The Best Picnic Baskets for Your Next Al Fresco Meal

From simple totes to all-inclusive models, like our top pick, Mark & Graham’s Belmont Picnic Basket.

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Wicker Hamper Picnic Basket from Weston Table
Photo: Weston Table

We are living in the golden age of picnic baskets. Hear us out: Just a few years ago, your options for dining on the grass were limited to either the old-school wicker variety (which we're certainly not knocking; we even included one) or lugging an unwieldy, impossibly heavy cooler across the dirt. But now? Your options are nearly limitless, from containers specifically for wine and cheese to insulated varieties that won't throw out your back and even clever backpack models ideal for a hike.

But with so many options, what's a picnic enthusiast to do? That's where we come in: we've vetted seven of our absolute favorite models, from high-end to affordable, old-school to design-forward. All of the picnic baskets we've chosen have notable durability, storage, and clever design; in short, we found a model for every type of plein air diner. And while we have crowned the Mark & Graham Belmont Picnic Basket as the overall winner, read on to discover six more of the best picnic baskets for your next outdoor meal.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Mark & Graham Belmont Picnic Basket

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Mark and Graham

Pros: This model includes all the plates and flatware you need but still has plenty of storage.

Cons: A single top handle means this isn't the easiest to carry over long distances, and it shouldn't get wet.

When you imagine the platonic ideal of a picnic basket, you're probably picturing this classic model from Mark & Graham. Made out of traditional wicker and leather buckle straps, this basket seems to be plucked straight out of the English countryside. But good looks aren't the only thing this model has going for it: it's also cleverly designed to hold the plates and flatware you need for your meal, as well as all of your food.

The top flap is constructed with chic buckle straps and snaps to hold your dining tools, while the roomy basket interior fits both the included wine glasses and a separate insulated compartment. You can easily store chilled items like cheeses on one side, while drier items like bread can be stashed separately (and stay sog-free). A jaunty blue-and-white-striped lining completes the look; this bag will likely be the star in any photo you snap.

  • Size: 20.5 x 13 x 8 inches
  • Items included: four plates, four sets of flatware, four wine glasses, and a corkscrew
  • Weight: 9.5 pounds

Best Value: Allcamp Outdoor Gear Insulated Picnic Basket

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Amazon

Pros: A clever design allows this basket to collapse for storage, and it's versatile enough to function as a grocery bag.

Cons: This model does not have any additional items like plates or flatware and lacks the typical basket aesthetic.

Lest we forget, the most crucial part of a picnic is the food, but the vessel in which it's carried can make all the difference. That being said, you can certainly find durable baskets or carriers without shelling out $100 or more. Our favorite low-cost model is this one from Allcamp—not only is it fully insulated, but it collapses as well, making it ideal for storing when not in use.

Other features we love are ones often seen on much higher-end models: the heat-sealed, leak-proof lining (feel free to load this baby up with a ton of ice); an easy-to-clean polyester canvas exterior; a small zippered pocket in the front that's perfect for flatware; and an aluminum handle with a soft-grip, making it easy to tote to your picnic spot. While this basket's size won't fit enough food for a party of six, the flip side is that it easily doubles as an insulated grocery tote.

  • Size: 15 x 9.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Items included: None
  • Weight: 1.54 pounds

Best Splurge: Weston Table Wicker Hamper Picnic Basket

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Weston Table

Pros: This high-end basket even comes with an heirloom-quality quilt and premium plates and cutlery.

Cons: The price is higher than most and it's on the bulkier side.

If you're looking to curate a Gatsby-esque picnic meal and just haven't been able to find the perfect basket, you're in luck: this model from Massachusetts's Weston Table boutique is dripping with Roaring Twenties appeal. Nearly every feature of this classic model has been upgraded to luxury level, from an interior and exterior trimmed with leather to the porcelain plates, stainless steel knives, and acacia wood cutting board.

Apart from the pieces you would expect in a traditional basket, this model is also equipped with many additional fun gadgets, like a wine duffle, a removable cooler bag, salt and pepper shakers, and a wine glass basket. But what truly sets this piece apart is that it also includes a small, pinewood slat table and a beautiful patchwork quilt. While the price on this basket is certainly up there, this is the sort of gift that can be passed down through generations.

  • Size: 25 x 16.25 x 11.25 inches
  • Items included: four plates, four wine glasses, four forks, four spoons, four knives, cheese knife, corkscrew, bottle stopper, cooler bag, wine duffle, wine glass basket, cutting board, salt shaker, pepper shaker, slat table, and quilt

Best for Wine: Mark and Graham Wine and Cheese Picnic Basket

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Mark and Graham

Pros: A purse-shape design that's very easy to carry, and also offers monogramming.

Cons: The small size is not suitable for holding many items, and it's not easy to clean.

Sometimes, you just need the essentials for a picnic meal: we speak, of course, of a few hunks of your favorite cheeses and a crisp bottle of white wine. For those occasions, there's no reason to lug a full-sized picnic basket; instead, opt for a model that's tailor-made for that lighter meal.

Mark & Graham's version fits everything you'll need for an elegant wine and cheese spread, all housed inside an easy-to-carry cylindrical wicker tote with extra-long straps. Once you open the two sides of the basket, there are slots and pockets for everything, including wine glasses, napkins, and cutting boards, plus all the tools of the trade like a bottle stopper, corkscrew, cutting board, and cheese knife. Plus, like many Mark & Graham products, this can be monogrammed with foil debossing on the leather tag.

  • Size: 8 x 10.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Items included: two wine glasses, bottle stopper, corkscrew, cotton napkins, cutting board, and cheese knife
  • Weight: 6 pounds

Best Insulated: Business and Pleasure The Premium Cooler Bag

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Business and Pleasure

Pros: It's made out of durable materials perfect for outdoor activities, and will resist sunlight damage and wear and tear.

Cons: It does not come with any additional items like plates or flatware, and needs to be emptied as soon as ice melts to prevent leakage.

By now, you might know that wicker and sand are not a great combination. And, except for a few models like our best overall winner above, most wicker baskets are not insulated, either. All this is to say, if you're having a picnic on the beach, bring a bag that keeps your food cool and the sand (and sea) out. And, since no one loves dragging a hard-sided cooler over bumpy mounds of sand, opt for Business & Pleasure's cooler bag, instead.

This model is the ideal beach picnic bag for a few reasons: it's made from the brand's Premium Beach Umbrella canvas, which is treated to be UV-, water- and mold-resistant; has a waterproof and insulated interior lining; and has extra-rugged and leather handles for carrying to your perfect picnic spot. While this cooler isn't equipped with any picnic supplies, that means it can morph from portable cooler to picnic bag without worrying about any interior latches or loops getting crushed or snagged.

  • Size: 12.5" w x 8.5" d x 8" h
  • Items included: None
  • Weight: 2 lbs

Best Backpack: Everly Picnic Backpack

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Pottery Barn

Pros: The backpack has special pockets for wine and a blanket, freeing up space in the main compartment for flatware and glasses.

Cons: There is very little room for also storing food inside it.

A specific subsection of picnics is the elusive picnic hike. This is the reward meal after a long scramble up a hill, where you can toast to your success with a bit of champagne. If you've ever done any hiking, you'll know that carrying a standard picnic basket on a trail is a giant hassle. Instead, opt for a backpack model, like our favorite from Pottery Barn.

This design allows you to carry everything you'll need for your meal, without worrying that various flatware pieces or glasses are jangling around inside. From the cheese knife to the salt and pepper shakers, every item included has its own compartment, making it a breeze to pack and unpack. And, crucially, the items are made to withstand a tumble: the wine glasses are hard-to-break acrylic, and the shakers are equipped with non-spill tops.

  • Size: 21 x 6.5 x 15.5 inches
  • Items included: blanket, combination corkscrew, cutting board, cheese knife, salt and pepper shakers, four wine glasses, four plates, four sets of flatware, and four napkins.
  • Weight: 6 pounds

Best Tote: Rovr Keepr

Portable Picnic Basket Cooler
Courtesy of Rei

Also available at Rovr.

Pros: A movable divider on the inside ensures food and drinks are always secure.

Cons: There is no lid on this tote, so for long days in hot conditions it isn't ideal.

If you're looking for an ideal model for an—ahem—liquid-only picnic, then this tote from camping company RovR is ideal. The sturdy bag can fit multiple bottles of different sizes (and cheese and crackers, if you'd prefer), and also comes with a double-walled, vacuum-sealed ice bucket so your drinks can stay frosty all afternoon.

We also love the large, flat base of this rigid tote, which allows it to sit upright on various surfaces. Inside, the included dividers are moveable, which means any combination of wine bottles, glasses, and snacks will remain secure as you carry it. It's also constructed to withstand the rigors of outdoor life with high-density foam and waterproof TPU fabric.

  • Size: 15.2 x 13 x 12.6 inches
  • Items included: None
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Conclusion

When picking out the best picnic basket for your needs, there are many factors, but the price, items included in the set, and size are paramount. With those metrics as our guide, Mark & Graham's Belmont Picnic Basket scores the highest and is a product suited for almost any type of picnic lover. But, if you need a piece of equipment that can easily travel long hiking distances, opt for a backpack style like Pottery Barn's Everly Picnic Backpack.

Factors to Consider

Insulation

The traditional notion of a picnic basket—wicker, two handles, maybe a cheery, red-checker lining—may look great on Instagram, but it's not going to keep your cheese cool for hours on end. If you're the sort of person who's packing a melty Époisses, delicate raspberries, and ice-cold white wine for your picnic lunch, then it's a good idea to invest in an insulated picnic bag or basket. The insulation will keep your food cool but the construction also has the added benefit of generally being sturdier than your average wicker type. Look for models that are also waterproof, as you don't want your basket to end up sopping wet after your ice melts.

Handles

All picnic baskets are portable by nature, but knowing where you might choose to have a picnic will determine the best kind of carrying strap. A standard top handle should do the trick if you're mostly just going from the car to your blanket. But if you're planning a beach lunch or even a celebratory meal after a long hike, then something sturdier like backpack handles will be easier to use.

Weight and Size

A picnic basket with all the bells and whistles (plates, glasses, cutting board) certainly helps take the guesswork out of packing, but all of those accoutrements will add a lot of bulk. If you'd rather not lug that many pounds, choose a basket that doesn't come with all the extras and stock up on lightweight paper plates and cups. Similarly, think about what method you'll use to transport your basket: a car trunk can accommodate a large, suitcase-like vessel, but the back of your bike? Not so much. And if you're going on foot, we recommend opting for a backpack-style or a bag that fits under your arm.

Our Expertise

For this story, we reached out to our picnic-loving staff, as well as scouring the internet for the best and latest models of picnic gear. We paid careful attention to the bags' durability, price points, features, and design. The author of this article, Juliet Izon, is also a frequent picnic goer who always remembers to pack a cheese plate. Juliet is a writer and editor specializing in travel, food, design, and entertainment, and her work has been featured on Epicurious, The Kitchn, Saveur, Bon Appetit, Delish, and more.

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