Best Travel Towels for your Next Trip

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Being equipped with the best travel towels in your backpack is essential for a comfortable travel experience.

No matter if you plan on staying in five-star resorts or run down hostels, a travel towel will also prove useful. Be it for when the hotel’s stocks around the pool run out if you are heading off to the beach or on day trips outdoors.

Some of the best travel towels fold up incredibly small and there are plenty of options out there to choose from, including quick-drying materials or soft folding linens.

Having a travel towel can save you in the worst emergencies or it can simply become your go-to towel for the entire trip, whether you are backpacking or long-distance hiking.

There are a lot of options on the market, so to help you to make the right decision for your needs, here’s our guide to picking the best travel towels.

Top 5 Best Travel Towels

PackTowl Personal Microfiber Towel
6 sizes from 23 x 51 cm (9 x 20 in) to 91 x 150 cm (36 x 59 in
22 colors and patterns
Weight: 31g (1.1oz)
Packed size: 3.25" x 9.5"
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Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Quick-Dry Travel Towel
3 Sizes from 20 x 40, 28 x 56 and 32 x 72
10 colors
Weight: 12 oz
Packed size: 3.25" x 9.5"
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Sea to Summit Pocket Towel 
2 sizes from: Small: 16" x 32"; Large 24" x 48"
5 colors
Weight: 1.6 ounces
Packed size: 3 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2")
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Rainleaf Microfiber Towel
6 sizes from 12 x 24 inches to 40 x 72 inches
6 colors
Packed size: 3.25" x 9.5"
Weight: 6.1 ounces
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PackTowl Luxe Microfiber Towel
6 sizes from 23 x 51 cm (9 x 20 in) to 91 x 150 cm (36 x 59 in
22 colors and patterns
Weight: 31g (1.1oz)
Packed size: 3.25" x 9.5"
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Quick Answer: The Best Travel Towels

Lina Stock in the Riviera Maya, Mexico

Towel Size Considerations

The best travel towels can be bought in many different sizes and you’ll need to decide what’s really necessary and how much space you have in your luggage.

Most towels marketed towards travelers range in size from XS right up to XL, extra small to extra large. The larger the travel towel, the heavier it is likely to be, and while materials have come a long way in recent years and can these days be easily compressed, a larger towel will still take up more space in your bag too.

If you are planning on staying primarily in hotels, where you are almost guaranteed to be provided with towels every night, then you may just want to bring along a small travel towel for emergencies or for when you are out and about.

You will want a towel on the smaller scale that packs up the light so you barely notice it, such as an XS or S size.

If you are a budget traveler or a backpacker and are going to be staying in accommodation on the lower end of the price range, or even camping out or roughing it, then you will want the larger towels.

Tall travelers will certainly want the XL size, but many travelers get away with the L. Lots of backpackers will invest in both an XS and a larger sized towel, one to use for quick washes and to keep handy when out and about and the other for proper showers or baths, etc.

Best Towels on Chairs in Fiji

Material Matters

The most important factor when choosing the best travel towels can be the material it’s produced from. Traditionally, bath towels are generally made from cotton or some blend thereof.

Cotton towels are what you will be used to, however, despite their comfort and versatility, their major downside in the travel sphere is their bulk.

Microfibre technology took off in recent years amongst backpackers and travelers, as the material can be compressed an incredible amount, allowing you fold up and store away the best travel towels using a fraction of the space of a traditional cotton bath towel.

Microfibre materials are also incredibly absorbent but at the same quick-drying, allowing you to dry it off quickly after a swim or a shower before stowing the towel away again.

Microfibre is also said to be more durable than its cotton counterparts, lasting much longer an equivalent bath towel would whilst on the road.

The downside of microfibre is the fact that it is not quite as comfortable to use as cotton. While it is durable, that uncomfortable factor can be enhanced over time as wear and tear get to even the best travel towels.

Microfibre also needs to dry out properly – which it does quickly – or otherwise, it can quickly become unpleasant to leave in your hotel or dorm room.

An alternative to both microfibre towels and cotton towels are linen towels, which are increasingly able to provide a great travel product. The main advantage, as well as the small, packable size, is the soft comfort and the fact that the linen doesn’t retain too many bad smells. You can expect to pay a lot more for a good linen towel, however.

Overall though, unless you have acres of space to spare, microfibre becomes the best choice for travelers in terms of versatility and price, as the best travel towels on the market will hardly break the bank either while providing you with a premium product.

Camping in Greenland

Absorbancy in Essential

For travelers, absorbancy is a key factor, and choosing microfibre towels over cotton will automatically enhance your absorbancy factor by a long way.

This ensures that you are able to dry yourself off quicker, but it also means that the best travel towels in the worst scenarios can also function in other matters, such as drying up spills for instance.

Higher absorbency rates though, also come with their own peculiar disadvantages. Your chosen towel will not only be absorbing moisture and drying things, as it should be of course, but it also absorbs any bacteria that you haven’t quite washed away.

Over time, microfibre towels with high absorbency levels can become to smell rather horrendously, so it’s important to note that you need to dry your towel out properly.

While being very absorbent, microfibre also releases the odors and moisture quickly, but only in the right circumstances. If you fold your towel up before it’s had a chance to air and dry out properly, you’ll have a smelly towel for days, and other travelers won’t be complimenting your gear.

To overcome this, the best travel towels on the market while being super absorbent are super quick drying too, meaning that you should rarely end up in that situation in the first place.

Many of the best travel towels are also treated with anti-bacterial coatings, meaning that while they absorb the water, they also stop the towel from becoming a haven for bacteria and other nasty substances, ensuring that it stays fresher, for much, much longer.

Best Travel Towels

Packing Size

Packing size can be important to consider, especially for long term travelers, as there is no point investing in a microfibre towel if it isn’t also small enough to compress and pack away.

Many of the best travel towels come complete with pouches or soft casings that allow you to really fold, roll or stuff your towel away, making it pack up as small as is physically possible.

Lots of these pouches will come with straps attached or ways to hang it on the outside of a bag, or from a washing line. You’ll also want to check that your actual towel has a sling for hanging it up on washing lines or from hooks, as this can be an added bonus when it comes to drying it out when you are on the road. 

Even if it packs up small, that doesn’t ensure your travel towel will be lightweight, so you’ll want to check just how heavy it is before making your purchase too, especially if you travel with carry-on only luggage.

Best Travel Towels - camping in Greenland

Best Travel Towels Recommendations

The best travel towels will encompass all the best features that we’ve explained above, but you’ll quickly find that there are a lot of different brands out there offering very similar products that seem to meet the criteria.

To help you to decide which are the best travel towels for your own trip, here are a few of our favorite product recommendations.

Best Travel Towels

Sea to Summit Dry Lite Towel

Sea to Summit is a well-respected name in the outdoor gear department, and they make equally respectable microfibre travel towels too to accompany their wide range of travel and camping equipment.

The Dry Lite Towel does what the name suggests. It’s an incredibly light towel, and it drys incredibly quickly. It’s absorbent, it’s lightweight and they dry quickly. There is a range of colors to choose from and while they aren’t the absolute cheapest option out there, it still won’t break the bank.

Best Travel Towels

Youphoria Travel Towel

The Youphoria Travel Towel is a great option for those who are looking for a versatile, yet an inexpensive piece of gear that will last a long time. It folds up light, weighs little and can be purchased in a range of different sizes depending on your specific needs.

The company markets their towels as being suitable for anything from hiking and camping to lazing on the beach and even yoga practice. It’s fast-drying, very absorbent and perfect for whatever style of travel you have planned.


Best Travel Towels

Rainleaf Travel Towel

The Rainleaf Travel Towel is the perfect choice for a traveler looking to spend a lot of time at the beach. Although they aren’t the lightest or most compact towels, they are incredibly comfy and very absorbent, while also being quick drying.

The biggest draw for beach lovers is the fact that the Rainleaf towels are available in a wide variety of funky colors to suit your fashion needs too.

They are designed not only with practicality in mind, but style too, and for that reason have become very popular with travelers who aren’t perhaps so conscious about the size of their pack, but are concerned about the look. 


Best Travel Towels


For decades now Packtowl has been pervading outdoor lovers an exceptional lightweight, quick-drying, super absorbent and highly packable towels ready for whatever adventure comes your way while traveling.

These are the travel towels we carry and use while out exploring the world. They are lightweight, soft, extremely packable, and ultralight microfiber towels that are great for drying off.

Packtowls are go-anywhere travel towels ready for spontaneous dips in alpine lakes, long treks, beach trips, kayaking or a low-key trip to the yoga studio. You will be amazed at the quality of these towels and the amount of moisture they can absorb and retain while traveling.

Not finding what you are looking for? Check out our favorite places to go shopping for travel gear.

  • Shop Columbia – The industry leader in outdoor apparel and products; You can find anything from great jackets, gloves, hats, shirts, and travel pants.
  • Shop REI – They offer some of the best outdoor gear around. We love REI since they have a year Love it or hate it no questions guarantee.
  • Shop Moosejaw – Has a huge selection of outdoor gear at killer prices.

More Travel Gear:

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Best Travel Towels


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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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