8 Ways to Use an Emergency Blanket While Camping

An emergency blanket, also known as a space blanket, is more than just a shiny piece of aluminum. It’s become a staple in my camping equipment once I get to know how versatile it can be. Whether you’re a habitual camper or hiker, you have to carry one around.

Why carry it if you’ve gotten so far without it already? Good question. Here are eight ways to use an emergency blanket for camping to help change your mind. 

1. Signaling

Use emergency blanket for signaling and asking for help

The most important purpose of an emergency blanket is to use it as a rescue signal in case of danger.

You’ll be hard to miss by other campers and hunters because one side of the emergency blanket is made of shiny, reflective material, otherwise known as mylar.

The vibrant orange color of a mylar blanket is also hard to miss. So even if one side is damaged, the other can still be used in signaling down someone to save you.

2. Reflecting heat

Reflective emergency blanket for signaling

A space blanket’s material is heat-reflective. Meaning it can absorb heat and reflect it. This doesn’t mean it’s heat-inducing. Often, people confuse the two.

A thermal blanket won’t be enough to keep you warm on its own. Instead, you can put it in the sun, so it absorbs its heat, then wrap yourself in it to sleep in warmth.

You can do the same with your campfire. However, make sure that the blanket is safe from fire since its material is highly flammable.

You can be creative and line the inside of your food cooler with your blanket to keep your food warm or cold, too.

3. Thermal insulation for tent

Tent in the mountains

I know. How can the same thing be used to both reflect and repel heat?

Well, that’s just how versatile a space blanket can be!

Flipping your blanket so that the shiny side faces the sun will help repel its rays away. This way, you can prevent your vehicle, devices, and the insides of your tent from overheating.

Keep in mind that when setting up the thermal insulation for your tent, you’d want to place the blanket between your tent and its rainfly.

4. Waterproofing

Water droplets on tent

Emergency blankets are made of waterproof material, which comes in handy in case you forgot your tent’s rainfly. This way, your space blanket will protect you from the sun and rain.

You can also use it to line your bags’ insides to protect your equipment. And if you don’t mind the color much, wrap your socks with cut-out pieces of your blanket to keep your feet safe from the mud and rain.

It can also be your backup rain poncho in case you’ve forgotten yours!

5. A back-up sleeping bag

Emergency blanket as a sleeping bag

When it’s time to sleep, your space blanket can provide some protection from the elements. Granted, it’s not as comfortable as a sleeping bag, but it’s still a solid option.

You’ll be well protected since the blanket is both waterproof and windproof; it’ll trap your body heat and reflect it back to you, so you stay toasty.

A downside to this is that your body sweat doesn’t evaporate because the blanket uses it to keep you warm. As a result, you might wake up damp, so you’ll need to air the blanket and clean it out.

6. Ground protection

Thermal blanket as a ground protection

When the camping grounds get cold and wet, you can lay down your emergency blanket as a ground trap. Then, you can safely set up camp and not worry about ruining your camping gear.

In case you’d like to keep your tent warm on the inside, lay the blanket down with the shiny face facing you. This way, it’ll absorb your body heat and reflect it back to you.

But if that’s not the case, lay the orange face up and add a little color to your tent. It’ll keep your tent cool too!

7. A fire starter

Campfire in front of tent

You can use the shiny side of the emergency blanket to reflect sunlight on a pile of dried branches or leaves. This will eventually start a fire. Keep in mind, though, this is a difficult process and takes up a lot of time.

It may seem tempting to light up the material of the blanket since it’s highly flammable. Fair warning, though: you shouldn’t. That’s because the resulting black smoke is potentially toxic. 

8. First aid

Thermal blanket for first aid

Fun fact: the emergency blanket is also known as a first-aid blanket. Why? Because you can use it in medical emergencies.

You can improvise and use the blanket as a sling if – god forbids – you break your arm. Likewise, if you have an open wound and have suffered blood loss, the blanket can act as a compression bandage.


Apart from the adventure, camping is all about learning how to use resources efficiently for your safety and convenience. Looking at it that way, an emergency blanket for camping should be an essential part of your gear, given its versatile uses.

Before you go, check out the best thermal blankets to buy.