The 12 Best Picnic Blankets for When the Park Is Calling Your Name
Including a $20 Technicolor pick.
Published May 20, 2021 8:00 PM
You’ve scouted a location; packed splatter-paint Tupperware and a retro lawn chair; and created a tableau of wine, cheese, and crudités. The only thing missing? The perfect picnic blanket. Sure, you could grab an oversize beach towel and be on your way, but a proper blanket protects you from the elements—no grass stains here—and provides a soft cushion, no matter the terrain. Yet all are not created equal, and it’s important to consider where you’re headed before committing to a style.
“If you’re going somewhere with grass that may be wet from rain or dew, pick something that’s water wicking,” says Emily Hecht, cofounder of Atlanta’s Gather Picnic Co., which specializes in themed outdoor gatherings. For the beach, however, “thin blankets work great, but you’ll want to have more coverage than normal to create a big area that doesn’t get sandy,” she notes. Either way the right pick lays the groundwork for the ultimate alfresco feast. Read on for our guide to the best picnic blankets.
- Best overall: Sunnylife Wash Me Beach & Picnic Blanket
- Best value: Target Sun Squad Picnic Blanket
- Best modern design: Nipomo Blanket Roll
- Best compact: Matador Pocket Blanket
- Best padded: Scuddles Roll-Up Blanket
- Best cotton: Crate & Barrel Vinson Outdoor Picnic Blanket
- Best oversize: Kollab Picnic Mat Ladies
- Best classic check: Picnic Time Outdoor Zip-Up Picnic Blanket Tote
- Best plaid: Pendleton Roll-Up Blanket
- Best vintage-inspired print: Anthropologie Sunny Florals Picnic Blanket
- Best striped: Business & Pleasure Lauren’s Sage Stripe
- Best reversible: Forget Me Not Paris Geometric Throw
Features to Keep in Mind
Material: Picking the right fabric depends on where you’ll be picnicking and your personal preferences. Man-made and recycled materials such as polyester are low-maintenance and easy to clean—you can throw them right into the washing machine; ditto for 100 percent cotton. Wool, while naturally water- and stain-repellent, should be avoided on the hottest days due to heat absorption; they’ll also likely need to be dry cleaned. The two fabrics to absolutely stay away from? Silk and anything that’s crocheted with holes—they both have a high probability of snagging, says Hecht.
Portability: You’ll already be carrying food, so look for a picnic blanket that’s easy to transport. “You want something that’s thick enough to be a barrier between you and the ground, but light enough that you can fold it up and throw it in a bag to carry to your destination,” says Hecht. Many come with roll-up straps or turn into cool totes for the ultimate convenience.
Design: Like the rugs in your home, the best picnic blankets should reflect your personal style. Don’t be afraid of color, bold designs, or light hues. “People get intimidated by white or light colors in a picnic blanket, but I haven’t found any stain that a little spot cleaner and a wash can’t fix,” says Liz Clark, cofounder of Nipomo, which makes vibrant handwoven blankets and baskets. “Let your gut guide you!”
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Sunnylife Wash Me Beach & Picnic Blanket
No need to keep searching for that elusive tuft of perfect grass. Featuring a nylon backing that’ll protect you from dirt patches and damp mounds, this Sunnylife blanket is the perfect backdrop for your next spread. Plus it comes with super-convenient handles and buckle-up straps that will make packing it up and carrying it a cinch.
Best Value: Target Sun Squad Picnic Blanket
It’s always sunny enough for a picnic with this rainbow-bright blanket. At just $20, the Target pick is the “perfect size for four people,” according to one reviewer, and it folds up into a cute baguette-style purse you can wear proudly while running errands around town (there are six juicy patterns to choose from). And when you’re done with the great outdoors, you can toss it in the washer and dryer without worrying about shrinkage or ruining the great design.
Best Modern Design: Nipomo Blanket Roll
If you’re looking to make a blanket statement, this is your pick. Nipomo’s colorful handwoven design is made from recycled fibers by Mexican artisans using traditional weaving techniques and comes with a handmade strap for easy carrying. The machine-washable blanket also offers nearly 35 square feet of coverage, so none of your friends will be left out on the grass.
Best Compact: Matador Pocket Blanket
Weighing in at just 5 ounces and small enough to fold up in the palm of your hand—so you can stash it in your bag and forget it—this super-compact blanket is ideal for impromptu get-togethers. But don’t be fooled by its size: When unrolled, the Matador measures more than 20 square feet; is water-, puncture-, and tear-resistant; and comes with neat metal stakes to securely anchor it in the ground—a boon on slightly windy days.
Best Padded: Scuddles Roll-Up Blanket
With a comfortable padded center, an easy roll-up strap, and a waterproof bottom layer—plus more than 5,000 positive reviews on Amazon—the Scuddles blanket is a winning choice for trips to the beach and concerts in the park but also alfresco movie nights and evening cocktail gatherings in your backyard (just scatter some poufs and pillows for a Moroccan-style fete). There’s even an 8-by-9-foot option for maximum lounging.
Best Cotton: Crate & Barrel Vinson Outdoor Picnic Blanket
If you’re searching for a sturdy yet simple design, this should be your pick. First, it’s made from 100 percent cotton, one of Hecht’s favorite materials because, she says, it’s “durable yet breathable and allows for easy cleanup in case of spills.” It also features a PVC backing, making it great for various terrains. And if the simple powder blue hue seems too plain, look closer: Ivory tassels at the corners dress it up for elegant outdoor affairs.
Best Oversize: Kollab Picnic Mat Ladies
When you want to invite your whole crew out, this oversize pick provides plenty of ground cover, plus a cushion of foam padding to keep everyone comfortable. But the real draw lies in its simple pack-away design. You don’t have to engage in overly precise origami-like folding at the end of the day—just tuck and roll the ends in, adjust the strap in any direction that suits you, and be on your way.
Best Classic Check: Food52 Picnic Time Outdoor Zip-Up Picnic Blanket Tote
If you’re feeling nostalgic for old-school picnics, the classic red and white checks on Food52’s blanket is like a trip down memory lane—minus the clingy plastic. Water-resistant and machine washable, it also zips up into a handy tote with a convenient side pocket for all of your little extras, from glasses and sunscreen to that issue of Domino you’ve been earmarking.
Best Plaid: Pendleton Roll-Up Blanket
If you’re an all-season picnicker—really, who isn’t these days?—consider Pendleton’s cozy, American-made blanket. Crafted with naturally water-, stain-, and odor-repellent wool on a moisture-wicking nylon backing, it’s the perfect pick for early-spring brunches and chilly autumn tailgates. Sure, you’ll have to dry clean it for big spills, but that just means you’ll get to enjoy it for countless years to come.
Best Vintage-Inspired Print: Anthropologie Sunny Florals Picnic Blanket
Make your picnic the easiest to spot with the vibrant pattern on Anthropologie’s blanket. The mood-lifting design becomes a bright backdrop for any occasion, while the cotton construction makes it comfortable and simple to wash—just toss it in the machine with your jumpsuit. And discreet ribbon loops and stakes allow you to plant the blanket in place without endless shifting and rearranging, so the party never has to stop.
Best Striped: Business & Pleasure Lauren’s Sage Stripe
If you’re picnicking on the beach, Business & Pleasure’s hand-loomed option should be at the top of your list. Made with quick-drying 100 percent cotton fibers, the towel-like blanket has a hole in the center, so you can pair it with the brand’s sunny striped umbrellas and cabanas for a coordinated look that feels like an outdoor room.
Best Reversible: Forget Me Not Paris Geometric Throw
Looking for a one-of-a-kind blanket you won’t see anywhere else? This stylish, limited-run option from French brand Forget Me Not is a surefire conversation starter. It’s also extremely practical. The vibrant design hides stains, and because it’s 100 percent cotton, you can throw it in a cold wash and not worry about ruining it. But if you don’t have time for a cleaning before your next outdoor venture, fear not: It’s fully reversible, so you can just flip it over.
Can I machine wash picnic blankets?
You always want to read and follow the care instructions on any garment, but most picnic blankets can be washed on a cold cycle and then laid flat to dry. Wool options, however, usually require dry cleaning, but because they’re naturally odor- and stain-resistant, once a year should suffice.
What is a good size for a standard picnic blanket?
According to Amanda Coppa, Pendleton’s senior merchandise manager, a 60-by-70-inch blanket will fit a couple and ample snacks perfectly. But if your party is greater than two, don’t fret. Gather Picnic Co.’s Hecht loves to layer multiple blankets: “We usually have one large durable blanket in the center, with three to four rugs of varying sizes and textures around it.”
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