The 5 Best Ice Packs For Lunch Boxes
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After you find the right lunch box and figure out what goodies you’ll pack inside, there are some other accessories to consider. Lunch box staples for kids like cold cuts, cheese, and yogurt should be kept cold. The best ice packs for lunch boxes are slim and lightweight to fit with any lunchbox you choose, while still keeping food safely chilled until lunchtime.
A low-profile ice pack fits more seamlessly into a lunch box without adding too much weight to a little kid’s backpack. The only tradeoff is that thicker ice packs stay colder for longer. But if you just need to keep a little one’s snacks or lunch chilled for a few hours — most school lunches are within four hours of start time — a slim ice pack should work for you. Some parents double up on smaller ice packs on days when there are more cold items for lunch. As a reference point on size, ice packs can start at 5 by 5 inches (length by width) and go all the way up to 10 by 13 inches, but you’ll want ones that are less than an inch in depth to fit into lunch boxes without the bulk.
To ensure you’re getting the most chill, you’ll want to opt for a hard-shell ice pack, since they will stay colder for longer compared to soft-shell versions — which is why all of the picks on this list have hard shells. And while it’s not always clear what exactly the cooling solution is inside an ice pack, look for ice packs made of nontoxic, BPA-free materials.
Shape & Design
Most ice packs designed for lunch boxes are rectangular, but you’ll also find square-shaped ones that may be an even better fit for smaller lunch boxes. Many are designed with indentations or center cutouts for a more secure grip. If your kiddo loves lunch box details, they might appreciate ice packs with a fun design that can make lunch more enticing.
Choose one of the best ice packs for lunch boxes below, and your little one’s meal will hold up nicely until lunchtime.
1. The Overall Best Ice Packs For Lunch Boxes
- Dimensions: 4.7 x 7 x 0.5 (length by width by depth)
An overall great choice for its design and affordability, these ice packs for lunch boxes come in a set of five slim, rectangular packs in multiple colors. These chillers are designed to fit seamlessly into lunch boxes or coolers and a couple of reviewers reported they stayed cold for four to seven hours.
These reusable ice packs are made of BPA-free and nontoxic materials. They each feature indentations and center cutouts for a sturdy grip. Each set includes five different colors: orange, green, purple, blue, and yellow.
A helpful review: “These ice packs are great. They are slim and compact - which is great because I can fit more food into my kid's lunch boxes. I love the different colors!”
2. A Set Of Smaller Square Ice Packs
- Dimensions: 4.75 x 4.75 x 0.25 inches (length by width by depth)
These square ice packs are a popular pick with a 4.6-star rating on Amazon and over 16,000 reviews. They’re slightly smaller than the first set, which allows them to fit even more seamlessly into any lunch box. Reviewers report these slim and lightweight ice packs can keep items cool for several hours, and one saavy reviewer recommended doubling up on packs or using all four of them at once to keep food colder longer.
Each of the four reusable ice packs is made of nontoxic and BPA-free plastic. A center cutout offers grip on each light blue ice pack.
A helpful review: “[...] These are thin, however really keep lunches cold. I'll pack 2-4 depending on how cold i want lunch to stay and how big the lunch box is. I like that they are thin because I can pack on freezer pack on each side of the lunch box, or put 2 on the bottom flat and 2 laying flat on the top. These really keep our lunches cold, surprisingly. I’m away for 12 hours at a time and need to pack 3 meals, while my son needs it just to stay cold for 4 hours until lunch. They really work great.”
3. A Larger Ice Pack For Bigger Lunches
- Dimensions: 8.66 x 5.51 x 0.98 inches; (length by width by depth)
For older kids with larger lunch boxes, you may prefer a bigger ice pack. It’s also notably thicker than other ice packs, so it’ll stay colder for longer.
This reusable ice pack is flat and rectangular, so it fits nicely into the bottom of a lunch box, but it’s worth noting its larger size will be slightly heavier than other ice packs. A large center cutout allows for a comfortable grip, and its plastic casing holds a nontoxic filling. And if an ice pack can look high-end, this one does look a little sleeker than most with its opaque blue color blocking.
A helpful review: “I like these because they lay flat in the bottom of my lunch bag and don’t take up too much space. Keeps lunch bag cool/cold all day.”
4. These Really Cute Ice Packs
- Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.52 inches (length by width by depth)
Ice packs can be cute, too, and this set is one your kid will love. The friendly pineapple ice pack is slim and compact to fit into any lunchbox, and it stays cold for up to four hours, according to the brand. The lightweight plastic ice packs come in multi-colored sets of four, and you can also choose a dinosaur, unicorn, or rocketship theme. Either way, the ice packs are reusable and BPA-free. For their design and performance, this set maintains an impressive 4.8-star rating with over 1,700 reviews.
A helpful review: “We use these every day for school lunch boxes and love them! I love that they come in multiple colors because my daughter gets to pick out which one she wants every day. Perfect size and easy to clean!”
5. A Value Pack For Multiple Lunch Boxes
- Dimensions: 5.43 x 5.43 x 0.6 inches (length by width by depth)
If you’re packing multiple lunch boxes for school or daycare, consider this value pack. The set includes 10 slim and lightweight ice packs that are designed to fit right in with lunches. Each square stays frozen for over three hours and stays cold for over eight hours, according to the manufacturer.
These highly rated ice packs are squared with jigsaw edges that connect to make longer ice packs or even cubes for larger containers, like coolers. The light blue ice packs are reusable and made with BPA-free and nontoxic materials.
A helpful review: “Kids lunches. They work great and aren’t bulky. Plus side- I could connect them when we go for a picnic in a larger cooler. Not sure how long they stay cold but it works for the time we need it until the kids get to lunch - at least 5 hours.”
Also Nice: A Genius Lunch Bag You Can Freeze So You Don’t Even Need Ice Packs
- Dimensions: 8.5 x 6.25 x 9.75 inches (length by width by height)
If you’d rather invest in a lunch bag that works overtime, this pick can be stored in your freezer so that the walls are completely frozen when you’re ready to pack up your food, keeping it chilled for about three to four hours, according to reviewers. The collapsible bag has a zip-top closure, a wide base to accommodate different food containers, and is designed with a nontoxic gel and gel liner. It comes in 26 fun colors and patterns like animal prints, stars, and stripes and it’s a highly rated pick with a 4.6-star rating and more than 7,000 reviews.
A helpful review: “One of the best things I like about this is how you can stick it in the freezer and in the morning it is frozen (as there is icepacks in the lining of the bag) so you don't to worry about adding anything cold. Another great feature of this lunchbox is that if you are trying to fit in a tight space, like a small or tight backpack, it easily folds up to fit, even with items in it. I have been using this lunch box for a few months now and it shows no sign of wear, so it definitely pasts the durability test!”