CAMPING & HIKING

Best Backpacking Towel: Stay Clean and Dry while Out Camping

Backpacking towel
Daniel Carraway
Written by Daniel Carraway

When traveling, it is important to pack as light as possible. After all, you do not want your stuff to weigh so much that you can hardly carry it.

This is all the more important for people who love backpacking, as they need to pack all their things in a backpack, which they then have to carry around everywhere. This is why backpackers are always looking for lightweight essential items which they can add to their travel pack.

Hiking man with backpack in mountains

While backpacking, you always need a towel. You need to clean and dry yourself after a swim or rainfall. You have to wipe sweat and grime off your hands and face. Towels can also be used to spread on the ground, like a beach towel. The best backpacking towel should weigh less, while still being very absorbent.

If you ever plan to go backpacking, you should definitely read on to find out how to choose a pack towel, and which are the best ones in the market.

Features to Look for When Buying a Backpacking Towel

There are specific properties which you should look for when considering a backpacking towel.

Size

Size is definitely very important. You need to decide what purpose your towel will serve, and then choose a size accordingly.

  • Small: Small beach towels are mostly used as hand towels. You can use them to dry your hands and face after you wash them. This towel can also be used as a dishcloth for when you need dry utensils.
  • Large: Large towels can be used as bath towels for drying yourself off.
  • Extra Large: These towels act as beach towels, and you can spread them on the ground or even hang them up to shade you from the sun.

When choosing size, you need to see your own space capacity. For backpacking, it is better to opt for small sized towels as they can easily be packed.

Three different backpacking towels size

Antibacterial-Coated Towel

A lot of travel towels are antibacterial-coated. If you are going backpacking in the wilderness, this is the kind to get, as no mold or mildew will grow on your towel and you will be protected against infections. Antibacterial towels will also be free of any odors.

Travel antibacterial towels

Drying

Backpacking towels need to have very quick drying properties, because you need them to be ready for use again soon. Towels made with microfiber are generally quick drying. Another thing to look for is towels with loops. You can attach this loop to your backpack so that your towel will dry out while you hike, saving you all the time you need on your trip.

Drying towels outdoors

Fabric

While normal house towels are made of cotton, look for travel towels which are made of “microfiber”. This fiber is highly absorbent while also being very quick drying. It is also lightweight so it can be carried easily.

Blue microfiber towel

Compactness

An essential property of a backpacking towel is that it should pack down to a small size. Before you buy a backpacking towel, always see its packed size to determine if it can fit easily in your backpack.

Towel on backpack

If you want to buy a backpack towel, you should consider this list below. It is not an exhaustive list, but will set you in the right direction towards finding a towel that will meet your needs.

Backpacking towel recommendations

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

Weight:XS – 1.3 oz.; Small – 2.2 oz.; Medium – 3.6 oz.; Large – 5.1 oz.; XL – 8.1 oz.

Dimensions: XS – 12*24 inches; Small – 16*32 inches; Medium – 20*40 inches; Large – 24*48 inches; XL – 30*60 inches

Best Used for: Backpacking towel

Special Features: Microfiber; Antibacterial properties; Ultra-suede finish; Very absorbent; Machine washable; Fast drying; Comes with a mesh bag.

For backpackers and hikers, Sea to Summit DryLite backpacking towel is a great option. It comes in a variety of sizes, which means that you can choose a size according to your needs as well as the amount of packing space you have. The towel is lightweight and thus can be carried easily. It can be washed in a machine and then dried very quickly.

The towel has a coating of silver ions, which prevents the growth of any bacteria. As a result, the towel will not smell or transmit germs. It is also soft, so it is comfortable to use. However, it does not feel like a regular cotton towel. Rather, it feels like the towel sticks to you a little when you dry yourself. Also, you need to beware that the towel may lose its color for the first few washes, so you should make sure that if you buy a colored towel, you do not wash it with anything white.

Related: Sea to Summit offers another towel known as Sea to Summit Tek Towel. This towel is also available in five sizes and has soft, terrycloth like feel. It dries very quickly and can be easily packed in a pouch.

If you want to travel ultra-light, consider Sea to Summit Pocket Towel. It is made of 70% polyester and 30% nylon microfiber. It packs to a very small size, comes with its own zippered case and is silky soft.

Check the price on Amazon

Youphoria Sport Multi-purpose Travel Towel

Youphoria Sport Multi-purpose Travel Towel

Weight: N/A

Dimensions: Comes in three sizes: 20*40 inches, 28*56 inches, 32*72 inches

Best Used for: Best used as a backpacking towel.

Special Features: Very absorbent; Fast drying; Has a hanging loop; Mesh carry bag included; Rolls up to a small size; Does not bleed color.

If you love traveling light,Youphoria Sport Multi-purpose Travel Towel is the perfect option for you. It will take up very little space in your backpack, even though it has a good size when spread out. It dries very quickly, and you can even attach it to your backpack with the loop so it gets dry while you go around hiking. This way you do not have to wait for it to dry before you can resume your travel. It can even be used at home or in the gym, though its lightweight nature and small packing size make it ideal for hikers. The towel feels great against the skin.

Related: This manufacturer also offers Youphoria Mesh Cooling Towel. This towel will keep you dry and cool, and absorb water very quickly. It comes with a compact, waterproof carrying case so you can easily take the towel with you when backpacking in humid and wet weather conditions.

Check the price on Amazon

LUNATEC® Self-cleaning Travel Washcloth

Lunatec Self-cleaning Travel Washcloth

Weight: Less than an ounce

Dimensions: 11*11 inches

Best Used for: Best used as a hand towel while backpacking

Special Features: Quick drying; Soft; Does not smell; Durable; Rinses clean; Small, compact size; Does not need to be washed.

LUNATEC® Self-cleaning Travel Washcloth towel works great as a hand towel. It is small in size and very compact, which means that you can pack it with ease. It dries in only a few minutes, so you can use it again and again with no problem. Perhaps the best thing about this backpacking towel is that it gets clean very quickly. While out backpacking or hiking, you may be covered in mud, sweat, sunblock or grime. When you clean yourself with this towel, you will only need to rinse it out to get rid of all the stains; you do not actually have to wash it. It is also odor-resistant and will not get smelly. In this way this towel is better than cotton fiber ones.

The material is thin, and not as comfortable as cotton towels. However, it is not rough either and does a great job at cleaning your hands.

Related: Lunatec produces many other outdoors products, but this is the only travel washcloth by this manufacturer.

Check the price on Amazon

Packtowl Personal Ultra-Soft Towel

Packtowl Personal Ultra-Soft Towel

Weight: Ranging from 0.7 to 9.7 ounces, depending on size

Dimensions: Vary with respect to size

Best Used for: Backpackers, travelers

Special Features: Soaks up four times its weight in water; Wrings dry; Made of 85% polyester and 15% nylon blend; Durable; Machine washable; Available in many sizes: hand, face, body, beach, small, medium, large, XL. XXL; Travel pouch included; Folds to a small size

Made of synthetic fiber, Packtowl Personal Ultra-Soft Towel comes in a huge variety of sizes. Therefore, you are bound to find one that suits your needs. All the different sizes are very lightweight and fold to a small size, meaning that you can carry them around with no problem. The towel is thin, but it can soak up a lot of water and dries quickly when rinsed out. The color will never bleed while washing. A travel pouch is included, which can be used to pack the towel.

It has an attached loop which means that you can attach it to your backpack while you hike and it will air dry. The only negative is that the towel is not fluffy and thick like regular towels and hence does not feel quite as comfortable. However, it does the job of drying you off very well.

Related: This producer offers Packtowel Luxe, which is made of polyester/nylon mix and can absorb five times its weight in water. It is very soft and has antimicrobial properties.

Packtowel Nano Towel is another option which is one of the most lightweight towels in the market. Its 19*19 inches size weighs only 0.9 ounce. It can absorb twice its weight in water, and is very soft.

Check the price on Amazon

Wanderluxe Microfiber Towel, 60 X 28-Inches with Hand Towel & Storage Bag

Wanderluxe Microfiber Towel

Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: 60*28 inches. Folds to 8*3 inches roll

Best Used for: Hiking; Backpacking; As a gym towel

Special Features: Made with microfiber; Very absorbent; Dries very quickly; Very soft; contrast stitch trim; Hand towel and mesh storage bag included; Lifetime guarantee; Multi-purpose

Wanderluxe Microfiber Towel can be used for many purposes. You can use it to dry off after a swim, or take it with you to the gym or for yoga. Its small packing size and mesh bag make it easy to carry this towel with you anywhere. It has a large size, which means that you can wrap it around yourself after a swim and feel comfortable and relaxed.

The towel looks quite good, with an embossed logo and contrast-stitch trim. It comes with a hand towel, which dries off very quickly. The towel is very absorbent, and will absorb a large amount of water. It also does not smell. One negative point is that the towel bleeds color, so you should be careful when washing it and make sure you do not wash any white clothes with it.

Related: This is the only travel towel offered by Wanderluxe, although they do produce other outdoor gear.

Check the price on Amazon

Microfiber Camp, Sports and Travel Towel

Microfiber Camp, Sports and Travel Towel

Weight: 8 ounces

Dimensions: Large: 60*30 inches; Medium: 20*40 inches

Best Used for: As a travel towel

Special Features:  Made of microfiber; Holds four times its weight in water; Large size; Folds to a small, compact size; Comes with a hand towel; Dries 10 times faster than a normal cotton towel; Storage bag with loop included; Lightweight; Soft

For those looking for a backpacking towel which feels soft against the skin and also works great, this towel by Globe Trot Gear is a great option. It can hold four times its weight in water, which means that it will dry you off completely. The Microfiber Camp, Sports and Travel Towel can air dry within a short amount of time. Its compact size allows you to pack it in any backpack with ease and carry it around everywhere. It is not just for hikers; its adequate size means that you can take it with you to the gym, or even the beach.

A travel pouch is included to pack the towel in, but it is a little small. Although this cuts down the space that the towel occupies, it also makes it difficult to fit the towel back inside once you have taken it out. The towel does not bleed color and you can easily wash it with your other clothes.

Related: This is the only traveling towel offered by Globe Trot Gear.

Check the price on Amazon

Rallt Fitness Camping Towel

Rallt Fitness Camping Towel

Weight: N/A

Dimensions: 24*48 inches and 30*70 inches

Best Used for: Traveling, backpacking, hiking

Special Features: Made of microfiber;Plush suede texture; Very soft; Dries 10 times faster than cotton towels; Absorbs four times its weight in water; Has a loop for attachment to any bag; Air dries very fast; Wrings out quickly; Multi-purpose; Takes 1/8th the space of normal towels.

You can not only take Rallt Fitness Camping Towel while backpacking, you can also take it to the gym, for yoga, for a picnic on the beach, or keep one in your car for emergencies. The towel acts very well and can absorb a large amount of water. Then, you can wring it out and hang it to dry. A snap loop is present which makes it easy to hang this towel anywhere. It weighs half as much as normal towels and folds to a very small, compact size.

The texture can take some time to get used to, as with all microfiber towels, as it is not as fluffy as cotton towels. However, for travel purposes, this towel is ideal.

Related: This is the only travel towel produced by Rallt, although they do make a lot of other outdoor and camping gear.

Check the price on Amazon

Crystalhome Fast Dry Towel

Crystalhome Fast Dry Towel

Weight: 7.5 ounces

Dimensions: 20*50 inches

Best Used for: Hiking; As a beach towel; In the gym

Special Features: Large in size; Can be packed in the included mesh bag; Folds to a compact size; Made of microfiber fabric; Absorbs 3 times more water than normal towels; Wrings dry very quickly; Durable; Anti-bacterial properties; Soft

Crystalhome Fast Dry Towel is great because it has a large size. This means that you can even spread it on the ground and lounge on it. The towel can absorb a large amount of water. When you wring it out, it becomes 90% dry. You can air-dry it to remove the remaining moisture. It can be folded into its own cylindrical mesh bag and thus carried around with ease. The folded size is quite small.

The towel has anti-bacterial properties which mean that it will not smell even if you wipe your sweat with it. It also gets clean easily. The towel feels soft on the hands and face and will not irritate the skin. It is very thin and yet comfortable and soft.

Related: This is the only towel made by this producer.

Check the price on Amazon

The Perfect Backpacking Towels you Must Have

Anyone who has ever gone backpacking knows how important it is to save on space and pack the maximum amount of objects in the minimum space. This is why backpacking and travel towels are such a hit.

They are not as fluffy and absorbent as normal cotton towels, but they can dry you off very quickly and efficiently, which is what matters the most. They also pack to a small size and often have anti-bacterial properties, which means that they do not smell. All these benefits make it much easier to travel with a backpacking towel instead of a normal, cotton one.

Different backpacking towels

Did you like the towels we mentioned in the list? Do you have another amazing backpacking towel in your mind that you want us to know about? Let us know in the comments section below.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel Carraway
Daniel Carraway

Daniel Carraway joined our team last year. He is a gear freak when it comes to hiking, climbing and camping. He went to REI Outdoor School to meet new people and learn best practices. Don’t even try to argue with him about the latest backpack or ice axe, he tried most of them. Daniel’s dream is to climb Mount Everest.

  • Tommy Alexander

    I bought Sea to Summit towel for a camping trip and it is amazing. I like that it is lightweight so it is easy to carry and pack. What I have is the medium size and I think it is just perfect. It dries quickly too, which is of course ideal when you are outdoors.

  • Mark Williams

    Great recommendation list Daniel! Personally, I love Youphoria because it is very absorbent. It is perfect for workouts, camping trips and vacations. The size is also great and it does not take up too much space because it can be folded to become tiny. I have used other brands before and this is the best.

  • Daniel Carraway

    Youphoria is great because of the reasons you stated! Thank you for confirming! We agree space saving is important.

  • Daniel Carraway

    We completely agree!

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