We believe in litterless lunches, here at our house. We use a variety of stainless steel and plastic food containers and reusable water bottles. I knitted the boys "apple cozies" to keep their apples from getting bruised in their bags. We typically don't send prepackaged foods like store-bought granola bars or gummy snacks -- sending homemade snacks isn't that much more difficult than driving to the store to buy a treat to tuck in, so we tend to avoid them. What we can't avoid, however, is the challenge in fitting these larger reusable containers into a lunch bag! As great as they are, they are rather chunky and take up a fair amount of space, so I posed my dilemma to Thermos and they stepped up to the challenge!
They sent us two lunch bags and two FUNtainers insulated beverage containers for my boys to put to the challenge. Boy#2 selected the Pop Top Lunch Kit (with bottle) as his favorite and Boy#1 went for the Urban Elements Upright Lunch Kit. Each boy picked one of the FUNtainers to complement their bags and we put them all to the test.
Both lunch bags are very roomy -- I would be hard-pressed to run out of space when packing their usual school day lunch and snacks. Both bags had ample space for all the metal containers I need to use, in addition to space for their drink bottles. We really liked how the Pop Top Lunch Kit has a separate compartment for the drink bottle -- handy, as drink bottles are great banana-squishers and Boy#2 loves his bananas! The sturdy handles and zippers on both bags seems to be holding up well to use.
My favorite of the two bags is the Urban Elements Upright Lunch Kit. It has lots of pockets for money, notes, condiments, etc., a place to clip keys on the front, and a lot of space inside. It's narrow and deep, as opposed to short and wide, and fits better into a backpack than the Pop Top bag. If Boy#1 prefers to carry it, it has a long adjustable strap so he can carry it by hand or wear it on his shoulder. It's fairly classic in style and should suit him fine for the next couple of years.
I do have reservations about cleaning the lunch bags. Anyone with kids knows how sticky lunch bags and boxes get. It is recommended to wash these out with a damp cloth, but I'm not sure how well that would clean along the seam edges inside the bag. I would like to see ThermosBrand come out with a line of machine-washable lunch bags for kids.
Both boys were thrilled with their FUNtainer insulated drink bottles -- and so was I! These containers keep drinks cold for up to 12 hours, so I can now send milk to school with them without worrying about spoilage. They are also leak-proof when closed and open with an easy one-touch button on the top of the container. Each bottle comes with a replacement straw. They are easy to wash and come in a variety of licensed and unlicensed designs suitable for kids or adults. There are a couple I am rather fond of myself! Replacement parts for these bottles can be ordered on the ThermosBrand website.
Overall, we are very happy with the performance of these products. They retail for a reasonable price, stand up to normal wear and tear, and ThermosBrand is a name I feel I can trust when it some to quality and customer service -- my mother still (still!) has my Grade 2 lunchbox with its original Thermos container at her house. Thermos is made to last.
The two boys and I give them 5.5 thumbs up!
*I was provided with these products at no expense in exchange for a product review on this website.