The Best Insulated Food Container for your Camping Trip

By Ryan | Gear & Stuff

Sep 10
best insulated food container

We all love camping. The wild outdoors; skinny dipping; the fresh smell of pine and bracken… The open fire! Particularly the fire. Sharing stories with friends, laughing and joking, drinking and eating. Camping is a chance to get back to basics; to what’s really important in life. Speaking of eating, though when bringing your own food along for your natural excursion, you need the best equipment possible, and the best insulated food container is vital to ensure your evening meal or all-important breakfast don’t spoil before you get chance to enjoy them.

Choosing the right insulated food containers to take along might seem like a thankless task to begin with, and what exactly makes a good insulated food container, anyway?

Well, we have you covered with that.

Throughout this article we’ll list what it is you should be looking for that makes the best insulated food container, and we’ll also provide a few examples, which we will review against each other from our own standards. Making sure you have the best equipment for camping can make a trip go from being great, to unforgettable.

**Below, you'll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.


How To Choose The Best Insulated Food Container ?

It is important to consider a number of prospective qualities that should be sought in an insulated food container for camping trips before you just go out and buy one.

Plastic containers are okay, but without the proper insulation they quickly revert to whatever the external temperature is, classic army-style, tin trays are also great, and lightweight, but aren’t airtight. 

best insulated food container illustraion

From Amazon

Below are a few values that you should be seeking in a food container for your camping trip.

Compact

best insulated food container compact

From Amazon

Space saving should be a key component of all camping trips, and this principle is no different for your food containers. The more compact your container, the more space you’ll have for other items, and even for more food containers. Who doesn’t like the idea of having more food?

At the same time as saving space however, you do need to ensure your receptacle can actually fit in the amount of food you need to take, making it important that the chosen container doesn’t have unnecessary bulk, with the wall lining being as slim as possible.

Lightweight

best insulated food container lightweight

From Amazon

For similar yet different reasons, lightweight equipment should also be a standard value to seek when camping generally, and applies just as strongly to your food containers as it does to anything else. Weighing your backpack or car down with heavy items is just unnecessary, especially in this day and age where there are so many choices for good quality, lightweight products.

Get a good sense of the product weight from its specifications, if you’re buying online, or by physically weighing it or getting a feel for the product if you’re buying in-store.

Multi-faceted

best insulated food container multi

From Amazon

This is more of a bonus than a necessity, but if the container comes with any useful extras or attachments, such as cutlery, hanging hooks or just about anything that might be handy yet unobtrusive. The more useful extras a container has, the less equipment you need to bring along as additional baggage.

It’s important that the extras are well-designed to slot into the product without taking up more space than necessary, or you’re just wasting inches when you don’t need to. Thinks that fit into the lid, or attach neatly to the side are perfect.

Insulated

best insulated food container insulated

From Amazon

As it says in the article title, the operative word is insulated. There is no point in buying or taking non-insulated containers along with you as the temperature will either rise or drop to that which is outside of the product much faster.

Which, if you have hot food and it’s a cold day will mean your food cools down, and for cold food items, warmer climates will cause your food to heat. This could be potentially dangerous for your health as well as losing all flavour that the right temperature offers, with bacteria building in some foods when not kept within a particular temperature range.

Trusted brand

best insulated food container brand

From Amazon

Brand names can sometimes be an excuse to needlessly raise the price of a product, a trusted brand however marks the sign of something important. "Quality and customer satisfaction". Finding a brand which is industry renowned and guaranteed to offer quality is an important value to consider when looking for your own container. Trusted brands will more than likely offer you a product guarantee or warranty, protection you as a buyer in case of fault or dissatisfaction.

When choosing your own product, forums, product review sites and magazines may be worth consulting to see what the consensus is regarding a particular brand or product.

Industry standard

best insulated food container standard

From Amazon

Products such as food containers are often come with industry standards for quality, due to their nature of ensuring food remains as bacteria free as possible. Products that are in-line with industry standards prove that they are both of high quality and are considered completely safe to use in the capacity that they were intended.

Non-standardised products may still be worthwhile, but ensuring they have passed the standardised tests just further affirms their quality and worthiness.

Good capacity

best insulated food container capacity

From Amazon

It may seem obvious, but ensuring that your container will actually hold the contents of your meal, or the type of food you are planning on storing when you are camping is critical.

As you are likely to be reusing the container, it’s not exactly convenient to plan for every meal or food type that will likely be taken along on each trip, but you can at least ensure whether the product is likely to be able to hold the majority of potential contents of future trips.


How to Safely Use Thermal Insulated Food Containers

With foodborne bacteria and disease causing hundreds of thousands of people to fall sick and some to even die every year, largely down to improper temperature control, it’s important that you know and understand how to properly store food, particularly in thermal insulated food containers.

There are a number of factors to consider when storing your food with thermal insulated food containers:

best insulated food container how to

From Amazon

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    Firstly, you should read the instructions that come with the product you are buying. This will help you understand how long your container will store your food at its optimum temperature and when it might start to become unsafe to eat the contents.
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    Secondly, store your hot food piping hot and your cold food as cold as necessary.
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    Your food choice should be composed of some liquid. Your insulated container will not properly work with foods that do not contain liquids.
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    Pre-heating or pre-cooling your container prior to filling it with its intended contents will provide best results and a longer lasting temperature hold.
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    Let your food reach optimum temperatures and pack it as late as you can before leaving for your trip for best results.
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    Be careful when opening, particularly with contents. You may forget how hot the contents are until you suddenly scald or burn yourself with them.
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    Hand wash your container as thoroughly as possible after and before???? each use with hot soapy water. Ensure you rinse it well and let it dry before adding new contents.
best insulated food container compact

From Amazon

Check Out Our Top 6 Insulated Food Containers

We’ve picked out six containers that will cover the majority, if not all, of the values above, to provide you with a list of solid insulated food containers to take on your next and future camping trips with you.

best insulated food container 1

From Amazon

An excellent brand name in the business of utility is Stanley, also with over 100 years of experience in the market. Masters in countless areas ranging from tools to outdoor utility products, their vacuum insulated food jar is another highly regarded option in their ever-growing repertoire.

This time a classic and the blueprint for food containers. This option comes in two capacities, 17 ounce and 24 ounce. The jar offers a minimum of 12 hours of hot or cold storage, with its classic vacuum insulated design. The same design offers leak-proof guarantees and Stanley also provide their lifetime warranty for the product. It’s the original design, trusted for decades and unchanged. Both sizes are nicely sized to fit comfortably in most backpacks and there are very few issues with this piece, making it a worthy companion to any camping trip.

best insulated food container 2

From Amazon

Another of the best brands, if not the best brand in insulated food and drinks containers is Thermos. With more than 110 years of producing quality and trusted insulated containers, there’s a reason they are still up there as one of the go-to brands in the industry. Thermos are still at the forefront of insulation technology and continue to put in the time to research, development and innovation to make certain their products are the best they can be.

The Stainless King is no different, a 16 ounce container is more than large enough to store most meal types, and with Thermos’ vacuum insulation technology, your food will maintain its optimum temperature for as long as possible with a suggested 9 hours for hot foods and up to 14 hours for cold contents. The container comes with detachable folding spoon contained within the lid for a complete eating experience.

The container is both compact and lightweight, perfect for slotting into your multi-day pack and will fit nicely into most net or stretchable side pockets.

With this product there are very few negatives to consider, it’s a reliable and solid choice for an insulated container.

best insulated food container 3

From Amazon

Another Stanley design in our lineup, the Adventure Vacuum jar comes in three different sizes, from 14 to 24 ounces, and is airtight when sealed, vital to keeping your food at its optimum temperature. The product comes with a handy spork and lid for portioning. The smallest option will keep its contents at optimum temperature for up to 8 hours, whilst the largest offers up to 15 hours of optimum temperature.

All choices provide a compact and lightweight product which will slot nicely into your backpack and side pockets. The jar also comes with a lifetime warranty from Stanley, to prove its worth as a product.

best insulated food container 4

From Amazon

Perfect for keeping you hydrated and refreshed, this 16 ounce liquid flask is designed to keep your drinks as cool as physically possible for as long as possible. Its stainless steel design, including the vacuum is perfect for those summer camps or treks where the temperatures are soaring.

The bottle’s design includes a hygienic push button lid with a pop-up straw for easy, safe drinking. It’s tall, slim design makes it simple to slide into side pockets or just inside your pack and also comes in child friendly designs like Captain America and Star Wars themes, keeping the kids both refreshed and entertained.

The only real con with this product is that it is specifically for cold beverages, not hot ones or other food types, although, if you were to take along a beverage receptacle, this should be one of your top choices.

best insulated food container 5

From Amazon

The Thermos Funtainer is another reliable option from a reliable brand. The product uses the same insulation technology as other Thermos products and will keep food at optimum cooler temperatures for up to 7 hours, and hotter temperatures up to 5 hours, making it reliable, particularly for on-the-go dining.

With 10 ounces in capacity, it’s not the largest container on the list, but it’s perfect for breakfast, mid-morning or afternoon snacks and even lunch. The container also comes in countless styles, which are both colourful and themed with favourite children’s characters, making it a first class choice for any younger campers joining you for the journey.

Its size has other advantages, as it’s super compact and ultra lightweight for perfect portability.

best insulated food container 6

From Amazon

Another excellent insulated food jar from Thermos for smaller food portions. The Foogo uses the same technology as Thermos’ other 10 ounce jar on our list, providing similar cooling and heating durations. Similarly to the Funtainer, it’s also designed initially with children in mind, for school trips or family camping weekends, however it would still be useful for smaller portions and as part of a set of different food containers.

As with the Funtainer, its main flaw is purely its size, however this does offer it an advantage of greater portability over its competitors.

The Best Isolated Food Container We Pick and Why

For us, our choice goes to #1 - The Classic Stanley Vacuum Insulated Food Jar has to be our go-to for your next and future camping trips. 

There’s a reason it’s withstood the most important test of all; time. All of our picks are excellent at what they do, with the drinks flask from Thermos being perfect for keeping your thirst quenched; the Stanley Adventure and the Thermos Stainless King, both with attachable eating apparatus are worthy for sure as options, but don’t quite hold the prestige of what is ultimately their big brother; and the two Thermos 10 ounce containers are also excellent choices, but are perhaps a little too small in size for what we have in mind.

The classic Stanley has very few flaws, and with a lifetime warranty, it’s hard to consider anything else as the perfect choice.

If you have any experience with other insulated food containers, or comments on our chosen few, why not let your fellow readers know with a comment below?

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Ryan Smith, a solo traveler, and founder of MrAbroad.com with a bunch of friends. I love going outside, reading books and talking to people.