Whether you’re tackling a multi-day backcountry adventure or an overnight weekend hike, having the right emergency blanket can provide an extra layer of safety and comfort.
In this list, we’ll explore the top 5 best emergency blankets for hikers and backpackers.
We’ve selected blankets that excel in critical areas like lightweight construction, compact packability, heat reflection, durability and versatility.
From budget-friendly basics to high-performance options, these blankets are well-suited to unpredictable weather and potential emergency scenarios.
Let’s get started.
Weight: 2 ounces (57 grams)
Size: 60×84 inches (152×213 cm)
✅ Good size
❌ Only comes in a set of four
❌ Not the best colors for emergencies
The Oceas Emergency Blanket provides basic thermal protection. This 4-pack comes neatly packaged in an EVA case. Each mylar blanket measures 5′ x 7′ when unfolded but compresses to a compact 2 oz package.
The reflective thermal material works well for retaining body heat. In a test, we were able to stay warm under one blanket with only slight slippage issues solved by safety pins. Just be very careful when deploying – the ultra-thin mylar can tear or puncture easily on branches or sharp objects.
A nice feature is that each blanket comes sealed in its own nylon bag with a carabiner clip for attachment. However, the darker blue/black color may be less noticeable in an emergency compared to brighter alternatives.
Overall, these blankets provide basic insulation at a very low cost and weight penalty per blanket. Just don’t expect long-term durability from the thin material.
Weight: 2.5 ounces (71 grams)
Size: 52×82 inches (132×208 cm)
❌ Only comes in a set of four
❌ A bit narrow
The Don’t Die In Woods ultralight Emergency Blanket lives up to its claim of being “World’s Toughest.” At 4×7 feet, it provides excellent full-body coverage for protecting against extreme weather. The generous size also allows it to be transformed into makeshift emergency gear like a temporary shelter or sleep system.
Constructed of durable, heat-reflective mylar, it retains up to 90% of body heat even in cold temperatures. Yet it remains conveniently compact and lightweight enough for backpacking. In testing, the blanket retained heat well and was easily configured into an emergency bivvy.
Our only minor critique is that the 4-foot width may be narrow for larger body types, risking gaps. However, for the intended use as a true emergency insulation layer, the size is appropriate.
Overall, outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate the robust and versatile construction of this blanket.
Weight: 3.2 ounces (91 grams)
Size: 58×98 inches (147×249 cm)
✅ Large size
✅ Relatively cheap
❌ Not the most durable
The SOL Emergency Blanket XL is a good insulating option for outdoor enthusiasts. Made of vacuum-metalized polyethylene that reflects an impressive 90% of body heat, it will help retain warmth even in severe conditions.
At about 5ft x 8ft, the generous size allows coverage for two people or construction of a basic emergency shelter. Standing out is the high-visibility orange exterior for easy locating by rescuers.
Of course, as an emergency item, long-term durability isn’t the goal. But for reflecting heat during survival situations, or shelter-building, the SOL Blanket XL delivers good performance without the bulk.
For the weight, this blanket is an excellent insurance policy for unpredictable weather situations. The extra size also adds versatility over single-person models.
Weight: 22.4 ounces (635 grams)
Size: 60×82 inches (152×208 cm)
✅ Can be used as a tarp
The Arcturus Survival Blanket provides good versatility for outdoor enthusiasts. As a blanket, groundsheet, makeshift shelter, or emergency tarp, it proves useful in a variety of camping, hiking, and backpacking situations.
The heavy-duty polyester material is rugged and water-resistant. One side is also covered with mylar to increase reflectivity. Its weight of 1.4 lbs makes it less ideal for multi-day backpacking trips. However, if you want to use it to cover your bivy and skip packing a separate tent, it is suitable for that purpose.
In testing, we were able to quickly configure it into an effective emergency shelter. The included waterproof storage bag keeps it well organized in the pack. One downside is that stakes are not included for securing it in various configurations.
Overall, this blanket delivers impressive utility as an all-purpose shelter and protection piece for its price point.
Weight: 2.89 ounces (82 grams)
Size: 56×84 inches (142×213 cm)
✅ Extremely affordable
✅ Relatively durable
❌ Not for winter use
The SOL ultralight survival blanket is a versatile and dependable addition to your outdoor gear. This blanket is tear-resistant and more durable than traditional mylar options. It’s designed to withstand punctures and won’t shred like others.
Waterproof and windproof, it effectively shields you from the elements. Its lightweight and reflective properties make it an easy fit for any ultralight backpacker.
For the price, we can praise its strength and visibility-enhancing features. Whether used as a groundsheet during camping or as a makeshift tarp, this blanket proves its worth in various situations.
Choosing the ideal emergency blanket (i.e., space blanket) means having a versatile outdoor tool that can be a lifesaver in tough conditions.
Emergency blankets are usually made of metallized polyester (like Mylar) or polyolefin. Mylar reflects up to 90% of radiated body heat and is more wind/water resistant. Polyolefin is cheaper but still retains heat decently.
Be mindful of their various sizes for your intended use; choose one that envelops your body. Also keep an eye on their shelf life:
To make the most of these adaptable blankets, use them as liners for bivy sacks, enhance your sleeping bag’s insulation, create ground barriers, or even improvise emergency shelters.
If you want to become an expert in choosing the right emergency blanket, check out our in-depth post on the topic.
When selecting an emergency blanket for cold weather hiking or camping trips, it’s important to choose one that can prevent hypothermia in emergency disaster situations. Opt for a blanket made of reflective foil material, as this will most effectively reflect up to 90% of radiated body heat back to the user. Foil blankets are extremely light, compact when packed, and portable to easily bring for preparedness. Look for a large size that can fully wrap the body to retain warmth. In freezing conditions, a foil blanket may be the difference between an uncomfortable shivering spell and inducing hypothermia. Being equipped with the right foil emergency blanket brings peaceful relief in knowing you’re prepared for unpredictable hazards.
The most effective emergency blankets are made from different heat-reflective materials depending on the intended conditions and use. Foil emergency blankets contain a thin layer of metallized plastic or film that reflects over 90% of radiated body heat. For warmer weather, plastic blankets utilizing polyester fibers retain residual warmth while still being breathable. More heavy-duty blankets sustain high winds with water-resistant nylon and pu-coated materials. Down insulated blankets provide maximum insulation in sub-zero temperatures. Regardless of material, the best blankets are compact yet durable to maintain heat reflection qualities through multiple uses in true disaster scenarios.
While emergency blankets can provide crucial warmth, not all varieties are fully waterproof. Regular foil blankets are resistant to moisture but not completely waterproof, as they are made only of thin plastic or metallized film. If it rains or snows, the reflective surface may become dampened and less effective over time. Some heavy-duty models designed for harsh weather include pu or nylon coatings that make them water resistant, protecting both the reflective layer and person inside. It’s best to check the product description or bring a backup dry bag if waterproofing is essential for your conditions. Proper selection ensures an emergency blanket does not lose its insulating abilities due to precipitation.