The best lunch boxes for camping and commuting in 2023

Black + Blum bento box on a white background

On a day-to-day basis, having a reliable lunch box is vital if you often carry meals with you. Not only does it protect your food, but it’ll help you avoid single-use packaging like cling film, foil and sandwich bags. Plus, it’ll save you money in the long run.

We’ve tried out eight popular and smart choices to find the best lunch boxes out there for 2023.

What to look for

Finding a great lunch box can be easier said than done; while many might look the part, they’re not always leakproof, lightweight and practical to use.

First of all, think about how you’ll use your lunch box. Some are great for packed lunches with lots of separate components, while others are better suited to cooked meals. There are also lots of stylish and smart options for picnicking and commuting.

Next, consider the material. While metal designs are usually more durable, they’re heavier than other lunch boxes and aren’t microwavable. Plastic boxes tend to be lightweight, inexpensive and microwavable but they’re often flimsier and less sustainable than alternatives. Eco-friendly choices made from materials like bamboo and wheat straw are also worth considering; they’re often reasonably priced, but again will not be microwave-friendly.

Finally, think about the lunch box’s design. Is it too bulky to slip into your bag? Does it come with dividers to separate your food? Is cutlery included? If you like to take sauces or yoghurt with you, look for a lunch box with a leakproof pot too.

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How we tested 

We reviewed these lunch boxes to find out how they performed on a day-to-day basis. We tested them to see whether they were heavy and bulky, convenient to use, leakproof and sustainably made. We also judged them on their style, durability and value for money. 

Best lunch boxes for 2023 – tested by experts

Black+Blum Leakproof Original Lunch Box

Best for cooked meals

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 1L
  • Weight: 510g
  • Includes: stainless-steel fork, inner compartment and sauce pot
  • Leakproof: Yes
  • Partially microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe

With its clever design, durable feel and smart aesthetics, Black+Blum’s lunch box is a real favourite among our test team. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into the design, and as a result it’s easy and satisfying to use and clean on a day-to-day basis.

To separate your food, there’s a 150ml compartment and a 50ml sauce pot inside. They both lock into place when you snap the lid shut, thanks to the raised ridges on the underside of the lid. Store the metal fork in the lid of the larger tub, or go without it and clip the fork to the outside of the lunch box. Meanwhile, the leakproof sauce pot lid is ideal for holding garnishes or cheese.

Inevitably, the high-quality construction and extra compartments do add some weight, and this lunch box does feel fairly hefty at 510g, but it’s a reasonable trade-off for such a well-made item – especially if you’re commuting into the office. In fact, we think the sophisticated design makes it the best adult lunch box on our list; a great choice for office working.

Admittedly, care is a bit more complicated than usual due to construction; you can’t microwave the lid or microwave the rest of the box for longer than two minutes at a time without a one-minute break. Plus, it’s best to store the fork tines-down to avoid scratching the lid.

Overall, this lunch box offers style, pretty good convenience, and durability, and we love the different colour options, with pops of Olive green or Ocean blue.

Pros: durable, stylish, space to store and separate food, sauces, garnishes and fork

Cons: heavier than others, not completely microwave-, dishwasher- or freezer-safe

Black+Blum Stainless Steel Bento Box

Best bento lunch box

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 1L
  • Weight: 510g
  • Includes: two 500ml stainless steel containers and fork
  • Leakproof: Yes
  • Partially dishwasher safe and fully freezer safe

This Black and Blum bento box is perfect for sushi, mezze, or any meal with many components. Crafted from stainless steel, each of the two boxes stack neatly atop one another, securely fastened with a wide elastic strap. The lids are made from food-safe polypropylene with silicone steam vents that double as suction fastenings, and there’s a stainless steel fork concealed underneath the portable antibacterial bamboo chopping board.

The stainless steel divider (not pictured) allows you to create three sections for different foods, although for the price of this box, we would appreciate the option to use a second divider. We decided to fill the bento box with vegetarian sushi, onigiri, and cucumber and avocado salad, but the box comes with a leaflet of five different vegan recipe ideas you can choose from.

The box is completely leak-proof, and feels durable enough to last a long while. The metal construction keeps food cool for longer, and is more sustainable than plastic. Overall, it’s a very trendy lunch box that strikes a good  balance between substance and style.

Pros: durable, leakproof, stylish, includes fork, chopping board and recipes

Cons: heavier than others, could do with another divider

Sistema Bento Box To Go

Best for packed lunches

4.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 1.1L (also available as 1.25L and 1.76L)
  • Weight: 304g
  • Includes: five compartments and yoghurt pot
  • Leakproof: leakproof sauce pot
  • Freezer safe, dishwasher safe on top rack and microwave safe without lid

Widely considered one of the best lunch box brands out there, Sistema has developed a customer base of millions across 110 countries. Its popularity is no surprise, given its huge range of lightweight, affordable food storage options.

This compartment lunch box is a great choice for meals with lots of different components or snacks. The largest top section is the perfect size for sandwiches, but you can remove it, alongside the smaller upper tray to store bigger portions or bulky items like apples and bananas. There’s also a leakproof sauce pot with a screw lid, which is great for individual helpings of yoghurt or smaller items like grapes and nuts. Alternatively, you can remove the pot to get another separate compartment.

Overall, the Bento Box is rather bulky, which means it takes up a lot of space in your bag, but while other options can only fit a sandwich or single portion inside, this is one of the best lunch boxes for storing your entire meal.

As a plastic design, it’s not a particularly sustainable choice and doesn’t feel as sturdy as some of the other lunch boxes on test, but it does offer great value for money.

Pros: inexpensive, lightweight, plenty of space and compartments, leakproof sauce pot

Cons: fairly bulky, unsustainable plastic construction

Sistema To Go Sandwich Box

Best for sandwiches

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 450ml
  • Weight: 60g
  • Includes: one compartment
  • Leakproof: No
  • Freezer safe, dishwasher safe on top rack and microwave safe without lid

For anyone who favours the humble sandwich, this Sistema lunch box is one to consider. Shallow and relatively compact, it won’t be ideal for other items, but it’ll keep your sandwich together on long journeys – a big win for anyone who wants to avoid using cling film or foil. In short, this is a handy item to keep in the cupboard.

Again, the plastic construction makes this an extremely lightweight option, at just 60g, so it’s one of the best lunch boxes for hikes and picnics, especially given its slimline shape, which slots easily into bags. We also love the tasteful pops of colour and the stackable design – a great feature if you buy a few.

Pros: stops sandwiches falling apart, lightweight, easy to clean, stackable

Cons: not as durable or sustainable as others, doesn’t fit any extra snacks

Yumbox Presto

Best for snacky lunches and healthy eating

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 828ml plus dip
  • Weight: 680g
  • Includes: five compartments
  • Leakproof: Yes
  • Not freezer, dishwasher or microwave safe

With a stainless steel tray and moulded silicone-lined lid, the Yumbox Presto is a smart alternative to the many plastic versions out there, and feels highly durable. It features four deep compartments for separating snacks, as well as a shallower section for sauce in the middle.

On testing, we discovered the compartmentalised tray is the perfect size for packing different lunch items and healthy snacks like grapes, fruit bars and dips. While other lunch boxes on test hold far more than a single portion when full, this one holds just enough to make up a satisfying meal.

What’s more, the tray is slimmer than other lunch boxes we tried, so it slips easily into bags. In fact, the neat design, including the sturdy metal tray, soft moulded silicone and slimline look means the Yumbox feels satisfying to use too.

The Yumbox would also be one of the best lunch boxes to buy for children in need of a packed meal, thanks to its simple design and single open-close latch.

As for the drawbacks, the metal and silicone construction inevitably makes the box heavier than others we tried, and you can’t put it in the microwave, dishwasher or freezer.

Although the box wasn’t fully leakproof when we tested it with water, we’d be comfortable filling it with wet food and sauces, especially when stored in the central section.

Overall, we’d say this lunch box offers good value for money; one to go for if you’re after a smart, eco-friendly option.

Pros: smart design, slimline, convenient size, high-quality construction, good for kids

Cons: heavy, not microwave, dishwasher or freezer safe

Bodum Bistro

Best for style

2.5 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 20.8 x 8.6 x 13.5 cm
  • Includes: one main compartment plus tray with five compartments and cutlery
  • Leakproof: leakproof sauce pot
  • Dishwasher safe

At first glance, Bodum’s Bistro box is a compact, stylish lunch box. Unlike lots of the others on test, this one has a stretchy silicone band to secure the lid in place, as well as a full set of cutlery to take with you on the move.

In practice, we found this lunch box a little fiddly. Sliding the grippy band around the box is trickier and more time consuming than flipping a locking paddle into place, and the removable dividers feel rather flimsy. Both the lid and dividers can only be configured one way, to line up with the ridge for the silicone band, which limits the ways you can use the box.

While the knife, fork and two spoons certainly feel sturdy and ergonomic, they’re fairly bulky and there’s no set space to store them inside the box. Although they look as though they should click together, they all sit separately, taking up a lot of room. Combined with the removable dividers, sauce pot and silicone band, there seem to be a few too many loose pieces here; doomed to be lost or become unnecessary cupboard clutter.

All in all, we can’t say this lunch box offers great value for money, but it is a stylish option and there are loads of colours to choose from. The punchy yellow colour of our test box did attract plenty of compliments during testing.

Pros: stylish look, lots of colour choices

Cons: slightly fiddly design, feels a little flimsy

Traditional Hand Painted Indian Tiffin Box

Best for picnics

4.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 16 x 16 x 11.5 cm
  • Includes: three compartments
  • Leakproof: No
  • Not freezer, dishwasher or microwave safe

As soon as you open up this tiffin tin, it’s clear this is no standard lunch box. Carefully hand painted, the beautiful exterior is instantly eye-catching, and attracted lots of attention during testing. In fact, this lunch box would look lovely on permanent display in your kitchen, so it’s one of the best lunch boxes to get if you’re after something a little more easy on the eye than your average food tub.

Aside from the painted exterior, which can become scratched and chipped with the wrong care, this is a highly durable design, made from gleaming stainless steel. The makers take inspiration from traditional Asian and Eastern European food carriers, and there’s more than enough room inside for a whole meal.

The three large bowls appear to be crafted from single pieces of metal, so there’s no room for food to hide, making them easy to wash in the sink.

As for functionality, this is certainly a sturdy lunch box, but it’s not completely leakproof so we’d recommend storing it upright or using the convenient carry handle at the top. It’s also relatively bulky, making it harder to slip into cramped bags.

Another minor drawback is its non-microwavable and non-dishwasher-safe construction. If you bring lunch into the office, you’ll need to decant it into a different container to heat it up, and then wash it by hand.

Ultimately, we’d give this lunch box big ticks for its style, sustainability and value for money, but it might not be the most practical day to day.

Choose from eight colourways, including Midnight Black, Soft Spearmint, and Forest Green.

Pros: beautiful design, large capacity, sustainable

Cons: easily scratched, fairly bulky, not microwave or dishwasher safe

Eco Friendly Lunch Bento Box Set

Best sustainable choice

5.0 out of 5 star rating
  • Size: 900ml
  • Includes: three compartments, fork and spoon/chopsticks
  • Leakproof: No
  • Dishwasher and microwave safe

Another bento-style lunch box, this model has three layers for plenty of variety. There are two shallow top layers and a deeper bottom compartment with a separate lid. The clear top lid fastens securely onto the bento box, keeping all the compartments safe and preventing spills.

Made from sustainable wheatstraw, this lunch box is an eco-conscious choice as it’s biodegradable.

Also included is a single partition (although a second would be handy) and an ergonomic fork and spoon which double up as chopsticks. Although we particularly enjoy the shape and feel of this cutlery, there’s nowhere to store it in the lunchbox to avoid getting it dirty, which is a minor setback.

Pros: lightweight, eco-friendly and biodegradable, includes fork and spoon/chopsticks

Cons: could do with another divider and separate section for cutlery

Which lunch box should I buy?

Your ideal lunch box will depend on how you’ll use it. If you’re looking for a lightweight option to carry lots of different snacks, a plastic design with separate compartments should do the trick. For hot meals, you might want to choose a microwavable box with just one or two sections.

Make sure your chosen lunch box is leakproof or comes with a leakproof pot if you want to carry meals with sauces or yoghurts.

For more great product recommendations, see our reviews of the best travel mugs.

You can also find our favourite picnic rucksacks, picnic blankets and other picnic essentials.

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