Published Jun 29, 2022 2:50 PM
A great wool camping blanket can make a good camping trip into the woods even better, particularly if that night-time chill tends to drive you into the tent or the RV before the fire burns itself out, and while the rest of your camping buddies are still swapping stories. Wrapping up in a wool blanket can add more campfire time—that’s what it’s all about, right?
Of course, a merino wool blanket can be a double-edged sword. Warmth is the ultimate goal, but comfort also has to come into play (wool blankets can be a bit scratchy). And, don’t forget—wool blankets usually come with that patented lanolin aroma. Some love it, some don’t mind it, and still, others don’t want anything to do with it. With all this in mind, I’ve found four of the best camping blankets worth your attention—the Ibex wool blanket, Ektos wool blanket, the Woolly Mammoth rugged wool camping blanket, and the Arcturus military wool blanket.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Wool Camping Blanket
Warmth? Comfort? Both?
Good merino wool camping blankets might seem like an afterthought for most campers, but that shouldn’t be the case. Before you pack your best family tent or load the camper, take the time to think about what makes you the most comfortable when you spend a few nights in the woods. Being warm is important. But comfort comes into play, too. For some, one is more important than the other, but for a lot of us, a wool camping blanket that keeps us both warm (but not too warm) and comfortable is important. Remember, quality merino wool blankets smell of lanolin oil, a natural byproduct in any wool camping blanket. Some exude the odor more than others, and if it’s a turn-off, you’ll want a more subtle blanket.
Wool is a substantial material. There’s no getting around it. And really well-made wool camping blankets are not for the backpack camper for whom weight economy is vital. But some are heavier than others, and some, despite being solid, don’t hold in the heat as well as others do. If you’re a car camper or you have room in the RV, packing a quality wool camping blanket is a good idea—especially if you or a fellow camper tend to get a bit chilly once the sun goes down.
This may not be top-of-mind, but after dragging a five-pound wool blanket between the tent and the campfire, you’re going to want to eventually wash it. And not all wool camping blankets are easily washable. In fact, some recommend a very gentle cold-water hand wash, others prefer a cold wash and a dry tumble with no heat. Still, others are dry-clean only. Regardless, wool will shed a bit after the first wash or two. A bonus? It also gets a bit softer.
Some wool camping blankets are more affordable than others, and while the common adage, “You get what you pay for,” makes sense, I found that, during testing, it’s not always the whole truth. The good news? A really good wool blanket isn’t going to set you back hundreds of dollars. Even better news? You can get a quality wool camping blanket for less than $50.
- Size: 76 inches x 56.5 inches
- Packed size: 20 inches x 18 inches x 6 inches
- Materials: wool
- Dry clean only
Why It Made the Cut
This Ibex blanket is the softest wool blanket I’ve ever tried, and it’s plenty warm enough for sitting around the fire or throwing over a sleeping bag on a chilly night.
- Soft to the touch
- Large enough for two people to sit under
- Can be used on the ground in the right conditions
If you have a reluctant camper you’re working on converting, this may well be one of the best camping blankets for you. Not only is it super cozy and perfect for throwing over your legs around the Solo Stove or layering over your sleeping bag for a bit of extra warmth at night, but it also just looks great, so it has a touch of glamp that will elevate just about any setup.
Wool has a reputation for being scratchy, and there is a reason for that: wool fibers have natural scales on them, but this Ibex blanket bucked that trend with excellent skin feel. Unless you have a wool allergy, you’ll find this blanket comfortable.
While this blanket is plenty durable for ground use, I’m not recommending it for that purpose, especially since it’s expensive to buy and clean. -Laura Lancaster
- Weight: it’s a heavy wool blanket at five pounds—it feels as dense and solid as it is.
- Materials: It’s constructed of 100 percent wool, which likely contributes greatly to it being the warmest blanket I tested. Odor: Yes, it smells like sheep’s wool. Lanolin oil has a unique aroma; if you don’t like it, this may not be the wool camping blanket for you.
Why It Made the Cut
Its weight and solid wool construction make the Ektos a no-brainer for campers who want warmth first and foremost from a wool camping blanket.
- It’s heavy and keeps the heat in.
- It’s well-made and densely constructed.
- It’s machine washable.
- It’s not a bank-breaker—it retails for a clean $50.
- It does have a clear lanolin aroma.
- For some, it might be too heavy.
- If you’re a hot sleeper, it might keep you too warm.
The Ektos wool blanket is an excellent choice for campers who want to stay warm, first and foremost. Made of 100 percent wool, it’s densely constructed, which for heat-seekers is a real plus. Also, at only $50, it’s an affordable product, especially considering its quality.
That said, for some, it might be a bit much. I did find myself kicking it off of me in the middle of a chilly night because I got too warm, and that, of course, makes for a “hot-then-cold” night. If you’re a warm or a hot sleeper, the Ektos may be too much for you.
- Weight: It’s a bit lighter than some wool camping blankets (4.5 pounds), yet it still functions well for both heat retention and comfort.
- Materials: It’s constructed of 80 percent wool.
- Odor: There is a slight lanolin “overtone,” but it’s more subtle than other blankets I tested.
Why It Made the Cut
Its lighter weight coupled with its comfortable function as a bed topper make the Arcturus military wool blanket a great choice for campers who prefer comfort over warmth. Bonus? It retails for $37.99.
- It’s a great choice as a top layer inside the tent or the RV.
- It’s the most affordable wool camping blanket I tested
- It’s a handsome blanket that is well-built, especially for the price.
- It’s machine-washable, but hand-washing is recommended.
- It’s not constructed of 100 percent wool.
- If you’re a cold sleeper, this wool blanket is likely not ideal for warmth.
The Arcturus military wool blanket is a great choice for campers who want to find that happy medium between warmth and comfort. This wool camping blanket is great for a bed topper but also a blanket that can migrate to and from the campfire and the tent or the RV.
If warmth is your ultimate goal, however, you might find the Artrurus military wool blanket a bit light for you (this may be because of its hybrid construction—80 percent wool, 20 percent hypoallergenic fibers). I found it to be ideal, however, because I sleep pretty warm, and not having to kick it off and pull it back on repeatedly during the night helped me sleep uninterrupted.
- Weight: It’s the lightest of the three blankets tested, coming in at 4 pounds.
- Materials: It’s made from 80 percent wool, 10 percent polyester, 5 percent nylon, and 5 percent “other fibers.”
- Odor: This smells like a wool blanket—the lanolin aroma is clearly present.
Why It Made the Cut
The Woolly Mammoth rugged wool camping blanket is an ideal “general use” blanket that can serve as a bed topper, a blanket between a sheet and a comforter, or just a blanket that can be toted around camp as needed. It’s a bit larger than some of its competitors—if it’s not warm enough, it can be folded over and doubled up.
- Its lighter weight makes it more flexible for a variety of uses.
- Even though it’s lighter, its fabric construction is quite complex—it feels heavier than it is.
- It’s big enough to be comfortably shared by two campers.
- It’s not constructed of 100 percent wool.
- It’s likely not the blanket for cold sleepers—it’s not as heavy as other options.
- It’s not machine washable—Woolly Mammoth recommends that it be dry-cleaned only.
I found the Woolly Mammoth rugged wool camping blanket to kind of fit into the “Goldilocks” category. Not too heavy, not too light, etc. But more than that, I found this wool camping blanket to be more functional than some of its competitors. Light enough to tote around camp, but heavy enough to serve as a blanket between a sheet and comforter, it’s kind of the “jack of all trades” when it comes to wool camping blankets.
What’s more, it’s a nice size—66 inches by 90 inches. I found it ideal for stretching over my broad shoulders comfortably, and I still had enough blanket to share with my girlfriend around the fire. It’s likely not warm enough to serve as a full-on bed-topper, but it was great to relax within the camper after the fire died. It’s one of the best wool blankets for camping.
Is a wool blanket good for backpacking?
No, wool blankets are not ideal for backpackers. Wool is a heavy, durable fabric, and wool camping blankets are likely too heavy for the weight-conscious backpacker to include in even an overnight backpack.
Is a wool blanket warmer than a sleeping bag?
Wool blankets can be very warm, but, generally speaking, a sleeping bag is a better choice for warmth.
How do you use a wool blanket for camping?
Wool blankets for camping are best used as toppers to existing bedding. They’re not great for base layers because they can be a bit scratchy. Instead, think of them as ideal top blankets either in lieu of a heavy comforter, or in addition to a lighter blanket.
Are old wool blankets worth anything?
Old wool blankets are often the first thing experienced campers load in the car. Their value is in their function—they keep campers warm, even after several washes.
Will a wool blanket keep you warm in the winter?
A good wool blanket will keep you warm regardless of the weather, but keeping it dry matters. Once it’s wet, it loses its heat-retention ability.
Are wool blankets too hot?
Wool blankets can, indeed, work too well—they tend to hold in heat and fend off cold. For some, wool camping blankets can work too well.
For a lot of campers, a wool blanket isn’t a “make or break” proposition when it comes to most camping trips. But, once you spend a long weekend testing wool camping blankets, you’ll wonder what on earth you did without one tucked into the camping box or under the couch in the camper.
The best wool blankets for camping are good for a number of uses, from lounging around the camper to sharing around the campfire with a camping buddy. Heavier models are ideal as a bed comforter that’s warm, but not bulky. I’d happily find a home in my camper for any of the three blankets I tested—each has its own attributes. But for general use, I probably preferred the Woolly Mammoth offering, even though it is a bit higher maintenance than the other wool camping blankets I put to the test.
I tested each blanket under a variety of conditions on a multi-day camping trip into the Caribou National Forest in eastern Idaho, where I was sure to get some downright cold Rocky Mountain nights, a night or two around the campfire, and some time playing games or reading on chilly evenings. I put each blanket atop the bed in my camper for a night and was sure to make a note of which blanket kept the warmest.
I also stretched each blanket over my girlfriend and me as we enjoyed some campfire time. We each tried all three blankets for various uses like the occasional nap, a leg cover on a chilly evening, and folded over a few times to use as a pillow while watched the the Stanley Cup playoffs on a spotty data signal.