The Best Picnic Blanket
Staging a picnic requires little more than the union of a blanket and a patch of grass. Yet, when combined, those humble elements can elevate a mundane meal into an alfresco fete. Not all picnic blankets are equal, though: We considered 44 and tested 14 before choosing the Nemo Victory Blanket as our favorite. Its soft flannel is comfortable to sit on, the waterproof underlining keeps you dry, integrated straps help you transport it easily, and the colorful stripes make your picnic feel like an Impressionist masterpiece.
We think the four-person, 95-by-95-inch Nemo Victory Blanket offers the best combination of comfort, durability, and compactness (rolled up, it’s just a 16-inch-long cylinder with an 8-inch diameter). The top doesn’t trap dirt as some other blankets do, and it also comes in an even larger size—120 by 120 inches, good for roughly 7 or 8 people—so you can choose the one that best suits your picnic needs.
This tough, spill-proof blanket isn’t the cushiest or softest for lounging, but it is the easiest we’ve found to keep clean, and it folds the smallest for easy transportation.
If spills are a special concern, or you value toughness and durability over comfort, the 80-by-60-inch MIU Color Outdoor Picnic 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—not soft, exactly, and it doesn’t feel like a traditional picnic blanket, but it will definitely last. And it folds up small enough (just 12½ by 7½ inches) to fit in a tote bag or backpack, making for the easiest transportation of any of the blankets we tested. (We also tried a nearly identical blanket, the Angemay Outdoor & Picnic Blanket, that performed the same but at the time cost a few dollars more. The prices of each blanket have since fluctuated, so now we would recommend getting whichever one costs less, or comes in a pattern you prefer.)
This plush-on-top, sturdy-on-the-bottom blanket was the most luxurious and the sturdiest of all those we tested (and the only one that you can machine wash and dry), but it has an eye-popping price tag to match.
The Yeti Lowlands Blanket was easily the softest blanket we tested—so soft, we could use it on our bed and sleep soundly. And not only is its sturdy underside waterproof, but its top is spill resistant, too, causing liquids to bead up on the surface but not sink in. Even if it does somehow catch a mess, it can tolerate machine washing and drying—it’s one of the few blankets we tested that can withstand both. Still, it’s awfully pricey, and with our other picks being nearly as comfortable and durable, it isn’t a worthwhile investment for anyone but the most devoted picnic (or Yeti) enthusiasts.
If you’re looking for a picnic basket or any other items for outdoor cooking and picnicking, head over to our “Great Gear for Picnics and Grilling” guide.