Last Updated on June 18, 2021

If you are on the lookout for ice packs for lunch boxes that will provide maximum ice retention, it is safe to say you will need to invest in one or maybe more than one that is considered to be the best on the market. Now, that’s easier said than done, as there are many options to choose from, especially online.

Thus, to ensure you will be buying high-quality ice packs to keep your food fresh, you need a sound knowledge of ice packs. For instance, you need to know what ice packs work best for a particular type of cooler or lunch box.

If you are experienced in the ice pack world, this might not be new knowledge. As a newbie, you will need a little bit of know-how. To achieve optimum ice retention and freshness of food items, you need to know about your lunch box size, material built, and many more.

When you are well-informed, it becomes easy to pick one that will best meet your storage needs. Continue reading for our comprehensive buying guide that will upgrade your ice pack know-how and a review of the 7 best ice packs for lunch boxes Amazon has to offer in 2021.

Best Ice Packs for Lunch Boxes for 2021 Review: Key Features, Pros, and Cons

Choosing the best ice packs for lunch boxes is not rocket science. As with most things in general, you will get what you pay for. A poor-quality ice pack will only last for as long as a piece of bacon will in a dog kennel. A more expensive, high-quality ice pack will be worth its weight in gold. The table below briefly lists the best 7 ice packs for lunch boxes and gives a short overview of what makes these ice packs the best.

Best overall
Long Lasting Ice Pack for Coolers, Camping, Fishing and More, X-Large Reusable Ice Pack, Chillin' Brew Series by Arctic Ice
Premium pick
3 Pack Large 18°F Cooler Freeze Packs 10"x14" - No More Ice! Replaces 18 lbs. of Ice and is Reusable - Easy Fill - You Add Water and Save! – 12 lbs. Total When Filled (Zipper Seal)
Best value
Bentgo Ice Lunch Chillers - Ultra-Thin Ice Packs Perfect for Everyday Use in Lunch Bags, Lunch Boxes and Coolers - 4 Pack (Blue)
Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs, Set of 4, Clear, Package may vary
Name
Arctic Ice Long Lasting Ice Pack
Cooler Shock Store Cooler Freeze Packs
Bentgo Store Ice Lunch Chillers
Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs
Dimensions
10.93 x 1.85 x 8.66 inches
10 x 14 x 1.5 inches
6.7 x 4.5 x 2.4 inches
4.75 x 4.75 x 0.25 inches
Weight
4.8 Pounds
0.2 Kilograms
1.7 Pounds
1 pounds
Material
Aluminum
Aluminum and polyethylene
High-Density Polyethylene
BPA-Free plastic ice packs
Best overall
Long Lasting Ice Pack for Coolers, Camping, Fishing and More, X-Large Reusable Ice Pack, Chillin' Brew Series by Arctic Ice
Name
Arctic Ice Long Lasting Ice Pack
Dimensions
10.93 x 1.85 x 8.66 inches
Weight
4.8 Pounds
Material
Aluminum
Pricing
Premium pick
3 Pack Large 18°F Cooler Freeze Packs 10"x14" - No More Ice! Replaces 18 lbs. of Ice and is Reusable - Easy Fill - You Add Water and Save! – 12 lbs. Total When Filled (Zipper Seal)
Name
Cooler Shock Store Cooler Freeze Packs
Dimensions
10 x 14 x 1.5 inches
Weight
0.2 Kilograms
Material
Aluminum and polyethylene
Pricing
Best value
Bentgo Ice Lunch Chillers - Ultra-Thin Ice Packs Perfect for Everyday Use in Lunch Bags, Lunch Boxes and Coolers - 4 Pack (Blue)
Name
Bentgo Store Ice Lunch Chillers
Dimensions
6.7 x 4.5 x 2.4 inches
Weight
1.7 Pounds
Material
High-Density Polyethylene
Pricing
Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs, Set of 4, Clear, Package may vary
Name
Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs
Dimensions
4.75 x 4.75 x 0.25 inches
Weight
1 pounds
Material
BPA-Free plastic ice packs
Pricing
FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets, 88 Cube refreezable Flexible Chemical-Free, 3 Pack
Fit + Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Ice Packs, Penguin Shaped, Long Lasting Ice Packs for Lunch Bags, Picnic Baskets, Coolers, and More, Set of 4, Multicolored
ThermaFreeze Made in USA Reusable Ice Pack Sheets for Coolers, 10x15, 4x6 Cells - Long Lasting Ice Packs for Coolers, Reusable Ice Sheets, 5 Black
Name
FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets
Fit + Fresh Penguin Shaped Slim Ice Packs
ThermaFreeze Reusable Ice Pack
Dimensions
15.5 x 19.25 x 1 inches
4.75 x 2 x 3.15 inches
10x15” 4x6 Cells
Weight
2.5 Pounds
14.4 ounces
0.16 Kilograms
Material
Industrial strength food grade plastics
BPA-Free plastic
Non-toxic food grade ice mats
FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets, 88 Cube refreezable Flexible Chemical-Free, 3 Pack
Name
FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets
Dimensions
15.5 x 19.25 x 1 inches
Weight
2.5 Pounds
Material
Industrial strength food grade plastics
Pricing
Fit + Fresh Cool Coolers Slim Ice Packs, Penguin Shaped, Long Lasting Ice Packs for Lunch Bags, Picnic Baskets, Coolers, and More, Set of 4, Multicolored
Name
Fit + Fresh Penguin Shaped Slim Ice Packs
Dimensions
4.75 x 2 x 3.15 inches
Weight
14.4 ounces
Material
BPA-Free plastic
Pricing
ThermaFreeze Made in USA Reusable Ice Pack Sheets for Coolers, 10x15, 4x6 Cells - Long Lasting Ice Packs for Coolers, Reusable Ice Sheets, 5 Black
Name
ThermaFreeze Reusable Ice Pack
Dimensions
10x15” 4x6 Cells
Weight
0.16 Kilograms
Material
Non-toxic food grade ice mats
Pricing

1. Arctic Ice Long Lasting Ice Pack

BEST OVERALL

This ice pack is designed for users who will be storing food items in a lunch box for a very long time. It is also an excellent ice pack for beer fests, traveling, tailgating, and fishing.

This ice pack is produced in the United States and has been tested reusable about 100,000 times. It comes in a durable UV-stabilized housing and an expandable surface area that allows for exceptional cooling and storage. It is one of the best reusable ice packs for lunch boxes on the market today.

One unique feature we love about this lunch ice pack is the zero-toxic PCM gel designed to keep your cooler temperature extra low at about 29°F for 12 hours. We also find the leak-proof welded cap exceptional. As it ensures you won’t be dealing with mushy ice when it completely defrosts. As this ice is reusable, it simply means many years of cool storage. Plus, there is no need to carry heavy ice packs around in your lunch box – it is lightweight.

This pack will easily fit inside a lunch box with its compact size of 11 inches. It comes in small, medium, large, extra-large, and super extra-large size ice packs.

Pros:

  • This ice pack is non-toxic and safe for storing food items.
  • It comes in a rugged UV stabilized color container.
  • It is specially designed to keep food items cold for 10-12 hours.

Cons:

  • It is expensive.

2. Cooler Shock Store Cooler Freeze Packs

PREMIUM PICK

Depending on how long I plan to stay out and what size of lunch box I will take. If it is a long day at the beach, I will take a small size. For a weekend getaway with family or friends, I will go with the larger lunch box. Cooler Shock ice packs come in different sizes, making them ideal for whatever size of lunch box I settle for.

Apart from the availability in different sizes, this ice pack also comes in two different styles: one with a screw cap option and another with zip closure. Both deliver top-notch performance all day long. Simply add the instructed amount of water into any of your choices to form a gel, remove any air in the pack, seal, and freeze. Be aware, we found the process of eliminating the air before sealing a little tricky.

This lunch ice pack is made from three layers of aluminum – an element renowned for its ability to transfer heat; and 8 millimeters, or 0.32 inches thick nylon. These materials are exceptionally durable and will last hundreds of freezing and thawing without breaking a sweat. They are also flexible; thus, it is easy to place them between food items in your lunch box.

Pros:

  • This pack is easy to fill and freeze for reuse.
  • It can last for over 300 freeze/thaw cycles.
  • It is non-toxic.

Cons:

  • It is difficult to eliminate all the air in the pack before sealing and refreezing.

3. Bentgo Store Ice Lunch Chillers

BEST VALUE

Keep your drinks and food items cool and fresh for long hours with these pocket-friendly, colorful, and ultra-thin Ice Chillers. Instead of messy conventional ice packs, the Bentgo Store Ice Chillers are perfect for keeping yogurt, drinks, fruit, and meals chilled for 5 hours or more.

This lunch ice pack is designed for use in a Bentgo bag. They are hard, lightweight, and will fit seamlessly into a small lunch box or cooler.

The Bentgo Store Ice Chillers contain a quick freezing, non-toxic gel; thus, there is no need to fret about poisonous leaks in your food. The material built is BPA-free; thus, the pack is easy to hand-clean and is reusable. In fact, unlike most lunch ice packs, this can be hand-washed, dried, and returned to the freezer.

It is perfect for kids, teens, and adults and comes in attractive purple, grey, green, and blue colors. Bentgo Store Ice Lunch Chillers are covered by a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Pros:

  • It is available at a pocket-friendly price.
  • The ice pack is suitable for small lunch boxes.
  • It is available in four fun colors and has a one-year manufacturer’s guarantee.

Cons:

  • This lunch ice pack is not suitable for use in a hot environment.

4. Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs – Best for small lunch boxes

 

If you have small lunch boxes or small coolers and wonder if you ever find an ice pack specifically designed for small spaces, you are in luck. The Fit & Fresh Reusable Ice Packs come in a perfect slim design that allows small lunch boxes to stay cool and fresh for hours.

This lunch ice pack comes in a pack of four, with a uniform measurement of 4.75 by 4.75 by 0.25 inches—the perfect sizing for small cool bags and lunch boxes.

We were able to use these small ice packs in a large lunch box by stacking them together. It kept our foods cool for at least four hours before starting to thaw.

The casing that houses the cooling gel is strong and durable. You can freeze this pack before bed every night and have them in the family’s packed lunch boxes the next day. The Fit & Fresh Reusable Ice Packs are pretty much bulletproof. This product is BPA-free, non-toxic, and safe to use right next to your food.

Pros:

  • This ice pack can be used alone or stacked for more cooling power.
  • They are small and lightweight, perfect for small-sized lunch boxes.
  • It is made from a non-toxic and durable external casing.

Cons:

  • Individually, this ice pack will thaw within two hours.

5. FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets – Best for delicate food items

 

Sale
FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets, 88 Cube refreezable Flexible Chemical-Free, 3 Pack

  • Chemical-free
  • Item Weight: 2.5 Pounds
  • 100 percent water-filled ice sheets

This is a toxin-free, economical and convenient alternative for sodden bags of ice. It is an ice sheet that contains 88 cubes designed to be filled with water 100%. Therefore, this ice pack is safe for use with consumables.

There are many uses for this ice pack, but it is targeted at keeping delicate food such as fruit super cool for hours. You can even cut out some ice to fit into a smaller lunch box, small cooler, or insulated food cooler.

We find the FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets extremely lightweight and easy to mold around a bottle. Are you hosting a get-together? This ice pack can be placed under a food tray or desert to keep delicacies fresh. This ice sheet can even be placed on your leg or back for pain relief. It comes in 3, 6, and 12-packs and is reusable.

Pros:

  • This ice pack will keep your food cold for up to 12 hours.
  • It is flexible and will fit a lunch box or cooler.
  • It is suitable for soothing lower back and leg pain.

Cons:

  • It comes in a plastic casing that can break.

6. Fit + Fresh kid Penguin Shaped Slim Ice Packs – Best for kids

 

This Penguin-shaped slim ice pack is an excellent option that will keep your kid’s lunch chilled. It is food-safe, freezer safe, BPA free, and non-toxic for food storage.

Simply place a pack or two in your kid’s lunch box. The Penguin will keep the food item fresh for 5 hours. The bags of ice are reusable, easy to maintain, and lightweight. To clean this product, simply hand-wash, and they will become new.

It is one of the best ice packs for children’s lunch boxes in 2021; your kid will love these packs. It comes in fun colors and a plethora of shapes, such as penguins, owls, flowers, and aquatic creatures. With a space-saving 4.75 inches design, you will have plenty of space left to store food items.

Pros:

  • These ice packs last up to four hours.
  • It is reusable and easy to clean.
  • It is a non-toxic, freezer-safe, food-safe freezing gel.

Cons:

  • This ice pack needs to be insulated for cooling effectiveness.

7. ThermaFreeze Reusable Ice Pack — Best multi-use

 

This is a lightweight cooling pack for a lunch bag, cooler bag, or get-together. Made up of 3-ply solid ice sheets and comes in a uniform 2.5-inch square, this ice pack is a top performer and contains zero toxic elements. These food-safe beads are designed to absorb 25X their weight when inserted in water.

We find this lunch ice pack easy to use, but it needs to absorb water and be frozen before use. We soaked the pack in warm water, air dry and froze, and got up to 7 hours of cooling time for our food items.

Ultra-flexible and incredibly versatile when frozen, we were able to arrange this ice pack in many ways. Cut or fold the ice to fit a small lunch box. Wrap an ice sheet around containers or soda bottles. Whatever shape or form we ask of it, it delivers. You can even use this ice pack as a pain reliever. It is available in blue, black or white color and comes in different sizes.

Pros:

  • It is expandable and can absorb 25 times its weight in water.
  • This ice pack can fit into any lunch box.
  • It is suitable for use for all lunch box sizes.
  • It comes in three colors: blue, black, or white color.

Cons:

  • You need to dry this ice pack before freezing for optimal performance.

best ice packs for lunch boxes

Best Ice Packs for Lunch Boxes:  Buying Guide

The following are some considerations you need to think about when it’s time to decide on the best ice packs for lunch boxes that will best meet your needs.

Quantity

It is common to use one or more ice packs in a lunchbox at a time; this is why they often come in sets of twos to ten. Having smaller-sized individual ice bags makes it easy to pack more than one in your lunchbox. This helps maintain the coolness and freshness of your food. Also, it is advisable to buy two or more to enable optimum connect-ability and stacking options of the ice packs.

Size

The best ice packs for lunch boxes will come in different sizes and shapes, but most will perfectly fit a 12-inches lunch box. There are small-size packs of five inches long and larger ice packs that could completely occupy all the space in your lunch box. Go for slimline ice packs like the Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs to save space; they are more popular among users.

Type of packs

There are two types of lunch ice packs: hard and soft. Hard packs are mostly plastic built and are heavy. There are slim hard packs that will keep your cooler lightweight. They are mainly used for kid’s lunch boxes and often have designs and fun characters. A good example is the Fit + Fresh kid Penguin Shaped Slim Ice Packs, our best for kids ice pack.

Soft packs are soft and flexible. They are ideal if you are storing them in different lunch boxes. They are lightweight and are suitable for people who will often travel with food.

Materials

Ice packs usually come in outer casing or containers that are designed for reuse. These casings are generally food-safe materials, such as thick vinyl and hard plastics that won’t degrade the quality of your consumables. They are tough materials that will require maintenance for long-lasting use.

The internal gels or solutions in Ice packs provide insulation and coldness. Many come with freezer-safe liquid or gel; some are non-toxic and suitable for children’s lunch boxes. Some ice packs require filling up with water and frozen, like the ThermaFreeze Reusable Ice Pack and  FlexiFreeze Ice Sheets. They are made with reinforced walls that can accommodate the expansion of water into ice.

Safety

Take note of these terms and their meaning when searching for the best ice packs for lunch boxes:

  1. Non-toxic: Ice packs labeled non-toxic can mean BPA-free, or that the material built reduces the possibility of contamination.
  2. Bisphenol-A-free (BPA-free): BPA is a toxic chemical used in plastic production. It is a known fact that BPA may transfer from plastic materials to food. Therefore, consumer protection agencies clamor for Bisphenol-A-free products, especially in products for storing food. High-quality ice packs should be BPA-free.
  3. Puncture resistant: Ice packs will move around a lot in your food container; as such, they come in puncture-free designs. A good quality ice pack should come with reinforced walls to prevent damage to the lunch box walls and cut down leakages. It might also have internal air pockets that create space during the freezing of water to ice, so they do not burst from the pressure.

Theme

One important use of a lunch ice pack is to keep children’s lunch boxes cold. Thus, there are many fun-themed ice packs that kids will love: from fun colors, designs, shapes to animated characters, and many more, as seen in the Fit + Fresh kid Penguin Shaped Slim Ice Packs and the Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers Reusable Ice Packs. In fact, you will find ice packs with unusual fun shapes and spaces. One way to utilize this space is to fill them with additional packs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I make a homemade ice pack for my lunch box?

Simply mix three parts of water with one part rubbing alcohol in a plastic zipper bag. Get rid of air as much as possible and seal the bag. Place the mixture on a flat surface in your freezer for at least five hours.

Which is better, a gel or an ice pack?

Gel packs are poly bags containing water or polymer gel. As a result, gel packs freeze and thaw like water. The length they stay frozen will depend on the quality of the gel packs you buy. While they will keep your food item chilled, they will defrost faster than dry ice.

Is there any alternative for an ice pack for lunch?

Yes!

If your kid loves yogurts, place them in the freezer, so they can serve as a snack as well as ice to keep her food cool. You can also freeze cherries and grapes to keep the lunch box cool and serve as an icy treat.

Conclusion

The bottom line: is an ice pack for your lunch box a worthy investment?

If you have read this review thus far, you will know the answer to that question is a resounding yes!

Even if you intend to use it along with dry ice or regular ice, you will notice a significant improvement in your lunch box ice retention capabilities. This will definitely save you time, money, and no more soggy sandwiches in the long run.

We also recommend that you go for a dedicated branded ice pack like the products on this list if they are in stock. They are usually top performers and much better than third-party ice packs.

Remember, as, with all products, you will get what you pay for. Go for the best ice packs for lunch boxes. This will keep your food cool for long hours, devoid of contamination, and will save you money in the long run. They are worth their weight in gold.