20 Picnic Essentials To Pack for Your Next Outdoor Hangout

Don't forget any of these items when you're heading out to get your picnic on.
Don't forget any of these items when you're heading out to get your picnic on. / da-kuk, E+ Collection, Getty Images
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Beyond a pristine picnicking spot—and someone to share it with—there’s not much needed to enjoy dining al fresco. But if you’re looking to have a perfectly prepared picnic without any soggy sandwiches or spoiled potato salad, a little more preparation won’t hurt. In honor of springtime, here are 20 things to always pack for a picnic.

1. CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30; $15

Best picnic essentials: CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30
CeraVe Hydrating Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30 / CeraVe / Amazon

Lunching outdoors is a great opportunity to enjoy warm breezes and sunny views, but all that outside time can catch up with your skin. Make your picnic one to remember for the fun, not the sunburns, by packing sunscreen. This one from CeraVe is expert-recommended, as it’s formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to reflect UVA/UVB rays and protect skin. It also has no trace amounts of oxybenzone, avobenzone, or benzene, which are ingredients that could cause irritation for those with sensitive complexions.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Sunflora Insulated Picnic Backpack; From $70

Best picnic essentials: Sunflora Insulated Picnic Backpack
Sunflora Insulated Picnic Backpack / Sunflora / Amazon

Properly storing food and drinks in a container of some kind is crucial for picnics. While there are plenty of options to choose from (including others that we’ll highlight below), this sporty choice from Sunflora is great for folks who prefer the flexibility of a backpack to a traditional basket or cooler. Spacious and durable, this 4.8-star-rated set is an overall bestseller on Amazon and comes in two sizes, plus six colorways.

Beyond boasting an insulated interior, it includes dishwasher-safe flatware, melamine plates, wine glasses, a cheese knife and wine opener, a salt and pepper shaker and even a bamboo cutting board, so you’ll essentially get everything you need to enjoy a meal outdoors.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Picnic Time Piccadilly Picnic Basket; From $110

Best picnic essentials: Picnic Time Piccadilly Picnic Basket
Picnic Time Piccadilly Picnic Basket / Picnic Time / Amazon

Prefer the classic look of a picnic basket? This wicker set for two will give you perfect throwback vibes. Available in three shades (including red, gray, and natural canvas), it features a double-lid design for easy access and comes with plenty of useful accessories so you’ll get more bang for your buck. Along with stainless steel utensils, this basket ships with a corkscrew, shatter-resistant wine glasses, and even two melamine plates tucked inside.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Inno Stage 40-Liter Large Insulated Cooler Tote with Portable Bamboo Snack Table; From $50

Best picnic essentials: INNO STAGE 40L Large Insulated Cooler Tote with Portable Bamboo Snack Table
Inno Stage 40L Large Insulated Cooler Tote with Portable Bamboo Snack Table / Inno Stage / Amazon

If backpacks and picnic baskets aren’t quite your style but you still need something reliable for transporting and storing your meals, consider this 40-liter tote from Inno Stage. It’s fully insulated and offers two wine bottle pockets on the sides. While it doesn’t come with many dining accessories, it does include a bamboo snack table, which is designed to fold down and fit right in the exterior front pocket for easy portability. You can also choose from two colorways, either blue or beige.

Buy it: Amazon

5. Mama Bear Baby Wipes; From $5

Best picnic essentials: Mama Bear Baby Wipes against white background.
Mama Bear Baby Wipes / Mama Bear Baby Wipes/Amazon

Even if you’re not toting kids to the park, baby wipes are a perfect picnic companion. While hand sanitizer also kills off bacteria, wet wipes can remove dirt and stains, cleaning up better before—and after—you chow down. These Mama Bear wipes are a great choice if you have sensitive skin. They’re hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and are mostly (99 percent to be exact) made of purified water.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent; $12

Best picnic essentials: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent against a white background.
Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent / Repel/Amazon

A day in the park can help you meet new pesky friends: bugs. Reduce the chances of insect bites by taking along and liberally applying bug spray. Repellents with DEET, lemon eucalyptus oil, and picaridin generally last longer than other sprays, and work best when applied after sunscreen. This bug spray from Repel will keep mosquitos away for up to six hours. If you find sprays too imprecise, you can also get repellent lotion.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Matador Pocket Blanket; $40

Best picnic essentials: Woman on Matador Pocket Blanket on beach,
Matador Pocket Blanket / Matador/Amazon

It’s easy to opt for picnic destinations that have chairs or tables provided, but on a beautiful day, seating might be limited. Don’t forget to bring along a blanket for both seating and spreading your lunch fare. Make sure you have enough room for everyone—according to members of the Portland Picnic Society, 9 square feet of blanket space per person leaves optimum room to stretch out after a big meal. For smaller picnics, we like Matador’s pocket blanket ($30), which is water resistant (no more wet butts!) and has pocket corners you can fill with rocks so it stays put on windy days.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags; From $8

Best picnic essentials: Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags, Pack of 4
Stasher Silicone Reusable Storage Bags, Pack of 4 / Stasher / Amazon

Looking for a good alternative to bulky containers that take up a lot of room in a cooler or basket? Try these reusable Stasher bags instead. Available in a wide range of colors and sizes (including multi-packs), these silicone bags are leak-proof and can help you reduce waste during your picnic.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Hydro Flask; From $32

Best picnic essentials: Woman holding a blue Hydro Flask water bottle, while sitting on rocks.
Hydro Flask / Hydro Flask/Amazon

Making a large pitcher of sweet tea (or sangria) seems like an easy way to share drinks, but bottled beverages are a better option. Reusable small bottled drinks eliminate the need for individual cups—one less thing to pack and wash later. If chilled, bottles act as extra ice packs to keep heat-sensitive foods cool, and unlike pitchers, are less likely to leak. Plus, resealable bottles can prevent spills for clumsy picnickers. Hydro Flasks are great for picnicking because they can keep drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot beverages warm for up to 12 hours. You can also choose from multiple sizes, from 24- to 40-ounce varieties.

Buy it: Amazon

10. HiCoup Bottle Opener; $10

Best picnic essentials: HiCoup Bottle Opener against white background.
HiCoup Bottle Opener / HiCoup/Amazon

Keep from resorting to desperate measures by remembering to pack a bottle opener for those bottles with pry-off lids. The same goes for another picnic essential: the corkscrew. This HiCoup bottle opener combines both needs into one small tool, and has a built-in foil cutter for easier access.

Buy it: Amazon

11. SubSafe Sub Sandwich Container; $25

Best picnic essentials: SubSafe Sub Sandwich Container
SubSafe Sub Sandwich Container / SubSafe / Amazon

Soggy sandwiches? Not a problem anymore with this Shark Tank-approved sandwich container, which is designed to keep subs fresh and dry. Ideal for 6- or 12-inch sandwiches, it comes in three shades and is a good alternative to plastic wrap or plastic bags. Best of all, it’ll keep your grub from getting crushed along the way.

Buy it: Amazon

12. Stojo Collapsible Travel Cup; From $15

Best picnic essentials: Stojo Collapsible Travel Cup
Stojo Collapsible Travel Cup / Stojo / Amazon

Water bottles aren’t the only reusable drinkware option that works for picnics. This collapsible travel cup fully fits the bill, and because you can compress it down after each use, it won’t take up too much extra space in your bag. Made from silicone and recyclable plastic, the Stojo also has a leak-resistant seal and is safe to use in the dishwasher once you come home from your outing. You can choose from 12-, 16-, and 24-ounce sizes, too.

Buy it: Amazon

13. JBL Flip 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $130

Best picnic essentials: JBL Flip 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker
JBL Flip 6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker / JBL / Amazon

The right soundtrack can take your picnic experience to the next level. Whether you’re planning a picnic party or an intimate outdoor meal for two, a portable Bluetooth speaker can help you set the right mood. The JBL Flip 6 is one of the most popular on the market right now, as it offers crisp audio playback, up to 12 hours of battery life, and IP67-rated dust and water resistance.

Buy it: Amazon

14. Protect Life 100-Piece First Aid Kit; $15

Best picnic essentials: Protect Life First Aid kit against white background.
Protect Life First Aid Kit / Protect Life/Amazon

Whether your picnic includes a hike in the woods or just a day at the local park, a first aid kit is a must. This basic first aid kit includes 100 necessary pieces of supply like bandages, gauze, and antiseptic towelettes to keep an eventful day from becoming uncomfortable.

Buy it: Amazon

15. Utopia Towels Kitchen Towels, Pack of 12; From $14

Best picnic essentials: Utopia Towels Kitchen Towels against white background.
Utopia Towels Kitchen Towels / Utopia/Amazon

While napkins or paper towels are easy to pack and dispose of, a sturdy kitchen towel offers more versatility. They can be used to cover foods from bugs, provide extra protection when wrapped around wine glasses or bottles, and can do a better job of sopping up spills than handfuls of paper napkins. If you’re feeling fancy, you can use this set of 12 cotton kitchen towels to wrap up picnic snacks, creating an easy-to-use lunch sack that folds away when you’re finished.

Buy it: Amazon

16. Anpro Food Covers, Pack of 5; From $19

Best picnic essentials: Anpro Food Covers, Pack of 5
Anpro Food Covers, Pack of 5 / Anpro / Amazon

The right bug spray might keep the mosquitos away from you during a picnic, but it won’t do much to keep those pesky insects from hovering around your grub. This five-pack of food covers could, however. Made with mesh netting, they work like pop-up tents over food and form a protective barrier to help keep bugs at bay. Each cover has a solid steel frame, which means everything should stay put (even if it gets a little windy outside).

Buy it: Amazon

17. Hefty Ultra Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags; From $8

Best picnic essentials: Hefty Ultra-Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags against white background.
Hefty Ultra-Strong Tall Kitchen Trash Bags / Hefty/Amazon

You don’t have to be a scout to follow the rule of leaving your picnic site “cleaner than you found it.” Tuck one of these Hefty trash bags into your basket so that every piece of trash makes it to a trash can or home with you. They can also double as rain ponchos in case of unexpected summer storms, or if sliced open, can lay under your blanket to keep wet grass from seeping through.

Buy it: Amazon

18. Healthy Packers Ice Packs, Set of 4; From $15

Best picnic essentials: Healthy Packers Ice Packs against a white background.
Healthy Packers Ice Packs / Healthy Packers/Amazon

Mayonnaise-based foods like potato salad can spoil and delicate greens can wilt in the summer heat. If chilled water bottles aren’t enough to keep your cooler or picnic basket cold, toss in a few of these slim ice packs instead.

Buy it: Amazon

19. Earth's Natural Alternatives Dinnerware, Set of 16; From $18

Best picnic essentials: Earth's Natural Alternatives Dinnerware against white background.
Earth's Natural Alternatives Dinnerware / Earths Natural Alternatives/Amazon

Many picnic foods, like sandwiches and fruit, don’t require any silverware, which is what makes them perfect for a day in the park. But common picnic salads, like potato or macaroni, can be difficult to serve and eat without a large spoon. If you don’t already have portable kitchen accessories to take with you on a picnic, consider packing extra utensils like these biodegradable ones made from corn starch.

Buy it: Amazon

20. Polaroid Originals Now I-Type Instant Camera; From $110

Best picnic essentials: Polaroid Originals Now I-Type Instant Camera against a white background.
Polaroid Originals Now I-Type Instant Camera / Polaroid/Amazon

A picnic adventure is a future memory for the scrapbook, so charge up your phone or bring your camera for an afternoon of photos. If you’re looking to get nostalgic, grab an instant camera like the Polaroid Now I-Type, which will allow you to print keepsakes on the fly. If you’re sticking with your phone, consider packing a portable charger too, to make sure you never run out of juice.

Buy it: Amazon

A version of this story ran in 2019; it has been updated for 2023.