Reviewed by David Savage
Spring seems to have sprung pretty early this year and we have had some glorious days, pretty early on in the year. Now we are getting a bit further in to the year and hopefully towards more sustained good weather, thoughts really start to turn to summer proper and all of the wonderful things that go with it. In our house, the favourites when it comes to asking the kids what they enjoy about the summer revolve around two themes; being outside and food! They love everything about being outside, and we have been super busy in our house trying out lots of outdoor games and activities, and who could fail but to love summer food, eating al-fresco, barbecues and, of course, picnics!
Such is our love in the UK of picnics, we even have a National Picnic Week – this year it falls 21st June to 30th June. Clearly, we do really love our picnics as I reckon it’s the only week of the year to last nine whole days!
We particularly enjoy picnics not just because we love sandwiches and eating outdoors, but because they are an occasion. Whether we have specifically gone out to the park to have a picnic, or if we are having a picnic because we have gone to a theme park or other exciting day out, they are always an event and looked forward to. The kids get involved from the outset, helping with the planning and the shopping lists so they can be sure of their favourite foods making its way into their lunchboxes. They do particularly like having their own lunchbox, with all of their goodies packed into one box, and that is where I sometimes start to find packing it up all a little stressful.
The bit that I seem to struggle with is the sandwiches, and more specifically making sure I don’t squash them whilst trying to cram all of the kids’ other requests into their boxes; no-one likes a squashed sandwich! With National Picnic Week coming up, Sistema asked if we would like to try out a small selection of products from their picnic range, and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to update our picnic box and hopefully solve our squashed sandwich issue. We had a look at the Sistema website to choose the products we wanted to try out and was surprised at just how big the range is – there really is something to suit any possible picnicking need! We chose the following items:
- Sistema Salad + Sandwich 1.63l sandwich box RRP: £7.99
- Sistema Hydrate Tritan Quick Flip 520ml drinks bottle RRP: £7.99
- Sistema Hydrate Doubled Walled Stainless Steel 500ml drinks bottle RRP: £17.99
The one that we were most excited about was the Salad + Sandwich box. Theses are a good-sized plastic lunchbox from Sistema’s To Go range. Lunch boxes with compartments aren’t anything new, and also aren’t always the most useful thing for us, but this one is different. Instead on the box being split side-by-side, this one has top and bottom compartments, with the top compartment being very slim and just about the right size for a sandwich and the lower compartment being a bigger bowl shape, ideal for either a large bowl of salad leaves or all of the kids’ other picnic bits like their biscuits, cakes, carrot sticks, fruit and crisps. The Salad + Sandwich is available in a wide range of colours and is priced at £7.99 We chose a pink one and a purple one as they are the girls’ favourite colours, but there are options to suit everyone.
We thought these were absolutely brilliant! Just as you would expect from Sistema, the plastic is great quality, quite thick yet flexible and not at all brittle. The lid is a clip-lock style with one of the clips on each of the four edges and a silicone type flexible seal to keep the contents fresh and properly contained. There is then a coloured plastic sandwich that sits on top of the larger salad box, and the whole thing is kept firmly together with the four clip locks on the lid. The whole thing is freezable and stackable, can be dishwashed on the top rack and microwaved without the lid. The sandwich compartment on the top is plenty big enough for a sandwich made with standard, sliced bread which is great because even my toaster can’t mange a slice of Warburtons and lots of smaller sandwich boxes can’t either. The bottom section is a great size, and we have used it with salads, as it was intended to be used by the adults as well as a more standard lunchbox for the kids’ various picnic treats.
The Salad + Sandwich is great, not only in theory but also in practice. Even with a generously dressed salad containing a decent amount of liquid and pasta and rice salads, there was no leakage whatsoever through to the sandwich layer which was really impressive – no soggy bread! It also stopped the sandwiches getting squashed when the kids used them – they were able to have their apples and cartons of fruit juice stored in there alongside their crisps and yoghurts, with no danger of the heavier items crushing the sandwiches or the yoghurts or juices drenching them if they burst. I also liked the fact that the sandwiches were separated, so we could tell the kids they could only open the rest of the box once they’d eaten enough of the sandwich, which sounds simple but it stopped them being tempted or distracted by the sweet treats underneath! This is a fabulous item and is ideal for all members of the family.
We were also sent two drinks bottles for the girls: the Sistema Tritan Quick Flip bottles, again in pink and purple. Sistema’s range of drinks bottles is vast and there are lots of different styles, sizes and designs but we thought the Quick Flip ones looked ideal for the kids to keep in their backpacks because they were relatively small at 520ml and we thought the pop up straw was ideal for younger children.
The bottles are again made from the top quality, BPA and Phthalate free plastic, meaning no nasty chemicals will leach into the kids’ drinks and therefore into their systems. The body of the bottle is crystal clear but coloured plastic which has the Sistema brand moulded into it as well as grips so help the kids keep tight hold. The lid is opaque and screws on and off easily and securely and features a contrasting click release button that when pressed, flips the lid up and allows the silicone drinking straw to pop up. The bottle claims to be leak-proof, impact-resistant and is dishwasher-safe.
The kids thought these were fabulous and loved using them; we found them to be a great way of getting the kids to up their liquid intake on hot days. The quality, as with all Sistema products, really does shine through; it really is leak-proof, even after a full day out their bags have stayed completely dry. When you close the flip lid, the straw is pinched, which adds an extra level to the leak-proofing and the release button holds the lid on tightly, ensuring no leakage at all.
The size of the bottle was just about the right size for little hands. The larger bottles are invariably a bit heavy for the girls to hold and carry around and quite often have a larger circumference, making it difficult for small hands to grip securely. This one was perfect and they could keep tight hold and it wasn’t too heavy for them to carry all day either.
Whilst it is dishwasher safe, I do prefer to wash things like this by hand, especially with the silicone straw and mechanical release button. They have stood up to being used and washed plenty and is so far scratch-free and look as good as the day we received them. As is always the case with kids, they have dropped them and knocked them off the table on more than one occasion and they do also seem to be living up to the ‘impact resistant’ claim too, so we are delighted with them.
The final item we chose is the Sistema Double Walled Stainless Steel 500ml drinks bottle. This was for my girlfriend, as apparently she needs her coffee fix even more than normal if we’re on a full day out with the kids! This is a little different to the majority of the Sistema stuff as it is not made from plastic, but is instead an old-fashioned milk bottle shaped stainless steel vessel with a stainless steel and rubber screw-on lid. We were sent the pink one but it is available in five different colours with varying levels of vividness!
This bottle is designed to keep your drinks at the temperature you want for much longer than a standard bottle – it will keep hot drinks hot for up to 6 hours and cold drinks cold for up to 12 hours, thanks to the double walled vacuum insulation and stainless steel construction. It is leak-proof, but this one is not suitable for use in the dishwasher, freezer or microwave.
My girlfriend loved it, especially the pink colour and the retro styling. Having said that, Sistema have not gone for style over substance here because as well as looking great, it also functions exactly as it should. We filled it with coffee in the morning and after a full morning of walking, not a drop was spilled! Three hours later at lunchtime, the coffee was still piping hot and it was still drinkably warm much later in the day too.
When I am drinking cold drinks, I do need them to be properly fridge-cold, so I tried it out with an orange juice from the fridge. Whilst I didn’t go out with it, mostly because of its pink colour, I was drinking from it at home throughout the day and it kept the drink perfectly cold and at the perfect drinking temperature.
Because of the shape, cleaning it out when it has had milk in requires a bottle brush, so you can be sure you have got it fully clean. We happened to have one in the house, but they can be bought in lots of places for under a pound so it’s well worth getting one.
We thought all three of the Sistema products were excellent and honestly do make packing for a picnic or the food for a day out much less stressful. They are a bit more expensive than some, but the quality is much better. The lids fit perfectly on all of the products, there are no leaks from anything and the plastic won’t shatter. We’re delighted with them and would absolutely recommend them for getting the family eating al-fresco this National Picnic Week or at any time this summer!
Sistema products featured can be purchased at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and Amazon. Availability may differ by store.