The 10 Best Beach Blankets
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in March of 2015. If you're a beach lover, but don't enjoy getting sand everywhere, you'll appreciate these blankets. Our selection features durable, water-resistant choices that offer conveniences like storage pockets, anchoring loops, and carrying bags. They come in a variety of prices, designs, and colors, so you’re sure to find one that strikes your fancy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. If you'd like to contribute your own research to the Wiki, please get started by reviewing this introductory video.
January 15, 2020:
When you’re visiting the beach yet aren’t a big fan of the sand on your skin, a sturdy beach blanket should help keep your skin, food, and other beach accessories as free as possible from sand, dirt, twigs, and mud. They’re also useful for picnics in the park, camping, and even hanging out in your backyard. Our selection features various designs that range from muted to vibrant, so you’re sure to find the right one for you.
The Laguna Beach Mat retains its top spot in this update, as it affords quality and style that are hard to beat. This multi-layered choice has a cushiony top with a waterproof bottom, and it comes with a convenient stuff sack with a carrying strap and exterior pocket for your phone and wallet. It can be machine washed on delicate and is available in four fun geometrical patterns.
For a stylish choice that can be folded up to resemble a purse with a handle when you carry it, check out the Scuddles Handy Mat, which is a vibrantly striped blanket. The top consists of a soft fleece, and waterproof backing covers the bottom. It’s machine washable and the material resists mildew and mold. For a versatile choice the kids will love, look to the EverEarth E Lite, which functions as both a toddler pool and a blanket. For some splashing fun in the sun, just make a small well in the sand in which to lay the blanket. Then you can use the included carrying tote as a bucket to bring water to it. When the kids are tuckered out, just flip it over and they can stretch out in comfort. It measures nearly six feet across and is designed for kids aged three and up. For a round blanket well suited for doing yoga on the beach, check out the Ricdecor Roundies, which sports an intriguing Bohemian look with a tassled border, in multiple fun pattern choices.
Case + Drift Ballina This all-purpose, quick-drying travel companion is designed to serve as a beach towel, a cold-weather scarf, or a throw blanket. It measures 70-by-35 inches, is made of 100% cotton, and is conveniently machine washable and can be tumble dried on low. It’s available in a stylish diamond pattern in your choice of black, blue, or gray. macys.com
L.L.Bean Waterproof Outdoor Blanket This versatile waterproof choice has a rugged polyethylene backing that prevents moisture from seeping through to the soft fleece surface, so you’ll enjoy your picnic or trip to the beach in comfort. It measures 72 inches by 58 inches, comes with a convenient stuff sack, and is conveniently machine washable. It’s a great choice for sporting events, camping, or your car’s safety kit. llbean.com
What Separates a Beach Blanket from an Indoor Blanket?
What separates a beach blanket from an indoor blanket is the thickness and the durability.
A beach blanket functions in the same way that any bedspread would. Simply put, the blanket provides a comfortable surface for you to place yourself and your accessories on.
The term "beach blanket" is broad, of course, as a lot of these blankets are generally used for picnics, parties, or outdoor concerts. Certain blankets are even designed to double as a poncho, or a makeshift table cloth (see the Raqpak Beach & Picnic Blanket above).
What separates a beach blanket from an indoor blanket is the thickness and the durability. Certain beach blankets come with padding, or a fleece lining, or a nylon layer across the bottom to keep any moisture from seeping through.
Beach blankets tend to place some cushion between you and the ground, and they're also designed for extreme weather conditions, which is why a lot of blankets are manufactured by using materials like polyester, as opposed to cotton, or other linens.
The only true engineering involved with owning a beach blanket involves how to keep it from blowing away. For decades beachgoers responded to coastline gusts by placing some type of item (e.g., a cooler, a purse, or a pair of sandals) across all four corners of their spread.
During the 1980s, manufacturers began including plastic stakes with their beach blankets. Plastic stakes proved too obtrusive, however, and they were soon replaced by weighted pockets. Weighted pockets are sewn into the corners of a blanket. They are designed to hold 3-4 pounds worth of sand. Once the pockets are full, the blanket sits in one place. At the end of the day, you simply dump out all the sand.
What Do I Need to Know About a Beach Blanket Before I Buy?
The most important thing to know before you buy is what you plan on using the blanket for.
If you're a shore person, you probably want a wide blanket made of cotton. You'll also want the blanket to be water-resistant (or waterproof), and, if possible, you'll want the blanket to come with either stakes or open pockets, for weighting down loose corners.
If you're a shore person, you probably want a wide blanket made of cotton.
If, on the other hand, you'd like a blanket for outdoor concerts and picnics, your best bet might be a polyester blanket that won't let grass stains settle in. Certain blankets are even designed with a nylon bottom. Nylon is water-resistant so you can place it on wet grass.
As a precaution, you'll want to take into account what type of climate you live in. The barometer could determine whether you need a blanket that you can wear like a poncho (assuming you get stuck outside in stormy weather), or one that's designed with fleece-like material, so you can wrap it around you on a 55-degree night.
Assuming you've found a blanket that's got all the right stuff, the final priority becomes taking a look at the dimensions. If you're purchasing a blanket for one or two people, you'll want a surface that covers at least 5-6 square feet. If you're purchasing a blanket for the entire family, you'll want a surface that covers at least 7-8 square feet.
A Brief History of the Beach Blanket in America
Despite the fact that beach blankets have been used for centuries worldwide, most people consider them to be an American phenomenon.
Why is that? Well, it is due in large part to the west coast surfing craze of the 1960s - a craze that reached its peak around the time an internationally-successful motion picture entitled Beach Blanket Bingo hit the theaters.
Its function hasn't changed, and it has remained a staple of the coastline scene ever since Americans first started vacationing at the shore during the early 1900s.
There were a ton of surfing movies during that decade, like Surf Craze, Barefoot Adventure, and The Endless Summer, but Beach Blanket Bingo featured Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello in what would go on to become their final leading role as a couple (that is until the nostalgic Back to the Beach in 1987). Add Paul Lynde, Don Rickles, and Buster Keaton for comic effect, and you've got yourself a surfing movie for the ages.
All of which brings us back to the beach blanket, which had originally been referred to as a picnic blanket. The culture was changing, and so too were the ways in which we referred to household items. A "beach blanket" became more marketable, as people rarely went on picnics, but spent at least one week of every summer vacationing at the shore.
Over the past five decades beach blankets have been designed to last longer. They're made with more resistant fabrics, and a lot of blankets come with weighted pockets to hold the corners down (For more on this see "How do Beach Blankets Work?" above.)
Despite these bold leaps forward, the modern beach blanket remains a fairly traditional product. Its function hasn't changed, and it has remained a staple of the coastline scene ever since Americans first started vacationing at the shore during the early 1900s.
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