I plan on taking family to light camping/park/picnic. This includes infant daughter.

I plan on having some material on ground to act as moisture barrier as well as insect barrier. So I am not looking for a blanket.

Should I be looking at say 6x8 or 8x10 tarp(waterproof) and then I put a blanket over this? My understanding is light colors to see any fleas/ticks/insects? Would the tarp be heavy duty since walking on it?

  • 2
    Any loose covering on top of the tarp will probably ruck up and create a trip hazard for the little ones. I recommend a patterned material so that they don't see the creepy-crawlies. There are unlikely to be fleas (which live on other animals) and the danger from ticks is them falling from trees onto bare skin. You can get multi-layer picnic tarps that have water barrier one side and comfy pattern on the other side. Search for "picnic tarp" or "picnic blanket". Jun 25, 2021 at 15:34
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    Ticks don't fall from trees onto people. They usually wait in (long) grass and small bushes till someone brushes that spot and they can hold on.
    – helm
    Jun 25, 2021 at 15:43
  • @helm I see it's a common myth that they fall from trees. Jun 25, 2021 at 16:20
  • I've seen a tick fall out of a tree with my own eyes. Long grass is definitely more common, but every so often one ends up in a tree, and it will drop out of the tree onto anything warm that goes by underneath, including a car hood.
    – csk
    Jun 25, 2021 at 18:31
  • 1
    @helm - sure, but drop bears fall from trees onto people. Or, at least, onto Pooh and friends...
    – Jon Custer
    Jun 25, 2021 at 21:00

1 Answer 1


Lots of different materials will work well for a picnic blanket. If you go with a water resistant layer, keep in mind that you still want to pick as dry a spot as possible. Even a truly waterproof tarp will get small holes in it fairly quickly, so if you put it down on a soggy lawn, your bottom will get wet when you sit down.

Generally you'll want two layers, a waterproof(ish) bottom layer, and a comfortable cloth/blanket top layer. Depending on your preferences, you can buy a purpose-made picnic tarp that has the two layers sewn together, or you can get two separate layers and just lay them out one on top of the other. Having them sewn together is more convenient, but the whole thing will be more difficult to clean, and take longer to dry. Having them as separate layers lets you throw the cloth layer in the wash and dryer quite easily, and you can replace the waterproof layer whenever it gets too many holes in it.

Waterproof(ish) layer options:

  • a normal blue or green tarp / tarpaulin, usually made from woven strips of polyethylene, such as you may already own for hauling leaves when gardening or covering a roof while the shingles are being replaced
  • an old shower curtain (convenient, but not very classy; make sure it's not visibly moldy)
  • plastic painters dropcloth (inexpensive and easy to replace, but not very durable)
  • a plasticized tablecloth, one of the more durable kind that have sort of a feltlike fabric on the underside, not the single-use kind (unless you're picnicking on very short notice and can't find anything else; the disposable kind will rip pretty quickly so you won't get more than a couple of uses out of it)

Cloth/blanket layer:

  • any old blanket or bedsheet that's about the same size as your tarp, or a little smaller

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