Discover the perfect solution for hassle-free meals on the go with our comprehensive guide to backpack lunch boxes for kids and adults.

Whether you’re packing lunches for school, work, or outdoor adventures, finding the right lunch box is essential for keeping your food fresh, organized, and easily transportable.

In this article, we’ll explore the top considerations when choosing a backpack lunch box, including size, insulation, durability, and design. From leak-proof compartments to ergonomic features, we’ve got you covered.

Say goodbye to soggy sandwiches and disorganized meals – let’s dive into the world of backpack lunch boxes and find the ideal one for your needs.

Side of person carrying backpack with water in mesh side pocket.
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What to think about before purchasing a backpack lunch box for yourself or your child

Size and Capacity

Consider the size of the lunch box and whether it can accommodate your typical meal size and containers. Make sure it’s spacious enough to hold all the items you plan to pack.


Look for a lunch box with good insulation to keep your food fresh and at a safe temperature. Insulated compartments or walls will help maintain the desired temperature for a longer period.


Check the materials and construction of the lunch box. Look for sturdy materials like nylon or polyester, reinforced stitching, and reliable zippers to ensure they can withstand regular use and potential wear and tear.

Leak-Proof and Spill-Proof Features

A lunch box that is leak-proof or spill-proof is essential to prevent any liquids from seeping out and creating a mess. Look for sealed compartments or containers with secure lids. You can also look for waterproof material and water-resistant zippers.

Compartments and Organization

Consider the number and layout of compartments in the lunch box. Multiple compartments can help you separate different food items and prevent them from getting squished together.

Ease of Cleaning

Opt for a lunch box that is easy to clean. Look for materials that are wipeable or machine washable, and check if the lunch box has removable inserts or liners that can be washed separately.

Comfort and Portability

Evaluate the backpack straps and handles of the lunch box to ensure they are comfortable and adjustable. Look for padded adjustable shoulder straps and a sturdy handle for easy carrying.

Design and Style

While not a crucial factor, choose a lunch box with a design or style that appeals to you or the person who will be using it. There are various colors, patterns, and themes available to suit different preferences.

Additional Features

Some lunch boxes come with extra features like external pockets for storing utensils or napkins, your water bottle, keys, and cell phones or detachable containers. Consider these features based on your specific needs.

Reviews and Ratings

Before purchasing, read reviews and ratings from other customers who have bought and used the lunch box. This can provide valuable insights into the product’s quality, performance, and durability.

What is the difference between a backpack lunch box and a backpack cooler?

A backpack lunch box is primarily designed to carry and store meals, snacks, and beverages for individuals who need a convenient solution for transporting their food. It usually features insulation to keep the contents at a desired temperature for a short duration, typically until lunchtime. These lunch boxes often have multiple compartments and pockets to help organize different food items, utensils, and other accessories. They may also have some special features like USB ports or laptop sleeves. While they may offer some degree of insulation, it is generally not as robust as that of a backpack cooler.

On the other hand, backpack-style coolers are specifically designed to keep food and drinks cold for an extended period, making them suitable for activities like picnics, camping, hiking, road trips, or beach trips. These coolers typically feature thicker insulation and more advanced cooling technologies, such as foam insulation or insulated linings, to maintain low temperatures for an extended time. They are often equipped with leak-proof compartments, waterproof exteriors, and additional features like ice packs or gel packs to enhance cooling efficiency.

While both a backpack lunch box and a backpack cooler serve the purpose of transporting food and beverages, a lunch box is more focused on convenience and short-term insulation, whereas a cooler is designed for longer-lasting cooling capabilities to keep items cold for hours or even days.

The choice between the two depends on your specific needs and the duration for which you require temperature control for your food and drinks

Crisp salad in plastic tupperware. Packed lunch.

Why you might want a backpack lunch box instead of a traditional lunch box

There are several reasons why someone might prefer a backpack lunch box over a regular lunch box:

Convenience and Portability

Backpack lunch boxes offer the convenience of hands-free carrying. With adjustable shoulder straps, they can be comfortably worn on the back, leaving your hands free for other tasks. This is particularly beneficial for individuals who commute, walk, or bike to school or work, or for those who need to carry other items along with their lunch.

Storage and Organization

Backpack lunch boxes often feature multiple compartments and pockets, allowing for better organization of food items, utensils, napkins, and other accessories. The various compartments help keep foods separate and prevent them from getting squished or mixed during transportation. This can be especially useful for packing different types of foods, such as sandwiches, fruits, snacks, and drinks while maintaining their freshness and integrity.

Durability and Protection

Backpack lunch boxes are typically made with durable materials and reinforced stitching, ensuring longevity and resistance to wear and tear. The design and construction of these lunch boxes provide better protection for your food, helping to prevent crushing, spills, or damage during transit.


Backpack lunch boxes can serve multiple purposes beyond carrying meals. They often have additional compartments or pockets that can be used to carry other items like laptops, books, or personal belongings. This versatility makes them suitable for various settings, including school, work, travel, picnics, or outdoor activities.

Overall Capacity

If you know you’ll be packing food for your family or for an entire day’s worth of adventures, a backpack lunch box might be right for you. Their generally large capacity can give you lots of options for bringing along lots of food to feed your hungry crew.

At the end of the day, the choice between a backpack lunch box and a regular lunch box depends on individual needs, lifestyles, and preferences. Those seeking convenience, organization, durability, and the ability to carry their lunch hands-free may find a backpack lunch box to be the ideal solution for their on-the-go meals.

Our top 4 Favorite Backpack Lunch Boxes

While we stand by every cooler bag on our list, these are our top picks.

Fun, colorful backpack lunch box. Cream top with blue bottom and green straps.

#1 – Scothen Backpack Cooler

What you should know:

  • My clear top pick
  • Two separate insulated compartments for hot and cold items to be kept separate.
  • Leakproof and waterproof exterior
  • Front and side pockets for all of your other items, including a water bottle.
  • Several colors to choose from
  • Plenty of room for your lunch and anything else you need for the day
  • Did I mention that this was my top choice?
Grey backpack lunch box with USB port.

#2 – Insulated Cooler Backpack Lunch Box Laptop Backpack with USB Port

What you should know:

  • Insulated cooler bag to keep food hot or cold.
  • Large main compartments can be used for a laptop or school supplies.
  • Includes a USB port
  • Mesh side pockets fit a water bottle.
  • Top handles or backpack straps.
  • Interior mesh pocket for an ice pack.
  • A few colors/patterns to choose from.
Floral backpack lunch box

#3 – HILUSEN Lunch Backpack

What you should know:

  • Insulated to keep food hot or cold.
  • Two main compartments can be used for a laptop or school supplies.
  • Unique design allows the backpack to be opened completely and laid out flat.
  • Includes a USB port
  • Mesh side pockets fit a water bottle.
  • Interior mesh pocket for ice packs.
  • A few colors/patterns to choose from.
  • This is definitely one of the best lunch boxes on the list!
Black backpack lunch box with red trim

#4 – HILUSEN Extra Large Insulated Cooler Lunch Box Backpack

What you should know:

  • Largest backpack lunch box on our list.
  • Entire front, bottom compartment is insulated to keep hot things hot or cold things cold. 
  • Multiple other separate compartments and pockets for all your other needs including a separate laptop sleeve
  • Side mesh pocket fits a water bottle.
  • USB port included.
  • Variety of colors to choose from

The Rest of the Best (Numbers 5 – 22)

In no particular order, here are the rest of our top picks. Whether you’re heading for outdoor activities, simply packing school lunches, or a child’s backpack with a kid’s lunch box, we’ve got you covered.

Super cute grey and turqoise backpack lunch box with USB port and gold zippers

ETRONIK Lunch Backpack

What you should know:

  • Bottom compartment contains an insulated lunchbox that can be used completely separately from the backpack.
  • Backpack includes several side pockets and zipper compartments. The main compartment is large enough for a laptop.
  • USB port included.
  • Top handle or adjustable straps.
  • Very cute with a few different colors to choose from
Grey backpack lunch box with pink trim.

Insulated Cooler Lunch Box Laptop Backpack with USB

What you should know:

  • Insulated to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. 
  • Main compartment can be used for a laptop or school supplies.
  • Includes a USB port
  • Side pocket fits a water bottle.
  • Top handles or backpack straps.
  • Interior lunch pouch pocket for ice packs.
Grey backpack lunch box with orange trim and black zippers.

TOURIT Backpack Cooler with Double Decks

What you should know:

  • Large capacity and flexible use
  • Entire bottom portion zips off to form a stand-alone insulated lunch box.
  • Top compartment is perfect for other supplies and dry items.
  • Side pockets for water bottles.
Black backpack lunch box with gold zippers

JCDOBEST Lunch Bag Backpack

What you should know:

  • Insulated to keep food hot or cold.
  • Main compartment can be used for a laptop or school supplies.
  • Includes a USB port
  • Side pocket fits a water bottle.
  • Top handles or backpack straps.
  • Interior lunch pouch pocket for an ice pack.
  • A few colors/patterns to choose from.
Turquoise, small, soft-sided backpack lunch box

Scorlia Insulated Lunch Bag Cooler Backpack

What you should know:

  • Traditional lunch box with a simple design with removable backpack straps
  • One large main insulated compartment with front and side pockets.
  • Side pockets are large enough to hold a water bottle.
  • Perfect for a medium-sized lunch box that you can carry like a backpack
Brown backpack lunch box with black zippers and trim. Four smaller versions on the right side highlighting the different patterns and colors.

TUGUAN Insulated Cooler Backpack

What you should know:

  • Top compartment is room temperature for snacks or other needed supplies. 
  • Bottom compartment is insulated to keep cold things cold or hot things hot. 
  • Side mesh pockets are large enough for water bottles. 
  • Back strap does include a bottle opener – just in case it’s an especially long day at work.
  • Multiple colors/patterns to choose from.
Green backpack lunch box with brown and black trim.

MIER Insulated Backpack Lunch Box Cooler

What you should know:

  • Large backpack cooler
  • Main compartment is leak proof and insulated
  • Front zipper pouch is oversized for things like your phone, iPad, etc.
  • Side mesh pockets fit water bottles
  • Can opener included on the strap.
Grey backpack lunch box with black trim.

TOURIT 28 Cans (25L) Cooler Backpack Insulated Waterproof

What you should know:

  • One main insulated compartment that is waterproof, including a waterproof zipper
  • Exterior pocket is perfect for dry/other items.
Outdoorsy backpack lunch box - kakhi color with grey and orange trim.

RTIC Chillout 24 Can Backpack Cooler Insulated Portable Soft Cooler Bag

What you should know:

  • Very large insulated cooler compartment with a separate pocket for your ice packs.
  • Smaller front zipper pocket has easy access for your small items – like your wallet, cell phone, and keys.
  • Side mesh pockets fit a hydro flask water bottle.
  • If you love soft coolers, this one is for you!
soft sided backpack lunch box with stripes

Arctic Zone 24 Can Microban Lining Soft Sided Cooler Backpack

What you should know:

  • Soft-sided cooler with backpack straps.
  • Front pocket is perfect for your personal items
  • No side pockets.

The Best Backpack Lunchboxes for Kids

Most kids’ backpacks do not incorporate a separate lunch box and for good reason. Usually, kids won’t want (or need) to take their entire backpack to lunch with them – and it’s preferable to have a separate lunch box to take to the cafeteria.

That said, here are a few options for kids as you head into the school season.

Mermaid large backpack on wheels for kids with matching mermaid lunch box and pencil pouch.

MOHCO Rolling Backpack 18 inch with Lunch Bag 

What you should know:

  • Rolling backpack with matching insulated lunch boxes and pencil pouches. 
  • Several patterns to choose from and so cute!
Navy blue child's backpack lunch box with colorful dinosaurs on the front and bright turqoise zippers.

Bentgo Kids Prints 2-in-1 Backpack & Insulated Lunch Bag

What you should know:

  • This is one of the few that incorporates both. The bottom of this backpack is an insulated compartment that could be used for lunches. 

J World New York Kids’ Backpack

What you should know:

  • This clever backpack has mesh pockets for water bottles on the side and a matching insulated lunchbox that clips to the front of the backpack so it doesn’t take up needed room in the main part of the backpack. 
  • Several colors to choose from.
Black Puma kids backpack with detachable Puma black lunch box.


What you should know:

  • Mesh pockets for water bottles on the side and a matching insulated lunchbox that clips to the front of the backpack so it doesn’t take up needed room in the main part of the backpack. 
  • Several colors to choose from.
Iridescent child's backpack that looks like a mermaid with a mermaid tail. Sequin lunch box is clipped to the back of the backpack.

Jasminestar School Backpacks 17 inch with Lunch Bag and Pencil Case

What you should know:

  • This backpack is darling and has a way for the matching insulated lunchbox to clip to the outside of the backpack and add to the overall design. 
  • Lots of patterns to choose from.
Pink backpack lunch box for kids with red zippers and red cherries and strawberries as a pattern.

BASICPOWER Kids Backpack

What you should know:

  • This backpack includes an insulated compartment on the bottom that could be used as a lunchbox.
Black spiderman backpack, lunch box and pencil pouch with red features.

Ralme Spiderweb Backpack with Lunch Box and Water Bottle

What you should know:

  • While it’s not part of the backpack, this set includes a roll-down lunch box, water bottle, pencil case, and more with the backpack. 
Green dinosaur backpack with roll-top lunch box and pencil case.

Ralme Dinosaur Backpack

What you should know:

  • Perfect for your cutie heading to school, this roll-top closure lunch box matches the pencil pouch, water bottle, and backpack.
Green backpack on counter next two two stacked stainless steel bento boxes and a water bottle.

Frequently Asked Questions about Backpack Lunch Boxes

Are backpack lunch boxes suitable for all ages?

Backpack lunch boxes come in various sizes and designs, making them suitable for different age groups. There are options available for kids, teenagers, and adults, ensuring that everyone can find a suitable backpack lunch box for their needs.

Can I pack hot food in a backpack lunch box? 

While backpack lunch boxes provide some insulation, they are generally not designed for long-term heat retention. It’s best to pack hot foods in an insulated container or thermos to maintain their temperature until mealtime.

Can I clean a backpack lunch box in the washing machine?

Not all backpack lunch boxes are machine washable. It’s important to check the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning guidelines. Some lunch boxes may be wipeable or have removable inserts that can be washed separately, while others may require hand washing.

How long can a backpack lunch box keep food cold? 

The duration of temperature retention in a backpack lunch box varies depending on factors like insulation quality, external temperature, and the type of ice packs or cooling elements used. It’s best to refer to the specific lunch box’s product information for estimated cooling times.

Are backpack lunch boxes leak-proof?

Many backpack lunch boxes are designed to be leak-resistant or feature sealed compartments to prevent leaks or spills. However, it’s essential to double-check the lunch box’s features and user reviews to ensure its leak-proof capabilities.

Can I pack a water bottle in a backpack lunch box?

Yes, most backpack lunch boxes have designated water bottle pockets or compartments where you can securely store a water bottle. These pockets are often designed to prevent leaks and spills, ensuring that your lunch remains dry.

Can I use a backpack lunch box for purposes other than carrying food?

Absolutely! While their primary purpose is to carry meals, backpack lunch boxes can also be used for various other purposes. Some people use them as versatile storage bags for carrying personal items, electronics, or books, making them multi-functional for different needs.

Are backpack lunch boxes safe for food storage?

Backpack lunch boxes are generally safe for food storage, provided you follow proper food safety guidelines. It’s crucial to pack perishable foods with ice packs or in insulated containers, maintain proper hygiene, and adhere to recommended storage temperatures to ensure food safety.

Are backpack lunch boxes eco-friendly? 

Backpack lunch boxes vary in terms of their environmental impact. Some lunch boxes are made from sustainable materials or incorporate recycled components, making them more eco-friendly. Look for lunch boxes that prioritize sustainability and minimize single-use plastic waste.

Our Favorite Lunch Box Accessories

When it comes to packing lunches, these are our favorite goodies and gadgets to make the job easier!

Four brightly colored silicone squeeze bottles for condiments and dressings

Timiuu Squeeze Salad Dressing Bottles

Set of four silicone squeeze bottles – perfect for all of your sauces and dressings.

Comes with a cleaning brush. Dishwasher safe.

Three pink silicone food storage containers for lunches

Greater Goods Reusable Storage Bags

Silicone storage bags – perfect for stashing all of your lunch sides and snacks.

Dishwasher safe. Set of three.

Brown paper sandwich bags that say have a nice day

Ziploc Paper Sandwich & Snack Bags

These paper sandwich bags can be recycled, and they close with resealable stickers (included in the box).

If you’re not ready to wash out your reusable bags every day, these are a great option. And they’re cute.

Four multi-colored ice packs

Ice Packs

If you’re packing lunch, you’ll obviously want to stock up on ice packs. This set of four is everything you’ll need.

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