Whether you are jumping in alpine lakes, chasing the surf, wading in streams or cleaning up the campsite, at some point you need to dry yourself off with a towel. If you’re shivering in the woods or on the beach, any towel is better than none. But the best types for outdoor activities are camping towels that dry quickly, are easy to store, weigh next to nothing, and are odor resistant.
We’ve rounded up some of the best performing towels that will help you stay dry but won’t weigh you down (or start smelly after just one use). These are the top picks that you should know about.
The best camping towels 2021
PackTowl Personal Image used with permission
1. PackTowl Personal
The perfect tech towel is soft on the skin, absorbent and compact, and this one checks all the criteria. Even after three years of use, the PackTowl is still the first choice for a tester’s camping and travel kits. Its polyester and nylon microfiber is velvety and comfortable to the touch on even the most sensitive areas like the face, and the “height” packs to about the size of a shoebox and weighs just 10 ounces. Within an hour of soaking, it’s completely dry and Polygiene odor control prevents it from smelling like seawater (or worse). In addition to the body, it is available in three other sizes: face, hand and beach.
Lava Linens Classic travel towel Image used with permission
2. Lava Linens Classic travel towel
When washed, synthetic garments lose tiny microfibres that pollute our water resources. More and more brands, including Lava Linens, are becoming aware of this issue: The company makes towels from French linen that does not peel off. The material isn’t as soft as microfiber at first, but it wears off over time. This towel is also heavier than other options (17 ounces), but it dries quickly (especially if you hang it on the attached organic hemp loop). It deserves even more environmental points because it is hypoallergenic and biodegradable.
Sea to Summit Airlite towel Image used with permission
3. Sea to Summit Airlite towel
A super light option is the Airlite Towel from Sea to Summit. As one of the most compact and lightest models on the market, it is available in four sizes – small, medium, large and extra large – for drying the face, hands or the whole body. The polyester microfiber absorbs more than three times its weight in water, but the largest option weighs less than 3 ounces, making it perfect for backpacking, bikepacking, or other human-powered adventures where every pound counts.
Matador Ultralight travel towel Image used with permission
4. Matador Ultralight travel towel
Made by the masters of small, useful accessories, this Matador towel is so small you could lose it in your backpack. It stows in a mesh storage bag with a carabiner that you can attach to your keys like a bunch of keys. However, when unpacked, it offers great performance. When wet, it can absorb up to 2.3 times its own weight in water. Choose from two sizes: the large body towel is 2.9 ounces and the small towel is a paltry 0.88 ounces.
[$36 for large size; matadorup.com]
Nomadix Original Towel Image used with permission
5. Nomadix Original Towel
Solid color towels can get boring, but Nomadix works with talented designers to add personality to their range. The company’s original towel is available in more than 80 designs, including several inspired by US national parks such as Grand Teton, Glacier, and Joshua Tree. Each is made from recycled MicroTerry material that is non-slip when wet; the fabric also repels sand, odors and animal hair.
Rumpl Towel everywhere Image used with permission
6. Rumpl Everywhere towel
Rumpl, maker of outdoor blankets, and OluKai, a Hawaiian-inspired shoe brand, have teamed up to create this limited edition of Everywhere towels in tropical colors. Each measures 26.5 x 72 inches (about the size of a normal beach towel), is made of polyester microsuede for a soft feel, and can be rolled up to the size of a yoga mat. Take it from the beach to yoga to the pool. Additional bonus: it is sent for free.
Wise Owl Outfitters microfiber beach towel Image used with permission
7. Wise Owl Outfitters microfiber beach towel
Are you looking for a bigger option to wrap yourself? This option from Wise Owl Outfitters is 30 percent larger than standard towels and measures 1.80 by 2.80 meters. Lie down when the sun is shining or pool yourself in it after a dive under the waves. The polyester microfiber, which feels a bit like soft flannel, is great for soaking up sweat after a hard workout or drying off moisture after a day in the water.
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