Bye Bye Sleeping Bag
The 8 Best Camping Blankets of 2018
When it comes to camp bedding, the sleeping bag reigns king. It makes sense — a sleeping bag’s mummy-style construction makes it adept at providing and maintaining warmth, even in sub-zero temperatures. But technical sleeping bags were designed with high alpine pursuits and extended backcountry jaunts in mind, and while they now come in a variety of shapes and temperature ratings, sleeping bags tend to be techy.
Enter the camp blanket. Often made using the same functional materials as sleeping bags — materials like water-repellent down insulation and ripstop nylon shells — camp blankets perform the same goal. They provide warmth away from the comforts of home, but beyond that, they offer more flexibility, and they do it with more style. Without the restriction of a zipper, camp blankets are ideal for summer camping. And in true contemporary outdoor lifestyle fashion, technical camp blankets easily transition from the tent to the living room sofa, to the cabin, to the van without much fuss. They aren’t specialized for a single environment like a zero-degree down sleeping bag might be; they’re versatile and practical, which is ideal for outdoorsmen and weekend warriors alike.
Editor’s Choice: Kammok Firebelly
Kammok may be best known for its hang-anywhere hammocks, but the Austin, Texas-based outdoor brand hit a homer in expanding into camp bedding. The Firebelly, available in both down- and synthetic-insulated versions is a lightweight, zipperless cover that’s fit to fill in for any sleeping bag in warmer weather. Hidden in the side of the blanket’s hems are tiny pockets that conceal velcro tabs and loops that allow you to connect one side to the other. That, paired with drawcord-equipped, cinching top and bottom hems, allow the Firebelly to close up almost entirely and become a virtual stand-in for a sleeping bag. Pro tip: use these features to create an enclosed foot box and sling it over the bottom of a sleeping pad so you, and the Firebelly, won’t slide off in the night.
Materials: Atmos nylon ripstop with DWR, Pinneco CC synthetic insulation (synthetic version)
Dimensions: 75 × 52 inches
Weight: 1.9 pounds (synthetic version)
Best Sunset Watching Blanket: Rumpl Puffy Sherpa Blanket x Iron & Resin
Rumpl mixes things up with a variety of collaborations with brands like Yakima, Airblaster, Helinox and now Iron & Resin. The puffy sherpa blanket has all of the same features you love from Rumpl — roll-up straps, a zippered pocket, synthetic insulation that can be washed and easy carrying options — in addition to a sherpa-lining. As the temperatures continue to drop, you’ll want something soft to cozy up with at night, and this blanket is perfect. With a design inspired by weaving patterns and techniques of the native Chumash, Pomo and Miwok tribes, this brightly colored quilt works both indoors and out. Take it camping with you one weekend, then use it to keep yourself warm at home.
Materials: 30D ripstop polyester, DWR finish, 100g 3D Hollow Fiber Synthetic Insulation, 100% Polyester Sherpa Fleece
Dimensions: 50 x 70 inches
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Best Synthetic Blanket: Rumpl Messy Puffy Blanket
No company has embraced the outdoor lifestyle trend of the technical blanket more so, and quite as successfully, as Rumpl. The newest addition to its line is the artist collaboration. In conjunction with artist Kelly Marie, also known as Messy Ever After, the Messy Puffy Blanket is a swirl of soothing, cooling colors. Rumpl constructed the quilt with many of the same materials found in premium backpacking sleeping bags, including a water-repellent 20-denier ripstop nylon face fabric and 240 grams of 3D Hollow fiber synthetic insulation to keep you warm in temps as low as 40 degrees. The Messy Puffy Blanket packs down small enough to fit inside a backpack and comes with Rumpl’s signature styling that makes it fit for cabins and cars too. And it’s everything-resistant: water, dirt, odor and pet hair won’t ruin it.
Materials: 20D ripstop nylon, DWR finish, 240g 3D Hollow Fiber Synthetic Insulation
Dimensions: 50 x 70 inches
Weight: 2.1 pounds
Best Indoor/Outdoor Camp Blanket: Nemo Equipment Puffin
If there’s one thing that most technical camp blankets can improve on, it’s looking and feeling less technical. Many of them still adhere to the aesthetic of a flatter, zipperless sleeping bag. One that walks the line strategically is NEMO Equipment’s Puffin. It is technical — the blanket is stuffed with plenty of synthetic insulation to keep you warm outdoors, it has a snap button “foot nook” — but its shape and wavy baffles allow it to traverse into the home as well. Its outer fabric, a water-repellent nylon micro-ripstop, prudently lacks that outdoorsy sheen of most technical fabrics, and it’s far less…swishy.
Materials: 40D nylon micro-ripstop with DWR, synthetic insulation
Dimensions: 57 x 85 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Best Blanket for Couples: Therm-a-Rest Vela Quilt
Camp blankets are designed to dumb down the tech and make camping a more homey experience. Sleeping side-by-side in separate zippered sleeping bags is distinctively not homey, so Therm-a-Rest created the couple-friendly Vela. The Vela is a quilt, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t techy — Therm-a-Rest has learned a lot from making high-quality sleeping bags. The Vela is filled with 650-fill water-repellent down and has baffles that extend the length of its sides to help trap heat. Its footbox is also elasticized so that neither you or your partner’s feet will slip out during the night. The Vela also integrates with any other Therm-a-Rest products you already own (like sleeping pads) with side-mounted snaps and an included loop kit.
Materials: 20D Polyester Ripstop with DWR (shell), 20D Polyester Taffeta (liner), 650 Fill Nikwax Hydrophobic Down
Dimensions: 72 x 84 inches
Weight: 2.2 pounds
Best for Instagram: Pendleton National Park Collection Blanket
For nearly a century, Pendleton has paid homage to United States National Parks with wool dyed in stripe, block and chevron. Its National Park Collection blankets, made of 100% pure virgin wool and made in the USA, have become rightfully iconic. These blankets are thick, heavy and warm — perfect for those more concerned with appearances than keeping to the latest tech. While the collection has grown, the Glacier National Park Blanket is still the most recognizable.
Materials: Pure virgin wool
Dimensions: 66 x 90 inches (twin), 80 x 90 inches (full), 90 x 90 inches (queen)
Best for Your First Aid Kit: SOL All Season Blanket
Ok, yes, this is less of a camping blanket and more of a worst-case-scenario survival tool. But SOL — short for Survive Outdoors Longer — has beefed up the typical lightweight, foil-esque survival blanket for extreme versatility. It’s not something you’ll wrap up in on the couch when you aren’t out in the backcountry, but it can be used as a tent footprint, a makeshift shelter or a draggable, tarp-like hauler. And if you do decide to cocoon inside of the All Season Blanket, it’ll keep you nice and toasty.
Materials: polyethylene, vaporized aluminized coating
Dimensions: 6.5 x 2.4 x 11.25 inches (packed)
Weight: 1 pound
Best for Sleeping in the Car: Filson Mackinaw Blanket
Camping next to a car is one thing, but bedding down inside of it is something else altogether. Depending on how dedicated you are to #vanlife, a night in the car might mean sleeping on a platform in a truck bed or laying down the seats and making do in a wagon. In either case, cars offer ample shelter but little warmth. Many of these blankets will do in a car, but since you have the extra space, it can be worth it to go big. Filson’s heavy Mackinaw Blanket is 100% USA-sourced virgin Mackinaw wool, so it’ll provide plenty of warmth, even when damp. Like most Filson products it’s super durable, in this case thanks to a serged hem that won’t fray over time, which is handy because the Mackinaw Blanket will last for years.
Materials: 100% virgin Mackinaw wool
Dimensions: 72 x 90 inches
Weight: 5.5 pounds
Best for the Beach: Slowtide Zephyr Blanket
While you technically could use many of the blankets on this list to hang at the beach, you shouldn’t. Sand is more invasive than dirt and dust, it gets on anything and will stay there until the end of time. If you’re a dedicated beach-goer, it’s smart to have a dedicated beach blanket. Slowtide has nailed beach style with its line of printed towels and its blankets are up to snuff too. Made with Turkish-style chambray fabric, the Zephyr is big enough for a group outing. It’ll beat that old sheet you were planning to use any day.