There’s nothing like enjoying the great outdoors, whether it’s an afternoon spent in your back garden or a trip to the beach.
In the warmer weather, many of us are enjoying alfresco feasts and to make the most of it you’re going to want to invest in a picnic blanket for socialising with friends and family in comfort and 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.
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.
The best picnic blankets for 2021 are:
Best overall – VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone: £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Best lightweight picnic blanket – Getting Personal personalised picnic rug: £54.99, Gettingpersonal.co.uk
Best luxury picnic blanket – Fortnum & Mason tweedmill polo picnic rug: £110, Fortnumandmason.com
Best eco-friendly picnic blanket – Weaver Green diamond dove grey blanket: £45, Havenfurniture.co.uk
Best for park visits – London Transport Museum district moquette design lambswool throw: £95, Ltmuseumshop.co.uk
Best padded picnic blanket – Just A Joy grey gingham padded picnic rug: £54.66, Amazon.co.uk
VonShef picnic blanket in green herringbone
Size: 147cm x 180cm
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.
Buy now £24.99, Amazon.co.uk
Getting Personal personalised picnic rug
Best: Lightweight picnic blanket
Size: 120cm x 150cm
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.
Buy now £54.99, Gettingpersonal.co.uk
Fortnum & Mason tweedmill polo picnic rug
Best: Luxury picnic blanket
Size: 145cm x 183cm
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.
Buy now £110.00, Fortnumandmason.com
Weaver Green diamond dove grey blanket
Best: Eco-friendly picnic blanket
Size: 230cm x 130cm
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.
Buy now £45.00, Havenfurniture.co.uk
London Transport Museum district moquette design lambswool throw
Best: For park visits
Size: 185cm x 140cm
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.
Buy now £95.00, Ltmuseumshop.co.uk
Just A Joy extra large picnic blanker – grey gingham padded
Best: Padded picnic blanket
Size: 180cm x 140 cm
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.
Buy now £54.66, Amazon.co.uk
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: