Choosing a blanket over a sleeping bag can be a good idea when you want to keep things simple. Blankets, especially wool, have been used for centuries for good reason. We all know wool is a good insulator and it is famous for retaining 80% of its insulation even when it is soaking wet. That’s why wool is such a great fabric to use in a wilderness situation such as camping. A sleeping bag can easily fall apart on you or the zipper might be out of function. When it comes to blankets, you don’t need to worry about these things. It is going to keep you warm even if it’s wet and it doesn’t fall apart on you.
1. Blankets are cheap
When it comes to price, blankets are a lot cheaper than sleeping bags. You can get a decent blanket for under $100. Sleeping bags on the other hand can get very expensive. A high-end bag may even cost you around $350 to $500. So blankets are a great way to stay warm in the wilderness at an affordable price.
2. They are more versatile than sleeping bags
Blankets are more versatile than traditional sleeping bags. You can do a lot of things with blankets. You can lay it out on the ground and have a little picnic, you can use it to make a shelter or hammock. They work great in hammocks because you can’t just use a conventional sleeping bag in a hammock. The problem with a bag in the hammock is that the insulation underneath you gets compressed and therefore doesn’t work. The concept of having an under-blanket is that it suspends beneath your hammock and traps the warm air in just like your sleeping bag does but without being compressed. You can use another blanket to keep your top half warm, which is a much better option.
3. Keeps you warm even wet
A sleeping bag is worthless when it becomes wet. A wool blanket, on the other hand, maintains its ability to keep your heat even if it’s soaking wet. As a matter of fact, studies say that 100% wool will keep in 80% of your body heat when it’s soaking wet. Because of the way the fibers are made, it has to be at least 50% wet before it starts to feel wet.
4. Simple and doesn’t fall apart
Blankets are simple and they just don’t fall apart on you. One of the major differences between both is that blankets are made with less material. While a sleeping bag wraps all the way around you, a blanket is open on and you sleep directly on the sleeping pad and then it just wraps around three sides of you.
5. Great for summers
Sleeping under a blanket is a good idea for summer camping when the weather is not super cold. You can sleep comfortably all night and you can make easy adjustments. A scenario where a sleeping bag makes more sense is if you are in a cold temperature and any little bit of draft is going to freeze you. A blanket will still have a few drafts no matter what you do. If you’re in those temperatures, a sleeping bag is probably just going to be a better call because you’re going to have less risk of getting cold in the middle of the night and when you’re at those temperatures, you want to reduce the risk as much as possible.
6. They are super comfortable
A blanket allows you to sleep as you sleep at home. You don’t sleep in a sleeping bag at home. Instead, you have a blanket over the top of you. It allows you to sleep naturally, toss and turn, and move as needed without getting tangled up as you do with a sleeping bag. They are also good for active sleepers. You can move from one side to your back, to your stomach, and as you toss and turn, you don’t get tangled up and waking up randomly in the middle of the night. You can also adjust it in the middle of the night.
It’s easy to stick an arm out if you start getting too warm, stick a leg out much easier, or just generally loosen it off and move it off of you a little bit. Compared to a sleeping bag where you can only unzip and you can’t get your legs cooled off. Because of this versatility, you find yourself seating less and you can manage your temperature better.
So should you go and buy a blanket right now? If you are looking for a new piece of summer insulation for sleeping, then I would strongly recommend getting a blanket over a sleeping bag. Some of you out there are also looking to drop your pack weight. Maybe you’re getting older and you want to have less weight on your back or you’re trying to crush a lot of miles. Well in that case you better go for an ultralight sleeping bag or consider a quilt. A quilt is also going to be lighter.
I know a lot of people out there are a little bit hesitant to use blankets because they are not ideal for an ultralight or thru-hike. But if you are a weekend warrior and looking for overall comfort, that’s where I think blankets really shine.