Camp blankets are imperative if you need a good night’s sleep, which in turn is essential to restore your energy levels. Campers can often be exposed to extreme conditions which is why preparing adequately is more critical than most people deem. One of the hardest decisions you will ever make in your life is purchasing the right camp blanket.
One might think what is so difficult in choosing a blanket, it can be directly purchased from a store, but that is not how it works. When you go camping, you are limited on packing space and need to travel light. Packing a lot of gear and equipment will only burden you along the trip and exhaust you.
Campers are exposed to varying temperatures, which is why choosing the right blanket is critical and makes an essential piece of hiking or camping gear. A camper may be exposed to extreme cold, which requires a camp blanket that can retain heat and form insulation around the camper. Similarly, if you are camping in a hot region, an insulated blanket would only advance your misery. Then comes the rainy season, which means you need a waterproof blanket.
The Best Blankets to Take Along
Simply put, choosing the right blanket can be a real lifesaver and will help you get a good night’s sleep. Now let us look at some of the different blanket options available out there for campers and outdoor enthusiasts.
The most common choice among hikers and campers are sleeping bags; they are trendy and an all-in-one solution. Generally, excess weight, sleeping bags are not highly recommended for short trips but do offer a complete comfort solution for people who tend to stay longer amidst nature and need a sound sleep during chilly winters.
Sleeping bags usually come with zippers and can cover you entirely to keep the cold and the insects away. They come in different sizes and variants, including waterproof ones and are most certainly recommended if you are a regular hiker/camper.
The downside is that they can weigh you down and are not very backpack friendly, which means it would restrict space and weight for other gear and equipment.
Puffy Packable Blankets
A very reliable alternative to a sleeping bag is the puffy packable blanket. These blankets require less packing space and offer an excellent thermal rating. The good part about puffy packable blankets is that they can be used for a variety of activities including picnicking, hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities. They are durable and offer somewhat similar comfort and warmth as expected from a sleeping bag, but do not restrict your movements. If you are a restless sleeper then a puffy packable blanket would definitely be a better option than sleeping bags.
These are nature’s bounties to keep you warm during a chilly night. In fact, they are so useful that even the military prefers using wool blankets, as they keep you insulated. Wool blankets retain body heat and protect you even when they are wet, so taking them during a rainy season is not a bad idea.
These are quite common these days for campers and hikers as they keep you warm and wick away the moisture. Fleece blankets are made from synthetic polyester to offer a similar level of comfort and warmth as wool blankets. However, some people can be allergic to fleece, which is why you need to test them before carrying them for an overnight camping adventure.
These small, handy blankets usually have a very short lifespan and can wear out quickly, but give you a quick solution in emergencies. They are pocket-friendly, and you can even fit more than one sheet in a single pocket.
An emergency blanket is not a camping solution – they are meant for emergency purposes. In fact, they are instrumental as they act as a wind barrier. It is always helpful to carry one or two of these on a camping, hiking trip.
Thermal blankets are quite similar to emergency blankets regarding functionality but offer a sturdier and durable solution. They are designed to provide warmth under extreme conditions and can be used more than once, unlike emergency blankets. However, the only drawback of a thermal sheet is that they do not feel as comfortable as woolen or fleece blanket.
Fabrics That Make the Best Camp Blankets
When it comes to choosing the right camp blanket, it is crucial that you understand the materials used in camp blankets and how they affect you. Understanding how these materials work will help you make a better choice when it comes to purchasing the right camp blanket.
Cotton has been used for blankets for centuries and gives you comfort and warmth during winters, but it makes a bad choice for campers. It does provide a comfortable alternative, but cotton is susceptible to moisture and soaks up quickly, increasing the overall weight of the blanket. Also, cotton clumps together when wet and can take longer to dry.
Blankets made from cotton are also flammable, making them a poor choice for camping. There are a few alternatives available in the market that use a synthetic shell with a center filled with cotton.
Wool is among the best all-natural materials and probably the warmest of them all. Wool fibers tend to trap air between them, retaining heat. When exposed to moisture, wool does not soak, making it ideal for wet areas as it can be dried quickly. However, it might take a while to totally dry out a wool blanket as moisture can be trapped in between the fibers. As we all know, wool is derived from sheep hair and can cause irritation or itching if exposed directly to the skin, except for Merino wool. Wool is also fire resistant, which makes it an excellent choice for camping.
Fleece is made from a synthetic material to replicate the properties of wool. It does function similar to wool by trapping air and keeping the moisture away. When compared to wool, fleece blankets dry quickly and are light-weight. However, the only drawback is that it is highly flammable, which can result in accidents.
Made from a synthetic fiber to mimic wool, acrylic is turned into a filament first and then spun to give it wool-like effect. While it can be made from various synthetics, it will always contain at least 85% acrylonitrile monomer.
Acrylic is commonly used in sporting gear like clothing, faux fur, boot liners, etc. as it keeps the skin dry by pulling the sweat and evaporating it. The material is mildew resistant and stains free. Acrylic is highly inflammable and requires great caution especially near an open fire.
Nylon is one of the first synthetic fibers and known for its resilient features. Nylon fibers are durable and are widely used in various furnishing and clothing manufacturing. It is heat resistant but quickly melts if exposed to fire. Exposing nylon to extreme temperature can result in shrinkage and requires careful handling. The material is waterproof, making it an excellent choice for wet regions.
Polyester is a lightweight synthetic fiber and extremely warm, making it a great solution for chilly winters. It is a non-flammable fiber, but susceptible to extreme heat. Exposing polyester blankets to high temperatures can result in shrinkage. Polyester gives a comfortable and warm feeling and will retain its insulation capabilities even when wet. A significant benefit of polyester is that is wicks moisture from the skin, keeping you dry.
Mylar is a great insulator that will retain body heat and is easy to carry due to its lightweight. However, there are quite a few challenges that come with Mylar. First, it does not wick moisture, meaning that it will retain moisture if you sweat excessively. Secondly, it is not as comfortable as other camp blankets and should only be used as a last resort. In short, Mylar is a survival technique that can keep you safe from extreme winters.
As an enthusiast camper, you always want to explore the world and visit different regions. Having said that, the weather you are exposed to will never be the same and is bound to differ, which is why you need to choose a camp blanket that is best for your endeavor.
In principle, there are four conditions you can be exposed to, they are:
Therefore, you need to choose a blanket that would be usable given the climatic conditions of the region you are about to visit.
Here’s hoping that you are now familiar with factors you need to consider before selecting the right camp blanket. In addition to these specifications, you need to pick a camp blanket that is the right size. The last thing you want is your feet poking out on a chilly night, which will be an uneventful sleeping experience. Camp blankets come in all sizes and variants; therefore, always look for the right size before making the final decision.