Review: PlanetBox Rover

by Wendy on June 27, 2013

Review: PlanetBox Rover lunch box

Let’s talk about the PlanetBox Rover!

PlanetBox sent me this lunch box just under a year ago to try out and review. Normally, I like to review products within a few months of receiving them, but this one slipped away from me and I’m only now managing to write down some of my thoughts on this fabulous lunch box. But my irresponsibility is your gain because after using it for so long I’ve really had a chance to put it through it’s paces. After packing more than 75 lunches in this baby, I feel well qualified to evaluate the Rover’s strengths and weaknesses.

PlanetBox Rover

Let’s start with the basics. When I received my Rover it was the only product PlanetBox made. Now they have a larger box, the Launch, and a newly…er…launched…smaller box, the Shuttle. The Rover holds up to 4 1/2 cups of food in five compartments. It is made of high quality stainless steel. The main box is not air-tight or waterproof but it comes with two smaller containers that are. They work great for dips, applesauce, yogurt, etc. I’ve also had good luck covering sections of the box that contain juicier items like nectarines with a little Glad Press and Seal which works very well to contain drips when the box is being carried.

keep fruit juices in check

The Rover Complete sells for $59.95 and it comes with the following items:

  • the main lunch box
  • one small little dipper container
  • a large little dipper container
  • a set of magnets (19 themes to choose from)
  • a carrying bag (7 colors to choose from)

PlanetBox also sells this box without the bag or the smaller containers for a little less money but because it’s difficult to find a different brand of lunch bag this box will fit in I don’t recommend going that way.

PlanetBox Rover

What I Like:

Oh man! I love this lunch box. Where do I start?

Let’s begin with the looks: I love how it resembles an old school lunch tray! The stainless steel looks great and after a whole year of regular use it looks almost brand new. There are a few small scratches on it where the smaller containers have rubbed on the lid but they’re barely noticeable. And food looks great packed in it. The separate compartments help keep me on track to pack a balanced lunch — veggie in one, fruit in another, protein in the third one and a carb in the last one. Easy peasy! There’s room to do fun stuff, but you can keep your lunch simple and it will still look good.

3rd Grade Bento #645

It’s also sturdy. We’ve yet to put a dent in it and because it’s stainless steel it can go in the dishwasher on the bottom rack. I don’t know about you, but our top rack is always jam-packed, so this feature is wonderful. And unlike some other lunch boxes, this one doesn’t have a ton of pieces to wash and keep track of. I personally don’t find lots of pieces annoying, but I know many people do.

Overall, I like the design of the bag. There are two roomy outer pockets for napkins, water bottles or whatever and inside there is a mesh pocket to hold an ice pack and some straps to add flatware. (Neither of these are included.) The Rover fits into the bag perfectly, of course, but most of our other larger boxes fit in it too which adds a nice level of versitility.

PlanetBox in Bag

What I Don’t Like:

Unfortunately, you can’t talk about the Rover without talking about the price. At $59.95 for the set, it’s one of the highest priced lunch kits that I know of. It’s definitely an investment! Do I think it’s worth it? Yes, I do. I’ve already spoken about the quality of the box and based on what I’ve seen so far I can see our PlanetBox Rover lasting for many more years. It works well for my four-year-old’s lunches, but I also send it to school with my eight-year-old so I know it can grow with a child. And the cool appearance ensures that it won’t be rejected for being too baby-ish when my kids get a little older. Finally, when you consider that a bag is included with the set, the price starts being pretty similar to the end cost of buying another box and purchasing a bag separately.

Another thing to note is that the Little Dippers can be hard to open. Neither of my kids can open them consistently. My preschooler always has to ask his teachers to help him get at his hummus and I’ve sent yogurt in the larger Dipper for my older son a few times only to have it come back untouched because he couldn’t open the container.

Finally, there are the magnets that are used to decorate the outside of the box. I should note that both of my boys love them (we have the rainforest design) and they insist that we put them on every time we use the Rover. The magnets come in lots of cool/cute/fun/funky designs that I love and I understand that they are there to make a plain steel box more appealing to kids. But I have to admit that they drive me crazy. They are always getting misplaced. I sometimes forget they’re on the box and run them through the dishwasher accidentally which damages the pictures on them. And because they are large and thin they often fold onto themselves which has caused them to wrinkle.

The Bottom Line:

But here’s the bottom line. I love our PlanetBox Rover. My kids love our PlanetBox Rover. Both of my boys request that I pack a lunch in it at least once per week and I am happy to do it because I think it is fun to pack and it always ends up looking pretty. I have over 30 lunch boxes in my collection and I reach for the Rover week after week because it’s my favorite of all of them!

The PlanetBox Rover is available for purchase from the PlanetBox website and from Amazon.com.


Disclaimer: PlanetBox sent me a Rover lunch box to review. I was not otherwise compensated for writing this review. The giddy, loving feelings I have expressed here are an accurate representation of the emotions I have developed around this lunch box over the past year of use. Yeah — I recognize that’s a little weird.

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  • Venia Conte

    We love our Rover, too…so, I totally get the giddy, loving feelings. If this is wrong, I don’t wanna be right. ;) It’s been my go-to box for two years and you’d never know it wasn’t new. Definitely a case for “you get what you pay for”.

  • Amanda

    I love, love, love the Planetbox, and have recommended it to friends. The issue with the dippers being hard to open is a problem, but little hands just aren’t as strong or coordinated as ours. Adult helpers in the lunch room are always willing to help.

    My kids tell me they get TONS of compliments on their planetbox, and even tell people the URL when asked “where’d you get that?!” We’ve had ours for two years (everyday use) and have only had an issue with the bag getting too worn. I contacted PlanetBox, sent a picture of my problem, and they sent me a new bag right away. The actual Rover could last them a lifetime! It’s worth the high price tag!

  • Rachel Beard

    I never noticed the straps to hold the silverware before! I use that pouch for the ice packs, but now I will check to see if ours has utensil straps too!

    Also, our dishwasher is right next to the fridge, so when I wash the Planeboxes, I just pull the magnets off and throw them directly on to the fridge. When I unload, I put them right back on the Planetbox. It is a good system for us. :)

  • Rachel

    Does the Rover fit in the laptop lunchbox container? The measurements look pretty similar so I thought it might…

  • Pingback: [BLOCKED BY STBV] Lunch Box Comparison Chart: How 6 Popular Boxes Stack Up | Wendolonia

  • Shannon

    We have two Rovers and two Shuttles. We just bought the PlanetBoxes without case in the case of the Rovers (we bought bag with Shuttles, only because there was a sale). We LOVE our PlanetBoxes. I have two sons with autism and they had trouble opening all of the other containers I would send and they were hard to wash. The BIG draw to me was ONE piece and how easily it washes in the dishwasher time after time. I held off for a long time in ordering because I thought they looked huge online. Not at all. They are perfect and not heavy. My boys go to a school that has a refrigerator so we just send the Rovers in their backpack.

  • Julie Telfer

    Hiya, Sorry to jump in late in the game but I’m doing research for lunch boxes for my oldest who is starting Kinder soon and came across this post. Can you tell me, I know it says the dippers have seals on them but it also says that shutting the dippers in the lunchbox makes them seal well and stops leaks. Do they leak if they have yogurt or something in them and they aren’t in the main lunchbox? It’s just that the big dipper takes up so much space in the lunch box that I’d hoped to be able to send a few cut sandwiches or zucchini slice or something in the big section, fruit off in another bit etc and yogurt in the big dipper in one of the outside pockets on the lunch bag for her to eat for morning tea? It’s a long day at Kinder and I’m worried she won’t have enough food if I have to pack the big dipper in the lunchbox proper.

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Hi Julie –

    I’ve never had a problem with the dippers leaking in or out of the main lunch box. The only time we’ve ever had a mess is when one of the kids didn’t finish something I’d packed in the dipper and then they failed to put the lid on. Not really the dipper’s fault. :)

  • Rachel

    Thanks for the great review. Where did you get the Green Lego utensils?

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Hi Rachel — Those are from All Things for Sale:

    http://www.allthingsforsale.com/bento-accessory/2474-building-block-japanese-cutlery-spoon-and-fork-set-for-bento-green-4900155538921.html&aff=wendoloniablog

    My kids love them and you can add real Lego bricks onto them!

  • Shannon Jacovino

    Thank you for this review! I am already pretty much sold but I have 2 questions:
    1. Does the Rover feel heavy? I am always conscious of the weight of my daughter’s backpack.
    2. My daughter often has soup for lunch. Does the large dipper hold enough for a good portion of soup?
    Thank you!
    Shannon

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Hi Shannon — Yes, the Rover does feel heavy compared to other lunch boxes. Stainless is heavier that plastic by nature and the PB Rover is a fairly large lunch box so it’s pretty hefty. I think the large dipper would hold enough for a serving of soup, but I wouldn’t recommend packing it that way because it would probably leak. Hope this helps!

  • Holly

    I have two Rovers and a Launch. I think they updated the little dippers. We had trouble opening ours initially and I contacted them. They sent me a new set with no questions asked and even my 3 year old opens them consistently with no trouble. I do not have trouble remembering to remove magnets. They are pretty obvious to me…but I guess it must happen. I actually just gave all my plastic bentos away because after I purchased the Planetboxes, I never used the other boxes anymore and I don’t like stuff just hanging around. Love the Planetbox!

  • Holly

    Another trick I use is to pack the big dipper in the outer pocket with a separate small ice pack. I bought an ice blanket sort of thing and just cut off two of the rectangles and put it in the outer pocket. I have two kids and when I pack yogurt, I actually split one container between the two of them. One little dipper fits exactly half a container of most yogurts. It’s a good way to deal with portion control. My kids are big eaters, but never finish an entire yogurt container in one sitting. I ended up buying a second little dipper for each child too since I often pack carrot sticks and dip plus sliced apples and peanut butter (or yogurt or whatever), Sometimes I use the big dipper to pack some grapes and orange sections or something for snack time and I pack it in the pocket on the outside. I have found these to be extremely versatile actually. Another thing…they do sell ice packs on the website. I have had mine for a year and they look and function as good as new. Oh..one last thing….a trick I use to deal with juicy fruit…I cut my fruit first when I am packing a lunch and I set the pieces on a tea towel while I pack the rest of the lunch. By the time I pack the juicy fruit, the excess juice has drained away and I can pack the fruit without worrying about leakage….no need for the press and seal stuff then.

  • Davelle Jones

    I use a thermos to pack soup and it fits in the outside “drink” holder just fine. Then it stays warm since it is not in with an ice pack.

  • Jeff Rhine

    Thank you so much for your amazing review! Our family has been trying to decide between the various lunchbox choices but keep coming back to Planetbox.

    The only concern we have is the size. Our two daughters will be starting Elementary School this year and we are worried that the PlanetBox Rover will take up too much of the lunchroom table and possibly single them out (not in a good way.) Do you think this would be the case?

    Thanks again for your wonderful writing and reviews!

  • http://www.wendolonia.com/blog wcopley

    Hi Jeff — The PlanetBox Rover does have a large footprint, especially when the lid is open and laying flat on the table. My kids have never had a problem with this at their schools (preschool and elementary) but there are a few comments on this post that indicate it can be a problem where space is limited: http://wendolonia.com/blog/bento-box-basics/lunch-box-comparison-chart-how-6-popular-boxes-stack-up/ I asked my older son about this and he told me that he kind of props the lid up inside the lunch bag so his lunch doesn’t take up too much space on the table. I think it depends on your daughters’ specific situations.

    As for your girls being singled out, this is a possibility but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. My five year old’s friends don’t care about his lunch boxes at all. We have had problems with my older son being teased because of his lunches, but more often than not it’s focused on the food he’s bringing rather than the box itself. At our house junk food peer pressure is a far greater issue than lunch box peer pressure.

    Good luck with your decision!

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