Best Emergency Blankets for Backcountry Use: 2020 Buyer’s Guide

hiking emergency

Whether you’re a survivalist or something who camps and hikes often, using the best emergency blankets can be lifesaving in a variety of situations and should always be part of your pack or bug out bag. These blankets are very useful in a variety of situations, but if you’ve never used one before or you’re new to the survivalist or backcountry camping lifestyle, then you may not know about the different benefits they offer or why it’s so important to always keep one on hand. In my buyer’s guide, I’ll go over what to look for in an emergency blanket, what different types are available, and how to choose the right type of blanket based on application. I’ve also tested out some great models, narrowing it down to six must-have blankets that the hiker, camper, and survivalist will love. Below, you’ll find a comparison chart that includes each of the models that landed on my list, their best features, and their rating.

Emergency Blanket Comparison Chart

ProductTypeNumberWaterproofRating
Primacare Emergency Blanket

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Mylar10Yes
S.O.L. Emergency Blanket

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Vacuum metalized
polyethylene
1Yes
EKTOS 80% Wool Blanket

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Wool1No
iChefer Emergency Blanket

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Mylar10Yes
Titan Survival Blankets

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Mylar5Yes
RedSwing Survival Blanket

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Polyester/mylar1Yes

Primacare HB-10 Emergency Foil Mylar Thermal Blanket


Our Rating: (5/5)

This ten-pack of mylar blankets work to deflect and retain heat. The included blanket insert will provide insulation, while the foil cover will reflect heat back to you to keep you warm or can deflect the heat from the sun to keep you cooler in hotter weather. These blankets are durable, lightweight, and feature a thick design that will protect you from the elements.

Pros

  • Pack of ten
  • Mylar insert for insulation
  • Foil cover designed to deflect heat
  • Durable

Cons

  • Should be tossed out after one use

Conclusion

These durable blankets are able to retain ninety-percent body heat, are lightweight and compact so they can fit in most backpacks and are very versatile. These blankets will be a great addition to any bug out bag, camping or hiking pack, or kept in the trunk of a car or at home for emergency use. They’re also very affordable and will be a great buy for the camper or survivalist on a tight budget.

S.O.L. Survive Outdoors Heat Reflective Emergency Blanket


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This single blanket is designed to help the user to retain ninety percent of their body heat. It’s made out of vacuum metalized polyethylene, which is said to be even more effective than mylar. Unlike mylar, this material is tear resistant, and will not shred or tear like a mylar blanket if it’s punctured or nicked. The blanket itself is also lightweight and can be used as a multifunctional tool in the backcountry. It can be used to cover your gear since it’s waterproof and can also make a good ground cover and provide an insulating layer between you and the ground. Should the roof of your tent spring a leak, then you can also use the blanket and some duct tape and repair the roof in just a few minutes.

Pros

  • Tear resistant
  • Waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Price

Conclusion

This blanket is durable and will not tear or shred during use. This means it’s also reusable, unlike most types of mylar blankets. This ultra-light blanket weighs just two and a half ounces and is waterproof, windproof, and designed to easily handle backcountry use.

EKTOS Wool Blanket


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This emergency blanket is made out of eighty percent wool and features finished edges on every side that is designed to prevent fraying. The blanket provides an excellent weight to warmth ratio and is made out of thick wool, one of the best natural insulators you can use. This material helps the user to regulate their body temperature and can continue to provide warmth even when it gets wet. The material is not scratchy, which is what you can expect from low-quality wool blankets. Instead, the wool is very soft to the touch and comfortable. Even though wool is a type of material that’s naturally fire retardant, it’s common to find low quality wool emergency blankets that come with a chemical coating. Fortunately, this blanket is not chemically treated.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Excellent weight to warmth ratio
  • Soft to the touch
  • Naturally fire retardant

Cons

  • Not waterproof

Conclusion

This thick wool blanket is designed to keep you warm in colder climates, although the material is not waterproof. However, the manufacturer claims that even when the blanket gets wet it can still keep you warm. Additionally, the material is soft to the touch and not scratchy, like many types of wool emergency blankets that you’ll come across, so you’ll stay warm and comfortable in freezing climates.

iChefer Emergency Blanket


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

This mylar blanket features a gold exterior that’s designed to absorb the max amount of heat. On the inside you’ll find the traditional silver, which is designed to reflect body heat. The manufacturer claims that this blanket is able to retain up to ninety percent of body heat, so it’s a great choice for colder climates. The blanket is also waterproof, tear-resistant, and windproof, so you can use it in the winter to keep you warm and dry and in the summer to help reflect the sun and keep you nice and cool.

Pros

  • Waterproof
  • Windproof
  • Durable
  • Retains up to ninety percent of body heat

Cons

  • Short blankets will not provide adequate protection for taller users.

Conclusion

Like many of the leading models of mylar blankets, this durable blanket is reusable, so you’ll get more bang for your buck. It’s also designed as a multipurpose tool when you’re hiking and camping and can be used to protect your gear, food, and keep you warm and dry. This blanket is a must have for hikers, campers, and survivalists and folds up into a compact package so you can easily store it in your pack, vehicle, and home.

Titan Two-Sided Survival Blankets


Our Rating: (4.5/5)

These camo style mylar blankets have a reflective silver side that can help to retain body heat in cold climates. Each of the blankets is individually wrapped in a small package, making it easy to store and transport them. These blankets are reusable, windproof, waterproof, and durable. They can be used as a blanket, ground cover, and can help to prevent hypothermia thanks to their ability to retain up to ninety percent of body heat.

Pros

  • Individually wrapped blankets
  • Reusable
  • Windproof and waterproof
  • Includes a total of five blankets

Cons

  • Not tear-resistant

Conclusion

These blankets are perfect for emergency situations, come individually packaged, so you can store one in your car’s glove compartment, one in your bug out bag, or hiking backpack, and keep them on hand when you’re hiking and camping through the backcountry. The fact that they’re reusable also makes them a great choice for the camper and hiker on a tight budget.

RedSwing Heavy Duty Reflective Survival Space Blanket


Our Rating: (4/5)

This is a waterproof heat reflective blanket that’s also windproof and provides top of the line heat retention. The blanket Is made out of polyester mesh that’s combined with a coating made out of aluminum mylar. This is an extra-large blanket that can also work as a ground cover and makeshift shelter. The bright orange color will make this blanket highly visible in the woods, and can be used for emergency signaling. The reflective aluminum on the opposite side will help to retain body heat and can prevent hypothermia in freezing temperatures. Four rope ties are also included and can be used to tie down the blanket when it’s made into a shelter or used to protect camping gear.

Pros

  • Can be used for signaling
  • Helps retain body heat
  • Includes four rope ties
  • Waterproof and windproof

Cons

  • Price

Conclusion

This multipurpose emergency blanket is designed to keep you warm and dry in freezing temperatures but can also keep you cool in hotter climates. The blanket is versatile, extra-large so it’ll work for users of all heights, and comes with a one year limited manufacturer warranty.

Emergency Blanket Buyer’s Guide

There are many different types of emergency blankets on the market these days, making it difficult to choose the best type based on your needs, the environment, or the situation. These blankets are available in a variety of materials and some will work better for certain situations than others, which is why it’s important to learn about the different types available and how each type is used. While all types have a standard purpose, these blankets can be used in a variety of ways to make your backcountry experience much easier on you.

But before I go over the different options available, I’ll first focus on their many uses and how these blankets can be true lifesavers in many emergency situations.

Benefits of Emergency Blankets

first aid kit

These blankets can keep you warm and dry in an emergency or when you’re out in the backcountry. Obviously, their main purpose is to provide warmth and they do a great job, especially when compared to a standard blanket. However, there are different types of blankets to choose from, and some are considered multipurpose models that can end up saving your life in a true emergency situation.

Below, you’ll find some of the biggest benefits they offer:

  • If you’re camping out and you feel like you’ve prepared well, bringing along a thick and durable sleeping bag, only to wake up in the middle of the night freezing, then an emergency blanket can provide that extra warmth you need in that type of freezing condition. These blankets work to reflect and retain the majority of your body heat. For improved insulation in your sleeping bag, try lining it with an emergency blanket.
  • If you end up lost on a long hiking trip and freezing is a real concern, you can tape a couple of these blankets together and create a sleeping bag that will keep you warm and safe until help arrives.
  • On a hiking  or camping trip, it’s always important to keep your gear dry and safe, whether you’re setting up camp or you’re on the move. When you’re preparing for a longer hike, make sure that you line your pack with one of these blankets. Doing so will prevent moisture and rain from soaking the contents of your bag. You can also toss another one of these blankets over your bag if you’re expecting a heavy downpour. This will provide your gear with the added protection it needs to stay dry in inclement weather.
  • Aside from keeping your gear dry, these blankets will also come in handy if you need to protect your food. To do, place your food in the middle of the bag, then securely tie it with a rope and hang the food from a tree branch up high. This can make it hard for animals such as racoons and bears to infiltrate your stash while you’re sleeping. It will also keep your food nice and dry in inclement weather.
  • Since these blankets are waterproof, they will offer top protection from the elements. You can drape one over your tent or you can hang one of these blankets between a couple of trees and hang it in a way that allows the rain to run off it.
  • If your tent has a leak, you can patch it by cutting a piece of an emergency blanket as a patch and use some waterproof tape to secure it in place. This will work to keep you and the contents of your tent dry throughout the night.

If the temperature drops drastically at night and you need extra warmth, use one of these blankets as a reflector for the sun or fire to heat up your shelter. Even in frigid temperatures, reflecting your body heat can also significantly increase the temperature inside your shelter or tent.

Types of Emergency Blankets

There are many different types of survival blankets to choose from. Finding the right type should be based on how you plan to use it and where you’re headed.

Below, I’ll go over the different options available.

Mylar

Mylar is a type of material that was created by NASA. It consists of a polyester resin that’s used to make plastic sheets that are heat resistant. The sheet itself is reflective, with the main goal of preventing loss of heat. These emergency blankets are best used in conjunction with other blankets when you’re dealing with freezing conditions. A top of the line mylar blanket will reflect approximately eighty percent of the user’s body heat back at them. Since these blankets are reflective, they also do a great job of keeping heat out and can be used to keep you cool in high temperatures.

These blankets are waterproof, which can also help to prevent heat loss. While the blankets are thin, they’re incredibly durable.

These blankets act as a reflective heat source and can provide a waterproof layer under or over you. If you’re camping on wet terrain, they can keep you and your pack and sleeping bag dry. They can also keep you dry if you’re sleeping out under the stars. Mylar is often used to store uneaten food during transport, preventing any food from leaking on any of your gear in the pack. With the help of waterproof tape, they can also be fashioned into a water skin that will hold water.

While this type of material works to reflect your body heat back at you, it does not provide much in terms of insulation. If you’re hypothermic, then you won’t have much body heat to reflect back, which is why you would need to use a wool or fleece blanket to keep you warm.

This type of blanket should be used on the outside of an insulating blaknket. It can prevent heat loss from convection, evaporation, but a traditional blanket will prevent heat loss from conduction and convection. In order to use this type of blanket effectively, use it with a fleece or wool blanket. Place the mylar on the outside. For added protection, use some duct tape and sandwich the mylar between a couple of fleece or wool blankets.

Another great use of this material is to make a debris shelter. The debris will work as an insulating layer and will prevent heat loss. Lining your shelter with the blanket will prevent heat loss from radiating and will block the wind.

If you’re hiking or camping during the winter, make a debris shelter using snow. The snow will begin to melt as your body heat warms it up. Since this material is waterproof, using it to line the top of your tent or other type of shelter will prevent the snow from dripping on you and the other people in the tent.

These blankets are incredibly affordable. However, lower priced blankets will not hold up to repeat use.

The reflective coating may start to come off and many cheap mylar blankets rip easily. However, these types of mylar blankets are still useful. You can purchase a large pack of them to keep in your bug out bag or camping pack and store extra ones around the house. If you’re looking for this type of blanket for your next camping trip, make sure you purchase a top of the line model, one that’s more durable and won’t tear on you.

The thicker the mylar, the more durable it will be. These thicker blankets will not get punctured easily, so they won’t rip easily. However, thicker blankets will be more difficult to fold down.

Basically, if you plan on using this type of blanket outdoors, make sure you buy one that’s thicker than the lower priced blankets that are sold for just a few bucks.

Wool

A wool blanket can be used in place of a sleeping bag, however, there is plenty of debate concerning which option is better. Most people prefer using sleeping bags, but a wool blanket also offers plenty of benefits. In rainy conditions this type of material can wick water away from the skin and keep the user warm, although they don’t do so well in a heavy downpour. When these blankets become soaked, they can take a long time to dry and will not offer any insulating power compared to a dry wool blanket. However, they can still be a great choice in the event of an emergency.

Additionally, these blankets are very durable and can last for years. They cannot be torn or punctured easily, which means they can be a great option if you need to cover uncomfortable terrain. They also do an excellent job of blocking wind, but not as well as blankets that are made out of mylar. They are also pretty bulky when they’re rolled up, so if you don’t have much space to spare in your pack, then a wool blanket may be a bad choice. However, you can also attach them to the top or bottom of your pack, via some bungee cords.

Fleece

Fleece does an excellent job when it comes to retaining body heat or providing insulating power. One of the best things about this type of material is how comfortable and soft it will feel against the user’s skin. Fleece is a much more comfortable option compared to mylar or wool. Fleece also does a good job of absorbing water and dries quickly. This will be very important in emergency situations where you need to stay dry. Most types of emergency blankets that are made out of fleece are usually accompanied by a shell since alone, fleece doesn’t do a very good job of blocking wind. One advantage of using this type of blanket is the fact that it can be rolled up into a very compact package, so it won’t take up too much space in your pack.

Other Important Features

survival blanket

As I discussed above, the type of material the blanket is made out of can be one of the most important features to pay close attention to. Keep in mind, different kinds of material will work better in different situations and some will be more appropriate than others. While fleece can be a better choice for warm weather, once the temperature drops at night, wool or mylar are preferable. Knowing the type of weather conditions you’ll be potentially facing can help you decide on the right type of blanket to keep in your bug out bag or your pack. Now, I’ll go over the other features to look for and how to choose a blanket that can provide the type of protection you need.

Length

In order to stay warm and dry, you need to use a blanket that’s long enough. Fortunately, most blankets are available in the standard size, which is approximately, fifty-four to sixty inches by seventy-five to eighty inches. If you’re taller than average, then you may have trouble finding a blanket that’s long enough to fully protect you.

Waterproof

Using a blanket that’s waterproof or windproof is crucial. Even if the blanket provides one feature and not the other, you can still use it with another blanket for the ultimate effect. While mylar is chosen for its windproof ability, fleece and wool blankets will allow some wind in. Using different types of blankets together can help to provide the max level of protection against the elements.

Frequently Asked Questions

 How Warm will an Emergency Blanket Keep You?

These blankets will work to keep you warm based on the type of material they’re made out of. Some types, such as mylar, can help to keep you warm by trapping up to ninety percent of your body heat that would otherwise be dispersed into the air. While these blankets are mainly used to keep a person warm, they can also help to keep the user dry or cool.

Do Emergency Blankets Expire?

Most blankets are reusable, although some mylar blankets are disposable. How long one of these blankets lasts will depend on how it’s used. In a normal situation, in terms of providing warmth during a camping trip, these blankets can last season after season.

Why do they put Blankets on Shock Victims?

Mylar blankets or wool blankets are used by first responders in order to keep a patient warm when it’s cold out. They can also be used for people who are going into shock, since the injured person’s body is unable to regulate body heat during this time.

What’s the Best Survival Blanket?

If you want ultimate protection, use more than just one of these blankets at a time. Use a mylar on the outside and a wool or fleece blanket on the inside. Keeping multiple mylar blankets on hand is always a great idea since these blankets are by far the most versatile and will come in handy in a variety of situations, but wool and fleece are able to provide insulating power, which mylar alone cannot.

Final Thoughts

As you now know, there are many different types of emergency blankets to choose from and that choosing the best emergency blankets can depend on the situation, weather condition, and the environment. While mylar can be a good choice in cold weather with low wind conditions, a wool blanket is recommended for colder conditions. Knowing more about how each type of blanket is used and what their pros and cons are will allow you to choose the right blanket for your bug out bag or camping pack. When you’re preparing your bug out bag or packing your hiking or camping bag, always be prepared for inclement weather. With that being said, the products in my top six list and this buyers guide will help you choose the right blanket or blankets based on these important factors, so you’ll always be prepared when an emergency strikes.

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