These Lightweight, Compact, Quick-Drying Towels Are Perfect For Backpacking

Whether you're trekking through the woods or traveling across Europe, when you're backpacking you'll want a lightweight, easy-to-pack towel that dries quickly and efficiently. The best quick-dry towels for backpacking are usually soft, compact, and highly absorbent. Here are some things to keep in mind when you're shopping around:

  • Material: Rather than bulky fabrics like cotton or terrycloth, the best choice for your backpacking towel is typically microfiber. This will be more lightweight and quicker to dry, as well as odor resistant.
  • Absorbency: For cloth towels, absorbency is often measured as an estimate of how much of its weight it can hold in water. The best ones for backpacking will be able to take in roughly three to five times their weight in water.
  • Packability: Space is limited when you're backpacking, so you want your towel to be smaller than your basic bath towel and much lighter, too. Beyond that, it should be easy to pack into a small bag — even better if the towel comes with its own carrying pouch.

Other than that, it's also nice to have extra features like fold-up snaps or loops that allow you to hang the towel somewhere to dry. With all of these factors in mind, I've made a list of the best quick-dry towels for backpacking to help you find the best fit.


The Best Overall

What's great about it: With the ability to hold up to four times its weight in water, this lightweight backpacking towel is incredibly absorbent while still being portable and compact. The microfiber material is exceptionally quick-drying — in fact, it dries about 70 percent faster than cotton. On top of that, it features Polygiene technology, which helps control odor, as well as a carrying pouch and a handy loop for hanging.

What fans say: "Dries quickly and packs down super thin for easy travel. Took it with me on a 2 week backpacking trip, and used every night after a shower and hung it on a hook to dry. Dried overnight, and left no damp mildewy smell!"

  • Available sizes: 10 by 14 inches; 16.5 by 36 inches; 25 by 54 inches; 36 by 59 inches


The Runner-Up

What's great about it: With more than 1,400 reviews on Amazon, this popular quick-drying backpacking towel is similar to the PackTowl, except that its sizes run a bit larger. While that does make it a little less compact, it's perfect if you're someone who likes a towel with a bit more surface area. Able to hold up to five times its weight in water, it's slightly more absorbent than the previous towel and features anti-mildew technology to block odor. The towel also comes with a handy carry bag for traveling and a quick-snap hanging loop.

What fans say: "I purchased this for a backpacking trip to Patagonia and couldn't imagine a better product. I needed something that would pack small, dry quickly, and a towel that was actually large enough to dry off. I am truly satisfied with my new purchase!"

  • Available sizes: 20 by 40 inches; 28 by 56 inches; 32 by 72 inches


The Best Investment Towel

What's great about it: Although it's slightly more expensive than the other options on this list, Rumpl's quick-drying Shammy towel offers a higher-end product that's totally worth the investment if you're able to splurge a little. With a blend of 85 percent polyester and 15 percent spandex, it's soft, stretchy, and surprisingly silky. The material is odor-resistant, and it repels sand, so you can take it to the beach, too. The only drawback is that it's denser and therefore a bit heavier than some of the others; however, it comes with a bonus face towel, which is perfect if you want something lighter in weight.

What fans say: While it doesn't have any reviews on Amazon, I have the full-length version of this towel, and I absolutely love it. It's incredibly soft — much more so than many of the microfiber ones that I sometimes find a little itchy and staticky in feel. When you use it, you can really feel the difference in quality compared to other towels. In short, it's a higher quality, slightly thicker towel that will last a long time.


The Best Variety Pack

What's great about it: This convenient WildHorn Outfitters multi-pack comes with three quick-drying towels, offering a versatile assortment, depending on the type of trip you're taking and what you'll be doing. There's a large, full-body towel for showering or reclining, a medium towel for drying off, and a small towel for wiping your face or doing dishes. All three are made of high-quality microfiber that dries fast and can absorb three to four times its weight in water. Each towel has its own individual mesh carry bag and a snapping loop for easy hanging.

What fans say: "These are great camping/backpacking towels. I purchased them mainly to be used for backpacking but was happy to get them in a three pack to work for different scenarios. They are all very lightweight and quick drying."

  • Included sizes: 12 by 24 inches; 24 by 48 inches; 30 by 60 inches

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