Whether you consider yourself a survivalist or prepper, there are a few things that you should always have on your short-list of free survival gear. One of those items is definitely your mylar blanket.
A Little History
A mylar blanket is also called a “space blanket” because it was first developed by NASA in 1964 for the U.S. Space Program. They’re made by a special process that involves vaporizing highly purified aluminum which is then deposited on a very thin sheet of plastic inside a vacuum chamber. Special plastic (that can withstand a wide range of temperatures, for instance) is used for space applications, but for earth-bound uses a form of polyethylene is most often used.
The great utility of this material in space comes from the fact that its ability to reflect heat means it can be used for heating and cooling. Used as a heat shield to ward off the extreme heat of the sun, it can prevent overheating of people and machinery. But with the reflective side facing the other way, it can offer protection from extremely cold temperatures by reflecting heat back to passenger areas of spacecraft that need to be kept warm.
Toward the late 1970s, marathon organizers started distributing these thin aluminum foil-looking “space blankets” to race finishers to help them stay warm. By the end of a marathon, runners are losing a lot of heat from sweating and increased blood flow. In cold conditions this can quickly lead to hypothermia.
Mylar blankets not only reflect radiant body heat back to the wearer, but also prevent heat loss due to evaporation and convection (heat blown away by the wind) because they are waterproof and windproof . They are also very thin and lightweight, which makes it a whole lot easier to provide blankets to hundreds or even thousands of marathon participants.
Since then, the scope of uses for these mylar blankets has continued to expand to camping, hiking, and wilderness survival (the best mylar blanket is one that you can use in multiple environments and situations).
Here’s why everyone needs a mylar blanket…
You (and Your Windshield) Don’t Freeze
These blankets are often to referred to as “emergency blankets” or a “survival blanket”.
But these blankets aren’t just for emergencies, though. (In fact, you have to give an emergency thermal blanket a little time to get it to heat up.)
The unique material of mylar blankets can prevent hypothermia by stopping excessive heat loss in any situation, not just marathons. They can also prevent frost bite, and they’re even used to line boots and gloves.
Mylar blankets are sometimes called “solar blankets” as well, as they can prevent your windshield from icing up while camping in a cold climate by helping to keep the warmth of the sun that hits your car from escaping — just pinch the ends in the car doors while your car is still warm.
You Won’t Overheat
Just as mylar blankets can be used to prevent freezing, they can also prevent overheating. Mylar blankets can be used as a sunshade to keep the interior of your car cool.
This is perfect for those long, hot summer days.
You Can See Better
If you are using natural lighting (a campfire, candles, lantern, etc.) the shiny surface of a mylar blanket can reflect more light (and radiant heat) toward you.
Due to its tolerance for extremely high heat (melting temperature of 500 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact), mylar can be relatively close to an open flame.
You Can Be Detected (if you want to be)
Thanks to their reflective properties, mylar blankets can act as a signaling mirror. So you can be easily seen by motorists or fellow campers coming your way.
Cook Your Food with a Mylar Blanket!
If cooking in the wilderness is your thing, you can actually cook thin pieces of meat on a mylar blanket in the sun.
These blankets are also a good way to collect rainwater, either by digging a hole in the ground with the blanket over it or by fashioning a funnel out of the blanket to divert water into a container.
Because mylar blankets are waterproof, this makes them ideal for unexpected rainstorms as well as for camping shelter.
If you travel to sporting events and encounter wet bleachers, you can layer a mylar blanket under your typical bleacher blanket to prevent dampness from coming up through the fabric.
Mylar Blankets are Convenient
Mylar survival blankets conveniently fold up to about the size of a deck of cards, and can easily fit into a purse, glove compartment, or desk drawer.
Having more than one mylar emergency blanket on hand is a great idea. Plus it won’t take up much space in your bug out bag, EDC backpack, or car emergency kit. Nor will it take much (if anything) to acquire one for yourself.
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