In this article, we answer an often-asked question: how do emergency blankets work?
If you are just developing a keen interest in venturing out into the wild, or you are an existing fan of camping trips with friends and family then you will have already recognized the importance of the fact that solid preparation for your excursion into the great unknown is absolutely key.
When planning a hiking and camping trip, your focus will likely be on what you want to get out of your stay in nature and I think we can all agree on the fact that breathtaking views, lush greenery, wildlife and an unspoiled view of the stars are key.
As with any outdoor excursion, you must pay close attention to the weather in order to make it a safe trip. Landscapes that are known for their cooler temperatures at night are often subject to dramatic weather and temperature changes: it could go from being sunny and warm, to a turbulent thunderstorm in the space of 30 minutes. And this is where an essential part of your survival kit -- the emergency blanket -- becomes absolutely invaluable.
You have likely seen an emergency situation on the television where victims are evacuated wrapped in giant sheets of tin foil. These are emergency blankets, commonly known as “Space Blankets.” Used by rescue organizations, marathon runners, military forces and NASA, space blankets are fast becoming the “go-to” bug-out bag item for survivalists and hikers around the world. They are paper thin, they weigh almost nothing and they are a fail safe way of regulating your body temperature and keeping you warm in an emergency situation or simply to keep you warm at night when sleeping out on a mountain range.
Swiss Safe Emergency Mylar Thermal Blanket
Survivor Series Extra Heavy Duty Blanket
Survivor Series Emergency Sleeping Bag Kit
The World’s Toughest Emergency Blanket
Now, we get to the science to answer our original question: how do emergency blankets work?
Unfortunately, wrapping yourself in a giant roll of standard aluminum foil from your pantry is not going to work when it comes to protecting you from the harsh elements. And whilst it might be tempting to try and save money by packing your survival kit with foil you likely already have at home, it is not only impractical, but also can be pretty dangerous.
Actual emergency blankets are not constructed from standard aluminum foil; they are constructed using an advanced process, described below.
Let’s take a look at how space blankets actually work:
Emergency blankets are the brainchild of savvy manufacturers who had the brilliant idea of depositing aluminum that had been converted into vapor on top of thin plastic sheets. They soon discovered that the end product was a material that was not only incredibly lightweight, but also was completely flexible and reflected heat, which meant that body temperature could be efficiently regulated by either keeping heat in or deflecting it elsewhere. This is what makes an emergency blanket absolutely perfect for extreme temperatures that survivalists thrive off to challenge their skill and experience.
Camping out a few miles from home in a field is not comparable whatsoever to a hardcore mission up into the mountains and many people seem to underestimate just how dangerous it can be. While taking a first aid kit along with you is an obvious precaution, relatively few people thoroughly grasp the fact that the weather can actually kill you, and quickly. Hypothermia is a major concern and it comes as a result of losing too much body heat, and a space blanket is one of the best remedies. By preventing your sweat from evaporating (and using up all your energy in the process), an emergency blanket will stop you from going into hypothermic shock. On the flip side of this, thanks to the emergency blanket's reflective qualities, when the sun is beating down on you, it can be used for protection so you can carry on to your next rest point as planned. Protecting yourself against cold, windy environments will contribute to a successful and satisfying trip, and you will be able to return home safely and satisfied with your excursion!
Space blankets aren’t only useful for keeping someone warm in an emergency, they have a plethora of uses including:
If you didn’t plan on camping out after your hike, but unforseen circumstances left you with no choice, you will need to create some kind of shelter. Sure, you could construct something out of tree branches, but wouldn’t it be so much easier just to unfold your emergency blanket (which folds up to the size of a pack of cards) and pitch it up like a tent? An emergency blanket is completely waterproof, so if it starts hammering down with rain, or you get caught in a snow blizzard, you greatly lower your risk of getting cold and wet.
Pro Tip: The shiny side of a space blanket is the side that reflects heat. When you find yourself in an extreme cold weather scenario, build a fire and use the blanket to reflect the heat it produces back to you. Think of it like a windbreaker you would use at the beach, but the opposite version. Prop the emergency blanket behind you so that instead of radiating outwards and dissipating, the heat is instead captured and reflected back onto you.
If you need to send a distress signal, but you don't have flares or another signaling device, your space blanket will be extremely useful when it comes to getting help. You can actually now purchase blankets that have SOS printed on them, which can be easily seen from the sky, but a standard emergency blanket will serve just as well if you wave it around above your head. It will function as a mirror to flash a pilot's eyes with reflected sunlight.
While water is essential to staying hydrated in the heat and preventing heat exhaustion, so is shade. You wouldn’t believe the amount of people who hike for hours in the blazing sun and go to sit down for five minutes, only to wake up three hours later with painful blisters all over their face. If you need to stop and rest during your trek, then tie your emergency blanket to something solid that will suspend it above you and take refuge under it until you are able to continue on your journey.
With emergency blankets becoming increasingly popular, there are a wide range of types and brands for sale both online and in your local sports store. Once you have worked out which ones will be best suited to your needs, you can browse online at your leisure before making a purchase. However, we did the research for you, so read on for our top 5 picks of emergency blankets.
A standard emergency blanket is essentially a large metallic sheet that folds up into an incredibly small package and is super light to carry. It will usually have a shiny metallic side and the other side will be brightly colored so you can be easily seen amongst foliage. With regards to prices, you can find some good products that are as cheap as just $4, and you can also find models that are more durable and come with a slightly higher price tag. Ultimately, it all depends on the harshness of the weather in your target recreation area; and if you are planning a hardcore trip, then it is definitely worth spending the extra money on a product that is built to last and of the finest quality. You can even have the colored side personalized for a romantic outdoor proposal that can be seen from the sky and you will be pleased to hear that some blankets are more than big enough for two people--who said romance was dead?!
Swiss Safe manufactures some of the best quality emergency blankets on the market, and they are meticulously designed to be completely fail-safe. The first thing to note about this product is that it is one of the highest rated products available online and they are also used by NASA and the military, meaning the quality is second to none. They are guaranteed to retain 90% of your body heat in an emergency situation and are built to withstand the harshest of conditions, time and time again. Best of all, for just under $15 you get a pack of four, plus a bonus gold space blanket adds an element of variety to your trip. Same day delivery is also possible when ordering on Amazon, so it’s perfect for last minute trips!
If you are a Bear Grylls type person who loves to push yourself to the most extreme limits, then this blanket is a firm favorite among die-hard survivalists. It is slightly heavier than the usual space blankets found, weighing just over a pound, however reports state that it is well worth it, as it is incredibly tough and durable. You can wrap it around you as a sleeping bag and also use it as a thermal blanket, and this particular model comes in incredibly useful if you don’t mind extra weight. It can also be used in place of a sleeping bag. It comes with little stakes to secure it in the wind and rain.
The cheapest on the list, but also one of the best, this emergency sleeping bag kit costs just $6 and is multi faceted. It is much lighter than their other product mentioned above and it doubles up as a bright orange/metallic sided emergency blanket that can be used for shelter from the sun or rain. The advantage is that you can seal it to keep all the heat in at night and use it as a sleeping bag, too. It rolls up into a compact drawstring bag, which you can clip to your belt easily.
These ultra compact emergency blankets are by the funky brand that is appropriately named Don’t Die In The Woods! They are 23% larger than standard space blankets, making them ideal for taller people and offering full body protection. For the shorter survivalists, they will provide an oversized opportunity to snuggle up in the cold!
The products come enveloped in a camouflage green nylon sack, complete with a kit that allows you to clip them to your belt or carabiner, which is handy for climbers who want to carry the lightest load possible. The brand is also perfectly inline with preserving the great outdoors, donating 50% of profits made to nature conservation efforts worldwide. They offer a 100% guarantee that the durability of their products won’t be beaten, making them a zero risk investment.
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