Warm weather and picnics go hand in hand. They’re great for a romantic date for two, or for a large crowd to enjoy at the beach, a park, or anywhere you can find a bit of outdoor space.
And it doesn’t take much to successfully pull off one of these leisurely outdoor gastronomical affairs. Food and drink, a blanket to sit on, and some good company are the basics. There is no need to drag out the portable gas barbecue grill when you want to keep things simple (though you certainly can bring that too, if you like).
If you want to add a little extra organization and panache to your picnicking pleasures, consider investing in a picnic basket designed for the job. Prepare your food ahead of time, like our make-ahead Sicilian pasta salad and some fresh cut fruit, and simply carry it with you.
History tells us that today’s picnics evolved from the luxurious and elaborate customs of the movable outdoor feasts that were once enjoyed by the uber-wealthy.
At one time, picnics were consigned to the realm of the rich. These banquets were held to impress guests with the power and wealth of the hosts, and would go on for days and even weeks, often including chairs, tables, and even servants.
Today, we tend to keep things a little simpler. But you’re still going to need something to carry your feast, preferably a stylish or ergonomic option, with flatware and a few glasses thrown in, and perhaps a tablecloth to boot.
Luckily for you, dear reader, you can have it all!
A well thought out basket is not only attractive, it’s also space efficient and a great time saver – and it can help to avoid disappointments. Really, who wants to open a nice bottle of wine with a stick because the corkscrew’s still in the kitchen drawer?
So let’s take a look at our review of the top picks, including some of the most popular baskets in the marketplace.
The Best Picnic Baskets Reviewed
- Sutherland Jubilee Woven Basket for 2
- Yellowstone Willow Basket for 2
- Household Essentials Woven Willow Basket for 4
- Newbury Woven Willow Basket for 4
- London Backpack for 4 with Blanket
- Tandoor Deluxe Backpack for 4
- Verona Wine and Cheese Basket for 2
- Napa Wine and Cheese Basket for 2
- Freeport Park Wheeled Basket for 4
A rectangular basket of handcrafted willow interwoven with sisal, it’s also fully lined with blue and white cotton gingham. And it’s bedecked with decorative (and useful) straps, chain hinges, and a toggle closure, plus a suitcase-style handle on the front.
It includes a service for two with 8-inch plastic plates, two plastic knives, two plastic forks, two plastic spoons, two plastic cups, and two plaid cotton napkins, all in blue.
Measurements are approximately 16 x 8 x 11 inches, and it weighs just over 4 pounds. Includes a lifetime guarantee from the manufacturer.
Those who like the Sutherland enjoy its good quality and convenient carrying size, and the interior is spacious enough to hold food and drinks for two. There are also some naysayers who think the handle should be on the top rather than the side, so that the contents don’t slide around when you pick it up. Pack it well, and this shouldn’t be a concern.
To beautify your picnic spread, try folding these pretty cloth napkins into little silverware pouches, to surprise your date.
This handcrafted and elegant basket comes with a deluxe service for two. Made of handsome and durable two-toned willow, it measures 15 x 10 x 13 inches and has two transport options – a canvas shoulder strap and a suitcase-style carrying handle – as well as leatherette bound closure toggles. The basket weighs 8.65 pounds.
The high quality accessories for two include a hardwood cutting board, cheese knife, and plastic food storage container with a lid, plus two shatterproof wine glasses, two porcelain plates, stainless steel flatware, and two colorful red and earth tone Moka Collection cotton napkins with a matching patterned tablecloth. Leatherette straps keep everything securely in place.
This product includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Happy customers report that this basket is well made and of higher quality than expected, with real porcelain plates and glass drinkware. It has an attractive design with contemporary colors, is spacious inside, and it makes a well-received gift.
We could only find one complaint from verified purchasers of this product at the time of this writing, and that was about the lining being ripped on arrival. In the unlikely case of receipt of a damaged product, Amazon should be able to help you out with a simple exchange.
This attractive rectangular-shaped picnic basket is woven from all-natural willow with an arched center and large basket-style handle, featuring a service for 4 that includes melamine plates, polypropylene glasses, stainless steel flatware, a bottle opener, and salt and pepper shakers.
The interior is fully lined with a cotton plaid material, and has straps to secure the dinnerware components for travelling. It has two separate lids that open from the center, giving full access to the interior of the basket. Restraining straps hold the lid portions in place when they are open.
This product measures 18 x 12 x 15 inches and weighs just under 7 pounds. Fans are impressed with the plaid lining, which is well made and secured.
This kit contains everything needed for outdoor dining, and nothing that you don’t need. It offers good value for the price, and has a clever design. The critics point out that some of components are not of the highest quality, with inexpensive chain hinges and pseudo-leather straps.
A handsome English suitcase-style basket with service for four, this basket features durable willow construction with a blue and burgundy plaid cotton lining, a hinged lid, and two leatherette straps with buckles for fastening, as well as a suitcase-style handle for transport.
It comes with deluxe amenities for four including stainless steel flatware, shatterproof glasses, and porcelain plates, plus a corkscrew and salt and pepper shakers – all in an attractive flat-lid design with components secured in pockets and with straps.
This product measures 20. 5 x 13 x 8 inches and weighs a little over 9 pounds. It includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer to repair or replace if defective for any reason.
Satisfied shoppers are very complimentary about the spacious design and good quality of materials used in its construction and in the dinnerware, as well as its elegant presentation – this is another basket recommended for gift giving.
On the complaints side from verified customers at the time of this writing, one customer experienced the stem of a wine glass snapping during washing, and a couple of others had some issues with the security of the handle. Be sure to use the included components with care, and consider holding it from the bottom if loaded with heavy items.
This backpack is elegant in its details and quality. With thermal Shield Insulation for freshness, a roomy leak-proof cooler compartment in the back, and comfortable backpack straps, it’s the ideal transportation and organization system for up to four people.
Contents include a combination corkscrew, hardwood cutting board, cheese knife, wooden salt and pepper shakers with no-spill tops, acrylic wine glasses, coordinating melamine plates, stainless steel flatware, cotton napkins, and a detachable wine cooler pocket – plus a large fleece blanket!
A handy zipper pocket is also included on the front, to hold your keys or other small essentials.
Constructed of sturdy 600-denier polyester canvas, this pack is built to last. Lightweight and easy to carry with ergonomic adjustable shoulder straps and a handle on top, it measures 21 x 6.5 x 15.5 inches and weighs 6 pounds. Blanket dimensions are 60 x 50 inches.
Designed and assembled in the USA, this product includes a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Happy customers like the high quality of construction and materials used, reporting that it’s just like the advertised photo, and that it provides all the needed components for successful outdoor dining. However, there are a few comments about the cooler compartment being a bit too small for a four-person meal.
Tandoor Deluxe Backpack
Picnic Plus boasts that their products are known for the special little “extras” that are included, and this particular backpack does not disappoint!
It features soft padded and adjustable shoulder straps, a large thermal foil insulated food compartment, and two wine bottle carriers that are insulated, detachable, and fully zippered – perfect if you’re a fan of bringing chilled beer or wine with you on your outdoor adventures. The leak-proof liner is also detachable and may hold either cubed ice or ice packs.
With an exterior shell that’s made from durable 600D polyester canvas, it is available in your choice of sage green or navy blue
This set comes with a complete service for four: melamine plates, acrylic goblets, cotton napkins, stainless steel flatware, a wooden handled corkscrew/bottle opener, stainless steel salt and pepper shakers, a wooden cutting board with cheese knife, and a bottle stopper. It even has a dirty dish bag for easy cleanup.
This backpack measures 21 x 11 x 17 inches and weighs 6 pounds. It is backed by a limited lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Purchasers of this product enjoy the generous size for packing food, the detachable bottle coolers, and its functionality, convenience, and light weight.
Verona Wine and Cheese Basket
The Verona wine and cheese tote is a stylish barrel-shaped basket with wine and cheese service for two. Made of sturdy willow construction with premium leatherette accents and dual canvas/leatherette carrying straps, it’s also fully lined with polyester fabric for durability, and has dual lids with toggle closures.
This product is available in your choice of liner in pine green, red and white ‘Harmony,’ or navy blue ‘Adeline,’ with coordinating cloth napkins.
It includes two hand-blown wine glasses, a stainless steel corkscrew/bottle opener, nickel-plated cork bottle stopper, hardwood cutting board, stainless steel cheese knife with wooden handle, and 100 percent cotton print napkins. Perfect for outdoor concerts or lazy days at the park, it measures 18 x 10 x 10 inches and weighs 5.5 pounds.
Purchase of this product includes a lifetime Built to Last guarantee from the manufacturer.
Lots of positive comments have been written by customers regarding the quality of construction, security of pieces, good value for the price, and the elegant design – with numerous reviewers who bought it as a gift, but kept it for themselves or ordered another as a keeper.
Napa Wine and Cheese Basket
Another specialty basket with wine and cheese service for two from Picnic Time, the Napa wine and cheese basket is handcrafted of sturdy willow construction and is fully lined, with premium leatherette accents, dual toggle closures, and a suitcase-style handle on the lid.
Available in several colors and patterns, take your pick from ‘Adeline,’ ‘Botanica,’ or ‘Watermelon’ – fun combinations of brown wicker with brown accents and coordinating orange, black, and white fabrics; light brown wicker with oxblood accents and green, white, and leaf-patterned fabric accents and accessories; or white wicker with matching accents and watermelon-patterned fabrics.
It includes hand-blown wine glasses, a waiter-style corkscrew, a hardwood cutting board with cheese knife, colorful napkins and matching tablecloth, and a plastic food storage container with lid. Designed for the picnicking elite, this lovely basket is functional as well as elegant.
It measures 13 x 9 x 10.5 inches and weighs 4.5 pounds. This product is backed by the manufacturer’s Built to Last lifetime pledge to repair or replace the item if it is found to be defective for any reason.
This is a fantastic little basket with all the amenities you’ll need for a romantic wine and cheese date at the park for two, well made and easy to carry with with a well-constructed lining. The only negative comments are about it being a bit too small, though others found it to be the perfect size.
Freeport Park Wheeled Basket
This cleverly designed wheeled wicker and wood basket with service for two provides everything you need in an aesthetically pleasing hamper, with a convenient handle and wheels for easy transport.
With the ease of a pushcart rather than the heavy burden that a basket often presents right at your fingertips (or eagerly awaiting your next outing in the closet or garage), just imagine all of the delights that you can pack for your al fresco lunch!
This basket includes a set of four 8-inch square ceramic dinner plates in off-white, stemware, stainless steel flatware, a wooden cutting board, cheese knife, and a tablecloth with matching napkins in a floral print.
You’ll also find a separate insulated wine bottle tote, a corkscrew, and salt and pepper shakers, plus a large drawer at the center that is fully insulated with thermal foil to hold hot or cold items and keep them at temp until you reach your destination.
This is most definitely the creme de la creme of outdoor dining gear. It measures 19 x 16 x 14 inches with a 36-inch retractable handle, and the overall product weight is 18 pounds.
Everything is strapped securely in place for easy portability, and the total tablecloth dimensions are 72 x 48 inches.
From the Origins of the Picnic to Today’s Modern Spread
From Medieval festivals and hunting feasts to Renaissance banquets in the country and Victorian garden parties, the heritage of all of these has contributed to today’s leisurely repast.
The somewhat scaled down version as we now know it became popular in the middle of the nineteenth century, a refinement of the European “grand picnic,” a favorite subject of many authors and artists of that era. And it continues today, in nature preserves and at outdoor concert venues, on beaches and lakeside, atop mountain peaks and by stunning vistas across the world.
Before your next picnic, prep for your outdoor dining adventure with a basket or backpack that meets your needs. Order one today, so it will be ready to pack and go when you need it. Or, give one as a gift so your friends and loved ones can enjoy the pleasure of outdoor dining this spring and summer, taken to a whole new level.
What was your most memorable picnic, and how do you like to pack yours? Do you have a favorite outdoor lunch destination? Share your stories in the comments below!
And for even more cooking and dining gear recommendations, read these guides next:
- 7 of the Best Pots for Cooking Lobster, Crab, and Clams
- Enhance Your Favorite Wine with the Right Glassware
- 7 of the Best Roasting Pans: What to Look for and How to Choose
Product photos via Sutherland, Picnic Time, Household Essentials, Picnic at Ascot, Picnic Plus, and Freeport Park. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock. Originally published on June 27, 2015. Last updated February 10, 2020. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.