opener. And when it hasn’t got anything in it, it’s noticeably lightweight.

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Wayfair Summerhouse Sweet Summer Days 23 Piece Picnic Backpack: £36.99, Wayfair 

If you want a bit of cheer and fun in the aesthetics in your picnic bag, then this candy-striped offering is our top choice. The crockery, cutlery, glasses for four, plus bottle opener, all store neatly into the front compartment, while at the back there’s a larger insulated compartment for food, with a bottle holder at the side. 

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Sunnylife Lovers Picnic Kit: £24, Amara

Available in stripy peach or navy pattern, this is essentially a cheaper version of the Fortnum’s picnic bag. So if you’re after something separate for your crockery and cutlery, but without spending nearly £100, then this round set from this Australian brand is a good buy, although be warned you don’t get any napkins, shakers or corkscrew. We suggest keeping it in the car for spontaneous picnics. There is a handle and everything slips neatly back in after use.

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Confidence Picnic-Basket Hamper: £33.99, Tesco

This is more of a cool bag with a picnic bag attached than a straight-up picnic bag, but here there’s no compromise on space. You can either carry them together using the large cool bag handle, or if it’s too heavy when full with food, detach the crockery bag and sling it over your shoulder. Suitable for four people, it’s great for a young family as there are no breakables (it comes with plastic plates and glasses) as well as stainless steel cutlery, and added extras, including a salt and pepper shaker, cheese knife, plastic cutting board and bottle-opener.

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The Verdict: Picnic bags

The Joules Rucksack won us over with its stylish look combined with practicality – and the fact that you can get a separate picnic rug and extra cool bag all in the same design – while the Vonshef Ash Picnic Holdall for six is a great buy for larger picnics.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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