Using a Wool Blanket vs Sleeping Bag

Last Updated on 10/02/2022

wool blanket vs sleeping bag

Using a wool blanket vs sleeping bag

The whole purpose of this article is to find out two things, can you use a wool blanket as a sleeping bag? And which are better for camping, a sleeping bag vs wool blanket? This will take a little bit of breaking down to fully understand and so I will begin with the basics.

Are wool blankets worth it?

Whether you are a lifelong bushcrafter, outdoors person, or a weekend camper, wool blankets can play a vital role in keeping you warm outdoors (if you decide to pack one). So, are wool blankets worth the extra weight and pack space? It depends on a few different things like the weather, temperature, the gear you already have, and how much space you have in your pack amongst other things.

If you are worried about being cold on a night then a wool blanket is almost definitely a good idea and you won’t ever regret taking it. You can use it to sit on when you need a seat, wear it like a poncho when you need a jacket, or use it as a sleeping bag or extra layer of insulation on a night.

Whenever I take a wool blanket camping it always gets used in one way or another. If it ends up being a warm night I use it as a pillow, if the ground is rocky I use it under my air bed as extra protection and comfort. Having multiple uses is the biggest reason why I think it is worth taking a wool blanket camping.

In terms of warmth to weight ratio, it is hard to beat wool’s insulation and thermal regulation properties. Yes, you can get down sleeping bags that weigh less and provide better warmth but they don’t have anywhere near the level of breathability and will not keep you warm if they get wet. So I can say with honesty that wool is one of the best all-around materials for outdoor warmth.

Can you use a wool blanket instead of a sleeping bag?

Yes, you can but why would you want to? Modern sleeping bags with either down or synthetic fill are far more efficient at keeping you warm without weighing over 2 kg. In fact, some sleeping bags that weigh a fraction of what wool blankets do will provide far better warmth not to mention packing down much smaller.

Using a wool blanket as a sleeping bag will work but you really need two or three to provide more than a single layer of insulation. Two 1.5 lb wool blankets will be warmer than a 3 lb wool blanket on its own. This is because more warm air is trapped between or beneath wool fabric than in the wool fibers themselves. The problem is that most wool blankets weigh over 4 lbs and so carrying 3 or more of them around will get heavy and bulky in a hurry.

If you are camping in summer where the nights are warm then by all means use a wool blanket in place of a sleeping bag but in winter you are better off using wool blankets on top of your sleeping bag. If you do want to use a wool blanket instead of a sleeping bag then consider getting a sleeping bag liner to reduce itchiness and add an extra insulative layer.

Sleeping bags vs wool blankets for camping

If you are trying to decide whether sleeping bags are better than wool blankets for camping, my advice would be not to compare them. They are two different pieces of outdoor gear designed for different things. Sleeping bags are engineered to keep you warm while you sleep and that is it which makes them not so durable. Blankets have a much more multipurpose use and so are not efficient at trapping body heat. That is not to say that they aren’t incredibly warm and cozy to sleep under.

I always recommend using a sleeping bag when doing any kind of camping, but getting warm enough to withstand freezing temperatures can be expensive. Wool blankets can be used to provide additional insulation to your existing sleeping bag but will never replace it. Besides, wool is itchy right?

Well, not necessarily. Wool blends are far softer than 100% wool and certain breeds of sheep can produce extremely soft wool. So if you aim for an 80- 90% wool content you will find it far gentler on the skin. Also, if you don’t mind paying extra for premium wool then look at getting merino which is more lightweight and has amazing heat and thermal regulation.

Benefits of sleeping bags

  • better warmth to weight ratio
  • lightweight
  • compact
  • soft on the skin
  • zip up and really trap the heat in

Benefits of wool blankets

  • unbeatable insulation when layered
  • keep you warm when wet
  • multipurpose
  • durable
  • more hygienic


For camping and sleeping outdoors I would always recommend using a sleeping bag as your go-to system. If you are camping in extreme cold or just like your home comforts then adding a wool blanket on top of your sleeping bag will give you the warmth you are looking for. Blankets can also be used to keep you warm when you aren’t in bed and are more reliable in a survival situation. So in conclusion, both have their merits but they are not the same thing and so comparing them is futile.

Using a Wool Blanket vs Sleeping Bag

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

Gear Assistant