During our last vacation, I realized that I really wanted a quick drying towel. We had beach towels and hung them outside at night, but they were still quite damp in the mornings. Of course, I want to find the best travel towel available, one that is quick drying, absorbent, and can fold up really small. I do need to fit four in a backpack, after all! It didn’t take long to realize that quick dry travel towels would also be a brilliant addition to our swim bags. It’s great when one product can fill multiple needs!
If you want to travel carry-on only, a compact travel towel is a must. Even for families! Maybe especially for families.
Why get a travel towel? What do you look for in a travel towel? Read on and don’t forget your towel…
Why Use a Travel Towel?
You should never leave home without your towel. In Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams says it best:
“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V… you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”
Science fiction novels aside, a quick drying, microfiber, compact towel does have many uses for travel. In addition to using it to dry off after swimming and showers, you can use it to shade your skin from the sun, as an extra layer on cool summer evenings, as a blanket on a chilly airplane, for a picnic cloth, and so on.
If you choose to use your own towel while staying in a hotel, you will use less resources during your stay, since the regular cotton hotel towels will not need to be washed and dried daily. If you get to your Airbnb and discover there are no towels, you’re set! When you decide to go camping, you are ready. IF there’s a shower available!
When you’re traveling with your family, you never know when a towel will come in handy (and potentially save a lot of embarrassment) for cleaning up a mess in a public place. One of my children has thrown up in an airport. You can hand wash a microfiber towel and it won’t affect your bag’s weight.
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2018 Best Backpacking Towels for Travelers & Families
Best Backpacking Towel Comparison Chart
|Turkish Peshtemal Towel||Peshtemal/Pestemal cotton towel||Check price!||- Dries quickly
- Small, doesn't take up much valuable backpack space
- Made from 100% Turkish cotton
|DrySnugs - Microfiber Travel Towels (2 pack), comes with Mesh Bag||Microfiber towel||Check price!||- Generous size
- Claims to dry 10x faster than a regular towel
- Claims to be 4x more absorbent than a regular towel
|Microfiber Travel Towel XL by Micro Miracle||Microfiber towel||Check price!||- Antibacterial
|2 Pack Microfiber Travel Sports Towel - Wolfyok||Microfiber towel||Check price!||- Lightweight
- Super absorbent
- Quick drying
|Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters - XL||Microfiber towel||Check price!||- Soft and absorbent
- Will dry up to 10x faster than a regular towel
- Claims to be "very compact"
|OlimpiaFit Set of 3 Microfiber Towels||Microfiber towel||Check price!||- Folds up really small
- Antibacterial and antimicrobial
|Secret Sea Collection, Bamboo Beach Towel||Bamboo peshtamal/pestemal||Check price!||- Made from 80% bamboo, 20% cotton
- Naturally antibacterial
- No chemicals used in production
Best Travel Towel
If you are looking for best quick dry towel for travel and don’t have time to read through a long review, check price and availability on amazon! You get a lot for your money: the towels come in a set of two in a mesh bag (one bath towel, one mini towel, and a mesh carry bag). This microfiber travel towel is quick drying, absorbent, compact, and lightweight. Want more options? Keep scrolling for the handy comparison chart!
What to Look For in a Travel Towel
This is the most important consideration going into a travel towel. I don’t want to put a soaking wet, heavy towel into my backpack to lug around during my travels. Or 4 (the number of people in my family).
Won’t Collect Bad Odors
The second most important aspect is that it won’t start smelling like mildew, spreading that bad smell to the clothes in your backpack or suitcase. Who wants to stink during travel or anytime?
It’s really frustrating to try to dry off after a shower and discover your towel isn’t helping very much (keep scrolling for tips for using a microfiber travel towel).
Light, Compact, & Thin
The best backpacking towel must not take up much space in your backpack, especially if you need to carry multiples for your family. Another important consideration for a travel towel is the weight when damp. The best microfiber towel for travel will be able to fold up small, in order to leave room for other important items, and dry quickly, so it doesn’t make your backpack any heavier.
Best Travel Towel Review
Best Peshtamel (Eco Friendly Option)
The Turkish peshtamel is more than merely a towel. It can be turned into a lovely accessory as well, which may well leave you more space in your backpack due to what you no longer need to bring!
Considered eco-friendly, this bamboo peshtamel is also antifungal and naturally antibacterial. It is also 60% more absorbent than cotton and 30% less susceptible to bad odors than cotton towels.
I purchased this OlimpiaFit microfiber towel set. It’s a set of three towels and includes a mesh bag. I chose this product because people who purchased them said they fold up small and because there are three towels and a carrying case included. Though I haven’t used them a lot yet, I will say that when one of your kids throws them in the pool and you don’t wring them out very well, they don’t dry that fast. They do dry faster than a cotton towel would in the same situation. Also, the towel didn’t sink, which is clearly an advantage.
How to Use a Microfiber Towel
Some people complain that microfiber towels don’t dry of their body very well. One tip is to pat yourself dry, small areas at a time, and it’ll dry your body just fine. After use, if you can let it dry for 5 minutes before packing, quite a lot of the moisture will dissipate. Packing it in a mesh bag and clipping it to your backpack also helps a lot!
Don’t Forget Your Towel
Even if towels aren’t on the top of your packing list, it is an item worth bringing on your travels. Especially when traveling with children. Traveling with a heavy cotton towel will take up way too much space in a backpack, so choose a travel towel and reap the rewards. Go forth, travel, and don’t forget your towel!
What do you think are the best quick dry towels for backpacking? Do you have other uses for travel towels I may have missed?