I’ll Never Use a Bulky Cooler Again Because This Gadget Is So Much Better

published May 21, 2023
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Group of friends relaxing outside on a warm summers evening
Credit: Flashpop / Getty Images

I once purchased a ridiculously extravagant picnic basket, a wicker beauty straight out of The Sound of Music. I was a broke newlywed, but I justified the expense as an investment in years of affordable dates. We would use it every weekend, all summer long! We’d be the coolest couple at Shakespeare in the Park. 

But here’s the thing about traditional picnic baskets: They’re not just heavy, they’re also unwieldy. The width is the biggest problem, because you have to hold them away from your body, which is the worst accidental arm workout ever. After we filled ours with a feast for two, carrying it was a nightmare. We took turns, we switched arms, but by the time we made it to the park, we were both too hot, tired, and hungry to even enjoy the picnic. What a fail!

We used our beautiful basket exactly once, then gifted it to an unsuspecting couple as gleefully naive as we had been. But unless you’re a cottagecore influencer, there’s a (much) better way: the Oceas Insulated Cooler Backpack

We discovered the glory of the foldable picnic backpack by accident; it was an employee gift my husband brought home over the holidays. Ours is insulated, a cross between a cooler and a backpack, and it can hold up to five of our PlanetBox lunch boxes neatly stacked, or up to 40 cans, in case you’re tasked with bringing the party to the park. It promises to keep cans and ice cold for up to 16 hours, which is pretty impressive for a backpack — while I haven’t tested to that degree, the Amazon reviews say that it lives up to the hype, and is perfect for a day at the amusement park or the beach.

The pack is infinitely easier to carry than the basket, thanks to its padded straps and padded backing, and our food stays much colder (especially when we use dry ice). It has a sleek design and comes in three colors: black, blue, and gray. 

We hike multiple times a week with our aggressively friendly golden retriever, and thanks to the backpack, we can manage all 70 pounds of puppy energy and still picnic next to a waterfall while we’re at it. (No big deal!).

You know what I never see at waterfalls? Picnic baskets. I’m pretty sure they’re only actually used in the movies

What makes it easier for you to get outside?