I was en route to the checkout line when I saw it. It looked like a hip weekender bag, with a sleek gray exterior, saddle-colored “leather” carry handles, and a neon-green contrast zipper. I looked inside, and discovered it came with an eight-piece stackable-container set cradled within the bag’s insulating material, which keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. If there was one thing I didn’t need, it was a picnic tote, but then I fell in love.
Ever since, basically every date with my girlfriend has been some sort of picnic. We went to one of those paint-and-drink wine nights, and I packed a whole pig’s worth of cured meats within each container. Another day, on a hike through the Barton Creek Greenbelt, I slung the tote over my shoulder to transport the beer and sandwiches and grapes inside. I keep trying to schedule a beach weekend, mainly so I can bring along the picnic tote yet again.
I’d become resigned to coolers for toting food on picnics, those awful, bright, plastic things that never inspired me to julienne carrots or prep ants-on-a-log. And my Tupperware couldn’t interlock like an anal-retentive Megazord the way these stackers could. Now, I’m inspired. Granted, it’s maybe not the most collapsible bag for closet storage, but it’s not precious — it can brave the campsite — and yet it’s not solely utilitarian, either. There is something about the tote’s aesthetic, which has the antique quaintness of a doctor’s bag coupled with the bold visibility of cycling gear, that makes it the perfect carrier for our modern times.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultra-flattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.