Welcome back to Travel Non-Essentials, where T+L editors Mark Orwoll and Nikki Ekstein sound off on a different breed of travel product—sometimes ingenious, sometimes just plain odd. Today: The Matador Pocket Blanket.

pocket blanket
Credit: Courtesy of Matador

What It Does: The Matador Pocket Blanket ($29.99) is a compact blanket for picnics, outdoor concerts, and travel.

NE: It about the size of a deck of cards.

MO: That’s pretty small for a blanket! It only weighs 3.5 ounces. They say perfect for parks, picnics, concerts, the beach, festivals, you-name-it. But what is it made of?

NE: [Nikki unfolds blanket and spreads it out.] This is that same kind of material that’s on the outside of North Face jackets. Watertight. Kind of plastic-y-looking but actually quite strong material.

MO: I’m trying to poke my finger through it, but it’s pretty tough.

NE: It has kind of that cheap-y look, but it’s actually quite a durable, athletic fabric.

MO: I notice that each of the corners has a little weight sewn into it so that the wind doesn't blow it around. The weights are actually just heavy washers, but in a light breeze it’s not going to blow away.

NE: It opens to about the size of a towel, maybe…

MO: The size of a large beach towel. I’d say that it’s big enough for a boyfriend and girlfriend; a couple could lie down on this thing. You probably wouldn’t want to share it with someone you weren’t very friendly with, because it would be pretty cozy. Or you could possibly get four people to sit on it if you’re watching a concert in the park.

[Editor’s Note: The Pocket Blanket measures 63 inches long by 44 inches wide when open.]

NE: Tight quarters for four.

MO: If it was a matter of that or getting your fanny wet on the grass, it would be good to have. My family and I go to an outdoor Shakespeare series every year, and we have a picnic beforehand. This blanket would be perfect to spread out and put all your food and drink on it.

NE: And because it’s so small when it’s folded up it would be easy to keep it in your bag for whenever opportunity strikes. [Nikki begins to fold the blanket up.]

MO: You’re folding it up, and the creases make it pretty clear how you should fold it to get it back to its compact size.

NE: Let’s see if I can fold it all the way… So far, so good…

MO: I like how the little pouch it fits into is sewn onto one end of the blanket so you won’t misplace it.

NE: It’s like those tote bags that fold up into themselves. I’ve seen blankets fold up this small, but only when they were made of a flimsier material. This is a more functional blanket than that. And look, I actually got it back in its pouch pretty easily. No problem. I think this is great. I wish it came in more colors. This is a gray and red combo. It’s all right.

MO: I think it’s terrific. They did a good job

VERDICT: A must-have.