9 best picnic blankets for alfresco dining

From extra large and waterproof to tartan and personalised, this is an essential item for outdoor socialising

Joanne Gould
Tuesday 23 March 2021 17:21
<p>We judged them on comfort, practicality, durability and style</p>

We judged them on comfort, practicality, durability and style

There’s nothing like enjoying the great outdoors. And being restricted to the back garden for now only makes us yearn for the countryside, beaches, parks and woodlands more.

Come summertime, we’ll (hopefully) be heading for open space in our droves – and we highly recommend making the most of your newfound freedom by taking a picnic.

Get prepared with a new picnic blanket for alfresco dining in style. But what should you look for? It makes sense to have something lightweight and compact – no one wants to be lugging additional baggage around – and many of us will be looking for extra ease in carrying, such as a strap or roll-up style which can be handy when laden with cool bags and frisbees.

Then, consider whether you require any padding (good for adventurous types picnicking on rougher terrain), and a waterproof underlay often proves useful.

Fairer weather types may only be concerned with how pretty it makes a picnic and how well it washes, of course.

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Here, we’ve put a range of rugs to the test, looking for comfort, practicality, quality and stylishness. Whatever your picnic blanket requirements, these will have you covered.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

The best picnic blankets to buy in 2021 are:

Best picnic blanket – VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone: £27.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best waterproof picnic blanket – Just A Joy grey gingham padded picnic rug: £49.50, Amazon.co.uk

Best picnic blanket for large groups – VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone: £27.99, Amazon.co.uk

Best easy-to-fold picnic blanket – Fortnum & Mason tweedmill polo picnic rug: £110, Fortnumandmason.com

Best travel picnic blanket – Regatta matio picnic rug: £9.99, Trackpack.co.uk

Best beach picnic blanket – Weaver Green diamond dove grey blanket: £45, Havenfurniture.co.uk

Best picnic blanket for camping – Regatta matio picnic rug: £9.99, Trackpack.co.uk

VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone

Best for: A large group

This extra-large picnic blanket ticks all the boxes: it’s made from a hard-wearing fleece polyester that makes for a comfy sit-down and has a waterproof backing for non-soggy sitting. It looks smart and rolls up easily to be secured with dark brown leather-look carry straps.

At 147cm long and 180cm wide, this was one of the largest blankets we tried and is ideal for four people. It comes in eight colours and styles; we went for a natural green and white subtle herringbone which looks more expensive than it is. Our all-round winner.

Getting Personal personalised picnic rug

Best for: Family outings

Committed picnic fans may like to treat themselves to something special to welcome in the summer season. We like this traditional checked rug which can be personalised with a message on the discreet leather tag: simply choose your inscription of scripted font (up to 30 characters) and bold font (up to 30 characters).

A small to medium-sized rug at 120x150cm, this comfortably seats a family of four with smallish children and we found it washed well on a wool wash. This blanket is made from recycled wool and while it's not a thick material so not great for rough terrain, it is very light and compact when rolled.

It's available in four colours: light blue check, navy check, red check or blue crosshatch. The paler blue check gets our vote but all are classic rug styles that will please anyone. A great gift for keen picnickers.

Fortnum & Mason tweedmill polo picnic rug

Best for: A sense of occasion

This is by far the most expensive rug on our list, but we think it's a worthy investment. We love its traditional design in Fortnum's classic spearmint blue with an ivory check pattern. It’s a good size, at 145x183cm, and is made from top quality sheep’s wool that is at once hard-wearing and comfortable for sitting on.

Unusually for a woollen rug, it also features a polyester nylon back which makes it waterproof, and it can be rolled up to a manageable size for transporting, secured by dark brown British bridle leather straps.

This rug will elevate any picnic to a classy affair and you’ll be the envy of your fellow park goers once you bring this beauty out. It would also make a great gift for outdoorsy types who like their picnics with a touch of luxury.

Regatta matio picnic rug

Best for: Two people

This is a no-frills, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin basic picnic blanket that has everything you need. It’s comfortable and soft with a brushed fleecy polyester top, a thin foam layer to protect against painful stones and has a tough PVA back to guard against damp.

It isn’t huge, at a diminutive 150x135cm, but will suffice perfectly well for picnics with kids or for sitting comfortably as a twosome.

Weaver Green diamond dove grey blanket

Best for: Trips to the beach

This is a really gorgeous hand-loomed blanket from eco-friendly, ethical brand Weaver Green. Beautiful enough to be used indoors or out, this stylish rug is made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bottles – 300 of them per blanket apparently – though you’d never guess.

It’s super soft, looks and feels as cosy and luxurious as natural wool but the unique material is moth, red wine and water resistant as well as being extremely durable and machine washable – hence its ideal use as a picnic blanket or a throw for your sofa. This is the brand's bestselling dove grey which has a natural greenish tone to it, but there are several muted tones and classic designs to choose from across the range.

A lovely all-purpose blanket that will make for an aesthetically pleasing picnic, though it’s not the thickest so we tried to stick to beaches or well-manicured lawns for our outing.

The Stripes Company bright fun striped picnic blanket with carry bag

Best for: Big groups

Group picnics get a dose of colour with this truly massive picnic mat (200x200) from The Stripes Company. Like everything the brand makes, it’s striped of course, and there are many permutations to choose from.

This “cricket” colourway has an irregular stripe design of cheering aquamarines, lime, yellow, mid-blue, burgundy, red, black, white and orange that is sure to bring the sunshine even if the weather isn’t playing ball. It’s lightweight, lightly padded and has a damp proof backing, rolling up neatly into its matching bolster bag for storage and carrying, ticking all of our boxes.

London Transport Museum district moquette design lambswool throw

Best for: Park visits

Transport buffs and aesthetes alike will appreciate this blanket which features the distinctive moquette design as introduced to new district line trains and buses in the Seventies and Eighties.

This medium-sized picnic blanket (170x145cm) is made of soft, high-quality lambswool from one of Britain’s last remaining vertical mills which has designed, dyed, blended, spun and weaved homewares from raw wool since 1837. We love the brightly coloured geometric print of this rug which is hardy enough for use in parks and pretty enough to take pride of place for a garden picnic, but we’d warn against getting such lovely material too wet or mucky.

It's soft and comfy thanks to the thick wool pile, yet lightweight enough to pop into a backpack for a day out. Purchases support London Transport Museum’s charitable work.

Joules quilted picnic rug with carry strap

Best for: Damp ground

You can always rely on Joules for an eye-catching print and this statement picnic rug is just asking to be shown off. Featuring a colourful wild rose design in rosy pink, mustard and tonal blues and greens on an ivory background, this rug is pleasingly quilted to guard against annoying stones and has an all-important water-resistant backing.

It’s finished with a navy trim and rolls up into a convenient carry-roll with matching navy straps for easy handling. It’s not huge, at 146x132cm, but should fulfil your basic picnic needs. Plus, there are matching items available to tempt you further into outdoor dining.

Just A Joy extra large picnic blanker – grey gingham padded

Best for: Transporting easily

This grey gingham rug makes an interesting alternative to the usual woollen or fleecy types of picnic blankets as it is made of 100 per cent cotton, so is very nice to sit on, but has the benefit of not collecting tiny grains of sand in the weave and can be washed on a low machine wash.

It’s backed in waterproof polyester and has a layer of fibrefill padding inside for a bit of cushioning. The filling means it's more voluminous than the other blankets we tried, but it’s still extremely light and can be conveniently carried in its matching bag with handles. This rug easily accommodates a family or group at 180x140cm.

The verdict: Picnic blankets

We’ve chosen the VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone as our best buy, as it covers all bases at the same time as being budget-friendly; and it does look lovely. However, were our pockets significantly deeper we’d love to bring out the Fortnum & Mason’s tweedmill polo picnic rug which adds a sense of occasion as well as being a genuinely good, hard-wearing and practical outdoor rug.

We were also really impressed with the lovely Weaver Green diamond dove grey blanket, thanks to its eco-credentials and the fact it is so giant and so soft... but whether it would make it past our sofa is another question. Now get out there!

More picnic recommendations:

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