Best towels for backpacking and camping

best towels for backpacking

Whether you are camping, backpacking or simply lounging on the beach, staying dry and fresh is important. An everyday cotton towel would surely be perfect, but you would not want to haul all the weight it carries with itself and wait for hours for it to dry down. What you need is a quick dry towel that can work well for outdoor excursions.

So, which are the best towels for backpacking, camping and other outdoor adventures?

In this article, we will focus on answering exactly the same question and list some of the best towels for backpacking and camping. The options that we list are quick drying, lightweight and soft on the skin, while being compact enough to pack to a small size. We will also list the factors you should keep in mind before picking the best quick dry towel for your next outdoor adventure and share our top picks.k

For some more microfiber clothes and towels, you can also check out our article on the best microfiber towels for camping and outdoors.

Best towels for backpacking and camping list

Some of the best towels for backpacking, camping and other outdoor adventures are listed below:
PictureProductSpecifications 

Sea to Summit DryLite TowelXS: 12" x 24"; 1.3 oz.
S: 16" x 32"; 2.2 oz.
M: 20" x 40"; 3.6 oz.
L: 24" x 48"; 5.1 oz.
XL: 30" x 60"; 8.1 oz.

PackTowl UltraLite TowelS: 10” x 14”; 0.5 oz.
M: 16.5” x 36”; 1.5 oz.
L: 25" x 54"; 3.4 oz.
XL: 36" x 59"; 5.1 oz.

RainLeaf Microfiber Camping TowelXS: 12" x 24"; 2 oz.
S: 16" x 30"; 3.2 oz.
M: 20" x 40"; 4.5 oz.
L: 24" x 48"; 6.4 oz.
XL: 30" x 60"; 9.8 oz.
XXL: 40" x 72"; 14.4 oz.
Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach TowelL: 31” x 63”; 12.8 oz.
XL: 35” x 78”; 17.6 oz.
R: 75” dia. circle; 30.4 oz.
Youphoria Outdoors Quick Dry Travel TowelS: 20” x 40”; 5 oz.
M: 28” x 56”; 8 oz.
L: 32” x 72”; 12 oz.
Wise Owl Outfitters Camping TowelL: 24” x 48”; 6.8 oz.
XL: 30” x 60”; 10.8 oz.
Raqpak Microfiber Travel TowelM: 20” x 40”; 4.0 oz.
L: 30” x 60”; 8.1 oz.
XL: 39” x 70”; 8.5 oz.
Sunland Microfiber TowelXS: 12" x 24"; 1.7 oz.
S: 16" x 32"; 2.4 oz.
M: 20" x 40"; 4.5 oz.
L: 24" x 48"; 6.2 oz.
XL: 32" x 60"; 9.8 oz.
XXL: 40" x 72"; 14.8 oz.
McNett Tactical Ultra-Compact TowelM: 20" x 40"; 3.5 oz.
L: 30" x 50"; 6.8 oz.
XL: 35" x 62"; 8.8 oz.
The Friendly Swede Microfiber TowelM: 20" x 40"; 3.8 oz.
L: 30" x 60"; 10.8 oz.

Which are the best towels for backpacking and camping?

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel – Best towel for backpacking and campingSea to Summit Dry Lite Towel (Large / Cobalt Blue)

Material: High-density 100% polyester microfiber with 70/30 polyester-polyamide blending. super soft ultra-suede finish. Silver Microbial coating. Polyester mesh carrying pouch.
Size & Weight:

  • XS: 12″ x 24″; 1.3 oz.
  • S: 16″ x 32″; 2.2 oz.
  • M: 20″ x 40″; 3.6 oz.
  • L: 24″ x 48″; 5.1 oz.
  • XL: 30″ x 60″; 8.1 oz.

Price: $ to $$$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • High-quality, super-soft backpacking microfiber towel made of 70/30 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend.
  • Features an ultra-suede finish that is extremely comfortable on the skin and super-absorbent. Capable of absorbing 4X times its weight.
  • Machine washable and air dry or gentle tumble dry in the dryer. Also comes with a quick-snap loop for hanging and a mesh bag with Velcro closure for easy transportation. Recommended washing before first use.
  • Available in 4-5 plain color combinations and five sizes. Backed by a lifetime warranty on workmanship.
  • A lighter Sea to Summit Pocket Towel is also available from the same manufacturer.

Detail Review:

If there is a microfiber quick dry towel that provides almost the same feel and comfort as a cotton towel, while being reasonably lightweight and compact, it is the Sea to Summit DryLite Towel. Its soft feel is the main reason why it is our favorite pick for camping and travel towels.

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel features an ultra-soft microfiber blend surface that is 70% polyester and 30% polyamide (nylon). The towel is made in China using imported fabrics and quality control measures enforced by the US-based manufacturer.

Its ultra-suede finish (as opposed to textured finish in cheap microfiber towels) is extremely comfortable on the skin and super-absorbent. The towel is capable of absorbing 4X times its weight. While it is not the fastest drying, it still dries 5-6 times faster than the standard cotton towel. And the towel is coated with a Silver Ion anti-microbial coating to prevent odor build-up even when it is wet.

The towel is machine washable and can also be tumble dried in the gentle cycle. However, we recommend air drying. It comes with a snap-on loop for easy hanging. A meshed carrying pouch is also included for easy transportation. The only problem with the pouch is that it has a Velcro closure, so the fabric of the towel will occasionally get snagged in the Velcro strip. The manufacturer recommends that you wash the towel before first use to bleed the color out and make the towel soft and absorbing. Some dark colors tend to bleed more than standard colors, so you are better off washing the towel alone at least 2-3 times.

The Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is available in five sizes and five plain colors. And like other Sea to Summit products, it is backed by a lifetime warranty against workmanship, so you can use the towel without worrying about its durability and performance.

For its high-density microfiber material, soft feel and superior wicking capability, Sea to Summit DryLite Towel is our Editor’s pick for the best towel for backpacking and other outdoor adventures. This towel is a top-of-the-line product for campers, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a high-quality, soft and lightweight quick dry towel for their excursions.

Pros
  • High-quality plush microfiber towel that offers an excellent combination of lightweight and more skin comfort with its 70/30 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend.
  • Super-absorbent and capable of absorbing 4X times its own weight.
  • Quick drying and coated with a Silver Ion Anti-microbial coating to prevent odor build-up even when wet.
  • Easy to clean – machine washable and can be tumble dried in the dryer.
  • Available in five sizes and five light colors. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty by the manufacturer.


Cons
  • Some colors tend to bleed more than others even after 2-3 washes.
  • Costlier than most other microfiber quick dry towels. Not the quickest drying.


PackTowl UltraLite Towel – Best ultralight quick dry towelPackTowl UltraLite Microfiber Towel, River, Body- 25 x 54-Inch

Material: High-density 85/15 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Polyester zippered carrying bag.
Size & Weight:

  • S: 10″ x 14″; 0.5 oz.
  • M: 16.5″ x 36″; 1.5 oz.
  • L: 25″ x 54″; 3.4 oz.
  • XL: 36″ x 59″; 5.1 oz.

Price: $$$.
Features:

  • Premium ultralight backpacking towel made of 85/15 polyester-polyamide nylon microfiber blend. Assembled in the US. Fabric made in France.
  • Lightweight and compact at about 25-30% lighter than most other towels of the same size.
  • Super-absorbent and quick drying. Capable of absorbing 4X times its body weight and dries 80% faster than cotton towels.
  • Machine washable and air dry. Comes with a hanging loop and zippered carrying pouch. Recommended washing before first use.
  • Available in four sizes and three colors. Backed by a limited lifetime warranty against workmanship.
  • Slightly heavier, but more absorbent PackTowl Personal towel is also available from the same manufacturer.

Detail Review:

PackTowl Microfiber and Nanofiber towels by Cascade Designs (same organization that makes MSR products) are the worldwide best-sellers when it comes to outdoor and travel towels. So, it is but obvious that one of their towels would feature in our top picks. So, if you are looking for a super-compact, ultralight quick dry towel then look no further than the PackTowl UltraLite Towel.

The PackTowl UltraLite Towel is a premium ultralight towel that boasts of a high-density yet ultralight microfiber blend material construction. The microfiber blend is 85% polyester and 15% polyamide (Nylon). The towel is assembled in the US and fabric is made in France. The towel is about 25-30% lighter than the standard PackTowl Personal Towel and other top microfiber camping towels.

The PackTowl UltraLite Towel does not lose any of its super-absorbing capabilities at the expense of its lighter weight. It is capable of absorbing 4X times its own weight and dries about 70-80% quicker than standard cotton bath towels.

The towel is machine washable and is best to be air dried. It comes with a standard fabric loop for easy hanging. A zippered polyester carrying pouch is also included for easy transportation. The manufacturer recommends that you wash the towel before first use to bleed the color out and make the towel soft and absorbing.

The PackTowl UltraLite Towel is available in four sizes and three plain colors. And like other PackTowl quick dry towels, it is backed by a lifetime warranty against workmanship – a big testament to the quality this towel option.

The PackTowl UltraLite Towel is our Editor’s pick for the best ultralight quick dry towel for hiking, backpacking and other outdoor excursions. This premium backpacking towel offers superior performance and a worthy option of the best-selling PackTowl Backpacking Towels Collection.

Pros
  • Premium, ultralight hiking and backpacking quick dry towel with 85/15 microfiber blend construction. Made in the US of fabric imported from France.
  • About 25-30% lighter than other microfiber towels.
  • Quick drying and super-absorbent. Capable of absorbing 4X times its body weight.
  • Easy to clean – machine washable. Comes with a hanging loop and a zippered carrying pouch.
  • Available in four sizes and three colors. Backed by a lifetime manufacturer warranty.


Cons
  • Costlier than most other microfiber camping and backpacking towels.
  • Does not have anti-microbial Polygiene odor control treatment as in other PackTowl options.


RainLeaf Microfiber Camping Towel – Value pick for the best towels for backpacking and campingRainleaf Microfiber Towel, 30 X 60 Inches. Army Green.

Material: High-density 200 GSM microfiber (85/15 polyester-polyamide blend). SILVADUR Silver Antimicrobial coating. Polyester mesh carrying pouch.
Size & Weight:

  • XS: 12″ x 24″; 2 oz.
  • S: 16″ x 30″; 3.2 oz.
  • M: 20″ x 40″; 4.5 oz.
  • L: 24″ x 48″; 6.4 oz.
  • XL: 30″ x 60″; 9.8 oz.
  • XXL: 40″ x 72″; 14.4 oz.

Price: $ to $$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • Best-selling quick dry towel made of high-density 85/15 microfiber blend with Dow SILVADUR Anti-microbial coating. Made in China.
  • Soft, suede feel on the skin while being quick drying. Capable of absorbing 3X times of its own weight.
  • Lightweight and compact. Comes with a hanging snap-in loop and a high-quality polyester mesh carrying pouch.
  • Machine washable in the gentle cycle and air dry. Recommended washing separately from cotton clothes.
  • Versatile and can double-up as a floor mat, chair cover, sleeping bag liner or body cover.
  • Available in six sizes and eight plain colors. Backed by a lifetime warranty when purchased on Amazon directly from the manufacturer.

Detail Review:

If you are looking for a decent quick dry towel for camping or backpacking and do not want to spend a fortune, then you should consider getting the RainLeaf Microfiber Camping Towel. These towels offer decent quality and performance in the field and are about 25-30% cheaper than most premium models. These towels are made in China under the quality control mechanisms enforced by a US-based company.

The RainLeaf Microfiber Camping Towel features a high-density 200 GSM microfiber blend towel with double hem-stitching on the borders. The microfiber blend is 85% polyester and 15% polyamide (nylon), making this towel extra soft on the skin when compared to other quick dry backpacking towels. The towel is coated with Dow SILVADUR Silver Anti-Microbial coating that prevents the build-up of odor-causing bacteria and fungi, even if the towel is packed wet.

These towels are quick drying and can dry about 4-5 times faster than the standard cotton bath towels. They also have a decent moisture-absorbing capability and can hold about 3X times water of their body weight.

The towels are easy to clean and machine washable in the delicate cycle and air dry. We recommend you wash them before first use and separately from other clothes at least the first 3-4 times as the color may bleed. Each towel comes with a high-quality polyester mesh carrying pouch that is easy to fasten onto a backpack. A snap-in hanging loop is also attached on each towel to facilitate drying.

The RainLeaf Microfiber Towels are available in all the standard six sizes for towels and eight plain color combinations. The large XL and XXL towel even have a small zipper pocket on one of the towel corners to store small items. The manufacturer provides a hassle-free lifetime warranty on each purchase if bought on Amazon.

The RainLeaf Microfiber Camping Towel is our value pick for the best towel for backpacking, camping and other all-weather outdoor adventures. It may not be the cheapest quick dry towel, but its performance offers the best value-for-money for anyone looking for a soft, durable and quick dry towel for outdoors or travel.

Pros
  • Best-selling quick dry towel made of 200GSM, 85/15 microfiber blend with a Silver anti-microbial coating.
  • Quick drying and super-absorbent at 3X times its own weight. Stays fresh even when packed wet.
  • Lightweight and compact and comes with a snap-in hanging loop and a high-quality mesh carrying pouch.
  • Machine washable and available in a variety of sizes and colors.
  • Competitively priced and backed by a lifetime warranty and satisfaction guaranteed commitment by the manufacturer.


Cons
  • Some dark shades tend to bleed color when washed, sometimes even after 2-3 washes.
  • Not as lightweight as some other ultralight backpacking towels.


Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach TowelDock & Bay Fast Drying Beach Towels XL - Waikiki Coral Red, Extra Large (78x35) - Compact Towels Giant Sizes, Sand Repellant Beach Towel

Material: High-quality 220GSM 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Drawstring travel carrying bag.
Size & Weight:

  • L: 31″ x 63″; 12.8 oz.
  • XL: 35″ x 78″; 17.6 oz.
  • Round: 75″ dia. circle; 30.4 oz.

Price: $$ to $$$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • Oversized, stylish sand-free beach and camping towel made of high-quality 100% polyester microfiber blend. Made in China for a UK-based company.
  • Soft on the skin and capable of absorbing 3X times of its own weight and dries quickly when compared to standard beach towels.
  • Versatile and can double-up as a floor mat, sleeping bag liner or body cover.
  • Machine washable and can be tumble dried in the dryer on gentle cycle. Also comes with a quick-snap loop for hanging and a travel accessory bag for easy transportation.
  • Available in three sizes, including round beach towel and available in over 10+ stripes and geometric patterns.
  • Backed by a 30-day returns policy and one-year manufacturer warranty.

Youphoria Outdoors Quick Dry Travel TowelYouphoria Outdoors Microfiber Quick Dry Travel Towel - Ideal Fast Drying Towels for Travel, Camping, Beach, Backpacking, Gym, Sports, and Swimming - Ultra Light, Fast Drying and Absorbent - 3 Sizes

Material: High-density 100% polyester suede microfiber. Polyester mesh carrying pouch with drawstring closure.
Size & Weight:

  • S: 20″ x 40″; 5 oz.
  • M: 28″ x 56″; 8 oz.
  • L: 32″ x 72″; 12 oz.

Price: $ to $$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • High-quality travel and camping towel made of soft 100% polyester suede microfiber. Made in China under quality control of Georgia, US-based company.
  • Extra soft on body and super-absorbent. Can absorb up to 4X times its weight and dry 9-10 times faster than standard towels.
  • Versatile and can be used as a sleeping bag liner, or even a travel blanket.
  • Machine washable and can be tumble dried in the dryer on gentle cycle. Also comes with a quick-snap loop for hanging and a drawstring mesh bag for easy transportation.
  • Available in three sizes and 10+ color combinations. Backed by a 100% satisfaction guaranteed or free commitment.

Wise Owl Outfitters Camping TowelWise Owl Outfitters Camping Towel - Ultra Soft Compact Quick Dry Microfiber Best Fitness Beach Hiking Yoga Travel Sports Backpacking & The Gym Fast Drying, Free Bonus Washcloth Hand Towel - LG Green

Material: 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Polyester carrying pouch.
Size & Weight:

  • L: 24″ x 48″; 6.8 oz.
  • XL: 30″ x 60″; 10.8 oz.

Price: $$.
Features:

  • Mid-range microfiber outdoor and travel towel made of high-density 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Designed in the US and Made in China.
  • Comes with an additional free towel with the standard purchase – 12″ x 12″ face towel with Large and 12″x24″ hand towel with the XLarge towel.
  • Lightweight, compact and quick drying. Dries 10x times faster than the traditional cotton towel. Packs to under 7″ x 5″ (10″ x 8″ for XL).
  • Machine washable in the gentle cycle and air dry. Comes with a snap loop for hanging. A mesh carrying bag is also included.
  • Available in two sizes and six vibrant colors and backed by a 100% satisfaction guaranteed commitment.

Raqpak Microfiber Travel TowelRaqpak Microfiber Towel for Travel, Gym, Camping - Small and Compact, Antibacterial and Quick Dry with Carry Pouch (Lavender, 40 x 20 Inches)

Material: 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Antimicrobial fabric coating. Polyester carrying pouch.
Size & Weight:

  • M: 20″ x 40″; 4.0 oz.
  • L: 30″ x 60″; 8.1 oz.
  • XL: 39″ x 70″; 8.5 oz.

Price: $ to $$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • Budget microfiber backpacking towel made of high-density microfiber with odor-resistant antimicrobial fabric coating. Made in China.
  • Lightweight and compact and packs to less than 9″ x 7″. Comes with a polyester carrying pouch.
  • Soft on the skin and capable of absorbing 3X times of its own weight.
  • Machine washable in the gentle cycle and air dry. Comes with a hanging loop. Wash separately for first 2-3 times.
  • Available in three sizes and five color combinations. Backed by a 100% money back guaranteed commitment.

Sunland Microfiber TowelSUNLAND Microfiber Beach Towels Ultra Compact Sports Bath Travel Towels (Dark Blue, 32inch X 60inch)

Material: 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Polyester mesh zippered carrying pouch.
Size & Weight:

  • XS: 12″ x 24″; 1.7 oz.
  • S: 16″ x 32″; 2.4 oz.
  • M: 20″ x 40″; 4.5 oz.
  • L: 24″ x 48″; 6.2 oz.
  • XL: 32″ x 60″; 9.8 oz.
  • XXL: 40″ x 72″; 14.8 oz.

Price: $ to $$ depending upon the size.
Features:

  • Lightweight and soft microfiber towel made of 100% (80/20 polyester-polyamide) microfiber. Made in China.
  • Lightweight, soft and super absorbent, capable of absorbing 4X times of its own weight.
  • Machine washable in warm water. Recommended washing before first use and wash separately.
  • Comes with a polyester mesh carrying pouch with a zippered closure for easy transportation.
  • Available in six sizes and 10+ color combinations, with or without the hanging loop. Non-bleeding colors.

McNett Tactical Ultra-Compact TowelMcNett Tactical Ultra-Compact Microfiber Towel, Coyote, Extra Large

Material: High-density 100% polyester microfiber (80/20 polyester-polyamide nylon). SILVADUR Silver Antimicrobial coating. Polyester mesh carrying pouch with additional zippered compartments.
Size & Weight:

  • M: 20″ x 40″; 3.5 oz.
  • L: 30″ x 50″; 6.8 oz.
  • XL: 35″ x 62″; 8.8 oz.

Price: $$.
Features:

  • Versatile microfiber backpacking towel made of high-quality microfiber with a Silver Antimicrobial Ion coating to prevent odor build-up. Marketed by the manufacturer of Gear Aid products.
  • Lightweight and compact. Capable of absorbing 5X times its own weight. Patented sewn grommets for tie downs.
  • Tactical gear that can also act as a wind block, sun shade, sling, bandana, shemagh or blanket.
  • Comes with a mesh-lined carrying bag with 2 zippered compartments. Also includes two retention straps to secure the towel or gear.
  • Available in three sizes and four color combinations – Green, Sand, Coyote and Navy.

The Friendly Swede Microfiber TowelThe Friendly Swede Microfiber Towels for Sports, Travel, Swim, Hiking and Camping, 2-Pack, Ultralight and Quick Drying Towels

Material: 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Polyester mesh carrying pouch. 2 towels per pack.
Size & Weight:

Price: $
Features:

  • A set of two microfiber travel towels made of 80/20 polyester-polyamide microfiber blend. Made in China under Swedish company quality control measures.
  • Lightweight, soft and super absorbent, capable of absorbing 4-times of its own weight. Packs to under 6″ x 5″ (8″ x 6″ for large).
  • Machine washable. Recommended washing before first use.
  • Comes with a polyester mesh carrying pouch with drawstring closure for easy transportation.
  • Available in four color combination sets and two sizes and backed by a lifetime manufacturer warranty.
  • Also available in large 30″ x 60″ beach towel size.

Additional Options

If you are thru-hiking and carrying your own load or stuck in a survival situation, you would not always have the luxury of carrying even an ultralight quick dry towel. In such situations, you need something that is lighter, more compact and versatile. You can rely on the following products.

Bandanas

Colter Co. Bandana 3 -Pack Bandna 3-Pack for Camping, Hiking, Fishing | 100% Cotton | Know Your Knots Stargazer, Cipher

A Bandana is probably one of the most versatile lightweight pieces of cloth that you can carry. It is durable and dries quickly. You can use it to cover your head, tie it around the neck in extreme heat, use it as a sling in cases of emergency and even use it as a towel.

Some of the best bandanas for outdoor adventures are listed below:

Disposable towels and travel clothes

Lunatec Self-cleaning Travel Washcloth. Odor-free, quick drying & light exfoliation. Wash cloth is ideal for camping, backpacking, showers, gyms, RVs and boating. Compliments any travel towel.

You can also choose to carry those small travel clothes and absorbing sponges. Disposable travel wipes that expand when soaked in water also work quite well.  Some of the best options are listed below:

  • Shamwow Shammy Towel Cloth Set: An all-in-one shammy, towel and sponge that can hold 10X of water of its weight. Use to wash, dry or polish any surface. Machine washable and non-abrasive.
  • Lightload Disposable Travel Towels: The biggest compressed, disposable travel towel clothes. 12″ x 24″ and weigh only 0.5 ounces. Available in a set of 3 towels.
  • Lunatec Self-cleaning Travel Washcloth: 100% nylon, self-cleaning washcloth that is odor-free and dries within 10-15 minutes. Available in a pack of five 11″ x 11″ washcloths.

You can also choose to carry a small microfiber cloth. Check out our articles on the best microfiber clothes and towels for some more options.

How to pick the best towels for backpacking and camping?

With so many different quick dry towels available in the market, picking the best towels for camping, backpacking and other outdoor adventures can be a difficult task. After all, you need a towel that feels comfortable on the skin, absorbs water and dries quickly and is lightweight and compact.

Once you have decided on the broad budget that you have, you need to look at a few important factors before picking the best towel for backpacking or other outdoor adventures. These major considerations are summarized below:

  • Material of the towel
  • Size and weight
  • Wicking and drying capabilities
  • Anti-microbial and odor-resistance capabilities
  • Additional factors and considerations

Material of the towel

The manufacturing material of the towel, border stitching and hanging loops is an important factor as it governs the softness, drying capabilities and durability of the towel. Why else do you think there is so much variation in the price of these quick dry towels?

The best quick dry towels are made of high-quality microfiber or nanofiber material which keeps the overall weight of the towel down while providing the same water absorption capacity as cotton or linen towels. The microfiber blend uses is generally 80% polyester and 20% polyamide (nylon) – providing a nice balance between weight and comfort. This material also ensures that the towel does not absorb sand and grime easily. The sides of the towel are stitched or hemmed with a microfiber thread. Double and triple stitched rims provide more durability, though they can increase the overall weight and drying time of the towel.

Lighter backpacking towels such as the Sea to Summit DryLite Towel and PackTowl UltraLite Towel have a more slick feel which makes them more compact and quick drying. Such towels make a great choice for backpacking and thru-hiking.

Heavier towels such as the Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach Towel and Youphoria Outdoors Quick Dry Travel Towel have a more comfortable on the skin. These towels are an excellent option for beach, car-camping or travel.

Check out the building material of the towel before picking the best towel for backpacking or other outdoor excursions. If in doubt, pick one of our top choices, as we have listed only the most well-built and durable quick dry towels in the market.

Size and weight

The size, weight and packability of the towel is also something to factor in before zeroing in on the best quick dry towel, especially if you are hiking or backpacking and carrying your own load. Your primary purpose of getting the towel would govern the size of the towel you should opt for.

A towel size of the standard home towel – 24″ x 48″ to 26″ x 54″ is probably the most favorable size for all times of outdoor adventures. However, for backpacking and thru-hiking, you might opt for a smaller towel and save on some weight and space. Still, we recommend going with at least a 20″ x 40″ sized towel to get the most out of it. Switch to carrying an alternative – bandana or disposable hand towels if you cannot afford this size.

Closely related to the size of the towel is the carrying weight of the towel. Ideally, you would prefer the lightest option as it reduces the carrying weight and drying time, but lighter towel tends to slip while wiping and are not very comfortable on the skin. Our top pick – the Sea to Summit DryLite Towel and PackTowl Personal Towel probably offer the best weight-to-comfort ratio. If you are an ultralight backpacker and looking to save every ounce, then consider getting the PackTowl UltraLite Towel – it is around 15-20% lighter than other microfiber towel options.

Check out the overall size (both open and packed), weight and packability of the towel before picking the best quick dry towel for your needs.

Wicking and drying capabilities

The primary purpose of opting for a towel is to dry yourself after a shower or wipe after a sweaty physical activity. So obviously, you need a towel that has decent wicking capabilities to actually absorb moisture and grime, not just displace it off the skin.

A typical camping, backpacking or travel towel must be capable of wicking 0.25 – 0.75 cups (about 10 fl. oz.) of moisture from your skin, so you would need a towel that can absorb at least 3x times its weight. Make sure you check the towel specifications to determine that the option you pick that such wicking capacity. Of the options we listed, the McNett Tactical Ultra-Compact Towel has the best wicking capability – it can absorb 5-times its own weight.

Closely related to the wicking and absorption capacity is the ability to dry quickly after use. This becomes especially important if you are looking for a towel for thru-hiking or water sports. Most of the options that we listed dry fast – over 70% faster than the cotton towel of the same size. The presence of a hanging loop can also help in the process, so make sure you pick a towel which comes with such a loop

Check the wicking and drying capabilities of the towel before picking the best towel for backpacking and other outdoor activities. You can generally get this information from the specifications, reviews or Q&A section of the product.

Anti-microbial and odor-resistance capabilities

Having an anti-microbial coating that helps in preventing the odor-causing bacteria and fungi build-up is also something worth checking out. In addition to odor management, an anti-microbial coating would help in reducing the number of times you would have to wash the towel.

It is worthwhile to mention that towels with an anti-microbial coating take longer to dry – about 15-20 minutes more than non-coated microfiber towels of the same size. Furthermore, if you have some sort of skin allergies, such a coating may not be suitable for you. Finally, there is no everlasting coating and a typical anti-microbial coating lasts for 10-12 washes. The Polygiene odor control treatment available with PackTowl Luxe and Personal towels is probably the best option as it can last for 15-20 washes.

So, depending upon your preferences and skin allergies, you can opt for a towel with or without such a coating. If you have no medical limitations and allergies, we recommend that you go with a towel with an anti-microbial coating. The extra drying time is a small price to pay for the fresh and odorless towel.

Additional factors and miscellaneous considerations

In addition to the major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular quick dry towel a preferable option over other backpacking towels.

One such consideration is the accessories that come with the towel. Most of the options that we listed come at least with a drawstring or zippered pouch for easy portability. In addition, some options such as the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Towel and The Friendly Swede Microfiber Towel even include an additional towel as an added bonus, making them an attractive choice.

The color combinations and design patterns in which a towel is available is also something to look at. Some dark shade towels tend to bleed color when washed, so you might want to opt for a light, neutral color option such as gray or light-green. The Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach Towel scores big in this category as it is available in the most stylish geometric patterns and color combinations.

Finally, one of the most important additional consideration is the warranty and after-sales support offered on the towel by the manufacturer.  The general rule of thumb is that longer the warranty period, the more durable and comfortable the towel would be.  Most of the options that we listed are backed by some excellent satisfaction guaranteed commitments and 90-day to one-year warranties, so you can use such towels for a long time without worrying about their durability.

You can look at all these features to determine if they make a specific backpacking towel a better choice over others.

Final thoughts on the best towels for backpacking and camping

You need a towel to dry you down after a day of sweating it out in the wilderness or after a refreshing camping shower. The best camping or backpacking towel is one that is not only soft on your skin but also dries quickly to be stowed back in your backpack.

In this article, we looked at some of the best towels for backpacking, camping and other outdoor activities. We looked at both polyester microfiber quick dry towels that are lightweight, compact and still comfortable to use. We also shared some factors to consider before picking the best towels for camping and backpacking and shared our top picks. We also listed some alternatives to backpacking towels such as bandanas and biodegradable wipes.

We hope that you found this article useful and it would help you in picking the best quick dry towel for your next outdoor adventure. Do let us know your feedback by commenting below. Until next time, happy outdoor exploration!

Image credits:Amazon.com

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