Oct 27, 2023

The 7 Best Picnic Blankets of 2023

Sit comfortably while you dine outdoors on these F&W-approved picnic blankets.

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Food & Wine / Brian Kopinski

There's something special about packing up a meal and enjoying it outdoors. Not only is alfresco dining the perfect opportunity to whip up picnic recipes and summer salads, but it's also an excuse to spend time in the sun with your loved ones. Almost as important as delicious food and good company? A quality picnic blanket to sit, eat, and relax on.

That's why we put 31 picnic blankets to the test to determine the best for any occasion and condition. We analyzed the size, making sure there was enough room for at least two people, the material, ensuring it was comfortable enough to sit on for long periods of time and suitable for damp surfaces, and ease of cleaning, confirming you can either toss it in the washing machine or easily wipe clean when spills occur. Keep scrolling to see which blankets made our list.

L.L Bean

This blanket is incredibly soft and comfortable, easy to roll and store, and completely waterproof.

Its fleece material might not be the best for super hot days.

Our testers could not stop raving about how soft and cozy this L.L. Bean blanket was. "It has enough cushion to dull bumps and rocks, and if it's chilly, like at night while camping, it would be great to curl up with," one tester said. While other blankets are water-resistant, this one is completely waterproof, passing our test with flying colors. It has just the right amount of heft, with our testers saying it seemed heavy enough to stay in place on a windy day but not so heavy you won't want to haul it across the park to that perfect spot.

Despite being fleece, the texture is fine enough that sand falls off after just a few shakes — though it may be a little too cozy for steamy days. The blanket comes with a small carrying sack, but you can also roll it up, secure it with the attached elastic straps, and toss it in a tote. Even though the blanket is virtually stain-resistant, you can machine wash and tumble dry it if needed.

Price at time of publish: $69


A thick, high-quality, family-size blanket at a reasonable price.

Drying is not recommended, so you’ll need space to hang it up after washing.

This extra-large blanket performed very well during all our tests despite being significantly less expensive than some of our other picks. It passed our water-resistance test and was very soft and thick — though also quite light, so it may require some weighing down if you’re going to stand up and leave for a bit.

The fleece topside didn't hold onto the sand, but there was a faint stain after our juice test. Indeed, ease of cleaning is the only knock against this blanket. Spot cleaning is the recommended method, though if you overturn an entire bottle of wine, you can put it in the washing machine. That said, the manufacturer recommends against drying it with heat, so you’ll need to air-dry it for a while or find a space large enough to hang it up.

Price at time of publish: $30

Comforter-like and totally stain-resistant, this blanket falls into a Yeti-dominated category of worthy splurges.

A little bulky and tough to fold, stowing it away is a two-man job.

Given that this blanket is made by Yeti, our testers weren't surprised by the price tag — or by the high quality. "It would be a good splurge item, especially if you have messy kids or go on lots of outdoor adventures where the blanket will be experiencing wear and tear and wet conditions," our tester said. Indeed, despite the cushy and comforter-like topside, liquid pooled on top and was a cinch to blot away. The underside is completely waterproof, and the blanket has loops at the corners that allow you to stake it down on windy days.

We’d consider this blanket more large than extra-large, and it's a little tough to wrangle into the carrying case on your own. But once it's in, you can stow the case in your bag, carry it by the top strap or use one of the side ones to clip it to your backpack.

Price at time of publish: $200


Large, thick, and heavy, this blanket is as good for eating on as it is for snuggling beneath.

Messy eaters, steer clear — this one stains.

Some of the blankets we tested had a crunchy, plastic-feeling underside to keep water from seeping through, but this picnic blanket from Oceas has a thick, polyester backing that feels more durable while still keeping your backside dry. "There is plenty of room for a few people to lie down on this blanket, and you could fit several people on this blanket to eat," our tester said. "It would be good to wrap around your shoulders as well."

The fleece blanket is better suited to camping than beaching, as sand did stick to it at first. And the juice in our spill test soaked right in and left a stain, albeit one that might come out in the wash.

Price at time of publish: $50


Huge yet lightweight, it's a great pick for families.

It will cover the ground but doesn't provide much cushioning.

This pick is the perfect family picnic blanket. It's both the largest on our list and the least expensive, plus it's super easy to shake off the sand, and the liquid stains wipe away in a snap.

When laid flat, the machine washable blanket covers over 42 square feet, which is plenty of room to lay out sandwiches or pasta salads and let your loved ones go to town without worrying about mess or splatters. The only downside our testers could find was that it doesn't provide much by way of cushion, so this blanket may be better suited for sand or long grass than harder surfaces at a camping site.

Price at time of publish: $46


Soft and pretty, it's an excellent choice for a solo or couples jaunt.

It's on the smaller side, so it might not be the best option for taller people.

If you’re heading to the park or beach for a solo day of relaxation, this Little Unicorn blanket can't be beaten. It folds up to an easy-to-carry 12-by-15-inch parcel and, laid out, covers a 5-by-5-foot square, perfect for one or two people to sit or lie with their feet hanging off the edge.

This blanket earned high marks from our testers for comfort and thickness, plus it was easy to shake off the sand and blot out the juice. The underside was truly water-resistant, though our testers noted that the soft fabric on top seemed thin and might tear easily. The price tag is higher than four of the blankets on this list despite it being the smallest blanket.

Price at time of publish: $50


Extra bells and whistles, like a dual strap carrying case and a secret pocket, make this blanket an excellent pick for the price.

The thick fleece is a little difficult to roll and stuff into the carrying case.

The designers of this blanket truly thought of everything. In addition to expected features like a cushy and comfortable fleece top side, a slick waterproof underside, and substantial size, the blanket has a built-in zippered pocket, an easy-to-use carrying case with two different straps, and an elastic band for keeping it rolled up. Add in the price and it becomes an excellent pick. The thickness of the fleece did have a few drawbacks, namely that it's a little bulky to roll up and takes a few extra shakes to release sand from between the fibers.

Price at time of publish: $44

While our testers rated all of these highly, they found virtually nothing to dislike in the L.L. Bean Waterproof Outdoor Blanket. From its soft and comfy topside to waterproof underside to large size to easy cleaning, it's the perfect blanket for any outdoor adventure.

We evaluated 31 picnic blankets and rated them on a scale of 1 to 5 based on five categories: quality, comfort, ease of cleaning, durability, and overall value. To rate the quality, we considered the look and feel of the blanket, if there were any flaws in the construction, if it was easy to fold and/or fit into the carrying case or straps (when applicable), and how difficult it was to carry. We evaluated the comfort from both seated and lying down positions in terms of size, cushioning, softness, and how it might perform in different weather conditions. To determine how easy the blanket was to clean, we tested how difficult it was to shake the sand off and whether spilled grape juice could be wiped or blotted away. We measured the durability by seeing if it would blow away on a windy day, seemed prone to tearing or snags, and the water resistance quality. For overall value, we looked at the results of the previous tests to decide if the picnic blanket was priced fairly, if we would pay more for it, or if we would wait for it to be on sale to make the purchase.

Are you planning to sit on your picnic blanket by yourself? Lounge with your partner? Serve lunch for four or more? All of the above? The larger the picnic blanket you choose, the more versatile it will be. Not only do you need enough space for your body, but you also need room for your food, pets, and more. You’ll also want to think about the size when it comes to storage and cleaning. It needs to tuck nicely in a closet or cabinet and fit into your washing machine.

All of our top picnic blankets have a water-resistant underside, so you can sit comfortably on dewy grass or damp sand. But when selecting the best material for sitting on, other factors come into play. Fleece blankets will be best for spring and fall days, while cotton and rayon are cooler for summer. The last thing you want is a fleece blanket sticking to your skin after a game of frisbee or a stroll along the beach, while that same fleece blanket may be ideal for a fall tailgate or chilly night by the fire.

Every blanket on our list is machine washable, which is a huge plus when you need a deep clean. It's also important to choose one that is easy to spot clean when small spills occur or if it gets muddy. If you’re planning on using the blanket at the beach, it's easier to shake the sand or dirt off a cotton blanket than a fleece one.

The best size for a picnic blanket depends on how you plan to use it. If it's solo trips to the park with a snack and a favorite book, a smaller picnic blanket, like our compact pick, will do just fine. For couples and families, you’ll likely want a bigger blanket for everyone to sit comfortably. In general, a 60-by-70-inch blanket works for most situations.

All the picnic blankets on our list are made of two or more different materials, with the top being soft and comfortable and the underside water-resistant and easy to clean. Some are thick and cushy fleece, while others are a lighter polyester or cotton, so the weather conditions and locations where you plan to use your picnic blanket, whether that's the park, yard, beach, or lake, will likely determine the best material for you.

Pay attention to how your picnic blanket is folded when you purchase it, as that is going to be the best way to fold it going forward. All our favorite blankets come with either a carrying bag or case or an attached handle or strap — to utilize said carrying method (in most cases) you will need to fold it in a certain manner.

All the blankets on our list are machine washable, so you can pop them in the washing machine after the end of a sweaty or messy day outdoors. That said, in our testing, we also made sure that it would be easy to shake off sand and dirt, as well as dab away spills to prevent stains. If you do wash your blanket at home, make sure to check the drying instructions before putting it in the dryer, as some recommend against drying on heat to maintain the cushion and water-resistant underside.

Alyssa Sybertz is an experienced food and cooking writer and recipe developer who covers anything and everything you may find in your kitchen for Food & Wine. For this article, she used insights from our testers who evaluated 31 picnic blankets to determine the best of the best for all your picnicking needs.

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