The 10 Best Picnic Blankets
This wiki has been updated 35 times since it was first published in June of 2015. A nice afternoon enjoying the fresh air at the park or beach can quickly be ruined when you realize you didn't bring anything to sit on. If you don't want stones and twigs poking you, or dirt and sand getting all over your food and drinks, try one of these picnic blankets, which were designed with dining al fresco in mind and can keep you, your partner, family and friends comfortable outdoors. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 09, 2020:
Our top priority when selecting these blankets was to ensure that they had materials and features that minimized the inconveniences of eating outdoors. For that reason, the Skip Hop Central Park caught our attention, because it has a handy cooler bag for keeping snacks fresh on-the-go. The Nemo Victory is also a favorite, because it has a pouch in which you can store valuables, like a cellphone or keys, while eating. One more feature of the Nemo Victory stood out, which is the addition of ground stakes to help it stay in place. The Palm Beach Crew Brilliant is worth mentioning here as well, since it comes with four weights you can shove in the corner pockets to hold it down. Picnickers don't need a gust of wind blowing their food everywhere, sending their cheese boards and grapes flying. On that note, both the Andyway Beach Mat and the Monstar Classic Plaid lost their places, since they moved around too much in slight gusts.
Parks, beaches, and other popular places to dine al fresco can have sharp objects on the ground, so durable materials were important to us, too. For that reason, we liked the Teton Outdoor, which is quite durable thanks to its double-stitched edges and impervious backing. The Mambe Extreme should also stand the test of time with its tough lining. If you are worried about the edges fraying with use, you may want to look to the Tuffo TA3-001, which also has high-quality stitching. With that issue in mind, we did feel the need to eliminate the Yodo Blue Stripe Tote, since its stitching didn't hold up over time.
Portability is always a perk when it comes to anything you pack and take to the park or beach, so we like that the Pratico Outdoors Extra Large, the Roebury Beach, and the Scuddles Oversized fold up into their own carrying cases.
Pottery Barn Outdoor Picnic Blanket With Tote With a soft fleece surface and durable yet lightweight PVC backing, this blanket feels cozy and warm while keeping the damp ground from ruining your outing. It is available in two plaid designs, as well as a striped one, and when it's not in use, it folds up into a convenient tote with a long carrying strap. At 70-by-80-inches, it offers plenty of surface space for lounging. potterybarn.com
Made In Oregon Vintage Dress Roll-Up Blanket This classic-looking blanket is made with a pure wool upper that should last a long time and provide plenty of warmth. It also has nylon backing that's water-resistant and easy to wipe clean. When you're done using it, it rolls up into the durable harnessing straps, with the moisture-safe side facing outward, and is easy to carry via the thick grab handle. madeinoregon.com
What Do I Need to Know Before Purchasing a Picnic Blanket?
Sand provides its own cushion, which means the blanket doesn't need to have much padding, while dirt and grass require a blanket to have some extra padding inside.
The first thing anyone needs to know before considering a picnic blanket is how many people they plan on using that blanket for. If the blanket is for two people, the size isn't really a factor. If, however, a picnic blanket is meant to accommodate an entire family, or several friends, it's best to confirm that the blanket measures at least 5'x8' across.
The next thing you'll want to consider is the climate. Polyester blankets are ideal for sun-drenched picnics, while fleece and flannel are custom-made for breezy nights. Along those same lines, you'll want to consider what type of terrain you plan on using the blanket for.
Sand provides its own cushion, which means the blanket doesn't need to have much padding, while dirt and grass require a blanket to have some extra padding inside. Either way, you'll want to confirm that a picnic blanket is machine-washable and stain-resistant. Buying a picnic blanket that isn't machine-washable is like buying a pot that you can't put near a fire.
Once you've narrowed your list down to a handful of blankets, take a few minutes to read some of each blanket's customer reviews. Customers will be able to tell you whether a blanket's fabric tends to fray, or whether that blanket's threading has a tendency to unravel. Be mindful not to let one negative review deter you. What you're looking for here is patterns - several people who have shared the same experience, regardless of whether that experience happens to be extremely positive or less than good.
Several Not-So-Obvious Uses For a Picnic Blanket
When is a picnic blanket more than a picnic blanket? When it is being used for a dozen different purposes, year-round. Most people are aware that they can repurpose their picnic blankets as a seat for any outdoor concert, or a spread for any day at the beach. But a picnic blanket can also be used as a yoga mat, or a cushioned surface for calisthenics. A yoga mat can be used for meditation; it can be used for stargazing or watching fireworks, as well.
The same goes for toddlers who are playing with markers or crayons.
If you have kids, you can hang a picnic blanket over the clothes line, thereby creating a tent that the kids can play inside. Either that or use the blanket during the winter months to create living-room forts indoors.
If a picnic blanket is stain-resistant, you can lay it down beneath a toddler's high chair, thereby avoiding any set-in spills along the floor. The same goes for toddlers who are playing with markers or crayons.
Picnic blankets that are starting to fray can be used as a throw mat for painting, or sanding, or peeling paper off the wall. Seasoned blankets can be used for gardening. And - assuming those seasoned blankets are waterproof - they can be used to create a temporary shower curtain (fastened with clothespins), or to create a dividing curtain for sectioning off one part of a studio, or room.
How The Picnic Went From a French Curiosity To an American Pastime
The word picnic is derived from the French roots pique-, which means to peck, and nique-, which means to take part in something of little importance. The earliest known reference to a picnic was in a 17th-Century book of French euphemisms. Throughout the final third of France's Bourbon Period, the word pique-nique was commonly used to describe any type of outing where the guests were encouraged to bring their own food.
It was during this period that wicker baskets and checkered blankets became the norm.
Picnics emerged as a significant part of French culture during the early 1800s. In the wake of the French Revolution, several of that country's royal parks became open to the public. The French citizens, who had never been afforded access to these parks, took to packing a lunch, and very often some wine, to enjoy an entire day in these exclusive settings, free of charge.
The idea of a picnic was Americanized during the 19th Century to include activities like card-playing and music-playing. Outdoorsmen would throw elaborate picnics after an all-day hunt. These events, which were centered around preparing - and eating - large game, would later morph into what we now refer to as roasts. Family picnics, on the other hand, tended to remain almost sanctified. Such occasions became associated with relaxation and wholesome values and being outdoors.
Picnics became idealized in America after World War II. It was during this period that wicker baskets and checkered blankets became the norm. In 1955, the romanticized culture was celebrated in a movie called Picnic. Three years later, Yogi Bear appeared on the scene, prowling for "pic-a-nic baskets" throughout Jellystone Park.
Today, picnics continue to be an undying part of the American experience. Picnics represent a lack of distraction, along with an opportunity to commune with mother nature. While picnic baskets have largely been replaced by plastic coolers, the picnic blanket remains an indispensable part of being outdoors.