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As a city boy who grew up in metropolitan Hong Kong, there’s nothing I love more than a therapeutic camping trip. Thankfully, in my eagerness to disconnect from city life, I’ve been able to camp out under the starry skies on more than a few occasions. Regardless of where or when I set up camp though, I always brought along my trusty camping blankets.
There are various types of camping blankets on the market and they each have their pros and cons. If you’re planning your very first camping trip, let me help you figure out which camping blanket suits you best.
Why are camping blankets important?
Sometimes, the right camping blanket is the only difference between a memorable camping trip and a Bear Grylls survival program experience. It sounds like I’m exaggerating but that was exactly what I learned during my maiden camping trip to the mountains.
As idyllic as sleeping under the stars might sound, camping is also a friendly competition against Mother Nature, especially if you’re camping in the forest or by the ocean. Without the right camping blanket, you’ll find yourself constantly battling the weather as well as the harsh outdoor conditions.
Blankets for camping help protect you against extreme temperatures on both sides of the spectrum. It can shield you from the harsh winds, moisture from the ground (nobody likes sleeping on wet soil), and keep you cool during warm summer nights. What’s more, camping blankets also offer protection from pesky mosquitoes and insects too.
Things to consider when choosing camping blankets
The first time I tried to buy a camping blanket, my mind blanked out. You won’t believe just how many different types of blankets for camping there are! So now the question is: What are the best types of camping blankets, and how to choose the one that best suits your needs?
Cluelessly browsing random camping equipment while an impatient employee shadows you around the store is not an experience I’d recommend anyone. So let me help you by breaking down the two main things you need to consider when choosing a camping blanket.
The most important thing to consider when buying blankets for camping isn’t the blankets themselves, but the weather conditions you should expect on your trip. As you’ll find out later, different camping blankets are designed to work in different environments and climates.
Some blankets offer protection against freezing cold weather while others are better suited for milder temperatures. In addition, you’ll also want to consider the surroundings of your campsite.
For example, if you’re camping somewhere with high humidity (like in a forest), you’ll want a waterproof and breathable blanket while a windy campsite (like one that’s by the beach) requires a denser material like wool to keep warm.
Some of the most common materials used to make camping blankets include cotton, wool, nylon, and synthetic polyester. There are also materials like polar fleece and sherpa which are much comfier and are great at absorbing moisture.
However, when talking about the material of camping blankets, it’s not enough to just consider if the blanket is made of wool or fleece. It boils back down to understanding the weather conditions of your campsite.
You’ll also want to consider the weight of the material. If you’re planning on camping on Mount Everest, for example, the last thing you need is a bulky wool blanket weighing you down on your hike.
Frequency of use
Finally, let’s talk about the realistic aspect of spending on a camping blanket. I love camping in the great outdoors but I also know that it’s unlikely I’ll be spending an entire month living in a tent by the coast of Pui O.
Some camping blankets are made to last for a very long time and are extremely durable. However, they are often also more expensive than your average sleeping bag. Before choosing your camping blankets, think about how often you’ll be using them, and for how long.
What are the different types of camping blankets?
Now that we’ve covered the importance of camping blankets and things to consider when buying one, it’s time to take a look at the different types of blankets for camping you can find on the market.
Sleeping bags are the most common camping blankets you’ll find. What I like about sleeping bags is how compact and portable they can be. Regardless of where you’re heading, you can always just roll your sleeping bag into a bundle and you’re set. It’s no wonder they’re the essential go-to option for hikers!
What’s more, a sleeping bag is a good fit for most camping trips, even in mildly cold or chilly weather. After all, the bag zippers on most sleeping bags can completely cover you from head to toe, shielding you from the weather, and preventing you from becoming a one-person buffet for mosquitos. Most sleeping bags are also water-repellant, like this one from Oaskys.
Sleeping bags are made using a variety of different materials. Some are designed to be used in wet environments while others offer protection even against freezing temperatures. However, from experience, I would recommend foregoing the latter option unless necessary because those can be quite bulky and heavy.
Puffy down blankets
If you’ve ever worn a down jacket, then you know exactly what these blankets feel like and how warm and comfy they can actually be.
Puffy down blankets look and feel like a sleeping bag (they are largely made from similar materials) but they are slightly more flexible and can be laid on the ground as seating or picnic carpets as well. Compared to sleeping bags, these blankets take up less space and are generally much lighter too.
However, unlike sleeping bags, puffy down blankets aren’t able to completely cover you on all sides. That being said, I personally quite like these camping blankets myself and I use them all the time. In fact, I’ve been using this model for a few years now and it’s still reliable as ever.
Waterproof fleece blankets
I love camping in the forest: Waking up to the sound of chirping birds in the morning and breathing in the fresh air, it just feels so peaceful and relaxing. If you’re like me, then a waterproof fleece blanket is one of the best camping tools to have.
First, let’s talk about how comfy they are. Fleece blankets, like these from Oceas and Tirrinia, are usually made with a polyester backing and lined with polar fleece. This makes the camping blanket extremely soft and decently warm.
More importantly, these blankets are made with waterproof materials, which makes them perfect for damp or wet campgrounds. Because of this, they’re actually one of the best camping blankets to have after a sleeping bag! However, take note that most fleece blankets are only waterproof on one side!
As a rule of thumb, I always pack an emergency thermal blanket on my camping trips. As you’ve probably already guessed, these are basically semi-disposable camping blankets that are designed for temporary use.
Made from mylar, emergency blankets are extremely light and compact. When called upon, these types of camping blankets keep you warm and protecting you from the elements. They may look thin and flimsy, but thermal blankets actually work great.
Thermal blankets are best used for a winter camping trip, especially if you’ll be sleeping in snow-covered fields. They are also extremely versatile and can be used in different ways, such as heating up your sleeping bag or insulating your tent.
The only downside to them is that they often need to be replaced once every two years or so.
If you’re looking for a good camping blanket for those winter camping trips, I suggest investing in a good heated camping blanket. As the name suggests, these blankets for camping offer extra warmth and are extremely useful for camping in harsh, freezing conditions.
However, heated blankets need to be either plugged in or charged since they usually run on electricity or batteries. Because of this, they’re much better suited for those who are camping in campervans of RVs. The most popular ones are operated by electricity, (i.e. electric blankets) but there are battery-operated heated blankets as well.
These camping blankets, on the other hand, are all about comfort, especially if they’re made with high-quality material! Because of its highly insulating material, camping blankets made from wool are a fine choice for a winter camping trip.
While they may not have the technological wow factor like heated blankets, wool camping blankets are quite effective in keeping you warm on your trip. They are also fairly durable which means they can often be reused several times without any worry of wear and tear.
Personally, I’m not such a big fan. Yes, they are warm and comfy, but sometimes, they can be TOO warm. This goes back to what I said about the weather being the most important aspect when choosing blankets for camping.
Wool blankets can be quite thick, which makes carrying them around a bit of a hassle. What’s more, some people might find them to be less comfortable than a sleeping bag because of the itch. Oh yes, if you don’t choose a good wool blanket, sleeping in one of them can be quite an uncomfortable experience.
Hopefully, this article has given you some basic info on the different types of camping blankets on the market and has helped you move a step closer to finding the perfect one for your next camping trip!