Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 Review
Don’t let the name fool you—the Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 is a tarp for picnics and outdoor outings. It’s lightweight and compressible, though very thin.
- Compressible to palm size
- Material is highly water-resistant and easy to clean
- Built-in metal stakes help secure it to the ground
- Thin material can be uncomfortable on bumpy surfaces
- May need to put an actual blanket on top depending on use case
- Compressing it to fit the mesh sleeve takes getting used to
3.8 oz (107.7 g)
4.5 in x 2.7 in x 1.1 in (11.4 x 6.9 x 2.8 cm)
Unpacked Dimensions: 63 in x 44 in
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If you need a compressible blanket to keep you warm on your travels, the Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 is not what you’re looking for. If it’s a tarp for outdoor adventures like picnics, concerts, and beach trips you need, it may just be your new best friend. We’re not sure why it’s called a blanket, but we can tell you it’s incredibly lightweight and compressible. It even comes in its own little mesh pouch you can fold it up in. The pouch is attached to the “blanket” itself, so it’s nearly impossible to misplace.
Matador says the pocket blanket can fit up to four people. If your friends are ghosts, sure. Or maybe if they literally just need a place to sit with their legs straight out and hands in their laps like mannequins—and that’s a big maybe. In our experience, three was the maximum number of people that could fit on the Pocket Blanket 3.0 comfortably. Realistically, if you’re having a picnic with a bunch of snacks, that max occupancy is closer to two people. Once we laid out our spread of charcuterie, drinks, and books, it felt pretty cramped, even with just two people.
You’ll probably also want to use it with a real blanket or beach towel on top since it’s pretty thin and can be uncomfortable on rough or bumpy surfaces. We tested the Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 for just over a month at the beach, for picnics, and even outdoor yoga. We’ll cover all the pros and cons that we noticed during our testing in this review, so take a seat and get comfortable.
Materials & Aesthetic
At the time of this review, the Matador Pocket Blanket is available in three colors—Black, Alpine Green, or Original Red. We opted for the black version because it’s the most versatile. We have noticed it gets “lost” inside bags with black liners, so you may want to opt for one of the other colors for higher visibility. The features are the same on each one, but this review is based on the black colorway.
What makes it less of a blanket and more of a tarp is the material. It’s a thin piece of swishy nylon that looks like it belongs underneath a camping tent. It’s not one of those emergency space blankets either, so it won’t do any good at keeping you warm. The thin material means it’s lightweight and compressible—it folds down to the size of your palm.
Because the material is so thin, however, it can be pretty uncomfortable to sit on without any cushioning on top. After the first time using the Pocket Blanket 3.0 on its own for a grassy picnic, we said: “never again.” You can feel every bump and uneven surface underneath your bottom, which is seriously uncomfortable. Using it at the beach is a different story, as it’s more comfortable on soft sand. And since the material is fairly water-resistant, you can chill at the beach and not have to put a damp towel in your bag afterward. It also does an excellent job at keeping sand at bay since it rolls off the blanket easily. Nobody wants a mildew-smelling towel with pockets of sand stuck in the folds crammed in their bag.
So, when using the Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 for picnics, we ended up always packing an actual blanket to go on top. That made it more comfortable to use and covered up the large Matador print on the bottom (in case you’re not a fan of massive logos). This does mean adding another thing to your packing list and takes away from the spontaneity of having a packable blanket for impromptu picnics. Packing it on a planned beach trip is one thing, but if you’re traveling long-term and want gear that’s not going to add more weight to your pack, it kind of defeats the purpose. We’re not saying you can’t use the Pocket Blanket on its own. It just isn’t the most comfortable unless you’re on smooth sand. Your mileage may vary with how important comfort is for your use case.
Features & Usage
It looks so tiny and cute when packed into the mesh pouch it comes in, but the Matador Pocket Blanket 3.0 unfolds to 63 x 44 inches, which is about the size of a standard refrigerator/freezer combo. Once you unfold it, you’ll notice some white stitching that looks like a map to some hidden galaxy. This secret map is easily decoded. Upon second glance, it turns out to be a guide on how to fold the blanket properly to fit inside the pouch. It’s easy enough to follow, but it sometimes slides and unfolds as you try to pack it up because the material is so slippery. On days we were feeling particularly lazy, we’d just shove the blanket in little by little. It still fits—it’s just not as neat. Whether you go the “shove it in” or “fold it nicely” route, the blanket still ends up pretty wrinkled, especially if several days or weeks pass in between uses.
All four corners of the blanket have a metal stake that helps tether it to the ground. These work incredibly well on any grassy terrain. They are supposed to fit into tiny slits in the fabric when you’re packing it up, but they also have a tendency to slip out of place during folding. They also get scratched up pretty quickly. After only a month of testing that included a few picnics, reading in the park sessions, and beach trips, the stakes are full of scratches and blemishes. Of course, these are just cosmetic and don’t affect the functionality at all. It’s a minor nitpick, really. Some of our Pack Hacker Pro members who have used previous iterations of the Matador Pocket Blanket noticed the stakes are the first thing to break. We haven’t had any issues so far, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
There are small pockets underneath the stakes for beach trips that you can fill with sand to keep it weighed down. This way, it won’t blow away in the wind—genius! The only caveat is that it can cause a mess of sand (obviously). The good news is you can literally shake the blanket, and all the sand will fall right off. You can use the stakes to secure the blanket for beach trips, but the sand pockets are more stable, especially in the wind.
The Matador Pocket Blanket is definitely nice to have in your bag for spontaneous outdoor picnics, beach trips, or just hanging out in the park. It’s compressible and adds virtually no weight to your pack unless you bring a real blanket to lay on top (which we recommend). Did we mention it’s not a real blanket? Sorry if you missed that.
- The thin material isn’t the most comfortable, especially on bumpier surfaces
- Easy to secure in place thanks to anchor points
- Came in handy when using it for outdoor yoga on wet grass
- Water pretty much rolled right off when we spilled something during a picnic
- No issues with durability to report