Sandwiches and a variety of savoury snacks? Check. Weekend treats dusted with sugar? Check. A flask of hot tea or chocolate? Check. A stunning natural landscape so you can soak up the views? Check. Let’s face it, this has the makings of a very good picnic. We are, however, missing one key ingredient: a picnic blanket. Well, running the risk of sounding like an M&S food advert, this isn’t just a picnic blanket…it’s a Rubbastuff Pacmat!
It’s no huge secret that we LOVE a good picnic. For us, picnics are an integral part of every single one of our family adventures. We don’t just view them as an opportunity to refuel ourselves so that we can cover more miles, however. Oh no, picnics are so much more than a simple plonk yourself anywhere food station.
To start with, we use picnics to motivate our two toddlers. We try to limit their sugary treats during the week so the weekends represent a bit of a rewarding free-for-all. Thrown in among the egg butties and water, are chocolaty Barney Bear cakes, crisps and Jelly Babies. The kids have come to expect this. It’s our little weekend ritual. You see, during the week, what with work, school, nursery and everything in between, time is a rare commodity. When the weekend finally swings around we like to make the most of it. Consequently, picnics, for us, represent an opportunity to sit and talk without digital distractions. They allow us to play and wrestle, race sticks down rivers and bask in the sun. They enable us to chill the heck out and spend some precious time bonding as a family.
What we’ve learned over many years of picnicking is that there are picnic blankets and picnic blankets. We’ve used traditional blankets that soak up the rain and every spillage known to humanity and then require a 65L rucksack to carry them in. Cheap, lightweight foam-backed blankets that pack down much smaller and are a breeze to carry have also been experimented with…until they inevitably fall to pieces by the time you’re getting your dessert out. I know I sound fussy, but when everything else – the view, the people you share it with, your wife’s delicious sandwiches – is perfect, why would you want to scrimp on the thing that binds all of these things together? Ladies and gents, I present to you, the only picnic blanket we’ll ever use again, the Rubbastuff Pacmat.
First up, when I get the pleasure of lugging the majority of our gear around on a hike, I want gear that is lightweight. Weighing in at less than 500g the Pacmat ticks this box. To put that in perspective, this is a family sized blanket measuring 140cm by 140cm, so it’s pretty large. Crucially, however, I don’t want it gaining any weight the second one of our little-legged picnic blanket wrestlers knock over their first drink. Fortunately, the Pacmat sheds liquid beautifully. Made from a technical microfiber polyester, I haven’t got to worry about spills, rain or stains on this bad boy.
Being lightweight is all well and good, but if it still requires a huge amount of space in my rucksack it’s still not going to work for me. As a result, the fact that it squishes down to 15cm by 12cm into its own stuff sack is great. It now just gets automatically thrown in the carrier or rucksack. It’s not something that I stand there dithering over whether we’ve got room to take it or not. Perfect so far, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Now, we as a family are not averse to poor weather conditions. Far from it. In fact, we literally picnic year round and I would certainly encourage you all not to just see it as a summer or fair weather activity. However, when we sit down, whether that be for 15 minutes or 2 hours, we don’t want to be sat on wet, boggy floors. I fully realise that we have our outdoor gear on, ready to protect us from the damp and cold but, to keep our picnics as a precious little pastime, a weatherproof blanket makes such a difference. The fact that it’s made from ripstop nylon also means it won’t begin to shred the minute that you put it on stones or gravel, as our pictures testify. Consequently, the tough, waterproof bottom of the Pacmat is happy to be positioned anywhere and everywhere.
Last, but certainly not least, they come in a range of funky designs. Now, when I’m outdoors, I’m hardly too bothered about my appearance or that of my gear. If it’s functional and does the job, then great. However, this Pacmat and its design is functional as it’s one giant snakes and ladders board. Simply pop a dice into your pocket, select an outdoor token to move around the board, such as a stick, pebble or shell, and enjoy your lunch over a family game. Brilliant! As an Ordnance Survey GetOutside Champion, the only thing left to do is get myself one of their OS map blankets.
Available from: https://rubbastuff.com/