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The Best Picnic Blanket

Whether you’re spending a day at the park or headed to an outdoor concert, a good picnic blanket is essential to lounging in comfort. After considering 38 picnic blankets and testing seven, we chose the two-person Nemo Victory Blanket as our favorite. It’s more comfortable to sit on than most blankets, thanks to its soft flannel top, ample padding, and waterproof underlining that will keep you dry even on damp grass. An attached flap and elastic bands easily secure the blanket for easier carrying and storage. And if you prefer a bigger blanket, the Nemo also comes in a four-person model.

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Last Updated: One month ago
We’ve revisited and read through this piece, and we’re still confident that the two-person Nemo Victory blanket is the best picnic blanket for most people. We’ve also added an additional link to buy this pick directly from Nemo.
Our pick
Nemo Victory Blanket
Our favorite picnic blanket rolls easily and compactly, and it will keep you dry and comfortable even on damp grass.

If spills are a special concern, or you value toughness and durability over comfort, the 61-by-79-inch MIU Color Blanket is the easiest we’ve found to clean. Its polyester fabric feels similar to what you might find on outdoor lawn furniture or a tablecloth. It’s not soft exactly, and it doesn’t feel like a traditional picnic blanket, but it will definitely last.

Also great
MIU Color Blanket
This tough, spill-proof blanket isn’t the cushiest for lounging, but it’s the easiest we’ve found to keep clean.

If you’re looking for a picnic basket, we recommend a couple in our full guide. And if you’re hunting for other items for outdoor cooking and picnicking, head over to our Great Gear for Picnics and Grilling guide.

Table of contents

How we picked and tested

We didn’t find any great comparative reviews of picnic blankets, so we relied on our own experience and testing to find the best ones. Picnic blankets, in general, should be easy to clean, and they should feel comfortable to lounge and eat on top of. Essentially, we wanted to find blankets soft enough for a baby to lay on, but durable enough to withstand muddy toddler feet and dog paws and the occasional spilled glass of red wine. That meant we focused on blankets with water-resistant flannel or polyester fleece tops and some kind of padding layer to provide a comfortable cushion.

We wanted to find blankets soft enough for a baby to lay on, but durable enough to withstand muddy toddler feet and dog paws and the occasional spilled glass of red wine.

For easier toting and storage, we looked for blankets that came with attached straps or a separate sack to keep the blanket compactly folded or rolled. We prefered blankets that came with elastic or a sack to those with velcro straps, as the latter usually requires more precise rolling.

Most blankets without some kind of barrier will pull moisture up from the ground like a sponge, especially if you’re lying on them for a few hours, so we tested only those blankets with water-resistant or waterproof backing materials. We placed all the blankets on a recently watered lawn in the shade and laid on each one for roughly 10 minutes. We also put a 45-pound plate weight on each blanket and inspected the weighted spot after 20 minutes for dampness. Thankfully for us and the comfort of our afternoon, none of the models tested let any of the moisture of the lawn through their layers of fabric.

Last, we looked for blankets that we felt would be durable. Although there are plenty of $12 picnic blankets on Amazon, they didn’t look like they’d stand up to much wear and tear. Given that, we focused on blankets that cost $30 to $70. This seemed like a reasonable price range for a durable blanket that wouldn’t fall apart after a season of use, while not also becoming a luxury item.

Best overall picnic blanket

Our pick
Nemo Victory Blanket
Our favorite picnic blanket rolls easily and compactly, and it will keep you dry and comfortable even on damp grass.

We think the two-person Nemo Victory offers the best combination of comfort, durability, and compactness. The top doesn’t trap dirt like some blankets, and since it comes in two sizes you can choose the one that best suits your picnic needs.

nemo-victory-blanket

The two-person Nemo Victory Blanket (pictured with our favorite picnic basket, the Picnic at Ascot Collapsible Insulated Picnic Basket) will keep you dry and offers enough space for three picnickers to lounge. Photo: Michael Hession

Its flannel top is soft enough to comfortably nap on in the sun and definitely gentle enough for the delicate skin of children or infants. The top isn’t quite as soft as the polyester fleece of our pick from 2013, the discontinued Zip-n-go blanket, but still pleasant for lounging. The blanket’s ample padding blocks out most of the sticks and twigs underneath you, and the waterproof polyurethane underlayer keeps moisture from seeping through. And unlike cheaper, less durable options, it will withstand people walking, rolling, and jumping across it from time to time.

nemo-victory-closeup

The Victory’s water-resistant flannel top is soft to the touch, but also durable enough to withstand the occasional muddy foot, shoe, or paw. Photo: Michael Hession

The Victory is one of the simplest blankets we folded up, with no need to remember a special pattern or make sure all of the edges are perfectly aligned. It folds neatly into itself (into a 14-by-6-inch roll), and the attached elastic bands are strong but flexible enough to securely hold even the most haphazardly shaped fold job. Compared with blankets that roll up and rely on a separate sack for carrying (which also happen to be perfect for losing), getting the Victory folded is more convenient and takes no time at all.

nemo-victory-gif

The Victory blanket folds easily, thanks to a flannel flap and elastic bands that secure the blanket without you having to be too precise in your folding technique. Photos: Kit Dillon

The Victory’s flannel also wasn’t as prone as synthetic fleece blankets to trapping particles of food, grime, and dirt. The blanket is machine-washable, though we found that the fabric top was resistant enough to easily wipe mud and dirt off with a damp cloth without leaving a mark.

nemo-victory-spill

Spilled wine beaded up nicely on the Victory blanket, leaving only a slight red residue once wiped away. Photo: Michael Hession

At 50 inches by 86 inches, the two-person Victory isn’t as big as some of the other blankets we looked at, but it’s less bulky while still being large enough for three people and a child (or even four adults in a pinch). For those who really need the extra space, the Victory is available in an expansive 90-by-90-inch four-person model.

A less expensive (and less comfortable) option

Also great
MIU Color Blanket
This tough, spill-proof blanket isn’t the cushiest for lounging, but it’s the easiest we’ve found to keep clean.

If you’re expecting a lot of spills at your picnics, or if you want an outdoor mat that’s extra durable, consider the MIU Color Blanket. Its bottom has a coating of ironed-on PVC vinyl film (not a separate sheet of waterproof material stitched on like most of the other blankets). While MIU says that its blankets are machine-washable, we can’t see the point. Every side of this blanket is built to be wiped down by hand, and its material makes it resistant to stains. The MIU is made out of a polyester fabric that is similar to that of lawn furniture. It doesn’t have the soft, classic picnic blanket feel like that of the Victory Nemo, but it does feel like it will last.

The MIU was nearly as simple to fold up as the Victory, but instead of elastic bands it uses a velcro strip to fully wrap it up. This design means that you have to be fairly precise when you roll up your blanket. But for basic durability and spill and water resistance, the MIU can’t be beat.

The competition

The Out & About Travel Throw was the nicest-looking blanket and the easiest to fold up. It folds into a giant square that’s secured with a zipper, which means it could also be used as an individual sitting pad for concerts and other spectator events. However, this also makes it bulky to carry. Plus, the material for the top was peculiar. It felt like the outer coating of a diaper and was weirdly off-putting.

The Mambe Classic Outdoor Blanket wasn’t as easy to carry as the other blankets we tested, because it doesn’t come with a rollup sleeve or a built-in way to keep it secured when it’s folded. We found it wasn’t constructed well, and walking on the Mambe was oddly treacherous, like walking on a freshly waxed wood floor in cashmere socks. Also, the fleece felt cheap.

The L.L.Bean Waterproof Blanket is soft and machine-washable, but isn’t as easy to roll or fold as our picks, and it doesn’t have integrated straps for carrying. Instead, it uses a stuff sack, which can easily be misplaced.

The Picnic Time Blanket Tote is comfortable and easy to carry thanks to its integrated strap. However it isn’t machine-washable, and its fleece top sheds all over dark clothing, which requires significant sticky-rolling after it’s used.

Like the Mambe, the REI Outdoor Blanket doesn’t come with a rollup sleeve or fold into a tote for easy carrying, and it was way too small compared with the other blankets we looked at.

We also considered the Pendleton Roll-Up Blanket because it’s of great quality and comes with a lifetime warranty (albeit a vaguely worded one). But at twice the cost of the other blankets we looked at, it’s too expensive.

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Sources

  1. Kathleen Huddy, Our Favorite Picnic Blankets, Good Housekeeping, July 2, 2011
  2. Amy Azzarito, The Best Picnic Blankets to Get You Through The Summer, Apartment Therapy, June 1, 2009
  3. Eli Gurock, The Best Picnic Blankets, Project Nursery, July 1, 2014

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