The Best Picnic Blankets for Dining Alfresco

Move your lunch outdoors with the best picnic blankets for comfort, style, and all kinds of weather.

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The Best Picnic Blanket Option

Photo: amazon.com

Picnics have existed since the 18th century, but modern-day picnics elevate the picnic blanket game. The best picnic blanket can make your outdoor dining experience a wonderful success.

When you plan a meal outside, your picnic blanket needs to hold up against wind, sand, rain, and condensation. You want the perfect spot with sun and shade, but Mother Nature may change the forecast. The right picnic blanket will hold up against dips in temperature or changes in the weather.

Picnic blankets serve many uses beyond dining alfresco, including doing yoga, camping, watching outdoor sports, or hanging out on the beach. This guide is meant to help you determine your needs and find the best picnic blanket for you.

  1. BEST OVERALL: ONIVA Outdoor Picnic Blanket Tote XL
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Benevolence LA Hand Woven Picnic Blanket
  3. BEST FOR COMFORT: DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS Waterproof Fleece Stadium Blanket
  4. BEST FOR COLD WEATHER: Get Out Gear Down Camping Blanket
  5. BEST COMPACT: BEARZ Outdoor Waterproof Picnic Blanket 55″x60″
  6. BEST LARGE: Scuddles Extra Large Picnic & Outdoor Blanket
  7. BEST WATERPROOF: Oceas Outdoor Waterproof Blanket
  8. BEST FOR THE BEACH: POPCHOSE Sandfree Beach Blanket
The Best Picnic Blanket Option

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Picnic Blanket 

The best picnic blanket is multipurpose, easy to store, and able to comfortably accommodate the guests at your alfresco gathering. A decent picnic blanket should be easy to clean and durable enough that it doesn’t get punctured by rocks or sticks. Here are some qualities to consider when selecting your picnic blanket.

Intended Use

A picnic blanket adds an element of comfort to your outdoor dining experience. Picnicking is a leisurely activity; the best picnic blankets should help make the experience comfortable and enjoyable.

Think of your picnic blanket as the foundation of your picnic experience. It is both the table and chair for your meal—unless you bring a camping chair along. It needs to be comfortable enough to sit on without additional cushions but not so cushioned that your food and drink aren’t stable on top of it. Aside from comfort, a picnic blanket needs to meet your size requirements too.

Size

Think about how you envision your future picnics in order to determine the blanket size that’s best for you. If you have a large group, you may choose a bigger picnic blanket or a couple of smaller ones. The size you choose depends on your needs. You can get smaller, intimate blankets if you’re dining solo or with a date or gigantic blankets that have space for plenty of people if you’re planning a family barbecue. (Just don’t forget your portable grill!)

Since your picnic blanket will also need room to accommodate your food, be sure to factor in the space required for your spread. A blanket that is about 25 square feet is the smallest you’ll want to go.

When folded, a picnic blanket doesn’t take up much space—it condenses down to the size of an accent pillow. It’s small enough to keep the blanket in your car for spontaneous picnics or even for use in an emergency when you’re on the road.

Material

You need to consider the materials used in terms of comfort and waterproofing. The materials usually used for picnic blankets include fleece, acrylic, and polypropylene.

  • Fleece has similar insulating properties to wool but with half the weight. It’s soft and comfortable for picnics and easy to clean, making it a cozy insulating layer.
  • Acrylic fabrics, such as polyester, are woven from plastic threads made from polymer fiber with an end product that has the look and feel of wool fibers. Acrylic is lightweight, warm, soft, and repels water.
  • Polypropylene is a man-made fabric with moisture-wicking features that make it a common base layer for picnic blankets. The material itself is thin, lightweight, and soft.

No matter which material your blanket is made of, always wait to put it away until it’s clean and dry. Otherwise, you run the risk of creating bacteria growth in the fabric, which can lead to unpleasant odors.

Softness

The insulating layer, or topside, of your picnic blanket, should be comfortable to sit on for the duration of a meal (or longer). Ideally, the best picnic blanket is soft enough that you don’t need to put down a folded towel or cushion to make it a comfy place to sit. Find a blanket that isn’t too thin so you’re able to get cozy. Since picnic blankets are also intended for multipurpose use, you may find yourself using a picnic blanket as an actual blanket or ground layer if you’re camping or in situations where the weather gets colder and you need to wrap a blanket around your body.

If you want a soft blanket in lieu of a proper picnic blanket, we have a list of the best throw blankets for you to check out.

Moisture-Proofing

A blanket that protects against moisture is a quality picnic blanket. A moisture-proof barrier prevents dew, residual rainwater, mud, and other elements from seeping through and soaking into your clothing. Look for a picnic blanket that has waterproof treatment on the side that goes on the ground to keep you dry and comfortable. This coating should cover the entire underside of the blanket. Waterproof picnic blankets can also work as an improvised rain cover if you get caught in bad weather. Look for a blanket that has a protective water-repellent or water-resistant coating to keep you dry.

Portability

You have enough to carry for an afternoon picnic: a food basket or cooler, plates and cutlery, cups, and personal items. You might even have a speaker for playing music, or items like balls and Frisbees if you’re making a day of it. Many picnic blankets now come in a stuff sack or fold up into a size that makes them easy to carry. Folding or rolling up your blanket makes transporting it more convenient, especially if it features a handle or strap that makes carrying it less cumbersome. Some stuff sacks have a drawstring that doubles as a handle. For other styles, you can attach a carabiner to the carrying handles or ground hooks (if applicable) and clip the blanket to your bag, giving you one less thing to juggle.

Ease of Cleaning

No one wants to eat off of a dirty picnic blanket. Luckily, most picnic blankets are easy to clean, especially if they have a protective coating on the base layer. These coatings make brushing off grass, leaves, or sand easy. For blankets that need to be washed, check the wash instructions to see whether it’s hand-wash only or whether you can toss it into the washing machine. Pay particular attention to washing instructions for picnic blankets with waterproof coating; putting them in the washer and dryer can erode their moisture-proof qualities.

Our Top Picks

This list of recommendations are based on the purchase considerations detailed above, the usefulness in a given category, and additional design details from the brand that add to a picnic blanket.

Best Overall

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: ONIVA Outdoor Picnic Blanket Tote XL
Photo: amazon.com

This extra-large picnic blanket from ONIVA is 70 inches by 80 inches, providing you with plenty of room for a family picnic. If you usually have your hands full, the blanket folds down into an 18-by-11-inch tote with an adjustable carrying strap, so you can simply sling it over your shoulder. A zippered pocket allows for storing smaller personal items, like keys or a wallet.

The soft polyester fleece top layer makes this picnic blanket nice to sit on, and the water-resistant backing keeps moisture from soaking through. It comes in six color options, and because it’s machine-washable and dryer-safe, this blanket is easy to keep clean.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: Benevolence LA Hand Woven Picnic Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

The Benevolence LA Navajo Picnic Blanket fits right in at the beach, on the campground, and even at yoga practice, making it a handy blanket to keep in the car or at home. The 100 percent acrylic fibers are handwoven on a traditional wooden loom. The material gets softer each time you wash it, so go ahead and put it in the washing machine and tumble dry on low heat. While it doesn’t have a waterproof base, acrylic does repel some water on its own, giving it a bit more robustness than your standard throw blanket. It’s an average-size picnic blanket measuring 75 inches by 51 inches (which is just bigger than a twin bed) and weighs only 3 pounds. Available in 10 color options, this picnic blanket offers handmade, timeless style without breaking the bank.

Best for Comfort

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS Waterproof Fleece Stadium Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

An extra-large picnic blanket from DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS is a worthy investment for those who like to be comfortable. At 82 inches by 55 inches, this blanket gives you the room to spread out when you’re having a picnic. The thick, anti-pill fleece insulation makes it a cozy place to sit, and the polyester backing offers water and wind resistance to keep you warm and dry. DOWN UNDER OUTDOORS uses special double-coating sprays between the top and bottom layers to stop water from getting through to the fleece, making it waterproof in most situations. The blanket is sewn together using an ultrasonic quilting method so the layers don’t slide around. It’s also machine-washable and dryer safe, making it another easy-to-clean option. An oversize stuff sack with a zip storage pocket is roomy enough that you can shove the blanket inside rather than spend time folding it a specific way.

Best for Cold Weather

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: Get Out Gear Down Camping Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

Cold weather doesn’t have to stop you from having a picnic. Get Out Gear’s packable and warm picnic blanket weighs only 1.1 pounds and unfolds into an 80-by-54-inch surface. Intended for use when the temperature dips, this picnic blanket’s 20D ripstop nylon shell blocks the cold from seeping through the blanket and has 650 fill power down insulation to keep you cozy.

If the weather becomes colder than expected, the blanket has three snaps that quickly convert it into a poncho, leaving your hands free to hold a warm beverage. This blanket can keep you warm in temperatures as low as 45 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s machine-washable and able to go in the dryer on low heat. Put it away in the stuff sack, which has a heavy-duty clasp, for easy carrying and storage.

Best Compact

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: BEARZ Outdoor Waterproof Picnic Blanket 55″x60″
Photo: amazon.com

The BEARZ waterproof picnic blanket has features of a blanket several times its size. Made of plastic-backed polyester, this blanket keeps moisture from your clothing and is both puncture-resistant and sand-proof. In use, the blanket is 55 inches by 60 inches, large enough to accommodate two people comfortably. In addition to pocket loops that allow you to stake the blanket to the ground, it features corner pockets that can be weighted with stones (an alternative to camping stakes) to keep it from blowing away.

This blanket is great for spontaneous picnics as it weighs only 4 ounces and packs away nicely. It’s easily attached to your bag with the included carabiner, making it a handy blanket to keep around. Keep in mind that this blanket needs to be hand-washed and hung to dry to maintain its waterproof quality.

Best Large

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: Scuddles Extra Large Picnic & Outdoor Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

For some, the best picnic blanket requires an element of sophistication. Scuddles’ tartan and stripe design is pleasing to the eye while offering sufficient real estate for your picnic at 60 inches by 79 inches. Functionality is built-in with a polyethylene vinyl acetate (PEVA) backing to keep moisture out, a zippered pocket for storing small items, and a carrying strap to make traveling to and from the picnic easier.

Some larger picnic blankets miss the details of this one, which has a soft woven acrylic top layer for comfort and insulation and foam middle layer for cushioning in addition to the functional waterproof backing. It folds up easily and fastens quickly with Velcro and is machine-washable.

Best Waterproof

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: Oceas Outdoor Waterproof Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

Wet weather doesn’t have to ruin your picnic. Oceans Outdoor Waterproof blanket is 100 percent waterproof due to its polyurethane-coated polyester backing. The blanket’s top layer is polar fleece, keeping whoever sits on the blanket warm and cozy. Packable, lightweight, and durable, this picnic blanket is 79 inches by 58 inches when unfolded—big enough to accommodate up to three adults. The blanket folds into a waterproof bag with a handle, for comfortable carrying and dry storage. This blanket isn’t intended for machine washing, so you need to hand-wash it in order to maintain its waterproof qualities.

Best for the Beach

The Best Picnic Blanket Option: POPCHOSE Sandfree Beach Blanket
Photo: amazon.com

The fabric of the POPCHOSE Sandfree blanket is made of parachute ripstop polyester, a great choice for sandy picnics by the water. Sand brushes off easily, and the fabric quickly dries off because it’s 100 percent breathable. The fabric is triple stitched for maximum strength and durability. The lightweight nature of the fabric means that wind may be an issue; however, this blanket is designed with anchoring loops and comes with six ground stakes to keep it flat even when the wind picks up.

The blanket unfolds to be 83 inches by 78 inches (just bigger than a king-size bed), which can serve as a groundsheet. This is an oversize blanket, but it folds into a compact size that fits nicely in a carry bag with a drawstring. This blanket comes with a safety carabiner for transport and a personal pocket for your belongings.

If you want some sun protection during your beach picnic, you may be interested in picking up a beach tent as well.

FAQs About Your New Picnic Blanket 

The best picnic blankets offer comfort and protection from the elements so you can enjoy your food and your companion’s company. Unlike regular blankets, picnic blankets are used outdoors and exposed to a lot more wear and tear, which prompts questions on how to best care for them and preserve their special features. Here are some answers to common questions about picnic blankets.

Q. What kind of blanket do you use for a picnic?

There are many styles of picnic blankets to fill different needs. As a baseline, you’ll want a blanket that repels moisture, is slightly padded for sitting, and suits the picnicking environment whether you’re on the beach, in a park, or camping in the woods.

Q. What is a good size for a picnic blanket?

Choose a blanket big enough for everyone at the picnic—and the food. An average-size picnic blanket is usually about 60 inches by 60 inches.

Q. Can you put a picnic blanket in the washing machine?

Many blankets can go in the washing machine, but always check the washing instructions. Some blankets that have waterproof coatings need to be hand-washed and hung to dry.