7 reasons you need a camping blanket: release the hygge

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: keeping warm under a camping blanket
We present 7 reasons you need a camping blanket for your backcountry adventures (Image credit: Getty Images)

Versatility is the main reason you need a camping blanket. Versatility is one of the least romantic words in the English language, right up there with functionality or practicality. So, let’s pivot to the other image a camping blanket conjures, one of shared warmth, star-lit skies, roaring campfires and smores. The Danish have a word for the cozy contentment brought about by sharing comfort and good times with friends: Hygge. If a single item represents hygge, it’s a camping blanket. 

For us, a camping blanket is both these things, romance and versatility, in one fairly lightweight and fuss free package. It’s fundamentally a simple product, which is why there are so many reasons to have one. It has so many uses, from additional warmth around the campsite or as a picnic mat, to protecting your vehicle from dirt or as a handy item to have in an emergency.

There’s an argument that it’s a bit of an indulgence, particularly if you’re looking to save weight and space. However, hopefully after reading the below, you’ll be a camping blanket convert too.

Meet the expert

Highlander Serenity 450 Mummy Sleeping Bag: wild camp
Alex Foxfield

Alex enjoys any time spent under canvas, whether he’s out in the wilderness on a wild camp or enjoying family time on a car camping trip. He loves a bit of hygge as much as the next person, enjoying certain comforts even when venturing into the wild.

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What is a camping blanket?

  • A camping blanket is a blanket designed for camping trips
  • Some camping blankets are designed to be lightweight and packable
  • Heavier, bulkier but warmer options are designed for car camping

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: Julia and blanket

Many camping blankets feature a down fill or the kind of synthetic insulation seen in puffer jackets and the like (Image credit: Future)

It sounds obvious, but a camping blanket can be any blanket you take on a camping trip. Of course, many blankets are crafted specifically with campers in mind. Some are designed to be as lightweight and packable as possible, making them ideal for wild camping forays into the backcountry. Other bulkier offerings are better suited to car camping and would take up half the space in your backpack. However, generally a dedicated camping blanket will pack down small for easy transportation.

Many feature a down fill or the kind of synthetic insulation seen in puffer jackets and the like, making them wonderfully cozy and warm to snuggle into, as well as doubling up as a sleep option. Fleece blankets are also common.

1: Warmth in your tent

  • A camping blanket can be used instead of a sleeping bag
  • They're less restrictive and work well for camping couples
  • In winter, they can be an addition to your sleeping system

Best camping blanket: Kelty Galactic Down Blanket

A blanket is a good alternative to a sleeping bag in the warmer months (Image credit: Kelty)

A camping blanket can be used instead of a sleeping bag at night, particularly during the warmer months. This will be music to the ears of anyone who doesn’t like the slightly claustrophobic feel of a traditional mummy-shaped bag. The downside of using a camping blanket like this is that heat can, and will, escape through the open ends, which is why balmier nights when you’ll be glad of such ventilation are better for this approach.

Camping couples looking to be a little more intimate than two sleeping bags allows might also like the sound of this. There’s always option of a two-person sleeping bag but then if your partner tosses and turns in the night, you’ll feel it a lot less if you’re under a less restrictive blanket together.

All this talk of warm summer nights doesn’t mean a camping blanket shouldn’t have its place on a brisk winter camp. If your sleeping bag is hovering around its temperature limit, you can use the blanket to compliment it, either as an additional insulating layer over the top or as an extra layer insulation on your sleeping pad.

2: Coziness for the campfire

  • You can cover yourself in a blanket during evening activities
  • Again, they're much less restrictive than a sleeping bag and easier to launder too

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: campfire blanket

A blanket and a campfire can keep you toasty on cold nights (Image credit: Getty Images)

Okay, so this point not only goes for campfire sessions, but also for sitting around the table enjoying some campsite cuisine, getting toasty in the Kelty Low Loveseat while gazing at the stars, gathering around to play some cards… basically any time you’re sat out in your camping chair at night.

It’s nice to get cozy under a blanket for all of the above. Yes, there’s always the option of bringing your sleeping bag out with you but this has two disadvantages. Firstly, washing a sleeping bag is a bit of a chore compared with throwing your blanket in the laundry at the end of the trip. Secondly, a sleeping bag is pretty restrictive and getting in and out of it every time you get up to toast a marshmallow or grab a can from the cooler is a bit of a faff.

Camping with friends and family is a time to make connections and few things bring people closer than sharing a blanket together on a nippy evening.

3: Pillow talk

  • Camping blankets can double up as a pillow

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: Voited blanket folded

Folded up, a camping blanket can double up as a pillow (Image credit: Future)

Most camping blankets can double up as a pillow. Some have a stuff sack, while others can be rolled into a comfy bundle. This is especially useful on a lightweight expedition when the goal is keeping the gram-count down. So, if you’re only taking one of the two items, it’s up to your to decide whether the multi-functionality of a camping blanket is preferable to the comfort offered by a dedicated pillow.

4: For the picnic

  • Camping blankets work well as picnic blankets
  • They protect against vegetation, as well as against insects and arachnids, such as ticks

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: picnic

A blanket provides protection from prickly vegetation, insects and other bugs (Image credit: Getty Images)

Some of my earliest memories of the outdoors are the picnics my family took me on beneath a hill in the English Lake District called Carrock Fell. Picnics and the great outdoors are a match made in heaven on a warm summer’s day and a camping blanket doubles up wonderfully as a picnic blanket. It also provides protection from the potentially prickly vegetation below and nasties like ticks. Just try not to get jam on it – though it’s likely to be machine washable, so this is no biggie.

5: For chilling at the festival

  • At a festival, pop your blanket down and watch the world go by

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: music festival

A camping blanket is a comfy place to relax and socialize during festivals (Image credit: Getty Images)

Music fans have all been there. It’s the second day of a festival and there’s several hours before, let’s say, Radiohead are on the main stage. Last night was a heavy one and the sun is shining. The ideal scenario would be to set up a little area where you can relax and watch a few bands from afar. Maybe even have a little siesta. A camping blanket is ideal for this situation, giving you a lovely, dry space to rest your head and tap your toes to the beat.

6: Its washable!

  • A camping blanket is usually machine washable, so it doens't matter if it gets a little dirty on a trip
  • You can use it to protect you car from all the muddy gear you load into it at the end of an adventure

7 reasons you need a camping blanket: washing

At the end of your trip, toss your blanket into the washing machine (Image credit: Getty Images)

Two or three days spent camping in the wilderness and exploring to your heart’s content is amazing. However, when you get back to your car, you’re likely to suddenly realize how soaked and muddy everything really is. Said car is now metaphorically shaking its head at you. If it could talk, it’d be something along the lines of: “What were you thinking? If you think you’re coming in here, you’re sadly mistaken.”

Of course, regardless of what your car would say, you do need to get into it. Solution: throw down your camping blanket and let it take the pain. After all, its machine washable anyway, so you can just throw it in with the rest of your stuff when you get home.

7: For emergency situations

  • A blanket has multiple potential uses in an emergency situation

Mountain rescue leading a team of hikers

A blanket has multiple potential uses in an emergency situation, from keeping a casualty warm to signalling for help (Image credit: Ed Smith)

In an outdoor emergency situation, you often have to use what you’ve got until Mountain Rescue arrive. There are several uses for a camping blanket in an emergency. It can be waved in the air to attract help, wrapped around a casualty for warmth or cut up to be used as a clean compress to put pressure on a bleeding wound. It could even find use as a makeshift sling or as part of a splint in the event of a broken bone.

Alex Foxfield

Alex is a freelance adventure writer and mountain leader with an insatiable passion for the mountains. A Cumbrian born and bred, his native English Lake District has a special place in his heart, though he is at least equally happy in North Wales, the Scottish Highlands or the European Alps. Through his hiking, mountaineering, climbing and trail running adventures, Alex aims to inspire others to get outdoors. He's the former President of the London Mountaineering Club, is training to become a winter mountain leader, looking to finally finish bagging all the Wainwright fells of the Lake District and is always keen to head to the 4,000-meter peaks of the Alps. www.alexfoxfield.com