If you don’t have an emergency blanket in your bug-out bag, you’re crazy.
If you’re ever stranded in the outdoors you’ll be glad you have your emergency blanket— the metallic surface serves as a way to keep warm and dry and prevent hypothermia and also acts as locator beacon for searchers if you’re lost. Don’t leave home without one.
Check out our picks of the best emergency blankets to include in your kit, and make sure you get one sooner than later.
• Light weight
• Durable insulation: Mylar material
• Retains and reflects 90 percent of body heat
• Reusable, waterproof and windproof
• 54 x 84 inches
Defining Features: Mylar Emergency Thermal Blankets should be part of any emergency kit. The wallet-sized blankets are compact and lightweight—perfect for storing in your car or emergency kit. Made of durable, insulated, Mylar material, the blankets are guaranteed to keep you warm on those cold nights— this blanket retains and reflects 90 percent of the body’s heat. Even below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll feel warm, but not overheated.
• Reflects and retains 80 percent of radiated body heat
• Store in car, camper, boat, or gear bag in case of emergency, or use after marathons or sporting events
• Waterproof and windproof
• Weighs 3 ounces
Defining Features: Use the same super-insulating material developed for the Apollo Space missions on your next camping trip. At less than $5, Grabber Outdoors Emergency Blanket is an absolute bargain. The OD Green is perfect for hunters, military and police looking to stay warm and blend in with their surroundings. The blanket’s vacuum deposited metal and a polyester film surface ensures you’ll stay dry from the rain and safe from the wind. This compact blanket is perfect for storing in the glove compartment of your car and your emergency kit.
• Opens easily and will not shred if nicked or punctured, rips and tears can be repaired
• Quiet and won’t crinkle in high winds
• High-visibility orange exterior makes it easy for rescuers to find you • Sized to fit 1 to 2 people
Defining Features: Although Mylar blankets are fine and dandy at keeping you warm, some of them are prone to tearing and shredding. If you’re looking for a durable, long-lasting emergency blanket alternative, try the S.O.L. Survival Blanket. Made of vacuum-metalized polyethylene, this advanced emergency blanket reflects 90 percent of your body heat to keep you warm when it matters most. It includes handy instructions to get the most of your emergency blanket. Not only is it waterproof, the blanket’s windproof, too.
• A compact, lightweight blanket
• Aluminized, non-stretch polyester
• Stays flexible in freezing temperatures
• Reflects body heat back to body
• Wind and waterproof
Defining Features: Coghlan’s Emergency Blanket is your basic no-frills emergency blanket. At less than $5, it’s good buy for casual campers on a limited budget looking to stay warm on those frigid mid-September nights. This compact and lightweight emergency blanket is made from high-quality aluminized, non-stretch polyester. Some emergency blankets freeze in sub-zero temperatures; this blanket stays flexible even in colder weather. It does a good job of reflecting the heat back to your body, protecting you from the wind and the rain.
• Measures 60 x 84 inches
• Weighs 12 ounces
• Available colors: red, blue, dark olive
Defining Features: If it’s good enough for astronauts, it’s good enough for everyone. MPI Outdoors All Weather Blanket is a heavy-duty emergency blanket made from the same super-insulating materials that were developed for the NASA/Apollo Space missions. Choose from three different colors, including blue, dark olive and red. This blanket is made from full edge binding Radar reflective material and is guaranteed to retain up to 90 percent of your radiated body heat to help you stay comfortable and warm.
• Technology developed in the space program to provide maximum warmth with minimum weight
• Made from extremely tough polyester rip-stop material
• Retains up to 90 percent of body heat
• Bright surface can also be used to reflect light for miles
• Weighs 10 ounces
Defining Features: Stansport Sportsman’s Polarshield Emergency Blanket is fabricated from super-durable polyester material. There’s no easier way to ruin an emergency blanket than tearing it; this blanket is made of rip-stop material to help avoiding tearing. The same technology developed for outer space is used in this super warm emergency blanket. Use it at the campsite or as an extra blanket on your bed to stay warm at night. This long-lasting blanket is worth its weight in gold; it will pay for itself in two seasons.
• Size: 55.2 x 86.4 inches
• Weighs 1.4 ounces
• Reflects nearly 80 percent of body heat
• Waterproof and windproof
• Remains elastic below freezing
• Small enough to fit into shirt pocket
Defining Features: Ace Camp Emergency Blankets may be priced in the middle of the pack, but they offer the same great features as the premium blankets do. These blankets are ideal for the outdoors, allowing you to reflect and retain over 80 percent of your body heat for maximum warmth. The waterproof material will keep you dry from the elements. The blanket is lightweight and compact, perfect for storing in your backpack or the glove compartment of your car.
•Weighs 2.5 ounces
• Dimensions: 84 x 55 inches
Defining Features: Emergency Essentials Emergency Blanket is a compact, lightweight blanket no emergency kit— or bug-out bag—should be without. Don’t let its price tag fool you; this emergency blanket does an excellent job keeping you warm, maintaining 80 percent of your body heat. Cover yourself from head to toe or cover your entire body for maximum warmth. It gives an all-new meaning to the term compact; it’s so small you can even carry it in your pocket.
• Provides compact emergency protection in all weather conditions.
• Made of durable insulating Mylar material designed by NASA for space exploration
• Retains and reflects back 90 percent of body heat
• Perfect for camping trips and sporting events
• Comes with two sleeping bags
Defining Features: Why buy just an emergency blanket when you can get a sleeping bag at the same time? At just under $8, Grizzly Bear Emergency Survival Thermal Sleeping Bag is a two-inone sleeping bag/thermal blanket. This bag does a top-notch job of retaining body heat, retaining and reflecting up to 90 percent of your body heat. Not only is it waterproof and windproof, you can even use it as a shelter during a disaster. It’s perfect for camping, hiking and during those frigid nights.
• Provides compact emergency protection in all weather conditions by reflecting back and retaining 90 percent of a survival victim’s body heat
• Can be used to prevent and counter hypothermia by reducing heat loss from a person’s body
• Can be used to cover injured victims in order to help reduce shock
• Can be used in a hot environment to provide shade as a shelter barrier
• Reusable, waterproof and windproof
Defining Features: Why purchase one emergency blanket, when you can get four—enough for a family—for the low price of $5.76? This blanket isn’t just great for the outdoors; it comes in handy during natural disasters, including hurricanes and earthquakes. These blankets are multipurpose—use them as blankets, cloaks or even tents, it’s up to you. This is one of the warmer blankets, reflecting 90 percent of your body heat to keep you toasty warm. It’s large enough to fit even the tallest people.
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the September 2014 print issue of American Survival Guide.