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OUR TOP CHOICE
OUR TOP CHOICE
9 quart storage capacity
Proprietary “Maxcold” insulation with 25% more foam
PVC-free navigation pocket for touchscreen devices
Removable and adjustable shoulder strap
Integrated bottle opener
Side pockets include drain holes
Leak-resistant and antimicrobial liner
With the recent trend in eco-friendly meal options, it’s no longer considered unfashionable to bring your lunch cooler to work every day. Whether you’re working in an office, on the go, or setting up at a construction site, a great lunch cooler will help you save money, eat better, and have more time to yourself on each lunch break.
Finding the best lunch cooler can be a tricky proposition, though. There are a lot more options available now than there were even 10 years ago, and a wide range of features that make each one more or less suitable to your lifestyle.
That’s why we’ve put together this buyer’s guide full of tips, tricks, and reviews for the 7 best lunch cooler options to take your meals on the go. In it, you’ll find everything you need to know about what differentiates one lunch cooler from another, as well as our top picks for coolers in every budget range.
Read on to find out more about which lunch cooler is right for you!
- Best Overall – Igloo Daytripper Commuter Bag Cooler
- Best Value – Igloo 12 Can Legend Cooler
- Premium Choice – Picnic Plus Columbus Insulated Lunch Bag Cooler
- Best Looking – ONIVA Urban Lunch Bag Cooler
- Biggest Lunch Cooler – Igloo Playmate Elite Cooler
- Best Lunch Cooler for Hunting – Igloo Realtree Lunch 2 Go Cooler
- Best Novelty Lunch Cooler – Fred & Friends EMT Emergency Meal Transport Lunch Bag
For the complete product list, please continue reading…
Top 7 Best Lunch Cooler Reviews in 2020
1. Best Overall – Igloo Daytripper Commuter Bag Cooler
Sleek and stylish design
Multiple options for carrying, including attachments for bike handlebars
Easy-access top pouch for cell phone, map, keys, and more
Comes with an attached bottle opener
Maxcold liner keeps food and drinks colder for longer
On the small side
- 9 quart storage capacity
- Proprietary “Maxcold” insulation with 25% more foam
- PVC-free navigation pocket for touchscreen devices
- Removable and adjustable shoulder strap
- Integrated bottle opener
- Side pockets include drain holes
- Handlebar attachments
- Leak-resistant and antimicrobial liner
Though there are plenty of good lunch coolers on the market today, the mark of a truly great cooler is one that you want to take with you everywhere — a lunch cooler that’s so convenient and so well designed that you can hardly think of leaving the house without packing a snack in it. The Igloo Daytripper is exactly such a cooler.
Featuring three separately accessible pockets, including a see-through top pouch that’s perfect for maps and cell phones, the Daytripper gives versatile storage options. That it’s also equipped with a denser foam insulation than any other soft sided cooler we tested is a huge added bonus.
All of that would be enough to make the Igloo Daytripper our top choice, but it ups the ante once more by offering three different carrying options: A handle, shoulder strap, or secure bicycle handlebar attachments. It truly is the most go-anywhere lunch cooler we’ve ever seen, and we highly recommend it for just about anyone.
2. Best Value – Igloo 12 Can Legend Cooler
Easy to clean thanks to stain and odor resistant liner
Reversible lid doubles as a tray or cup holder
Handle folds away for easy under-seat storage
Hard sided construction is lightweight but durable
Very reasonably priced, and built to last
Rigid construction can be uncomfortable to carry
- 9 quart storage capacity
- Stain and odor resistant liner
- Fully integrated Ultratherm insulation
- Handle collapses to fit under stadium seating or vehicle seats
- Reversible lid
Sometimes, you just can’t beat a classic — especially when it comes to finding amazingly durable products that are available at a great price. With its tried-and-true classic design, the Igloo Legend cooler is an unbeatable option for inexpensive and durable lunch coolers.
The 9 quart storage capacity and rigid, hard sided construction give the Igloo Legend a surprisingly large 12-can capacity, making it perfect for packing lunch for two or beverages for a whole crowd. Add to that a super-cooling Ultratherm insulation that’s designed to keep your storage colder for longer, and you might just find yourself reaching for the Legend every time you head out the door.
Last but not least, the reversible lid on the Legend doubles as a tray and cup holder. For old-school style and amazing functionality, there’s no beating a Legend.
3. Premium Choice – Picnic Plus Columbus Insulated Lunch Bag Cooler
Durable yet flexible polyester shell makes it comfortable to carry and long-lasting
Two sections make it easy to keep cold foods separate from other snacks
Integrated carrying container for simple and convenient storage
Multiple carrying options
Liner is waterproof and easy to clean
- Fully insulated upper and lower sections
- Zippered mesh top
- Includes a food safe storage container in bottom compartment
- 600D polyester shell
- Textured, non-slip base
- Easy clean liner
- Adjustable and detachable shoulder strap
- Rubber carry handle
Combining the durability of a hard sided cooler with the comfort and portability of a soft sided one, the Picnic Plus “Columbus” insulated lunch cooler is a great option for anyone who wants the best of both worlds. Featuring fully insulated upper and lower sections separated by zippered pouches, it’s a lightweight and versatile option for regular lunchtime use or packing a picnic for a hike.
The 600D polyester shell is the Columbus’s secret weapon in its quest for ultimate durability and comfort. An additional rigid insert in the bottom compartment can be used for food storage, and helps the bag keep its shape when not holding your sandwiches or snacks.
In short, the Picnic Plus Columbus is a remarkably well-equipped lunch bag that only loses points because of its equally remarkable cost. If you’re looking for the best, most comfortable and durable lunch cooler around and don’t mind spending a little extra, though, there’s no better option available than the Columbus.
4. Best Looking – ONIVA Urban Lunch Bag Cooler
Stylish design makes it a perfect accessory
Looks great at the office, on the beach, or at the park
Large 13.5-quart storage capacity is big enough for lunch for two people
Multiple storage compartments give it great versatility
Somewhat difficult to clean
Less durable than other lunch cooler options
- 13.5 quart storage capacity
- Soft sided polyester construction
- Faux leather carrying handle
- Insulated cooler on bottom
- Dry storage compartment on top
- Zippered front storage area
Displaying both the flexible versatility of a soft sided lunch cooler and the gorgeous good looks of a designer handbag, the ONIVA Urban lunch bag cooler is a remarkably functional and fashionable combo. It has a surprisingly spacious 13.5-quart storage capacity, split into multiple zippered compartments — but doesn’t sacrifice any of its elegance in the pursuit of utility.
Soft sided gray polyester makes the Urban lunch bag cooler comfortable to carry, but somewhat difficult to clean; you’ll need to spot clean it with soap and water, and it’s not treated with any water-resistant coating.
Overall, the ONIVA Urban is a great option for anyone looking for a bag that’s equal parts stylish and functional.
5. Biggest Lunch Cooler – Igloo Playmate Elite Cooler
Signature “tent-top” design is easy to use and allows full access to your cooler’s contents
Push-button, one-handed lid operation
Incredibly durable polyethylene plastic construction is built to last
Massive storage capacity holds up to 30 12-ounce cans
On the expensive side
- 17 quart storage capacity
- Trademarked tent-top design
- Push button lid opens to either side
- Molded-in handle
- Hard sided construction
- Made of high-density polyethylene
- 1-year limited warranty
An extra-large storage capacity and proprietary, trademarked design make the Igloo Playmate Elite stand out from the rest of the lunch cooler crowd in a big way. Hard sided and made of high-density polyethylene plastic, it’s a rugged and durable option that’s big enough to fit lunch for a whole family with ease.
The tent-top design of the Playmate Elite makes it instantly recognizable, and allows you to fill it to its maximum capacity without having to worry about how to get into it later. A handle molded into the top makes it easy to carry and resilient to cracking or damage, too.
Top all of that off with a 1-year warranty to protect your lunchtime investment, and the Playmate Elite gets our highest recommendation for anyone who needs an extra-large lunch cooler.
6. Best Lunch Cooler for Hunting – Igloo Realtree Lunch 2 Go Cooler
Super lightweight — weighs just half a pound
Extra-large 16-quart storage capacity
Camouflage covering makes it great for hunting and outdoor sports
1-year warranty protects your investment from damage
Separate front pocket is perfect for dry storage
Insulation isn’t the best around
- 16 quart storage capacity
- Realistic camouflage covering
- Soft sided polyester construction
- Insulated foam siding
- Extra-large front pocket
- 1-year warranty
You may have noticed by now that we’re big fans of Igloo’s lunch coolers. And with good reason: They’re consistently some of the most well-designed, durable, and reasonably priced options available on the market.
Take, for instance, the Igloo Realtree Lunch 2 Go Cooler. It very well may be the perfect solution for taking lunch and beverages out hunting or camping, as it combines the easy portability of a soft sided cooler with the larger capacity usually only afforded to hard sided coolers. How? By adding in rigid supports on the side walls to help it keep its shape.
While the insulation on the Realtree isn’t likely to keep your beverages ice cold, it simply has too many other good things going for it to make that a dealbreaker. We strongly recommend it for anyone who needs to pack a lunch while they’re out hiking or hunting.
7. Best Novelty Lunch Cooler – Fred & Friends EMT Emergency Meal Transport Lunch Bag
Unique and humorous design makes it a fantastic gift
ABS plastic construction is durable and waterproof
Easy to clean lining
Insulation could be better
Fairly small storage capacity
- 8.5 quart capacity
- Waterproof lining
- Soft sided ABS plastic construction
- Foam insulation
- Mesh interior pouch
- Lifetime limited warranty
- Funny and eye catching design
Who says lunch can’t come with a smile and a laugh, too? With the Fred & Friends EMT lunch cooler — that’s “Emergency Meal Transport”, for the record — this can be as easy as packing your new favorite cooler.
Designed to look like the coolers used by real paramedics for organ transport, the EMT Lunch Bag is a comedic replica that’s sure to start a few conversations. It’s surprisingly well outfitted for a novelty bag, featuring a waterproof lining and interior mesh pouch.
Sure, the insulation could be better — and the storage capacity could be more generous, too — but if you’re in this for the laughs and uniqueness, there’s no beating the EMT lunch bag from Fred & Friends.
As the most versatile cooler in our review, the go-anywhere design of the Igloo Daytripper Commuter Bag Cooler gives it an advantage over nearly every other lunch cooler we tested. While it’s certainly not the largest meal storage option around, its stylish good looks and multiple customizable functions make it our top choice. That it’s available at such a great price is a serious added bonus, too.
Buyers on a budget should definitely consider the Igloo 12 Can Legend Cooler as a lower-cost alternative to our top pick, though. It’s a classic lunch cooler design that’s built to last, and has enough storage space for a picnic for two or beverages to last a whole hiking trip. Try it out if you’re looking for a rugged, durable lunch cooler with excellent insulation.
How to Choose the Best Lunch Cooler
When we’re testing lunch coolers, we consider each of the following topics in depth before recommending them to you. Read along to discover why some coolers make the grade, while others fail to impress.
Who Needs A Lunch Cooler?
If you work anywhere besides your home office, a lunch cooler can be a reliable and portable method for saving money and eating healthier meals. They’ve long been a favorite of construction workers and office personnel alike, but we also recommend them for hiking day trips or play dates with the kids.
What to Look for In A Lunch Cooler
Understanding the four main attributes of a lunch cooler can help you decide on which one is best for your particular needs. Let’s examine each of them in closer detail:
- Size. Just how much space do you need in your cooler? The smallest lunch coolers may hold as little as 6 quarts, while extra-large options can accommodate nearly 20 quarts. That’s the difference between a salad and water bottle for one person, or a whole picnic meal for four people.
- Insulation. Every lunch cooler should be able to keep your food and drinks cool, even on hot summer days. Look for coolers that provide plentiful insulation, as well as ones with waterproof liners for the inevitable condensation that comes off of cold food.
- Comfort. Can you easily carry your cooler with you wherever you go? Smaller lunch coolers are easier to carry in your hand or over your shoulder, while the largest coolers are better left for transport in a vehicle. Look for a soft-sided cooler if you want maximum carrying comfort.
- Durability. Ideally, you’ll want a lunch cooler that can last for years of ferrying your meals back and forth from home to work. Hard-sided coolers are renowned for their durability, but aren’t always the most comfortable to carry. No matter what type of cooler you choose, look for heavy-duty materials and durable handle joints.
Types of Lunch Coolers
There are two main types of lunch coolers: Soft sided and hard sided.
Soft sided coolers are usually made of synthetic fabric materials. They are lightweight and comfortable to carry, with some doubling as backpacks or shoulder bags. Because they don’t have any built-in supports, it’s best to limit how much food weight you pack away. Choose a soft sided cooler if you value comfort and easy portability.
Hard sided coolers are a more classic style, and have been proven to be useful through generations of hard work. Usually made out of hardened plastic, they’re a rugged and durable meal transport option that’s often less comfortable and convenient to carry and store. Choose these if you’re looking for the longest-lasting coolers, or a cooler with a large storage capacity.