It is a topic that is debated frequently in a variety of prepping and survival forums. Are space blankets (those cheap tin-foil-like blankets) useful for keeping a person alive in an emergency situation, or do they simply provide a false sense of security?

I believe they are very handy in the right circumstance, but the user needs to have appropriate expectations of this piece of survival gear. After all, if these were the greatest thing since sliced bread then everyone in the Arctic would have all their clothes made out of the stuff! That isn’t the case.

Space Blankets are made from aluminum coated mylar plastic (sometimes called mylar blankets), and they fold down to about the size of a pack of cigarettes. There are a few variations of the blankets out there. Here are some links to the blankets from our favorite online survival retailer…

Small, lightweight (“almost” single use) blankets can be found for under $5 at most places. Click on this Discount Space Blanket Link where you can purchase 12 of them (for the whole family).

This is a more durable version that I personally have used as a ground sheet, and as a shelter tarp. They are a bit more expensive, but well worth it in my mind (they don’t pack down as small though). Click here for pricing and more info.

Let’s have a look at what these mylar blankets can be used for:

They are excellent at reflecting heat, so if you wrap yourself in them, they supposedly will retain up to 80% of your body heat. Alternatively, you may want to use them to provide some sort of reflective shield to direct warmth from a fire onto where you are sleeping. 

  1. Because they are shiny and colorful, they can be used as a signaling device when needing rescue.
  2. The more durable ones have built in grommets that you can use to string up a make-shift shelter with (and shield from the sun). You can make up a similar shelter with the cheaper, lighter versions but you need to reinforce the edges with duct tape before you start punching holes in the blanket (it will just rip otherwise)
  3. Some models can be worn poncho style as they have a built in hood
  4. They can be used as the lining of a solar oven
  5. They can be taped over the inside of the windows of your home of vehicle to reflect the suns rays / heat AWAY from where you are, keeping you cooler. The opposite is true in the winter when you want to keep heat IN.
  6. They shed rain, snow, and wind (keep in the mind the more compact versions need to be reinforced to stand up to winds
  7. They are VERY small and VERY light – easy to pack


Now, having gone through some of the uses of the blankets, here are some cautionary items:

  1. They are an impermeable barrier, so they don’t breathe. That could be bad for the sweat factor
  2. The smaller ones don’t work that well for a tarp
  3. They rip easily (the smaller ones)
  4. They are loud, so in some situations that may not be desired

In the end, there are a variety of situations these space blankets can be used, but it is important to use some common sense and understand their limitations. For a wide variety of space blanket options and survival gear Click here for pricing and more info from Nitro-Pak