These days, if you have a little money to burn, there’s a mountain of lovely camping gear to get your hands on, from coffee makers that deliver a piping hot shot of espresso first thing to camping lanterns you can scatter around your campsite to create a welcoming glow. There’s so much, in fact, that it can be hard to separate what you really need from what looks great but is likely to just sit in your garage unused for the next five years.
Take camping blankets, for example. The best camping blankets are insulated and add some welcome coziness and warmth to your camping trip. If your sleeping bag rating is right on the edge of the overnight lows you’re expecting, you can use it for extra insulation, and you can use it to keep your legs warm when you’re sitting in your camping chair at night. But can’t you get by with the right sleeping bag, a down jacket and a campfire?
Well sure, but given how light and packable they are these days (the Rumpl NanoLoft Puffy blanket comes with a stuff sack and can easily fit in the pocket of your backpack) and how versatile they are, it’s actually not the craziest idea to bring one along, and we’re not just talking about car camping here either. For backpacking trips too, a camping blanket can serve you in more ways than one. Read on for six uses for a camping blanket that will persuade you to invest in one more piece of gear.
1. Camping pillow
Trying to decide whether to take a blanket or a camping pillow? There’s no need to choose if you bring a blanket – just fold it up or put it in a stuff sack to make a pillow when it’s time to go to sleep. A pillow, on the other hand, can never double as a blanket.
2. Picnic blanket
Foam pads and inflatable seats are great when you want to sit down for lunch on a hike, but with itchy grass and the possibility of ticks, wouldn’t you be more comfortable with a blanket spread out? Just make sure yours isn’t made from a slippery material if you’re going to be sitting on a slope.
3. Shade and shelter
A blanket can’t exactly double as a camping tarp, since it’s not likely to be waterproof, but it can definitely provide some shade from a blistering sun in a pinch if you string it up in the trees, so we recommend sewing some gear loops onto each corner if yours doesn’t already have them. If you’re camping in very windy conditions, you can also hang your blanket inside your two-person tent on the upwind side for a bit of a breezeblock too.
Picnic tables at campsites, well, they can be a bit gross. If you’re not traveling with cleaning supplies and you want a nice eating experience, throw your blanket over the picnic table and use it as a makeshift tablecloth. All the more reason to make sure yours is easily machine washable.
5. Dog bed
Camping with dogs? Make a soft nest for your canine companion and keep your expensive sleeping bag from getting covered in muddy paw prints and fur.
6. Car seat cover
At the end of your car camping trip, if you’ve got a load of muddy gear that you just want to throw in the back but don’t want to have to pay to have your car valeted, put your camping blanket down first, then all you have to do is chuck it in the washing machine when you get home.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.