The Best Blankets for Your Outdoor Adventures

Published on 03/29/2023 · 11 min readA blanket is a versatile and must-have piece of gear in your camping equipment! Check out the different types and uses of outdoor blankets in this guide!
Hunter Reed, Camping Expert
By Camping Expert Hunter Reed

Photo by Sam Werstak, courtesy of Hunter Reed

tl;dr Outdoor adventure blankets are a great addition to any gear collection. Compared to regular blankets, outdoor adventure blankets offer increased durability, added water resistance, easy-to-use shoulder straps for carrying, and so much more. The main types of outdoor adventure blankets are camping blankets, picnic blankets, and emergency blankets. Each has a very different intended use, and can benefit a specific type of camper or hiker.

I have been camping and hiking since I was a child, and much to my dismay, I have always run extremely cold. No matter what kind of outdoor adventure I’m on, I always make sure to pack extra layers and blankets to avoid a night of chattering teeth and freezing hands. At this point, with quite the collection of outdoor blankets, I would consider myself an expert in that area! In this guide, I’ll share all the need-to-knows when shopping for an outdoor blanket for your own adventures!

What Is an Outdoor Adventure Blanket?

Though camp blankets are great, getting a German Shepard to sit on your lap offers some great bonus warmth! Photo courtesy of Hunter Reed

Outdoor adventure blankets are usually made from durable, water-resistant materials that can withstand rough terrain, spills, and inclement weather conditions, and are perfect for camping, hiking, picnicking, or even backyard barbecues. They are typically lightweight and compact— making them easy to carry in a backpack or other gear bag—and many come with additional features, including: built-in straps or carrying handles for easy transport, pockets for storing small items, and even insulation for added warmth on cold nights.

If you’re looking for a comfortable and convenient surface to sit, rest, or sleep on underneath the stars, an outdoor adventure blanket may be a great investment.

What to Consider When Buying an Outdoor Adventure Blanket

What Type of Outdoor Activities Will I Be Using My Blanket For?

If you plan on camping, you'll likely want a blanket that is durable, water-resistant, and can accommodate multiple people. On the other hand, if you're primarily using the blanket for picnicking, a smaller size and lighter weight may be more important.

What Size and Weight Do I Need?

If you're backpacking, you'll probably want a lightweight and compact blanket that can easily fit in your pack. If you're car camping, however, you may opt for a larger and heavier blanket that provides more comfort and insulation.

What Materials and Features Are Important?

Some important features to consider include insulation for added warmth, built-in straps or handles for easy transport, and pockets for storing small items. Materials such as polyester, nylon, or fleece offer durability and water-resistance, while natural materials like cotton or wool provide added comfort.

How Much Should an Outdoor Adventure Blanket Cost?

A basic picnic blanket may cost around $20–30, while a high-quality camping blanket can range from $50–100, or more. Generally, higher-priced blankets offer better durability, water-resistance, and insulation, but it's important to weigh these features against your specific needs and budget to determine the best value for your budget.

What Are the Different Types of Outdoor Adventure Blankets?

Photo by Hunter Reed

Picnic Blankets

Featuring a soft, comfortable surface for sitting or lying down, picnic blankets are lightweight and compact, making them easy to carry in a backpack or tote bag. Oftentimes, one side of a picnic blanket will be waterproof or water resistant, which can keep you dry if the ground is slightly wet. Benefits:

  • Soft and comfortable surface for outdoor picnics
  • Lightweight and compact for easy transport
  • Often come with built-in carrying straps or handles

Be Aware

  • May not be suitable for more rugged outdoor activities
  • Limited insulation for colder temperatures

Camping Blankets

More durable and rugged than picnic blankets, camping blankets are often made from water-resistant or waterproof materials and can provide added insulation for colder temperatures. There are several different types of camping blankets, from wool to insulated to quilted to fleece—which makes it easy to find something that suits your needs. Benefits:

  • Durable and rugged for outdoor camping
  • Tons of options when it comes to material type

Be Aware:

  • Can be pricey
  • Some can be quite heavy and bulky

Emergency Blankets

Also known as a space blanket, these blankets are made of thin, lightweight, and reflective material. They are designed to reflect body heat back to the person using them and are often used in emergency situations. These are probably not the first image that comes to mind when you think of a blanket, but they are an important staple in any first-aid or emergency kit. Aside from keeping you warm in extenuating circumstances, emergency blankets can be very helpful for a variety of other situations, including as a makeshift shelter, ground cover, or even signaling device. Benefits:

  • Extremely lightweight and foldable, making them easy to carry in a backpack, car, or emergency kit
  • Versatile and can be used for many purposes in an emergency situation
  • Great piece of survival gear

Be Aware:

  • Not very durable, meant to be used once or twice and not long term
  • Noisy and crinkly, and are not comfortable for long-term use

Features to Look Out for When Buying an Outdoor Adventure Blanket

When looking for a blanket to bring along on your camping and hiking trips, there are several features to consider.

Size

If you plan to use the blanket for solo trips, a smaller size should be sufficient. However, if you plan to use it for group activities, a larger size may be necessary.

Material/Insulation

Below are some of the main materials camping blankets are made from, and a few of their benefits and downfalls.

MaterialGood forDownfalls
Fleece- Lightweight, warm, and soft- Doesn't provide insulation when wet
- Easy to clean- Not very water resistant
- Great for cool-weather camping or to use on top of a sleeping bag- Bulky to pack
Down-Insulated- Lightweight, great warmth-to-weight ratio- Doesn't provide insulation when wet
- Very compressible, easy to pack and transport- Expensive compared to other options
- More complicated to clean
Synthetic-Insulated- Water resistant, and maintains insulation capabilities when wet- Not as compressible as down
- More affordable compared to down- Not as breathable as down
Wool- Very warm- Not quick to dry
- Naturally antimicrobial, so great option on extended trips where it's hard to wash your gear regularly- Bulky
- Very durable- Difficult to wash when it does need to be washed
- Heavy, so not ideal for backpacking

Portability

Since you'll likely be carrying your blanket with you on outdoor adventures, look for one that's lightweight and compact—and ideally comes with a carrying bag or strap. If you are opting for an insulated blanket, make sure it has a stuff sack so it can pack down small and easily fit in a backpack.

Waterproofing

If you plan to use your outdoor adventure blanket near water, such as at the beach or on a boat, choose one that's waterproof or offers some water resistance.

Durability

Outdoor adventure blankets are designed to withstand the elements. This is especially important if you plan to use the blanket frequently or in rugged environments. Outdoor adventure blankets are constantly covered in dirt, sand, and smell like campfire, so I tend to wash mine a ton. Look for a blanket that can withstand both the harsh elements, as well as quite a few spins in the washing machine without falling apart!

Design

Some outdoor adventure blankets come in fun and unique patterns that can add a bit of personality to your outdoor gear. Additionally, some blankets come with features such as pockets or stakes to help them stay in place on uneven terrain.

How to Choose the Right Blanket for You

Drying my down blanket in the sun after the rainiest night of camping I have ever had! Photo by Hunter Reed

Below are three examples of real Curated customers I have helped find a blanket for their outdoor adventures. Each embodies a specific type of camper, along with a few things they should look for, and some examples of blankets I would recommend for them.

Tom: The Backpacking Minimalist

Tom is an experienced backpacker who likes to travel light and minimize his gear. He enjoys spending long, chilly weekends hiking and camping in the mountains, and he prioritizes function over style. Features Tom should look for:

  • Lightweight and packable
  • Durable and able to withstand wear and tear
  • Insulated for warmth
  • Water-resistant or waterproof
  • Versatile enough to use as a ground cover or shelter

Blanket examples:

  • Rumpl Original Puffy Blanket: This blanket is lightweight, packable, and insulated with synthetic down to keep you warm. It's also water-resistant and durable enough to handle rough terrain.
  • Therm-a-Rest Honcho Poncho: This versatile blanket doubles as a poncho, so it's perfect for backpackers who want to save space. It's made from water-resistant material and has a hood for extra warmth.
  • Matador Pocket Blanket: This ultra-compact blanket folds up into a small pouch, making it easy to carry in a backpack. It's water-resistant and has built-in corner stakes so you can secure it to the ground.

Sarah: The Beach Bum

Sarah loves spending her weekends at the beach. That includes picnics on the sand and watching the sunset with her friends. When it comes to choosing an outdoor adventure blanket, Sarah is looking for something that's both stylish and functional. She wants a blanket that will keep her comfortable on the beach and won't get sand stuck in it. Features Sarah should look for:

  • Sand-proof or easy to shake off sand
  • Lightweight and easy to carry
  • Large enough for group picnics
  • Water-resistant or waterproof
  • Stylish and attractive

Blanket examples:

  • CGear Sand-Free Mat: This mat has a unique weave that allows sand to fall through it, making it easy to shake off. It's also water-resistant and lightweight, making it perfect for the beach.
  • Moosejaw Carpet Diem Outdoor Blanket: This blanket easily rolls up and has straps making it easy to carry to and from the beach. The bottom side is water resistant and the top layer is a soft fleece. It also comes in a variety of different patterns, which makes it fun for those who are looking for something stylish.
  • Grand Trunk Parasheet Beach Blanket: This large blanket can accommodate a group of friends and has a water-resistant backing to keep you dry on wet sand. It also has corner loops which can accommodate stakes, so it won’t blow away in the breeze.

Jack: The Car Camper

Jack loves to hit the road and explore new destinations in his camper van. He likes to camp at national parks and remote locations, where he can enjoy the great outdoors. When it comes to choosing an outdoor adventure blanket, Jack is looking for something that can be used in a variety of situations. He wants a blanket that will keep him warm and comfortable in his van and on the ground. Features Jack should look for in a blanket:

  • Large enough for two people
  • Insulated for warmth
  • Durable and able to withstand frequent use
  • Versatile enough to use as a picnic blanket or ground cover

Blanket examples:

  • Kelty Bestie Blanket: This blanket is large enough for two people and has a soft, brushed fabric for warmth and comfort. It's also durable and easy to wash—making it perfect for frequent use.
  • Pendleton National Park Blanket: This wool blanket is not only warm and cozy, but also features a stylish design inspired by our National Parks. It's durable and can be used as a picnic blanket or thrown in Jack's van.
  • Nemo Equipment Victory 2 Person Blanket: This blanket is versatile and can be used as a picnic blanket, ground cover, or wrap. It's insulated with synthetic down for warmth and has a water-resistant coating to protect against spills and stains. Plus, it has a convenient strap for easy carrying.

Connect With a Real Expert

My pup all curled up under some blankets during a cold night of camping! Photo by Hunter Reed

Outdoor adventure blankets are a versatile and practical addition to any outdoor enthusiast's gear collection. Whether you're camping, hiking, or simply enjoying a day at the park, the perfect blanket for your individual needs is out there. And if you’d like help finding it, reach out to a Curated Camping and Hiking Expert, like me, for free, customized gear recommendations.

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Have a question about the article you just read or want personal recommendations? Connect with a Curated expert and get free recommendations for whatever you’re looking for!

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