Before sleeping bags became popular, backpackers and campers used to sleep outdoors with wool blankets. Some still do.
But for warm weather camping, there’s definitely something to be said for using a blanket filled with synthetic insulation rather than a more constrictive sleeping bag or liner. In addition to providing all the comforts of home, synthetic camping blankets are roomy, easy to wash, vent, and perfect for side sleepers. While these blankets don’t have temperature ratings, they’re usually quite comfortable for sleeping with into the low 50’s, making them a good piece of family camping gear, suitable for all ages.
Technical camping blankets like the Therm-a-Rest Tech Blanket (above), also come with a number of crossover features typically found on much more expensive backpacking quilts, such as sleeping pad connectors or straps and chest drawstrings to create a closed sleeping system. They can also be used to augment an existing sleeping bag in cool weather, by draping the blanket over a sleeping bag or stuffing it inside.
Equally suited at home on the couch, or in your tent, is Nemo’s Puffin Blanket. Also filled with synthetic insulation, it has a fold over flap along the bottom that makes it possible to create a footbox similar, in spirit at least, to those found on backpacking quilts. The bottom of the blanket comes with three buttons which can hold the flap in place, making it ideal for stargazing outdoors on a cold evening, or for a little extra warmth at a college football game.
Best of all, both the Nemo Puffin and the Therm-a-Rest Tech Blanket cost less than $100, making them an economic option for family camping that won’t break the bank. Kids can’t outgrow a blanket the way they can outgrow a sleeping bag, and something to consider in your bag of tricks for affordable family camping gear.
Disclosure: The author purchased both of the products reviewed here with his own funds.
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