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Picnic blankets are the perfect setting for an alfresco lunch or for soaking up some sun in your local park. Many options have a water-resistant backing, making them popular for seating at concerts and sporting events where the weather can be spotty. In reality, these blankets can be used for far more than a typical picnic outing. They are ideal for any outdoor activity where you want a soft, dry spot to sit or lounge.
When deciding on the right picnic blanket to add to your outdoor gear, think about what type of feel and features you need. Do you want a soft, warm blanket for cool-weather outings or a thin, lightweight version for spring picnics or to take to the beach? The material of a picnic blanket, along with how water-resistant the blanket is, will determine these factors. In addition, choose a blanket that is the right size for you and your usual crew. Other features to think about include how easy it is to pack and carry the blanket, along with what type of cleaning requirements it has.
Pack up your gear and head outside with one of these top picnic blankets.
Best Overall: Yeti Lowlands Blanket
If you’re serious about your outdoor activities and passionate about picnic blankets, then the Yeti Lowlands Blanket is the ultimate option. This durable, well-constructed blanket comes with high praise as an “impenetrable water and dirt shield,” according to one user. It’s a splurge for sure, but it’s the perfect picnic blanket and is likely to be the last outdoor blanket you’ll ever buy. It also makes a great gift for anyone who enjoys being outside.
Measuring 79 x 55 inches, this blanket is comfortably sized for two adults. It’s also pet-approved, and users note that pet hair is easy to shake off. This picnic blanket is machine washable, so it’s super simple to clean up any messes or mud. The blanket comes folded inside a soft-sided carry case that reviewers say is a key part of the functionality.
Best Waterproof: L.L. Bean Waterproof Outdoor Blanket
Keep dry with this warm and waterproof picnic blanket from LL Bean. Versatile enough for just about any outdoor application where moisture might be a problem, this blanket features a polyurethane-coated nylon backing on one side and a delightfully soft fleece seating surface on the other side. This waterproof picnic blanket is machine washable, making it easy to clean and maintain.
Despite being widely praised for keeping water out no matter what, this picnic blanket is surprisingly thin and lightweight—one reviewer described it as more like a waterproof flannel sheet than a blanket. It's suitable for year-round use, and plenty of people find it to be a great option for keeping warm during chilly sporting events or when camping.
Best for Travel: Matador Water Resistant Pocket Blanket
Never be without a picnic blanket, thanks to this pocket-sized version from Matador. This ultra-lightweight blanket weighs under a quarter of a pound and fits in the palm of your hand or the pocket of your bag. One of the most outstanding features is the included metal ground stakes that will keep this travel-friendly picnic blanket from flying away with a light breeze.
Despite being such a thin, portable blanket, users describe it as sturdy and tear-resistant. One person reports that it held up to being used extensively on a campsite and was a favorite spot for her dogs to rest and relax—with no wear and tear from the dogs' nails.
The biggest challenge when it comes to the Matador Pocket Blanket may be refolding it into its teeny-tiny carrying pouch. Some people have found the slippery and lightweight material difficult to fold precisely, but Matador has included stitched guidelines onto the underside of the material, so you’ll know just where to crease and fold your blanket.
Best Budget: JAMFLY Picnic Blanket with Waterproof Backing
This Jamfly pick keeps it simple and provides you with a budget-friendly blanket option that you can use for years. It’s made with Oxford cloth and features a PVC coating to repel liquids and keep your seating surface dry. It can easily be spot-cleaned with soap and water, but it may not hold up well in a washing machine.
It’s not as soft as some other plush picnic blankets on the market, and it’s been described as more like a tablecloth for the ground. However, that means it's also incredibly resistant to stains and spills, so you can enjoy your picnic without worrying about ruining your blanket.
Best for Beach: WEKAPO Sand Free Beach Blanket
If you're headed to the beach with a crowd, you're going to want a blanket that's extra-large and easy to clean. Made of thin, lightweight nylon, this blanket is perfect for sitting or sunbathing. It's a massive 9 x 10 feet, so there's plenty of room for everyone in your group to sit and chat or for a few people to lie down.
The blanket comes with corner pockets you can fill with sand to keep the blanket from blowing in the wind, or you can use the included metal stakes to keep it pinned down. When you're ready to go, give the blanket a nice shake and watch all of the sand come flying off. The blanket tucks easily into the included pouch, and if you need to clean it, you can toss it in the washing machine and let it quickly air dry.
What to Look for
A picnic blanket's material will impact the comfort, durability, and resistance to moisture provided by the blanket. The most traditional options for a warm, soft picnic blanket include fleece and wool. But cotton and acrylic picnic blankets offer a soft feel as well, without being too hot for warm-weather picnics. Picnic blankets for the beach also are frequently seen in nylon or polypropylene, since both materials are lightweight and make it easy to shake off sand and debris.
Since wet or damp ground can quickly lead to a soggy sitting spot, many picnic blankets include a waterproof backing material. This is a must-have if you want the flexibility of using your picnic blanket in all types of conditions. However, a waterproof backing generally results in a thicker, slightly more bulky blanket that may not be machine-washable.
Choose a picnic blanket that is spacious enough for everyone to sit on, including any children or pets. Keep in mind that ultra-portable blankets, like those that fold up into a small pouch or pocket, may not offer as much room to spread out. On the other hand, a very large picnic blanket takes up more storage space. In general, though, it's better to have a picnic blanket that is too large instead of one that is too small to accommodate you and your alfresco spread.
Any time you're planning an outdoor activity, the gear required can add up quickly. Keep things light and easy by choosing a picnic blanket that is portable. A classic option is a rolled-up picnic blanket with a carrying handle or straps that encircle the blanket. Many space-saving picnic blankets are designed to fold into a small pocket on the blanket itself or an included pouch or case.
A picnic blanket that gets regular use will need occasional cleaning. Dirt, grass, leaves, and mud can all soil your blanket, in addition to spills or crumbs from your food and beverages. For easy clean-up, some picnic blankets are machine-washable. Others, like some wool picnic blankets, may be spot-clean only or require dry-cleaning. Plastic mats, like polypropylene picnic blankets, may not be machine-washable, but they can easily be wiped clean or even rinsed with a garden hose.
In general, how long are picnic blankets?
Picnic blankets are usually 60 to 70 inches long. Some compact options measure a few inches shorter, while other picnic blankets for large groups may measure 80 inches or more in length.
Why are picnic blankets plaid?
The Gaelic word plaide meant blanket or wrap. Today, we use the term plaid to describe a pattern of one or more intersecting lines of color. However, it's no surprise that the makers of picnic blankets use a plaid design since the name gives a nod to the word's original meaning of blanket or wrap.
What are picnic blankets made of?
There is no one material that all picnic blankets must be made of. Instead, many different materials have been used for picnic blankets, ranging from wool to cotton and nylon to plastic. Many, but not all, have a waterproof backing or membrane to resist moisture.