Why buy an emergency blanket?
First invented by NASA in 1964 and coined “space blankets,” emergency blankets, like Mylar that coats satellites, trap and reflect heat, and are life-saving. Intense physical activity like running increases the body’s production of heat. After running and sweating for several hours, the body’s heat output can drop drastically at the finish line. And if the weather is cool and wet, the temperature contrast can trigger hypothermia. Trauma to the body can trigger this state, too, like car accidents or falls. If you’re an avid outdoor adventurer, boater, or skier, you want to prevent trips to the emergency room for hypothermia, and emergency blankets are lightweight and convenient aids in this task. Even if you’re not big on the outdoors, keeping an emergency blanket in your emergency kit is crucial.
What should you look for in an emergency blanket?
- Size: If you’re camping, you may want a different size emergency blanket than would work in the car for roadside emergencies. A 7- by 5-foot Mylar blanket is large enough to create a protective structure against moisture, wind, and cold. A large emergency blanket can also work as ground cover if you need to camp on wet or cold ground. However, if you don’t need such a large emergency blanket, then consider a smaller option. Yes, they fold up into a compact bag regardless of size, but a small blanket is easier to maneuver than a larger one.
- Thickness: Emergency blankets come in various thicknesses, though the difference between a 12-micrometer and a 26-micrometer sounds inconsequential. However, the performance between the two is significant. If you’re headed off on a backpacking trip with extreme terrain, you want a blanket that’s both rip- and puncture-resistant. The thicker, the better if you’re into hardcore sports.
- Design: The emergency blankets given to endurance sports participants at the finish line should be quick to put on, light, and basic in design. Medical aids have to dole them out fast and to lots of people. However, a trail runner could benefit from a more portable emergency blanket design. We review a blanket that comes with an EVA case with a carabiner to clip onto a backpack. Consider colored emergency blankets, too, as they can be more visible in crisis situations.
How much should you expect to spend on an emergency blanket?
Great news! Emergency blankets are relatively inexpensive. A four-pack of high-quality emergency blankets costs as little as $15. Prices rise with added accessories, thicker material, and larger sizes. Still, the most expensive product we review is about $25, not bad considering you get four and a carrying case.
Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
A pack of four waterproof emergency blankets that retain up to 90% of body heat
Pros: These emergency blankets are dual-sided to reflect and retain heat and are useful in all weather conditions. The advanced, military-grade 12-micrometer aluminized polyethylene material is waterproof and windproof, qualities that maximize protection against hypothermia. Thin and lightweight but durable, these emergency blankets are perfect additions to your emergency safety kits for hiking, climbing, and camping in snowy or desert terrain. Each measures 52 by 82 inches and can be used as a sleeping bag liner, ground cover, or emergency shelter.
Cons: It’s reflective on both sides, which some might not like.
Bottom Line: Mylar emergency blankets are typically silver-colored, but this kit gives you more vibrant options and reliable warmth.
Oceas Outdoor Extra Large Mylar Emergency Blankets
An emergency blanket that comes with its own polyester bag and EVA case.
Pros: We selected these emergency blankets as “Best for Travel” because each comes with its own polyester bag. All four fit inside the durable Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) case. If you want to carry the case outside your backpack, use the included carabiner. Also, the compact, puncture-resistant, 7- by 5-foot blankets weigh only 2 ounces, which is ideal for hiking trips. The extra-large blankets offer more coverage than most, are incredibly versatile, and can be used as emergency sleeping bags or bivouac (bivvy) shelters. Keep them in the car and carry them for backpack or trail running, so you’re always prepared.
Cons: The color could bleed onto your gear or clothes when it gets wet.
Bottom Line: In terms of portability, quality material, and size, these emergency blankets are an excellent choice. They even come in two colors—blue and black.
QIO CHUANG Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
This versatile, advanced, aluminized Mylar blanket can be used as a shelter, water collector, and more.
Pros: Considering the high-quality, advanced, aluminized Mylar, one six-pack of these emergency blankets might be the best value out there. Each waterproof blanket is folded, wrapped, and sealed for ideal storage. The dual-sided blankets retain and deflect heat, which can be lifesaving in any weather condition where body heat is threatened. You can use these Mylar emergency blankets for practically everything, even beyond body heat insulation. They work as solar ovens, arm slings, tourniquets, bivouac shelters, and water collectors.
Cons: This six-pack does not come in assorted colors.
Bottom Line: Here’s a versatile set of emergency blankets. They work great, even as a fishing lure. Just be sure you’ve saved a couple to use as emergency blankets before you head out on your next adventure.
Arcturus Heavy Duty Survival Emergency Blanket
This survival blanket keeps heat inside and your infrared signature hard to detect.
Pros: The Arcturus emergency blanket deserves its own category. It’s more than an emergency blanket, that’s for sure. What’s the difference? It has four reinforced tie-down grommets, so you can hang the emergency blanket to create a strong shelter. The 60- by 82-inch blanket is Mylar on one side and two layers of ripstop polypropylene on the other. Together, they reflect heat, deflect heat, and keep out water, wind, and snow. As the blanket reflects heat, it momentarily blocks your infrared heat signature, which gives you camouflage protection in the infrared spectrum. This feature can help you out if you’re an avid hunter. On the other hand, the shiny Mylar side attracts attention, a perfect signal for help.
Cons: Users who want a simple emergency blanket may not want to deal with the extra weight and grommets.
Bottom Line: This is the kind of emergency blanket you want if you’re into survival sports or hunting or if you’re a resident of a northern state that gets hit hard by snow. You can keep it in the car just in case.
PREPARED4X Emergency Blankets & Rain Poncho Hybrid
This extra-thick and roomy Mylar emergency blanket functions as a rain poncho, too.
Pros: This Mylar survival cover doubles as a rain poncho, an interesting twist on the ordinary emergency blanket, but it makes sense. With this poncho, your free hands can stay busy putting up a tent or helping your camping companion. This 45- by 41-inch, 26-micrometer emergency blanket is thicker than others on the market and impressively rip- and puncture-resistant. It makes a roomy survival shield for many body sizes and sports and a hood for more warmth and protection.
Cons: You can’t lay out this hybrid poncho and have complete coverage like a standard emergency blanket.
Bottom Line: This is an excellent option if you want an emergency blanket with more targeted coverage that you don’t have to hold around you. You’ll also get good rain protection in it.
We’ve gone from outer space to marathon running, hunting, and winter car trips to trace the making and uses of the emergency blanket. These options can serve you well.