The Magic Space Blanket — Quiz for Today

Mylar space blanket
Looks familiar, right?

I have to assume your recognize the item in the photo. We’ve seen them all over the news in images of marathon runners, immigrant children, and earthquake survivors. These mylar space blankets are lightweight, cheap and versatile, and they are on every list of emergency kit supplies.

But even if you have one or two, do you really know much about them?

Today’s little quiz will give you a better idea of what you’re carrying. And if you don’t have several, why you might want to take advantage of BLACK FRIDAY SPECIALS and pick up one or two dozen!


How big is it? How sturdy? How slippery? How shiny?

As with everything else, space blankets come in different sizes and qualities. The least expensive are often the smallest – maybe only 35 in. wide. Personally, I prefer larger sizes. A standard large size is 55 x 84 in. and there are a few even bigger than that.

How sturdy? The blankets range in thickness from a minimum of 12 microns and then get thicker and thicker depending on how many layers are involved. The basis is just one sheet of stretched-out polyester. These are light and fragile – and are see-through. It’s only when another thin sheet of aluminum is fused to the plastic that you get what we know as space blankets. More than one layer of material can be added. The more layers, the heavier and sturdier.

Slippery actually translates to water repellent, which is good. But these blankets aren’t exactly cozy. Their job is to contain and reflect your own body’s heat. They don’t cling.

Shiny really refers to the reflective nature of the blankets. Some have a silver metallized surface, others gold. By the way, NASA first used thin metallic sheets to deflect heat from the Skylab that was becoming dangerous from temperature rise. That’s where the name “space blanket” came from!


1. HEAT. Wrap up someone who’s exhausted or injured. Turn the space blanket into a sleeping bag of sorts (with the help of duct tape?) to make it through a cold night outdoors. Use as insulation over a window to keep heat in and cold out.

2. COOK. Yes, that’s right! According to one manufacturer, you could fashion a bucket shape out of your mylar blanket and hold it over the fire to heat water. You could put food in there to heat, too. Of course, don’t get the blanket IN the fire, because it will burn up. It’s plastic, remember.

3. COLLECT WATER. Use your blanket to capture rain or melt snow.

4. WATERPROOFING. Line your backpack and your boots with Mylar; wrap it around feet and legs to keep out the damp from snow. Use a space blanket with grommets to build a lean-to to keep off the rain. Use another space blanket as a keep-out-the-damp ground cover.

5. STORE FOOD. Hang food in a mylar package to keep it out of reach of animals. Keep food cold by sinking it in the creek in a carefully sealed mylar bag.

6. SIGNAL FOR HELP. Turn your blanket into a mirror to reflect light. Use torn off pieces to mark your trail.

7 AVOID BEING SEEN. The reflective metallic coating can reduce your infrared signature if that’s what you want. The Taliban has used blankets this way.

If you wanted to do all these, then obviously you’d have to have more than one blanket.


The VERY GOOD NEWS – Space blankets are amazingly inexpensive! Bought in bulk, you can get one for less than a dollar. And the concept of “bulk” starts with about 5 in a package!

I know that this year may be different when it comes to your holiday gift budget. But space blankets are so inexpensive and so useful that you can have several in every vehicle and every Go-Bag.

Here are some variations on the mylar space blanket theme that demonstrate just what we’ve written about above. The images and links will take you to Amazon, where we are Associates. If you buy through these links we may get a small commission — which will help support this website!

Space Blanket Sleeping Bag (with emergency whistle)

I have a number of plain space blankets like the one in the photo at the top of the article, but I am adding this space blanket sleeping bag to every one of our emergency kits (Go-Bag, car kit, etc.).

BesWlz Emergency Sleeping Bags,2 Pack Survival Sleeping Bags with Survival Whistle, Waterproof Portable Bivvy Sack Survival Gear for Outdoor Camping Hiking with 2 PCS Thermal Emergency Blankets

Insulated space blanket tarp with grommets

(This blanket is advertised to reduce your infrared signature. Check out the images on the sales page.)

In an emergency you could build a simple shelter using this blanket and some cord; lay down a second space blanket as ground cover; climb in your shelter and into your emergency sleeping bag.

Arcturus Heavy Duty Survival Blanket – Insulated Thermal Reflective Tarp – 60″ x 82″. All-Weather, Reusable Emergency Blanket for Car or Camping (Orange)

The basic blanket – pack of 20 (less than a dollar apiece)

Science Purchase 73MYLARPK20 Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets, 54″ x 84″ (Pack of 20)

Mylar space blanket companion items

Paracord comes in over a dozen colors including olive drab and camo

Use this to build your shelter, string up your food, etc.

PARACORD PLANET Mil-Spec Commercial Grade 550lb Type III Nylon Paracord (Orange, 100 feet)

That all-purpose duct tape

This is black. You can get all other colors, of course! You may not need the largest roll. You may also want to mash it so it fits more readily in your pack.

Duck Max Strength 240201 Duct Tape, 1-Pack 1.88 Inch x 45 Yard Silver

You could probably buy everything on this page for the price of one ugly sweater. Having space blankets tucked in your car or in the kitchen drawer could provide a lot more serious warmth — and a bit more peace of mind as we head deep into winter.

Put some space blankets on your list!

Your Emergency Plan Guide team




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  1. Katie
  2. Russ Flanigan