Backpacking

Survive Outdoors Longer Blanket

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Reflects 90% of radiated body heat

Peruse the recommended contents for any first aid, disaster, or survival kit and one will inevitably run across the venerable Mylar “space blanket.” Although the warmth conferred by the reflective silver is debatable, the real utility of an emergency blanket is to shield you from convective currents and the elements i.e. wind and rain. The problem with Mylar is two-fold. First, it is not puncture or tear resistant in any way. Should you manage to rip the material, the blanket will quickly disintegrate into a pile of silver confetti. Second, Mylar is extremely crinkly and noisy, to the point of precluding sleep or any tactical endeavors.

Fortunately there is a much improved version made with polypropylene and vapor deposited aluminum marketed as the “Survive Outdoors Longer Survival Blanket” from Adventure Medical Kits. While not 100% impervious to tears, polypropylene is much more durable than Mylar and will not continuously disintegrate even if torn. It also generates far less noise than Mylar when rustled. The added advantage of polypropylene is that it can be printed on; AMK includes basic first aid and survival instructions, a welcome reference for the inexperienced, tired, or injured.

There are two sizes available, the single-person “Emergency Blanket” and the two-person “Survival Blanket.” I recommend the latter, as a larger surface area is far more versatile. Over years of backpacking, I have used mine as an emergency groundsheet, tent fly, rain poncho, and storm shelter. It really does pay for itself once you use it. The downside is that polypropylene is approximately 5X more expensive than Mylar and about 2X thicker and heavier. Considering the added durability and utility, and a street price of still $7, the AMK polypropylene version is absolutely worth it.

-- Nabhan Islam 04/8/16