Thermal blankets are specially engineered sheets of metalized plastic designed to trap body heat. They help keep you warm and dry in extreme conditions.
Staying warm is important during bushcrafting, especially during the colder months. A thermal blanket is the best way to insulate yourself when bushcrafting in cold weather.
In this guide, you’ll get to know some of the best quality thermal blankets on the market—and you’ll get to see answers to some frequently asked questions about thermal blankets.
Which Thermal Blanket to Use for Bushcrafting
There are many thermal blankets available to buy—but which ones are best for bushcrafting? Our team of experts have compiled a list of three recommended blankets that have been tried and tested in the field.
1. Arcturus All-Weather Reusable Emergency Blanket
The Arcturus All-Weather is a heavy-duty blanket that is useful in various survival situations. It measures 60×82″ with an approximate weight of 22.4oz, making it one of the heavier options on the market. But there’s a good reason for this extra weight; the blanket has a three-layer ripstop and Mylar construction, making it highly durable against wear and tear.
This blanket is also equipped with four grommets: one in each corner. (Grommets are metal rings that provide holes for putting rope through.) A common problem for bushcrafters is that grommets are of low quality and are too narrow to fit ropes wider than a paracord. The Arcturus, meanwhile, has grommets fitted with heavy-duty stitching and grosgrain material—and its holes are three times the average size.
In addition, the Arcturus All-Weather Blanket arrives in a zipper pouch made out of the same material as the blanket. This pouch has enough space to accommodate a premade ridgeline, toggles, and even tent sticks. The downside of this blanket: it is more costly than the other options on this list.
2. S.O.L. Sports Utility Blanket
Survive Outdoors Longer created this Sports Utility Blanket using a single layer of woven polyethylene for rugged use—and an unbeatable strength-to-weight ratio. This high quality sets this blanket apart from the alternatives that just sandwich multiple weak layers of material together in a bid to increase strength.
This heavy-duty blanket measures 60×84″ and weights 11.3oz, making it almost half the weight of the Arcturus All-Weather emergency blanket—without compromising on durability.
Furthermore, the S.O.L. Sports Utility Blanket has 95% heat reflectivity, one of the highest levels on the market. S.O.L. achieve this by applying a vapor-deposited coating on the silver side of the blanket. This stops more heat from escaping compared to other thermal blankets.
Finally, the Sports Utility Blanket boasts six grommets, making it easy to rig in various configurations—including an A-frame tent, load hauler, ground tarp, and more.
3. Swiss Safe Mylar Foil Blanket
The Mylar trademark is second-to-none. They’re famous for their shiny, thin polyester material used to wrap, insulate, and protect items. Mylar thermal blankets are highly effective.
Arriving in a pack of four, the Swiss Safe Mylar blanket measures 52×82″ and weighs only 2oz per piece. This means that they will not weigh down your backpack or first-aid kit on excursions.
What’s more, these blankets are moisture-resistant and have windproof properties that will protect you from massive gusts out on the frontier. If that weren’t enough, you can reuse them, too!
The downside: the lightweight construction of these blankets means that they aren’t as durable as heavy-duty options and are liable to tear. Also, the crinkling sound might grind your gears after a while. Not to fear, though: if you’re dissatisfied, there’s a 100% money back guarantee.
Why a Thermal Blanket Can Be Useful When Doing Bushcraft
By nature, thermal blankets are there to keep you warm; they’re known to retain 90% of your body heat when wrapped around you. This is particularly useful for preventing shock and hypothermia when temperatures drop.
As well as covering you and protecting you from cold, thermal blankets can be used as floor insulation against cold, damp forest ground. Sit or lie on a thermal blanket and you’ll avoid soaking up cold or moisture from the floor.
On the flip side, you can also even use a thermal blanket in hot or humid conditions! Its reflective properties will deflect sunlight and humidity to create a cooling area of shade.
Finally, the reflective properties of thermal blankets make them ideal for sending distress signals. If you run into trouble while bushcrafting, you can use sunlight to reflect light off your blanket and attract the attention of passing people or vehicles.
Other handy uses for thermal blankets include as a ground tarp, rainwater collector, sleeping bag insulator, shelter, table cloth, and food covering.
In These Cases It Is Essential to Have a Thermal Blanket
A thermal blanket is essential in emergency situations. There are numerous scenarios in bushcrafting where you can find yourself in trouble.
One example is that you might get lost or injured in the field and need to survive the night until help can arrive. This is nearly always a possibility. As you’re likely aware, injuries are amplified in these situations as you’re far away from people or civilization, where it is difficult to get help. Keeping yourself warm in an emergency like this is essential.
If you have trouble lighting a fire because you don’t have wood or the ignition is difficult because the woods are wet, you can use your blanket to keep warm.
Additionally, thermal blankets serve as a safety precaution in case you lose or damage your tent or sleeping bag. In such situations, you can fashion a thermal blanket into a shelter or poncho, which will keep you protected and warm for the night.
Since you never know when an emergency might happen, you should ideally always have a thermal blanket in your first-aid kit as a shock-prevention measure and for keeping warm.
Differences Between an Emergency Blanket and a Space Blanket
Thermal blankets, emergency blankets, and space blankets are named differently based on their usage; however, they all carry out similar functions.
In the medical field, paramedics use emergency blankets in first-aid situations, such as shock and hypothermia. Emergency blankets can often be seen on the survivors of accidents and evacuations.
In the scientific field, these blankets are referred to as space blankets and are mostly employed by astronauts, who use them on the exterior of spacecrafts for thermal control. Astronauts also use space blankets on their bodies to reduce heat loss, which could happen due to thermal radiation, water evaporation, or convection.
How Warm Can a Thermal Blanket Get?
When a thermal blanket is wrapped around you, it traps your body heat and prevents any warmth from escaping into the air. On average, a thermal blanket retains up to 90% of your body heat. Some brands have engineered technology to reach even higher retention rates!
Tip: Keep the heat in and the cold out by tucking the side of your thermal blanket under your body and feet, so no cold air can get in.
Do Thermal Blankets Expire?
The short answer is yes. Most thermal blankets will expire within two years after being produced; however, this timespan is often shortened as soon as a package is opened. That’s why you shouldn’t open a thermal blanket unless you know you are going to use it right away. A tell-tell sign that a thermal blanket has expired is if it has lost some of its shine.
How you store a thermal blanket will also affect how quickly it expires. For this reason, it’s important to store thermal blankets in a cool, dry place, such as an airtight storage container. If they’re exposed to heat and humidity, their foil will become crinkly and dry, whittling away the protective layer. This process does differ from blanket to blanket, however, especially when it comes to heavy-duty variants. Check the manufacturer’s packaging for more information.
Can Thermal Blankets Be Reused?
Yes—but some can be reused more than others. If you are reusing a thermal blanket, make sure to fold it back into the exact shape that it was packaged in—this is usually a square. You can find instructions in the packaging on how to do this.
Folding your thermal blanket correctly will prevent rips and creases that could damage the product and make it unusable. Again, this differs from blanket to blanket, especially the heavy-duty variants, so check the manufacturer’s packaging for more information.
Can Thermal Blankets Keep Heat Out?
As mentioned earlier, thermal blankets can also keep heat out. You can point their reflective panel towards the sun to keep out heat and protect you against harsh sunlight. This reflective panel can also be fashioned into a makeshift shelter to provide a cooling shade in hot weather.
Do Cheap Emergency Blankets Work?
Cheap thermal blankets work perfectly fine. However, there are differences in quality and durability when you compare cheap, thin blankets to more expensive, heavy-duty ones.
If you go for a cheaper blanket and want to reuse it, you’ll need to take extra care when using and storing it—that way you can maximize its efficacy and lifespan.
I am Bruno. I write and lecture about bushcraft, survival, hiking, and nature experiences in general. I also produce short films on these topics as a director.
My wife Lilith and I try to travel as much as we can to discover the world! We wish to live in harmony with nature and preserve its ecosystems: Eden paradise is here now.
I want to open a door to reconnect with nature through this blog.