Our longtime readers may know that we always get excited for the back to school season, mainly because of back to school shopping. Okay, also because we have an excuse to get the kids to bed a little earlier. But mainly it’s the shopping. There’s just something about our kids’ excitement for a new lunch box that makes us nearly as excited to start packing those lunches. Well, at least for the first week.

Related: Click here for our 2016 back to school guide: 34 of the coolest lunch boxes and bags

Check out some of our very favorites, for big kids, little kids, and even us adults.

All items have been chosen by our editorial team; there has been no compensation in exchange for any picks. CMP is an rstyle and Amazon affiliate.

 

– Don’t miss a big chance to enter our back to school giveaway!
We’re giving away TWO $250 Target Gift cards to one lucky CMP reader —
one for you and one for your teacher. Catch all the details below. – 

 

THE COOLEST LUNCH BOXES FOR LITTLE KIDS

We love all these cute designs for younger kids, and the smaller sizes are perfect for kids still struggling to finish that half-sandwich and bag of carrot sticks. But hey, you might have slightly bigger kids who might love these too.

 

 

Insulated cooler bag from So Young is a great investment and smart alternative to a traditional lunch bag

Insulated cooler bags from So Young

Since we first discovered So Young years ago, wow has the collection grown. Their awesome cooler bags come in two sizes complete with a carrying strap. The small one (shown here) is great for smaller lunches, but there’s a larger size too. They’re insulated, super sturdy, and the wipe-clean coated linen exterior keeps them looking spiffy. With so many designs from foxes to bikes to dinosaurs, good luck picking just one. ($29.99-$36.99, So Young)

 

Blue Scooter Soft Lunch Box by So Young | Durable, insulated, and a fantastic buy for back to school

Blue scooter soft side lunch box ($30.95, So Young)

If you prefer a more traditional lunch box shape, So Young also makes these cool soft-sided lunch boxes. They’re more spendy than a lot of bags but we’ve had ours going on three years now and it still looks terrific. Only it doesn’t have this super cool scooter design on it.

 

 

 

Personalized lunch boxes from Tiny Me with tons and tons of designs and options | coolest lunch boxes for back to school

Personalized lunch boxes from Tiny Me

Also cool for both younger and older kids, it’s amazing how many variables there are, including illustrations of your own child that are entirely customizable. Just note the pink is available now, red and blue bags will ship end of August. ($32, Tiny Me)

 

Photo-real jellybean lunch box by Aquarius | Coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Jelly beans metal lunchbox

We love the whole photo-realism trompe l’oeil trend, and this pile of multicolored is so perfect on a lunchbox. There’s a pb & jelly bean joke in there somewhere. ($12.99, Amazon with free Prime shipping)

Kawaii Ketchup and Mustard Yubo bento style lunch box | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Kawaii Ketchup and Mustard Yubo Lunch Box

We have always liked California-made Yubo lunch boxes for their smart bento construction, and the interchangeable faceplates that can be swapped out to create a new lunch box, instead of buying new ones every time your kid has a new obsession. But this design is so adorable, who could ever want to trade it in for another? ($42.95 for the complete set at Zazzle, designed by Cute as Kawaii; additional faceplates $12.95 )

 

 

Coolest lunch boxes for back to school: Polar Bear Lunch Bag by Skip Hop

Skip Hop Unicorn Lunch bag

 

Skip*Hop Polar Bear Lunchies toddler lunch pack and Unicorn lunch bag

Skip Hop just keeps rolling out cuter and cuter characters each year, and the menagerie has grown to 15. Widely imitated by other brands (don’t think we don’t see you out there), they really are well built and we highly recommend them for the price. We love the polar bear which comes with matching accessories; or visit Skip Hop for the stand-alone lunch bags. Is there anything better than a unicorn? Exactly.  ($20 for lunch pack at Target; $15 for lunch bag at Skip*Hop)

 

 

 

Minions soft pack lunch bag | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Minion insulated soft lunch pack

For lots of young kids, this is the year of the Minions, isn’t it? If your kiddo is Minion-crazy (regardless of what you thought of the movie, ahem) this cute lunch box may be just what you’re looking for. ($24.99, Amazon)

 

Justice League Superhero Lunch Bag at PBK | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Wonder Woman lunch bags at PBK can be personalized too | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Justice League superhero lunch bags

In keeping with the character theme, if your kiddo can’t choose between Batman, Superman and Aquaman, why choose at all? You get a few Justice League favorites all on one lunch bag — though we do admit we’re a little annoyed at Wonder Woman’s absence. Then again, she’s probably off fighting crime alone while the rest of the dudes are sitting down for lunch. But hey, there’s a Wonder Woman lunch bag too and she gets that one it all to herself. ($24.50, PBK plus $9 for optional personalization)

Hedgehog lunch sack by Sugar Booger | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Hedgehog lunch sack by Sugar Booger

Why no, we’re not over hedgehogs just yet. Thanks for asking. ($20.95, Amazon with free Prime shipping)

 

Color-a-kitty lunchbox by Alex | So cool for back to school

Color a Kitty Lunchbox

Maybe if you can’t find the perfect lunch box…let your kid make his or her own. If you have a coloring-crazy child like ours are, they’ll flip over this chance to make a purple cat backpack with orange eyes and a turquoise collar. Other options include a dog and a wacky looking pirate. ($20, Kohl’s)

 

THE COOLEST LUNCH BOXES FOR BIGGER KIDS

 

Cool lunchboxes: Stoh striped lunch bag by Milk Dot | back to school guide 2015

Stoh lunch boxes by Milk Dot: Sturdy, soft-side bags with insulated storage | back to school guide 2015

Milk Dot Stoh striped lunch bags

Ever since we discovered them several years ago, Milk Dot (also at top) remains among our top picks for well-built insulated lunch bags. While they have soft sides, enabling them to collapse nearly flat in a bag when they’re empty, they’re structured enough to stand right up on their own. They’re not for the hugest eaters in the world, but you can fit more in there than you’d expect. ($26.99, Milk Dot; also in solid colors)

 

Cat wearing sunglasses lunch bag | Coolest lunch bags and boxes for back to school
Neoprene cat wearing sunglasses lunch bag

A cat wearing giant sunglasses lunch bag. Because, a cat wearing giant sunglasses lunch bag. ($12.99 Amazon)

 

 

Burton insulated lunch boxes are extra-large, rugged, and come in cool designs  | Best lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Burton Insulated Lunch Box
For an impressively built lunch box that’s going to last through multiple grades, we really like the options from Burton (yes, that Burton) which are sturdy, sizeable, and have a clever insulated zipper upper compartment inside, to either separate out sandwiches or breakable bags of chips; or to pack in an extra ice pack or two. Very cool designs, too — we could see getting them for ourselves to bring to work. ($34.95, Burton)

 

Love emoji lunch bag! | back to school shopping guide 2015

Love emoji lunch bag

Is it for big kid? For little kids? For their parents who buy it pretending it’s for their kids then secretly bring it to work? We don’t care we we love it. ($34.50, Cafe Press)

 

Navy Dragon Lunch Bag and Bento Set from PBK  | Coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Mackenzie Navy Dragon all-in-one lunchbox and bento

For those of us with grazers for kids, you probably know the hassle of trying to scramble for clean containers in the morning, and match them with the lids. So we like this all-in-one bento set from PBK in a ton of different styles and colors — but the dragons are way cool. ($59.50, PBK, plus $9 for optional personalization)

 

Boombox Metal Lunch box | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Boom Box lunch box

Okay, so you might have to explain what that little thing is at the top, with the two circular spool-y loooking things. Still, we think this old school metal lunch box will make your kid the coolest kid in the lunchroom. ($11.74, Amazon)

Art of lunch neoprene artist series | Coolest lunch bags for back to school

Art of Lunch neoprene lunch bag artist series

This entire series is so beautiful, featuring work from global artists all printed onto a high-quality, stretchy neoprene lunch bag. But the brilliant colors of this one by Portugal’s Danny Ivan just makes us happy. ($26.95, Amazon)

 

Lunchbots insulated felt lunch bags made for bentos | coolest lunch boxes and bags for back to school

Insulated felt lunch bag for bentos

If you’re a Lunchbots bento fan like we are, you’ll appreciate their new felt lunch bags that are made to fit a stack of their own metal boxes perfectly. Plus, they’re great looking. ($21.99, Lunch Bots)

Uptown lunch tote for kids or adults | Coolest lunch boxes for back to school

Uptown Lunch tote

How sophisticated is this brand new lunch tote from Built that’s as cool for a kid as it is for an adult? Now sing it with us: Cause updown lunch gon’ give it to you… ($29.99, Built NY; subscribe for 15% off your first order)

 

EXTRA-COOL: WIN IT!

cool mom picks $500 back to school 2015 giveaway!

Just because we love you — and we love teachers, too — we’re giving away TWO $250 Target gift cards to one lucky CMP reader, one for you and one we’ll send right to your classroom. To enter, just leave a comment here by midnight ET, Monday Sept 7 and tell us your favorite pick on this back to school guide post and why We’ll draw one winner at random from all our posts. There are lots of chances to win!

FOR EXTRA ENTRIES:

1. Leave one comment on the other specially marked back to school guide posts with giveaway info – there will be 5 in all. (That’s, one comment on the post, but many posts to comment on.)

2. Follow @coolmompicks on Twitter and tweet a link to this post with the hashtag #CMPBTS and say something clever like, “I’m entering the #CMPBTS giveaway because I love free stuff + I love teachers.” (But hey, what you say is up to you.)

3. Follow @coolmompicks on Instagram and share your favorite photo from this post with the hashtag #CMPBTS. (Psst…give some credit to the brand, too. It’s a nice thing to do.)

4. Like us on Facebook and share a link to this post on your own Facebook page. Then leave the link to your Facebook update in the comments below.

So basically, you can do any, some, or all of these things on each of 5 Back to School gift guide posts, giving you oh…like a ton of entries.ails, void where prohibited, US only please, 18+. Good luck!

Back to School Guide 2015 posts:

12 awesome DIY back to school crafts your kids can actually do
The coolest lunch boxes and bags for kids of all ages
The coolest backpacks for preschool and little kids
The coolest backpacks for big kids
The coolest lunchbox accessories