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8 best picnic baskets for luxurious alfresco lunching

House your sarnies and fizz in one of these practical wicker hampers

<p>For hungry families or a date for two, find your perfect wicker carrier in our list</p>

For hungry families or a date for two, find your perfect wicker carrier in our list

Spring is in the air, and we’re all hoping for many months of sunshine ahead to meet with friends and family.

While we (hopefully) won’t be restricted to only seeing them outdoors this year, nothing beats a picnic for turning a casual catch-up into a special occasion. It’s the perfect way to mark summer birthdays, while away a lazy weekend and cut the cost when travelling with a family to the beach or an outdoor event.

You could just sling everything in a carrier bag and go, but investing in an attractive picnic hamper makes even a few sarnies feel like a real event. A wicker basket can include all the essentials you need to enjoy a proper meal outdoors or simply serve as a dedicated container to prevent squashed quiche.

Some are more family-friendly and include plastic plates and glasses, while others are seriously luxurious hampers, too good to save for the occasional day out. All are guaranteed to make your picnic the envy of the park.

How we tested

We lugged our hampers on days out in the countryside, to the local park and even feasted alfresco in our own back garden to discover the most brilliant basket. We judged each one on its weight, contents and style, plus how much room we had inside for our food and an obligatory bottle of wine.

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We considered how easy it was to carry and keep clean, if it kept our food fresh, how family-friendly it was and whether it gave our picnic a little pizazz.

The best picnic baskets for 2022 are:

  • Best overall – Tower heritage 6-person wicker picnic hamper: £74.99, Towerhousewares.co.uk
  • Best for luxury picnics – Fortnum & Mason camellia picnic hamper for four: £650, Fortnumandmason.com
  • Best for families – VonShef 4-person navy wicker hamper: £64.99, VonHaus, Vonhaus.com
  • Best for couples – Charles Bentley 2-person wicker picnic basket: £56.99, Onbuy.com
  • Best for low-maintenance picnics – Brambly Cottage car wicker picnic basket with fitted cooler: £50.99, Wayfair.co.uk
  • Best traditional hamper – The Fife Arms ghillie’s hamper: £495, Thefifearms.com
  • Best to carry – Fortnum & Mason hamper tote with waterproof blanket: £145, Fortnumandmason.com
  • Best for a gift – Oh So Cherished personalised wicker hamper basket for filling: £42, Notonthehighstreet.com

Tower heritage 6-person wicker picnic hamper

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

Feeding a crowd? This surprisingly lightweight, smart brown, lined willow basket has everything you need to satisfy a group of six, more than any other basket we tested. Despite its impressive capacity, it’s not a drag to lug around. The leather handle is super sturdy, and the straps fasten tightly, so we didn’t need to worry about our sandwiches exploding everywhere at any second.

It fits an astonishing amount inside given its relatively compact size too. There are six cutlery settings and ceramic plates all buckled firmly to the basket’s lid, and it was a delight to have real plates rather than plastic ones to eat from. Six plastic wine glasses are all held fast with individual Velcro straps, and there’s an all-important bottle opener too. Unlike some other baskets, that still leaves plenty of room for a bottle of wine and a decent amount of food. Just be aware that there’s no cool bag inside, so if it’s a hot day, you might want to add your own. But with this basket, you’ll be sorted for picnics for years.

Fortnum & Mason camellia picnic hamper for four

Best: For luxury picnics

Rating: 8/10

Imagine the picnic of your wildest dreams, and it would probably involve this hamper. If money’s no object, it’s the ultimate basket to splash out on – and would make a dream wedding present if you’re feeling extra generous.

Fortnum’s has been making food-filled wicker baskets since the 1730s for genteel Londoners escaping the capital in summer. Though there’s no food in this one, you’ll feel just as refined gathering around this huge handwoven willow hamper emblazoned with its distinctive F&M logo.

Inside the insulated lining, there’s everything you need for picnic perfection for four, including bone china mugs and plates from the Camellia collection. There’s also real wine glasses, weighty stainless-steel cutlery, cotton napkins, salt and pepper grinders, a corkscrew, a freezable wine bottle holder, waste bag, flask and a lunch bag. All are far too nice to wait for the sun to come out – we’d happily use any of them in our kitchen every day.

Sadly, it is heavy to carry, and there’s not masses of room for food inside, so you’ll probably need a separate bag for your gourmet feast. But just think how gorgeous the photos of your picnic will look.

VonShef 4-person navy wicker hamper

Best: For families

Rating: 9/10

There’s no need to worry about forgetting a thing if you have this hamper ready to go. This compact and well thought out basket has everything a family of four could need to feast alfresco… except the food.

The tan wicker hamper is lined and has a strong PU leather handle and buckles for easy carrying. Inside are four sets of stainless-steel cutlery, plastic plates and wine glasses, all held securely with straps. But it’s the little extras that really make this hamper a great buy, including cute salt and pepper shakers, a set of cotton napkins and even a checked fleece blanket with waterproof backing so you can spread out your feast on damp grass. There’s not much room for food once the blanket’s inside, so we’d suggest carrying it separately to squeeze in as many snacks as possible.

Charles Bentley 2-person wicker picnic basket

Best: For couples

Rating: 8/10

Though picnics are the perfect way to impress a partner, the reality is often more squashed strawberries and wilting salads than the romantic dream we’re hoping for.

Go armed with this well-priced wicker basket, and you might be in with a chance of a happy ever after. At just 1.2kg, it’s light enough to carry to the beach or to that perfect sunset spot and has a lovely dual-lid, meaning it felt sturdier than almost all of the other baskets we tested. Inside, there’s a classic checked lining and a clever integrated cool bag that’s roomy enough to fit in all the food you’ll need – and avoid the dreaded soggy sandwiches. There’s also stainless-steel cutlery, ceramic plates, salt and pepper pots, a useful corkscrew, napkins and two proper wine glasses because nothing kills the mood quite like clinking plastic together for a toast.

Brambly Cottage car wicker picnic basket with fitted cooler

Best: For low-maintenance picnics

Rating: 7/10

Store this in the back of your car and you’ll always have somewhere to throw snacks before a long journey. With a zipped, basket-sized cool bag inside, there’s plenty of room for food, and it can be easily lifted out to carry to the final picnic spot for dining. We used it to hold shop-bought sandwiches on one journey, and they were still perfectly chilled an hour later when we stopped to eat them.

Measuring a compact 31cm x 40cm x 32 cm, there are no glasses or crockery inside, but that makes it ideal for a family who just wants to load up with food and eat with their fingers. The wicker basket itself is light and easy to carry and it sits securely on unsteady ground, even if it’s attacked from all sides by hungry children. With spring in sight, this basket is currently unavailable, but it’s due back in stock in early April.

The Fife Arms ghillie’s hamper

Best: Traditional hamper

Rating: 8/10

Sadly, it’s not always possible to pop to Scotland’s Cairngorm Mountains to spend a weekend being pampered at The Fife Arms, a five-star boutique hotel from acclaimed art gallery Hauser & Wirth.

However, this lavish hamper is the next best thing to feasting in the Scottish Highlands. It contains everything four people will need, and the beautiful quality basket is made of handwoven Somerset willow, featuring leather straps, a wool tweed lining and hemp rope handles. Inside, there’s a tweed pure wool picnic blanket, a Ghillie kettle in a canvas tote bag, a stainless-steel cutlery service and green enamelware plates and cups. We especially loved the set of cut-glass tumblers included instead of wine glasses so that you can warm up with a dram of Scotch whisky after a day in the fresh air.

Fortnum & Mason hamper tote with waterproof blanket

Best: To carry

Rating: 9/10

If you don’t mind doing without cups and plates but still want to seriously up your picnic game, this wicker tote is ingenious. It looks like a traditional basket on the outside with the all-important F&M initials, but the inside is entirely insulated so that the whole thing acts as a cool bag. It’s perfect for stashing (at least one) wine bottle and plenty of food, and we were more than happy to stick to snacks we could eat with our fingers, so we didn’t need to add crockery anyway.

It also comes with a handy waterproof picnic blanket made from recycled materials, perfect for when the ground’s damp. Best of all, the blanket doesn’t take up any room inside the bag – leaving more space for cake – as it sits on top and is secured with a canvas and leather strap that fastens with a brushed gold turn lock. Unless you really want cutlery and cups, this is the perfect compromise between an elegant hamper and a functional cool bag that we would use again and again.

Oh So Cherished personalised wicker hamper basket for filling

Best: For a gift

Rating: 7/10

Don’t get your hopes up: there’s absolutely nothing inside this wicker hamper, which comes in a choice of two sizes with dark brown leather straps and a handle. However, it’s a great idea if you’ve always fancied a hamper but don’t want to be restricted to using it on the occasional sunny day. This is perfect for filling with any food, bottles or crockery you need when dining alfresco, and it can be used for storage around the home the rest of the year.

It would also make a wonderful present because it can be stuffed with treats or picnic snacks for a ready-to-go gift. You can even have it engraved with up to three characters or initials on the outside for no extra cost, so you can be sure everyone keeps their hands off your prized picnic.

The verdict: Picnic baskets

The Tower heritage 6-person wicker picnic hamper is fantastically practical but also feels like a real treat to use. We loved that it packed in enough for six and that there was so much room to include food too. If you want even more space for snacks and bubbly, the Fortnum & Mason hamper tote is easier to carry than any traditional basket but still proves you take a good picnic seriously.

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For the latest discounts on picnic essentials and outdoor furniture, try the links below:

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