Transporting cold or frozen foods can be a little inconvenient. Using regular grocery bags on long drives from the supermarket can increase the risk of cold items spoiling, particularly if the temperatures outside and in the car are soaring. Insulated grocery bags, also referred to as soft coolers, can maintain food at a safe temperature so it’s ready to eat.
Because not all insulated bags are created equal, it’s a good idea to research products’ construction and features carefully. If you’re searching for the best insulated grocery bag, read on to discover our top picks.
- BEST OVERALL: Creative Green Life Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: VENO BAG 2 Pack Insulated Reusable Grocery Bag
- UPGRADE PICK: CleverMade SnapBasket Insulated Grocery Shopping Bag
- BEST EXTRA LARGE: BELLEFORD Insulated Food Delivery Bag PRO XXL
- BEST ROLLING: dbest products Ultra Compact Smart Cart Cooler
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Insulated Grocery Bag
Before purchasing an insulated grocery bag, there are a few important details to think about. A bag’s material, size, and how comfortable it is to carry have a lot to do with whether a bag is the right fit for you.
Read on to learn more about what to consider when choosing an insulated grocery bag.
Insulated grocery bags are generally made of one of two materials: vinyl or nylon.
Nylon is a fairly breathable fabric, which means it helps maintain food temperature. Its breathability allows steam to escape, so warm meals won’t be soggy after being enclosed in a bag with a lot of condensation. Nylon bags are also very durable; they’re typically more expensive than their vinyl counterparts.
Vinyl insulated bags are more affordable because they are typically not as well insulated as nylon bags. If you need to keep food cold on short trips, a nylon bag is worth the investment.
One of the most important things to consider when purchasing an insulated grocery bag is how you plan to use it.
If the main reason insulated grocery bags are on your radar is that you want to use them to transport perishable groceries, it’s a good idea to purchase a few bags that collapse easily and keep them in the car. If insulated grocery bags are needed to bring cold dishes to parties or gatherings, consider shopping for one that has pockets for other supplies or a reinforced bottom that will support heavy casserole dishes. Delivery people who need insulated bags for work might think about getting large-capacity totes.
Once you determine how—and how often—the insulated grocery bags will be used, it’s easier to zero in on the right bags for your situation.
Size and Capacity
Insulated grocery bags come in many sizes, and the one you choose should be roomy enough to accommodate the amount of food you expect to carry in it. It’s better to have too large a bag than one that’s too small, so you may want to size up if you’re not sure how much capacity you need.
It’s also wise to think about how heavy insulated grocery bags will be when packed full of food. Bags that have strong handles—and multiple handles—are much less likely to stretch or rip when they are full. Look for bags with handles that wrap around the entire bag to distribute weight evenly.
How comfortable an insulated grocery bag is to carry depends a lot on how its handles are designed.
It’s not only important that a bag’s handles be strong, the handles should also be wide and long enough to sling over a shoulder if the load is very heavy. Some insulated grocery bags even come with multiple handles of different sizes—both short, one-hand handles and long over-the-shoulder handles—to give the user flexibility in how they carry their items.
Another feature that can make the best insulated grocery bag easier and more comfortable to carry is fasteners. Being able to zip or snap a bag shut keeps its contents secure, and gives the carrier peace of mind that groceries aren’t going to tumble out.
Some insulated grocery bags are designed to be used for more than one purpose. One good way to use smaller bags is as a lunch box; larger ones make good delivery bags. Most insulated bags can also be used to keep food warm rather than cold until it reaches its destination.
Some insulated bags have organizational compartments and rods that go through the handles to allow the bags to rest on top of a grocery cart. These features’ intended purpose—organizing and packing your groceries as you shop in the supermarket—also make insulated bags handy tools for organizing crafts, toys, and other items in the home.
Finally, consider buying a multipack of insulated grocery bags rather than just one. When you have a half-dozen bags on hand, you can leave some in the car for grocery shopping and have a few around the house for alternate uses. It won’t be long before you realize how indispensable these durable totes have become.
Ease of Cleaning
As we all know, carrying groceries can sometimes result in a mess—a broken egg here, some spilled bread crumbs there. After a few uses, an insulated grocery bag is bound to need a little cleaning, especially if it starts to smell.
Bags that are machine washable are the most convenient. Most manufacturers recommend, however, that the bags be air-dried instead of tossed in the dryer because they can shrink. Bags that are not machine washable can usually be spot cleaned with a little soap and water or a disinfecting wipe.
Most insulated grocery bags will need to be cleaned at least after every third or fourth use, so it’s worth choosing a bag that’s easy to clean and maintain.
While there are certainly some no-frills insulated grocery bags on the market, others have useful features that add to their functionality.
One thing you may not want to do without is a way to fasten the bags closed, so food doesn’t fall out while in transport. Zippered pockets and other segmented storage can help keep food organized when you’re on the road or making multiple deliveries. Adjustable straps are another great feature because they can make a bag easier to carry.
Another criterion to think about is portability. We like insulated grocery bags that are foldable or have a lay-flat design, so they’re ready when they’re needed but blend into the background (and don’t take up much space) until then.
Our Top Picks
The best insulated grocery bags will maintain the temperature of cold food and prevent it from spoiling. Top-quality grocery bags are durable, comfortable to carry, easy to clean, and can hold plenty of cargo.
The insulated grocery bags below are the best in their categories and include many of the features detailed in the paragraphs above. Read to learn more about why these products are the best insulated grocery bags on the market and find the right bag to suit your needs.
Creative Green Life’s roomy insulated cooler bag is made of durable nylon fabric, three layers of insulation, and a waterproof PEVA liner—a winning combination that can keep ice cold for up to 8 hours. At 22 inches long, 17 inches high, and 8 inches thick, it’s an extra large-capacity bag with a 10-gallon capacity.
There’s a lot to like about this insulated cooler, which looks more like a stylish weekend tote than a grocery-store workhorse. It has a heavy-duty zipper closure, outside pockets, and its straps adjust so it can be carried horizontally as well as vertically. Not only is this bag great for groceries or deliveries, but it also makes an excellent travel or picnic cooler. The Creative Green Life Jumbo Insulated Cooler Bag is affordably priced and comes in three colors: charcoal, gray, and green.
The VENO BAG 2 Pack Insulated Reusable Grocery Bag is a set of two non-woven, recyclable fabric bags constructed with thermal insulation and two reinforced, dual-tab zippered tops. These bags have strong handles and can hold 30 or more pounds, which is the equivalent of 40 soda cans.
The large size of these VENO BAG bags—15.8 inches wide, 13 inches high, and 8.7 inches deep—make them great not just for groceries, but also for picnics, tailgating, or camping. Their lay-flat design allows for easy storage in the car or home, and their flexible sides can easily accommodate odd-shaped items. This product’s main drawback is that it is not machine washable.
The SnapBasket by CleverMade is an insulated grocery bag that can hold up to 30 pounds of food and drinks. Its long, adjustable shoulder strap gives the user the option to carry it in their hands, or over a shoulder.
One of this bag’s advantages is that it has a metal frame to give it extra stability. Because it is structured like a basket, it’s less likely to fall over while in a moving car. Its top zips shut completely, and the bag folds flat for easy storage.
SnapBasket comes in a variety of color schemes. Its dimensions are 18.19 inches long, 12.13 inches wide, and 11.5 inches high.
At 23 inches long, 14 inches high, and 15 inches deep. Belleford’s oversized food delivery bag is one of the largest insulated grocery bags on the market. It’s constructed with full insulation that can keep frozen items cold and hot items warm, and has a waterproof lining that prevents leakage. A removable hard plate stabilizes the bottom of the bag so it can bear heavy dishes, and the bag’s padded shoulder strap makes it easy to carry heavy loads.
Other thoughtful features on Belleford’s bag include two exterior pockets to keep drinks, utensils, and other delivery accessories at the ready, and a commercial-grade zipper that keeps its contents from spilling. This is not an inexpensive bag, but it’s super roomy, durable, and looks professional.
Why carry a heavy bag full of cans or groceries when it can be rolled? The Smart Cart cooler from dbest products is a great alternative for those who can’t, or don’t want to, carry a bag. Its fully insulated, leakproof interior can hold up to 45 cans, and it also has multiple zippered and mesh exterior pockets for quick and easy access to essentials.
Smart Cart has a locking, telescoping handle that makes it a snap to maneuver, and its ball-bearing wheels glide easily over myriad surfaces. This cart cooler weighs less than 5 pounds, folds flat for easy storage, and comes in red, blue, and black.
FAQs About Your New Insulated Grocery Bag
Now that you’ve learned about the features of the best insulated grocery bag, it’s time to answer any remaining questions you might have about making a good selection. Below is valuable information about how to care for an insulated grocery bag and how to choose the best one for your family.
Q. Do insulated food bags need to be refrigerated?
If you’re not eating the food they contain for over two hours, then yes they need to be refrigerated.
Q. How long do insulated bags keep food hot or cold?
Insulated bags should keep food hot or cold for at least 2 to 3 hours.
Q. How do you clean an insulated grocery bag?
You can spot clean most insulated grocery bags unless they are labeled as machine washable.