Versatility that rolls
I’d say that in the pantheon of useful summer gear, an adventure blanket stacks up right behind flip-flops and shorts. They’re great for picnics on the beach, stargazing in the mountains, and cuddling in your tent. Here are six options to get you started.
Nemo Victory ($80)
Best For: Naps
This will be the third summer that a four-person Victory Blanket has lived in the trunk of my car. If I had to guess, I’d wager that my wife and I have logged over 100 hours of reading, eating, and napping on ours. I love it because the rugged tarp-like bottom sloughs off mud and dirt, and the woven top is cushy enough to sleep on without a pad (assuming you’re not camped out on rocks). Warning: all that cushiness means the blanket is bulky. Rolled up, it’s significantly bigger than my backpacking tent.
Mexican Blanket ($14)
Best For: Backup
One of these handmade, polyester-cotton blankets from Mexico that you can find in a place like Walmart should have a permanent spot in your car as backup, even if you’ve already got a more expensive blanket. They do just fine on the beach and on dry ground for picnics. They’re also pretty warm, unless temperatures drop into the thirties. Do not use them, however, when the ground is wet. The polyester-cotton blend soaks up water and renders them useless.
Rumpl Original Puffy ($100 and up)
Best For: Snuggling
There’s a healthy dose of synthetic insulation in this blanket, so I think of it as a backcountry quilt that’s perfect for warmer nights in the tent. You can also use it as a wrap on early mornings before the campfire starts raging or when you want to sit and watch the stars. Bonus: it’s machine washable.
Coalatree Kachula Adventure 2.0 ($70)
Best For: Durability
Hey, all you overlanders: this is what you want in the back of your Tacoma. Made from ripstop nylon with a durable water-repellent coating, it’s my first choice when I have to lay down and change a tire in the rain, snow, or mud. The striped earth-tone patterns also look good laid across sandstone in Moab. When packed up, it sits somewhere between the Victory and Mexican blankets in terms of size.
Pendleton Roll-Up ($140)
Best For: Romantic picnics
At $140, the Roll-Up is the most expensive pick on my list, but the Oregon-made, virgin-wool blanket is also the best-looking. You can choose from several classic plaid designs, and it comes with a nylon back, so it won’t get roughed up on the ground. When temps drop, the wool is a great insulator. Heads up: the blanket has to be dry-cleaned, so be careful not to spill your beer or wine on it.
Grand Trunk Parasheet ($40)
Best For: The beach
There’s no padding here, but the nylon stays cool, so it’s great on hot, soft sand. It will also keep your clothes from getting dirty, and when it’s not in use the 16-ounce blanket packs down to the size of a jacket and fits easily in your pack or picnic basket.