You might recall that we chose the the PackIt Mini Coolers as our go-to lunchbox for the 2012-2013 school year. I purchased five of the PackIt lunch bags in August 2012 along with some thermoses and miscellaneous lunch packing goodies. We started off with five Pack It insulated lunch bags – (Ethan has red with robots, Noah has navy with signs, Dylan had black, Lucas had the grey one, and Brian has the striped blue one to take a lunch and snacks to work.)
First let’s revisit how well those lunchboxes survived after a full school year…
I bought our first set of PackIt lunch coolers for the 2012/2013 school year. As of June 2013 we’re down to four from five – they grey one was stolen during second semester. Go figure. When Lucas sadly came home empty handed that day, Dylan gave him the black bag to carry lunch because Dylan wasn’t packing much of a lunch during second semester anyway. After realizing his lunch time was too early and he was never eating all of his lunch he switched to taking just a drink and either a really light lunch or a protein bar, so he opted to use a smaller bag.
In the first month we discovered two downsides to having a PackIt:
Downside #1: as seen on TV items attract middle school thieves.
Downside #2: Bulky to carry or stuff in your super-skinny-small locker, even when it’s empty.
Those are minor downsides. We were in a different school district at the time and theft was a huge problem there (jackets, bags, hats, someone even stole my son’s gym shoes.) I’m very glad to say that theft hasn’t been a problem in our current school district. Just another reason to be grateful we moved into our home when we did.
As for the bulk, yes it’s a little bulky when you fold it up, but still no bigger than a hard-shelled lunchbox would be. So it’s not super flat, but it’s not humongous. When the bag is full it can be kind of big, but I think that’s going to happen with any lunch carrier of any shape or size.
Perk #1: Can pack a yogurt and not worry about it getting warm. Huge perk, bonus points here.
Perk #2: No drippy mess from a separate ice pack and no worry about ice pack leakage. No soggy drippy mess in your backpack or locker, more bonus points.
- nontoxic and PVC-free materials
- patented eco-gel material is permanently built into the liner
- no need for additional ice or gel packs to keep things cold
- contents stay cold for up to 10 hours with unique all-around cooling
If you’re packing a hot lunch like soup, you can still use your PackIt and pack the thermos inside of it if you want to. I always get paranoid mixing hot and cold items after finding spoiled cheese sandwiches when I was a kid, so we just use different bags for hot lunches.
Noah’s and Brian’s bags have both faded quite a bit even though they don’t spend any time at all in the sunshine and they’ve never been through the washing machine. I’m not sure what causes them to fade, but they’re definitely not as bright today as they were when we first got them. I guess that just happens. Those are the two blue bags, so I’m not sure if the blue color has anything to do with the fading issue or not.
I’m going to use Ethan’s bag for the full one-year-of-use review because Ethan’s gets the most use and abuse by far. He packs lunch every day because of his allergies and the lack of drink options available at the middle school for a kid who can’t drink milk. He’s also the youngest of our four boys and pretty tough on things by nature. Plus he carries the bag by hand in the morning then stuffs it in his backpack folded up after lunch. It was used and banged around, a lot.
After a full school year Ethan’s velcro was pretty dead. There are two velcro spots on a PackIt, and for Ethan those are both pretty dead. As much as he likes his red and blue robot lunch bag, I know there’s no way it will survive another school year unless I replace the velcro… and while I’m pretty handy with a sewing machine, I’m not sure I can replace the velcro strips without ruining the bag entirely.
The velcro is the only thing that holds the bag closed so that you can carry it on these original model PackIts , so without the velcro the bag is pretty useless.
All that said, the inside of the bags seems to have held up pretty well. The inside wipes clean easily and has managed to stay this way even after spills, container leaks, smooshed carrots and half eaten fruit snacks have all been carried around in it. He even tossed it in the freezer at night with sticky spots in it a few times and I cleaned it out in the morning with no problem, just grabbed a wet wipe or a dish sponge and it cleaned right up. Though, I definitely do not recommend putting sticky bags in the freezer if you can avoid it.
Final verdict on Ethan’s bag: Not in great shape, but survived a full school year very well compared to any and all bags we used in the past. He can still use this bag on field trip days or when he’s packing snacks to take to his brother’s soccer games, but it’s not going to make it through another school year with that worn our velcro. Unless I can figure out a way to attach a zipper up there somehow.
Brian will continue to use his bag throughout the summer to take lunch and snacks to work.
Lucas has the black bag and can use it again if he wants to.
Noah’s bag held up pretty well, but his velcro is starting to wear down and I don’t think it has much carrying power left. It’s not tearing away like Ethan’s is yet, but it’s getting there. Still will be a great bag for carrying snacks and drinks to soccer and baseball or for summer days at grandma’s house.
Final verdict overall on the PackIt Lunchbag Review:
Good lunch bag, probably saved some money not having to replace lost ice packs, and this is the first year that everyone’s lunch bag lasted all year long. The only one that needed replacing was the stolen one. Usually by the middle of the school year someone’s bag has lost a handle or some part has broken, this year we made it all the way to the last week of school. That’s a huge deal! So even though the lunch bag was more expensive at the start, I didn’t have to buy a new bag halfway through the year, so it was worth every penny.
Update: Our PackIt Bags are Still Going Strong in 2015!
Ethan’s red robot bag was retired, but we still have the other three bags. We still use them for long car trips and for the times we don’t want to carry an actual cooler but need to pack snacks and drinks.
This coming school year Ethan starts high school. He’ll most likely alternate between packing a lunch and carrying a lunch, depending on what the menu looks like this year. Lucas and Noah usually just buy their lunch now, so they rarely need the lunch bags. I’m grateful that this school district has more variety and fresh foods available than our previous school did.
Brian still uses the blue striped PackIt every day during the week to take a lunch and it’s holding up wonderfully. The velcro is just now starting to wear down a bit on his bag. He’ll probably retire it and get a new bag soon ~ yes, it will be a new PackIt.
Since buying our original PackIts they’ve experimented with some adaptions, so now there are different sizes and new patterns available and some of them have zip closures instead of just velcro. Since the velcro was the only part that wore out on any of our bags, I like that the zipper is an option now. You can order from Amazon and there’s a big selection there, but sometimes you can find them in local stores. (I’ve seen them at BJ’s Wholesale here during back to school shopping times). If you’re in need of a new lunch bag to start the school year or for carrying a lunch to work, I definitely recommend giving them a try.