Do Emergency Space Blankets Work? – 56 Campers’ Opinions

Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?
Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

An emergency blanket is supposed to be your go-to survival tool when you need more warmth while camping out. But there seem to be conflicting views about its efficiency.

To help you decide if an emergency blanket is worth purchasing for your first wilderness adventure, we did our digging and checked experienced campers and their take on it. Here’s what they have to say about emergency blankets.

An emergency or space blanket is a great survival tool but has limitations. While it can warm your body up for long periods, it still can leak out heat, so you cannot replace it with a sleeping bag. The emergency blanket is very handy if you use it for the right purpose.

In this blog, we seek to answer the question, “Do emergency space blankets work?”

Now that you understand what an emergency blanket is for let’s dig in deeper about what it can do, its limitations, and how you can maximize its use.

Table of Contents

Are Emergency Blankets Only for Emergency Use? – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

To get an honest and unbiased opinion, we checked what some of the folks at Reddit think about the emergency blankets. 

All 56 of them agree that emergency blankets are only good for one-time or as-needed usage, and they can never replace proper gear.

That’s because most of these blankets are made of inferior materials, and thus, they tore too easily. But regardless of make, all emergency blankets will wake you up in a sweaty mess if you use them as your sleeping equipment.

It is simply due to the nature of how an emergency blanket works. The blanket traps your body heat and reflects it toward you. It radiates more heat until your body needs to regulate your temperature by sweating.

Nevertheless, though it cannot be classified as proper camping gear, it can still help you if you use it wisely.

When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

Emergency blankets have many great talents in helping you survive the outdoors, but like any other tool or equipment, they also have their limits. You have to understand these limitations to set the right expectations about your packed emergency blankets.

Heating Your Body with an Emergency Blanket Takes Time – When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work

Though they can warm your body up, emergency blankets can’t generate heat independently. Their efficiency is tied up to how quickly your body can produce heat.

Its main goal is to reflect heat. So, you’ll have to wait a little while until your body creates sufficient warmth to gradually increase your temperature.

You Will Still Lose Some of Your Body Heat – When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work

An emergency blanket does not have insulation. Therefore, some heat will eventually escape and lessen the temperature inside the blanket.

Aside from that, the tiny holes here and there, after you wrap the blanket around you, will surely dissipate heat.

So, when using it as first aid to deter hypothermia, you will still need to add another layer of insulation to prevent heat loss.

They Can’t Work If You’re Too Wet – When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work

As reiterated, they work to radiate the heat coming out of your body. When wet, your body tries to vaporize the water all over it.

So instead of giving off heat, you produce cool air. Consequently, the emergency blanket circulates this cold air. And you feel colder than you were before.

This is important when using the emergency blanket after you’re soaked in an icy cold lake or basin of water.

They Can’t Dry You Off – When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work

By design, emergency blankets trap heat, not let them escape. If you plan to use the emergency blanket after a dip in the lake, please don’t.

Chances are, you’ll only end up drenched in your sweat, making you feel icky. You’re better off drying your body while bathing in the sun.

Most Personal or Mylar Blankets are Fragile – When an Emergency Space Blanket Won’t Work

They tear easily. That’s the reality of most personal or mylar emergency blankets out there. One roll on the ground with branches or slightly sharp rocks can rip them up.

Of course, some will not break off that easily. But even those are only good for a night of use.

To get the most out of these fragile emergency kits, be wise and buy at least five or ten of them, depending on how long you will be out in the woods.

How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

A basic of Camping 101 is to pack light and pack with a purpose. An emergency blanket is a great camping kit, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’ll have one more useless item in your backpack.

The key is knowing when and how to use the emergency blanket to maximize its purpose. Here are some of them.

For Emergencies – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

When your body loses heat too fast, snatch your emergency blanket and wrap it around your body. Make sure that the shiny part of it faces you so it can reflect your body’s heat at you.

You can also use the emergency blanket as a first aid kit to keep your camping mate’s body warm if they suffer from hypothermia. Cover your or your mate’s head with a hat or scarf to minimize heat loss.

When using the emergency blanket as first aid for hypothermia, make sure that your friend’s body is relatively dry.

The emergency blanket only reflects heat from the body and does not generate it. The body cannot create sufficient heat if it’s drenched with water.

When this happens, get them out of their wet clothes first. Then quickly wipe their body down and cover it with the emergency blanket.

As a Support Warmer – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

If the weather gets too chilly while outdoors, you can use the emergency blanket to add warmth to your sleeping bag or tent.

Wrap your body with the blanket, then slide it into your sleeping bag. If this seems too hard, just lay it on the tent floor, keeping the shiny face in contact with the back of your sleeping bag.

Protection from the Elements – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

One of the many uses of an emergency blanket is protection against the elements. 

Prop it vertically to use it as a windbreaker. You can fasten it to a post or tree bark so you’ll be temporarily safe from light to moderate rain or snow.

If you can’t hike and it rained, use the emergency blanket as a rain poncho. It has water-repellant properties to prevent you from getting soaked.

Cool off Your Body – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

Just as the emergency blanket can reflect and trap heat to warm your body, it can also retract it away to cool you off. 

Keep the reflective side away from you. The emergency blanket will fend off the sun’s rays to keep your body at room temperature.

SOS Signal – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

The reflective surface of the emergency blanket can be a good distress signal. You can cut it into strips and form the word SOS on the beach or mountain clearing. Some emergency blankets even have the SOS carved on them.

Firestarter – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

Another utility of the emergency blanket is your DIY magnifying glass for starting your campfire. 

To do this, find a concave or bowl-shaped object in your gear. Line the shiny part of the emergency blanket on the hollow side of your makeshift magnifying lens.

After securing the emergency blanket to the curved object, you can use it to refract light and create fire.

As Bait for Fishing – How to Properly Use an Emergency Blanket

An unexpected utility of the emergency blanket is for use as bait. Several fish varieties, whether fresh or saltwater, are attracted to light.

Thus, the glimmer that the emergency blanket makes underwater is enticing to them. Cut the emergency blanket into strips, then weigh it down with a stone or any heavier object.

Truly, an emergency blanket is of great help when you need it most. Take time to watch this video for more survival hacks using the emergency blanket.

However useful emergency blankets are, you should find one of good quality to take advantage of their benefits.

What Brand of Emergency Blanket Should I Buy? – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

Though most emergency blankets in the market are in the “don’t bother buying” pile, some got the approval of campers, hikers, marathoners, and the like.

  • AMK Heatsheets
  • Grabber Space All Weather blanket
  • SOL Emergency Poncho

Among these three, the Grabber Space All-Weather Blanket got 18 nods out of 30. They seem to be impressed with the durability and versatility of Grabber’s space blanket.

Grabber’s All-Weather space blanket can last from three to five years. It will hold up quite well when used as a makeshift tarp, kneeling pad, ground cloth, or as an underlayer for your tent.

They can almost cover the floor of a two-man tent, but the downside is they are heavy. On average, a Grabber All Weather space blanket weighs 13 oz. That’s six-fold the weight of a personal emergency blanket.

If you’re only looking for a blanket for personal use, the AMK Heatsheets may be your best bet. They are not as tough as Grabber’s, but they’re fairly strong, and you can put them inside your pocket.

These emergency blanket brands were tested and proven to serve their purpose, but you still have to set expectations about what they can and cannot do for you.

Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?
Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

Conclusion – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

Emergency blankets do work to keep you warm. However, there are limits to what it can do for you in the wild. It is proven to be a great survival tool, but it cannot be exchanged for heavy-duty outdoor gear. 

So, when shopping for an emergency blanket for your next big adventure, be sure you understand how and when to use them.

Emergency blankets can save your life, but they can also endanger it.

Frequently Asked Questions – Do Emergency Space Blankets Work?

1. What Materials are Used to Make Emergency Space Blankets? – FAQs

Emergency space blankets are usually made of thin, lightweight material like Mylar, a polyester film type.

2. What is the Purpose of Emergency Space Blankets? – FAQs

Emergency space blankets reflect a person’s body heat back to them. The blanket’s shiny surface reflects up to 90% of a person’s body heat back towards their body, keeping them warm in cold weather.

3. Are Emergency Space Blankets Useful for Keeping Warm? – FAQs

Emergency space blankets can help you stay warm by reflecting your body heat back to you. However, in extremely cold or windy conditions, they may not be sufficient.

4. Can Emergency Space Blankets Be Used More Than Once? – FAQs

Most emergency space blankets are only intended for single use and cannot be reused once opened. However, some reusable versions are available that can be folded up and stored for later use.

5. Is There Any Disadvantage to Using an Emergency Space Blanket? – FAQs

One disadvantage of using an emergency space blanket is that it may not be warm enough in extremely cold or wet conditions. Furthermore, some people may be bothered by the crinkly sound and feel of the material.

6. Can You Use an Emergency Space Blanket as a Shelter or Tent? – FAQs

While emergency space blankets were not designed to be used as shelters or tents, they can be strung up between trees or other objects to create a makeshift shelter.

7. How Long Should an Emergency Space Blanket Last? – FAQs

The lifespan of an emergency space blanket is determined by several factors, including how frequently it is used and how well it is cared for. Most single-use versions will only last for one use, whereas reusable versions may last for several if properly cared for.

8. Is it True That All Emergency Space Blankets Offer the Same Level of Protection? – FAQs

No, not all emergency space blankets are equal in terms of protection. Some models may use thicker or more durable materials than others, while others may include features such as windproofing or waterproofing.

Ben Wann- Tent Camping Expert

My name is Ben Wann, and I’m a lifelong tent camper and backpacker who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.