Kelty Bestie Review
Cons: On the small side, not super warm, not particularly technical
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Kelty Bestie is a synthetic blanket with 9.5 oz Cloudloft insulation. It comes in one size and a few colors, as well as slightly more protective versions that are more technical and water-resistant.
When it comes to the feel of a camping blanket against our skin, there are none we liked more than the Bestie. It truly became our best friend for just hanging out. It has the softest underside of any blanket we tested and is nearly as comfortable as a t-shirt on your skin. This polyester bottom side is a breath of fresh air compared to the more typical slick, loud, almost cold material that many camping blankets are made out of. The Bestie is a decent weight; it's not crazy heavy and is not as light a feather. This extra weight and the added traction of the blanket's underbelly help it to stay put on your lap and not slide off onto the floor.
The biggest downside of the Bestie is that it's small. Compared to other one-person sized blankets we tested, the Kelty is the smallest of the pack, at 41.5" x 74". If we were trying to sleep under it or wrap up on a cold, windy day, this would probably be more of an issue. But because so many other facets of this blanket lend it best to casual use, we found ourselves not minding the slightly smaller dimensions when draped across our laps or shoulders on a crisp day. For its intended purpose, this is one of our favorite, most comfortable options that we ended up happily carting around the house, all over the backyard, and on long road trips.
This is one area where the Bestie falls short of the crowd. In our hot water insulation testing, it came in dead last, beat by every other blanket in this metric. Understand that this blanket isn't really meant for your winter backpacking trip. We think it's important to note that the level of difference between the most insulating and least insulating blankets (we tested) isn't a massive amount.
During field testing, however, the Bestie was not as warm as some. Its 9.5-ounce Cloudloft synthetic insulation isn't particularly thick or exceptionally heat-trapping. Its smaller size is also a bit more challenging if you're trying to stand and wrap up with its 41.5" width - especially if you're a taller person! But if you're after that extra layer while napping in a hammock or watching a movie, it still does the trick and adds that supplemental level of coziness and warmth.
A good chunk of a blanket's versatility score comes from its resistance to wind and water, which the Bestie could improve upon. With no DWR coating, the outside will repel water for the first few minutes, which will generally give you enough time to head to the kitchen to grab a wet rag and clean up whatever you've spilled. But left with water sitting on it, this little blanket will eventually soak it all up, leaving a big wet spot. And if you manage to get the underside wet, it absorbs that water almost immediately. It does okay against small breezes, and the soft inner layer goes a long way toward keeping you warmer.
Another portion of this score comes from the blanket's usability features and durability. The Bestie is relatively plain, offering no poncho option, extra pockets, or other ways to use it in extenuating circumstances. When it comes to durability, the blanket is well made, with reinforced edges and solid-feeling seams. However, none of the fabric is ripstop. Once we removed the tag from the outside of the stuff sack, we noticed that a large hole appeared where it once was; we're glad that's on the sack and not the blanket! Though the top side does a pretty decent job repelling daily debris, the soft underside (that we love so much when it comes to comfort!) is much more ready to cling to little pieces of plant gunk from the ground and animal hair. It's reasonably easy to brush off but doesn't simply fall away when you shake the blanket.
Weighing 24 ounces, the Bestie isn't really a lightweight blanket and falls just under the middle of the pack. It can be compressed to a smaller size if you need to, though with its optimization for casual use, we think this is a fairly unlikely event. It's a reasonable size for keeping in the closet or throwing in the trunk of the car, though perhaps not what you'd want to stuff in a carry-on suitcase for the weekend.
We like the stuff sack it comes with, and it's the optimal size for easily stuffing the blanket back in - without leaving so much extra room that the resulting package is overly large. It's not a compression sack or rolltop bag, but the simplicity of its drawstring top, extra carrying handles, and modest size is appealing. It's a pretty solid compromise of size and function, especially for a synthetic blanket, which tends to be heavier than its down-filled counterparts.
Features & Design
When it comes to extra features, the Bestie is rather simple. It has no pockets or hanging loops, but does feature a cross-stitched design that helps keep the insulation in place through years of use. The "feature" we like the most is its creamy under side, which adds so much to its overall comfort.
Perhaps the most important design feature of any blanket is its ability to be easily cleaned. The Bestie excels in this area, as one of many camping blankets we tested that can easily be cleaned in your front-loading washing machine at home. As with any blanket, it's more likely to last longer if you can air dry it every time and minimize the number of times you wash it; but sometimes it just can't be helped. Whether the new puppy peed on it or you managed to spill your entire coffee over it, it's nice to know that you can easily clean it in your own home.
This is one area where the Bestie is an outstanding option, assuming that you're after a blanket suited for casual use. It's one of the cheapest models we tested and it still manages to perform impressively well in the face of some stiff competition. For a casual indoor/backyard blanket, it has enormous value.
If you're looking for a technical blanket for backpacking or international travel, the Bestie isn't our first recommendation. However, if you're looking for a great casual blanket that's a step up from your old couch throw, and want something that can reasonably resist the stains of regular life, and is super comfortable AND super affordable, we think you'll soon be in love with your new Kelty Bestie, our Top Pick for Casual Comfort.
— Maggie Brandenburg