Everything You Need for an Apple Picking Trip

From baskets to wagons, the right gear makes this favorite fall activity even more fun.

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Eunaliving Wicker Storage Basket Rattan Fruit Carrier
Courtesy of Euna

Growing up in New England, I saw only the sweet scent of the cider donuts and cider at local orchards could top the experience of picking apples. Yet, those who hope to make an afternoon of a trip to the orchard by spreading out a picnic blanket and eating a meal there may find the rest of the food and drink selection lacking. "Albeit, there are super cute markets that will surely up your cheese board with pumpkin and apple jams," says Michelle Williams of the blog Coffee and Champagne.

To prepare for an orchard outing, plan not only for picking but also picnicking. In addition to the best apple basket and harvesting bag, our list of the best apple picking gear includes a multi-purpose picnic basket, picnic blanket, cooler, and more.

Our Top Picks

Best Apple Basket: Eunaliving Wicker Storage Basket Rattan Fruit Carrier

Eunaliving Wicker Storage Basket Rattan Fruit Carrier
Courtesy of Euna

Stroll through the apple trees with this romantic fruit and flower basket, which comes in various sizes and includes a carry with a comfortable grip. The wicker is meticulously hand woven by Eunaliving artisans to be strong yet light and surprisingly durable. The reinforced bottom is made of multiple layers of wicker to hold extra weight. Called a gathering basket, this classic piece is made for carrying and displaying any orchard's bounty.

Price at time of publish: $50

Best Harvesting Bag: Barebones Harvesting & Gathering Bag

Barebones Harvesting & Gathering Bag
Courtesy of Amazon

This stylish harvesting bag will come in handy for not only apple picking but also farmer's market hauls. It can be worn as a front pack for filling, a backpack for carrying, and on the shoulder for anything else – its straps easily adjust. Made from paraffin waxed canvas, a non-absorbent and easy-to-clean material, the bag also includes a removable waterproof liner. When you're done gathering, simply unclip the drop-out bottom and unload.

Price at time of publish: $80

Best Picnic Basket: Mark & Graham Newbury Picnic Basket Set for 4

Mark & Graham Newbury Picnic Basket Set for 4
Courtesy of Mark & Graham

Hand woven from willow, the Newbury Picnic Basket Set from Mark & Graham has everything you want for an outdoor meal; it comes complete with a full set up for four including wine glasses, corkscrew, reusable ceramic plates, and even stainless steel cutlery. Built-in, reinforced leather fastening straps and a handle set off the cotton-lined basket. An option to personalize the leather tag with a foil debossed monogram makes this picnic basket a great gift idea.

Price at time of publish: $189

Best Apple Picker: Hosko 8-Foot Fruit Picker

Hosko 8-Foot Fruit Picker
Courtesy of Amazon

With an eight-foot adjustable handle perfect for most apple trees, the picker is a game changer for any orchard visit. The asymmetrical prongs hooked around the stem of the apple while the attached basket gently catches the fruit without bruising it thanks to a foam pad inside. While the catcher is also great for other fruits like plums, mangoes, and oranges, it's especially useful at apple orchards where the easiest-to-reach may have already been picked.

Price at time of publish: $30

Best Wagon: L.L. Bean Collapsible Wagon

L.L. Bean Collapsible Wagon
Courtesy of L.L.Bean

A wagon will help you manage the weight of the apples and your other gear, in addition to being a great investment for other outdoor adventures. This L.L. Bean model has a collapsible powder-coated steel frame that easily folds up and is small enough to fit into any trunk with ease. It has a 150-pound capacity, so don't be alarmed if the kids try to hitch a ride. The exterior is PE-coated polyester, which makes it waterproof and easy to clean with detachable rear pockets and extra storage on the side. The handle extends as needed and the oversized wheels make navigating a breeze, even on sand and rocks.

Price at time of publish: $199

Best Picnic Blanket: Scuddles Extra Large Outdoor Picnic Blanket

Scuddles Extra Large Outdoor Picnic Blanket
Courtesy of Amazon

For a comfortable blanket to complete your picnic, we recommend the waterproof Scuddles Extra Large Outdoor Picnic Blanket. Made of three layers, including an inner padding for extra comfort, it comes in a variety of colorful striped patterns. The blanket seamlessly folds, fastens shut with a velcro tab, and has its own carrying strap, which makes bringing it on adventures as convenient as grabbing another tote bag.

Price at time of publish: $27

Best Cooler: Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler

Yeti Hopper Flip 12 Soft Cooler
Courtesy of Yeti

Not all coolers are built the same – Yeti's proprietary ColdCell Insulation is made up of a closed-cell foam that keeps contents cold for 12 to 24 hours. The Hopper Flip easily holds 12 cans plus ice and has a leak-proof HydroLok zipper. The exterior is made of high-density fabric with a DryHide Shell, which resists water, UV rays, and punctures.

Price at time of publish: $250

Best Thermos: Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle

 Stanley Classic Legendary Bottle
Courtesy of Amazon

Also available at Stanley.

Available in a variety of colors, this wide-mouth, 32-ounce thermos is a classic for a reason. It's vacuum sealed with double-walled insulation to keep drinks or soups hot or cold at your discretion. The insulated cap also happens to double as an 8-ounce cup, and the bottle is made of rust-proof stainless steel.

Price at time of publish: $36

Best Water Bottle: Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle with Straw Lid

Takeya Actives Insulated Water Bottle with Straw Lid
Courtesy of Takeya

The Takeya Active is a solid choice for keeping beverages at the right temperature all day long with vacuum insulation, a double-wall design and a powder coated exterior for a solid grip. Holds 32oz of liquid and the leak-proof fitted lid has a foldable straw that makes staying hydrated fun.

Price at time of publish: $40

Factors to Consider

When and Where to Go

Different parts of the world and different orchards in the same region can have slightly varied types of apple trees. With over 100 varieties grown in the U.S. and thousands grown worldwide, some apples will be more prolific in New England while others in Upstate New York; other varieties still will be more common in places like Oregon, Illinois, and Iowa. Research when the season begins and ends, and consider booking spots ahead of time.

What to Bring

Bring as little or as much as you'd like to any orchard. Orchards that offer food may be a gamble when it comes to what's on the menu. Investing in a few pieces like a picnic blanket, a good cooler, and a thermos will make any adventure that much better. Not to mention, when you've finished hydrating, you can always refill your thermos with cider.

What to Wear Apple Picking

Apple orchards are casual, though some have attached restaurants or bars that you may want to dress up for. In general, wearing jeans and layers (such as a long-sleeved shirt, sweater, and light jacket) is a good idea. Choose a pair of shoes that can handle a little dirt and that are comfortable enough to wear walking uphill or downhill if needed.

Pro Panel Q+A

When is apple picking season?

"Plan your trip for the heart of apple season – the last two weeks of September into the first week of October," " says Eddie Brennan, the president of Beak & Skiff Orchards. "If you're trying to squeeze in a last-minute fall activity, lots of orchards have slim pickings after the first week of October," says Michelle Williams of the blog Coffee And Champagne.

Earlier isn't necessarily better, though. "If you're looking to pick a specific apple, like Honeycrisps, know what time is best to pick them particularly. That way, you'll be able to find them, and they'll be as fresh and delicious as possible," Brennan says. "Some orchards open different sections of their orchards week by week so that the apples are at their picking prime," Williams says.

What should I do with apples after apple picking?

"If you have a plan for your apples (baking with them, making cider, etc.), know what kinds of apples are best," says Brennan. "Definitely put apple jam and apple chips on your to-make list – they're both easier recipes than you'd expect, and you can gift them, store them, and entertain with them on your cheese and charcuterie boards, which also happens to be a great built-in conversation starter," says Williams, adding that classic apple pies and savory dishes alike can also help you use up apples fast. "You want to eat, bake, and cook with them quickly after your apple picking outing," she says.

Our Expertise

Alissa Fitzgerald is a chef, recipe developer, and food writer with over 15 years of experience in the food industry. For this piece, she interviewed Michelle Williams, Founder of Coffee And Champagne a Coffee Life Media company and Eddie Brennan, President of Beak & Skiff Orchards market research, and then used her own expertise to curate this list.

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