Have you ever heard of a "sandless" beach blanket? Well, we hadn't either until recently. When I first introduced the idea, my fellow AT staffers threw out words like "sorcery" and "urban legend" but mostly, it was a barrage of ???s. No one could wrap their head around it, so we had to take it to the test lab (my local beach) and find out if, in fact, someone could stay sand-free on the shoreline while using one.
As I poked around the 'net to try and grasp the notion of this magical product, visions of high-tech magnetism, or possibly some form of quantum physics, filled my head: Would the blanket create an anti-sand force field? Did it repel sand because I willed it to happen, say, like, the placebo effect? There was only one way to find out.
I reached out to Hammacher Schlemmer, who provided their two-person sandless beach blanket ($69.95) for my trial run. There was a six-person option available as well, but figured that was overkill for this instance. When it arrived, I eagerly awaited my significant other so we could head out to hit the sand. Off we went, with high hopes and sandless dreams, to our nearby beach to get our test on.
The first thing I noticed about this product in particular was that it very much reminded me of IKEA's FRAKTA blue shopping bag, but far less crinkly and tarp-like. I had read that similar products had a plastic-y feel, and I could see what online commenters meant. When I inspected the material makeup closer, prior to laying it out on the sand, I noticed the blanket was constructed from two or so layers of woven mesh. Eureka! So the sand would seemingly just fall through when it came in contact with the mat. But, the new question was...sand goes down, but does it come up?
I put this thing through the beach ringer. I pounced on it...and remained sand-free. I dumped buckets of sand on it...and ogled as it all slipped through the blanket slowly (kind of like watching an hourglass timer.) Sometimes, I had to help it out by lifting the product up a little, but then it got right back to work dispelling the flecks.
There were a few times, while I was smoothing out the area underneath me, that I could see sand trying to creep up through the mesh, but a little pat and shake, and it was back down again where it belonged—on the ground, not on my ankles.
A slight hitch was noted when my SO meandered back onto the blanket with wet, sandy feet. The thicker, moist blobs of sand were not fine enough to fall through, so we had to rub and rub until it was mostly gone (though I detected that it was just trapped between the mesh layers.) I'm sure that under a hot, blistering afternoon sun, it would dry in no time and probably not be a lingering issue.
The Final Outcome: So, after just about two hours of laying, rolling, stomping and patting, I felt comfortable coming to the conclusion that this "sandless" beach blanket theory was one of fact, not fiction.