Aircore Blanket
Aircore Blanket (courtesy, Lands' End)

Why can’t I just use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry?

I was wondering why more people don't use a blanket to sleep in the backcountry. They are more temperature adaptable, lighter weight (for a given size), there just aren't a lot of options offered. What do you think? Josh Vallejo, CA

Aircore Blanket

Well, Josh, I have to be honest. I don’t even begin to agree with your premise. True, there is the historical model of the “bedroll,” which of course helped win the West…or helped rob it from the folks who were already there. But I can’t even imagine trying to use a blanket for anything halfway serious.

Aircore Blanket Aircore Blanket

Let’s look at an example. I’m going camping where I expect to see low temperatures of around 35 degrees. Chilly, but not real cold. I could, per your theory, pack along something like a Lands’ End Aircore Blanket ($50), which is made with Polartec 200 and is a nice warm blanket. Now, I happen to HAVE one of these and it tips the scales at about 15 ounces. And I would need two of them—at least. So we’re close to two pounds.

Meanwhile, my MontBell U.L. SS Down Hugger #3, rated to 30 degrees, weighs one pound and seven ounces—seven ounces less than the two blankets. Plus it’s warmer because the Polartec pieces aren’t that windproof. AND…the sleeping bag is much more resistant to drafts coming up from around the floor. One could shave some weight off the blankets by trimming them down to a more oval shape, but then you lose the ability to tuck the edges under yourself. OK, the bag costs $260, but for its vastly greater performance I don’t think that’s bad.

If someone has numbers that make more sense than this, send them on. Otherwise, I’m sticking with a sleeping bag.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
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Lead Photo: courtesy, Lands' End