The 5 Best Camping Blankets in 2022

Best Camping Blanket – Buying Guide / FAQ

What is the difference between a camping blanket and a sleeping bag?

You’re right to assume a camping blanket and a sleeping bag are quite similar, especially sleeping bags that can be fully unzipped to create a make-shift blanket. However, there are some important differences in functionality and design:

Sleeping bags surround your body, whilst blankets are designed to act as single-layer insulation. And whilst most sleeping bags can be unzipped to act as blankets, their sizing makes them less suitable to cover two people comfortably. Camping blankets have a larger, more convenient surface-area for multiperson usage. Plus, as they lack the zippers that sleeping bags have, they tend to be more comfortable as single-layer insulation. Another difference is that camping blankets tend to be a lot more lightweight and easier to pack than sleeping bags. These days, brands ensure their blankets can be packed down to super small dimensions: ensuring they take up minimal space in a backpack or gear pocket. Though sleeping bags have also become a lot more compact and compressed over recent years, they’re still a bulkier choice compared to blankets.

What type of camping blankets are there?

There are over a dozen different types of camping blankets. From wool blankets to emergency blankets: these can all be bundled in the ‘camping blanket’ category (also called technical blankets by some outdoor enthusiasts). Here are the main types you should know about:

Wool blankets

A traditional choice in outdoor gear, wool blankets have been a firm favorite amongst campers for decades. And are still a popular type of camping blanket due to their great insulation and comfort. From soft merino wool blanket to rougher styles as used by the military: wool blankets come in many varieties. Cons are that some wool blends are not machine-washing, wool can be heavier and bulkier than synthetic fabrics, and these blankets can also be quite expensive depending on the quality of wool used.

If you want a natural fabric with excellent insulation, you can’t get much better than wool. Wool keeps you insulated by trapping air between the fibers, creating a layer of insulation that keeps your body heat in, and the cold out. With excellent moisture-wicking properties, wool also helps wick moisture and sweat away from your skin, ensuring you stay comfy and dry all night long. Another perk is that wool blankets still insulate when wet, as the ‘trapped air’ layer is not affected.

Fleece blankets

Fleece outdoor blankets work similarly as wool blankets: trapping a layer of air between the fibers to keep you insulated. Made of synthetic materials, fleece is often cheaper and lighter than wool, yet still has great moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry at night. The con is that fleece, unlike wool, is highly inflammable, meaning you don’t want to get too close to the stove or campfire with this type of blanket wrapped around your shoulders. Also, fleece is not naturally water-resistant or waterproof, so when it gets wet, it may take a while to dry.

Emergency blankets

Emergency blankets are – as their name suggests – developed to keep you warm and insulated in emergency scenarios. Though some outdoor enthusiasts refer to them as camping blankets, we tend to think of them as simply essentials in your first-aid kit. Designed for single-usage, emergency blankets are not the most durable, so using it as a regular blanket is not recommended.

Folding blankets

Folding blankets are a popular choice amongst campers due to their great portability and compact packing dimensions. This type of blanket is designed to fold down into a small bundle, minimizing the space they take up in a backpack or gear pocket. Made of lightweight, durable materials, they are ideal for backpacking trips and offer big convenience in a small, foldable package.

Down blankets

Down blankets are filled with down insulation, offering outstanding insulation and comfort. Down fill blankets are similar to down fill duvets: offering extra puffiness and warmth, without weighing you down. Lightweight and moisture-wicking: down blankets are a great choice for campers who want maximum warmth, without the bulk. Most down blankets come with a down-fill-power rating, which refers to how high the quality of the down is. As a general rule of thumb: the higher the rating, the better it insulates. Choose a style with at least a 500 down-fill-power rating, to ensure it can keep you warm in cold weather conditions.

Throw outdoor blankets

A throw outdoor blanket is a thinner, multipurpose blanket similar to the type you often have on your bed or sofa at home. Their versatility makes them ideal for many camping scenarios. Whether you want to snuggle with your partner or kids around the campfire, use it as a picnic blanket, or need an extra layer of warmth at night: throw this blanket on and enjoy its comfort. A con is that throw outdoor blankets can lack the insulation to keep you warm in very cold condition. And as they are not specifically designed to fold down or be carried over long distances, their packing dimensions tend to be a bit bulky and often lack the inclusion of a carrying sack. If you’re a car camper or RV-enthusiast: a throw blanket is still a great choice. But if you’re a backpacker or hiker, we’d advise you to consider a compacter folding blanket instead.

Convertible Sleeping Bags

Convertible sleeping bags are sleeping bags that can be fully unzipped to form blankets. A convenient 2-in-1 style: a convertible sleeping bag offers dual the functionality. However, the unzipped edges may be a bit uncomfortable when using it merely as a blanket, and the price of these is often a bit higher.

Camping Blanket Buying Factors

When shopping for an outdoor camping blanket, there are various factors to take into consideration. With so many styles and designs on the market, it can be difficult to determine which product is worth your time and money. This is where the buying criteria can make a big difference. Use these to determine what type, size, and style of blanket matches your needs best. These are the main factors we’d recommend you to consider before any outdoor camping blanket purchase:

Size

Camping blankets are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes: from single-person rectangular styles to multiperson square designs, there’s a match for every preference. This is why, before you start shopping, it helps to determine how much blanket coverage you need. For example, a single-person rectangular style might be sufficient to keep you covered at night but could lack the extra inches to use it comfortably as a wraparound blanket, floor blanket in your tent, or even makeshift picnic rug. Similarly, a large family blanket may be big enough to cover you and your loved ones, but you might get swamped by all that fabric in smaller, single-person tents; making it more uncomfortable than convenient. Bigger isn’t always better, so consider how much of the blanket space you’ll use, before giving in to temptation and splurging on an XXL-style.

Portability

For those campers who want to take their camping blankets on the go with them, portability is a key factor. Car campers and truck campers don’t have to worry about this too much, but hikers and backpackers should pay attention to the packing dimensions and foldability of a blanket. Two similarly sized camping blankets may differ greatly in the packaging dimension, depending on the materials, thickness and how many times you’re able to fold the product. Rest assured: most camping blankets nowadays come in super compact, handy stuff sacks – which take up minimal space in your daypack or gear storage. However, some cheaper options on the market may tempt you with their price, but lack the compression to fold down to a small bundle. Don’t be fooled and make sure to double-check the packing dimensions of a blanket before purchasing, as it will save you a lot of hassle and disappointment when a product doesn’t meet your expectations. As a general rule of thumb: the smaller the packing dimensions, the more suited they are for backpacking and hiking trips.

Weight

Equally important as packaging dimensions, blanket weight is a key factor if you’re a backpacker or hiker. The weight of the blanket depends on size, material, and density. The good news is that outdoor brands are constantly developing new techniques and materials to make their products lighter than ever before. Which, fortunately, also applies to camp blankets.

However, don’t simply choose the lightest blanket; because the weights can also be an indication of its insulation abilities. For example, an ultralight outdoor blanket may lack the thickness of insulation to keep you warm in cold weather conditions, making it only suitable for summertime camping. If you plan to use the blanket in all 4 seasons, you may have to compromise slightly on the weight to ensure it delivers the performance needed. That said, the lighter the blanket, the less it will weigh down your pack – so we do recommend you to avoid heavy, chunky-knitted blankets that may look great, but lack the lightweight construction to make them easily portable on the go.

Material

Camping blankets can be made of a wide variety of fabrics and compounds, but most common are wool, ripstop nylon, polyester, and fleece. Each fabric has its pros and cons. Whatever fabric you prefer, make sure its either quick-drying or fully water-resistant/water-repellent. As the last thing you want on a camping trip is having to carry-around a soggy outdoor blanket.

Machine-washable

We’d also advise you to pick a machine-washable camping blanket, as you can get all kinds of mud, dirt, food scraps, sweat, or even squatted bugs on your blanket on a trip. You might assume all blankets are machine-washable, but this is not the case. Certain wool blankets can be dry-cleaned only. Though these might look fancy and feel ultra-soft, you have to ask yourself whether they are worth the hassle. (Hint: they are not.) A machine-washable blanket is low-maintenance, simply chuck it in the washer after you get back from your trip and voila: you’re done.

Price

Camping blankets are available at varying price-points. From cheap and cheerful to high-end and luxurious: there’s a match for every budget. This is why it helps to determine how much you’d be willing to spend on a blanket before you start shopping. This will help you narrow down the options drastically. Rest assured: there is a cozy blanket for every camper, whether you want to spend $20 or $100. In our Best Camping Blanket overview, we’ve ensured to keep affordability in mind, guaranteeing that even those on a stricter budget will find a quality style to keep them warm at night.

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