Would a space blanket be your first worry if you find yourself in a survival situation? Naturally, people think of food and water. But it’s the wrong answer.
We can survive for three weeks without any food – some people even longer. Without water, things get more serious. It becomes critical in 3, 4 days at mild temperatures outside.
However, exposure to the elements can threaten your life in a matter of hours, sometimes even less than an hour. The first mission in a survival situation is to stay warm and dry. It’s a fire starter and space blanket that would keep you alive and warm so you can think about your next steps.
So, today we talk about a space blanket – often underrated, but essential survival tool.
Outdoor activities and sports are gaining some popularity lately. It looks like we are finally remembering that we are a part of nature.
Well, at least some of us! It will take some time before we stop overexploiting our planet and start nurturing it. But each person counts and there are more of us every day.
Hiking, canyoning, climbing, or just walking through the woods make us feel more alive. But at the same time, it reminds us of how vulnerable we are.
The story of life on Earth is a story of survival. All of these inspiring activities can put us in dangerous situations and we should be prepared.
So, let’s see why a space blanket is such an important piece of equipment and how it can save us.
What Is a Space Blanket – A.K.A. Emergency, Thermal, Survival Blanket
It is peculiar that we didn’t come up with a universal word for such a valuable tool. Space blanket, Mylar blanket, emergency blanket, weather blanket, survival blanket – there are so many names for it.
It can be confusing but all these names denote the same thing – a blanket that’s meant to keep you warm and a little bit more.
The first space blanket was developed by NASA in 1964 for protection against temperature extremes in space.
In the following decades, this insanely small (when packed) and lightweight blanket became an irreplaceable part of camping gear, survival kits, and other outdoor activities.
Even marathon runners use these blankets to prevent sudden heat loss after the race!
These shiny, thin foil-looking blankets are popular and widely used because they prevent the loss of heat due to convection, thermal radiation, and evaporation. These fancy words designate 3 out of 4 possible ways of losing heat.
The fourth way is through physical contact. So, a space blanket affects every aspect of heat loss.
Furthermore, it’s cheap, lightweight, and it can be packed into a very small space.
Types of Mylar Blankets
Humans have used emergency blankets since forever – eons before they invented and started purchasing modern bugout bags.
When you think of the stone age, what comes to your mind? I see prehistoric humans running away from mammoths wearing mammoth hides – the first kind of space blanket.
The next step in our blanket evolution was the discovery of wool.
Wool has incredible insulating, breathing, and water-repelling properties. Because of this, it is still used today.
However, it is pretty bulky and somewhat heavy, so it is not the first choice material for emergency blankets anymore. But it all depends on your needs.
Wool is also naturally fire-resistant material. It’s cozy and warm. And it’s much more durable than lightweight space blankets.
So, having a wool emergency blanket in your car’s trunk can be a good idea. It’s great for picnics as well.
Polar Fleece Blanket
A true revolution came with synthetic materials such as polar fleece.
While these materials can’t beat wool when it comes to warmth, breathability, and comfort, they allowed manufacturers to produce tremendously lighter and more compact blankets.
Space blanket technology took it to the next level.
These blankets are made of thin polyester film coated with a reflective agent. As a result, they are ridiculously light and even more ridiculously small when packed.
Space blankets are also waterproof and windproof. These two qualities are very important to keep you warm.
While wool is probably the best material regarding properties, a convenience of space blanket makes it the best choice for emergency blankets.
Why You Need a Space Blanket
If you live in the tropics and spend your days working and watching TV or surfing the web, you don’t need a space blanket.
But, if you are reading this article, chances are you’re a fan of outdoor activities. Year after year, exposure to the elements endangers more people than injuries, dehydration, and starvation. So, you don’t have to be a genius to figure out that you need to have tools to fight off cold when you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
A space blanket is not the only thing that can help. Warm clothes, a shelter, a fire starter are helpful as well.
But, a space blanket takes almost no space, it adds almost no weight and it’s pretty effective. It can be used to create a shelter, too.
So, I can’t think of a single reason not to carry a blanket or two whenever you head into the wild.
What It Can’t Do
While a space blanket can save your life, it doesn’t have any superpowers. You need to be aware of the limitations of emergency blankets.
Yes, they do a great job, but you can’t rely solely on them.
Space blankets don’t provide serious insulation. For example, if you’re already freezing you can’t just wrap it around you to get warmer like you would with a regular simple blanket.
Space blankets can’t warm you up, they are designed to keep you warm. So, you need to use one before your core temperature drops down. If you fail to do so, you will need an additional heat source to recover your body temperature.
Manufacturers often claim that their products are very durable.
This is only partially true. They are extremely durable if you keep them away from sharp objects.
However, a simple thorn puncture can cause easy ripping along the puncture line. It is a good idea to have a duct tape to fix small punctures to prevent further tears.
8 Best Space Blankets
1. Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets
This mylar blanket is one of the best bargains you can get. It blocks rain, snow, and moisture. You can retain up to 90% of the heat that your body radiates.
It is a lightweight and multipurpose blanket. You can use it not only for emergencies but also as ground cover, sleeping bag liner, or to create an emergency shelter.
Pros of This Space Blanket
- Retains up to 90% of your body heat.
- Comes in a pack of four.
- It crinkles.
2. S.O.L Survive Outdoors Longer S.O.L. 90% Reflective Emergency Blanket
It is perfect for hiking, camping, climbing, and other outdoor activities. This emergency blanket is light and compact.
However, it stands out for its size and durability. It is a little bit larger than most of the competition.
This is great as most blankets might be a little bit small for tall people.
- Reflects up to 90% of radiated body heat.
- More tear-resistant than regular mylar blankets.
- We observed none!
3. TACT Bivvy 2.0 Emergency Sleeping Bag
Strictly speaking, TACT Bivvy is more of a sleeping bag than a blanket.
But, it is a typical space blanket technology, and sleeping bags are usually made of several layers. This is a sort of emergency blanket taped to look like a sleeping bag. This way it improves heat retention immensely.
Regularly, you can use it as a sleeping bag liner.
- Fantastic heat retention.
- Pretty resistant to tears.
- 6 month “any reason” refund guarantee.
- It is lightweight but a little bit heavier than typical mylar blankets.
4. Titan Two-Sided Emergency Mylar Survival Blankets
This is yet another great space blanket. Originally, they were designed for NASA.
While it’s always been a great survival blanket, some users complained that it was a little bit small.
These new XL 70” x 90” blankets are big enough even for very tall people.
- Back-side signal panel.
- Lifetime guarantee!
- Rip and tear susceptible.
5. World’s Toughest Emergency Blankets
Durability is the weak spot of mylar blankets.
Well, this one is designed to be as durable as possible. While you shouldn’t expect miracles, it is tougher and more tear-resistant.
- Very compact.
- It comes in a pack of four with individual durable nylon sacks and a nice zipper pack.
- None observed!
6. Grabber Outdoors Original Space Brand All Weather Blanket
Mylar qualities allow most manufacturers to make similar space blankets.
Grabber has tried to stand out from the crowd with this product. It has 4 layers that allow better heat retention. It is also more comfortable and durable. However, it is a little bit heavier and not as compact as other renowned space blankets.
- Grommeted corners for different uses.
- Comparatively heavy.
7. Arcturus Heavy Duty Survival Blanket
Arcturus space blanket may not be the best choice for long hikes or more extreme adventures. But it is a great blanket for camping and boat trips.
Furthermore, it is versatile and it works great to keep you warm.
- Extra large.
- Relatively heavy and bulky for your backpack.
8. Mambe Large Super Extreme Weather Outdoor Blanket
Mambe blanket is made of Polartec fleece.
The manufacturer claims it’s the warmest outdoor blanket you can buy. It has layers of fleece, insulation, and reflective lining. So, It is as good as it gets to keep you warm in the coldest weather.
It is also 100% waterproof and windproof. This blanket is soft and cozy, which is pretty nice even though it’s not essential.
- Super warm.
- Made in the USA.
- A little bit heavy and bulky.
So, that was our careful selection of the best mylar blankets on the market.
By now, you’ve probably understood why they are virtual lifesavers. Make sure to also check out our post on IFAK, so that you can gear up properly for all kinds of emergencies!