The Best Travel Towels For Backpacking And Life

The best travel towels may not be the most exciting thing globally, but it is an essential part of what we pack in our luggage. After years of travel worldwide, we know the value of having the perfect compact travel towel. Finding our favorite towels has been a lot of trial and error. Of course, it should go without saying jamming your average plush cotton towel in your backpack or suitcase will not cut it.

It would be best to have a lightweight, quick-dry, compact, and comfortable towel. We have several recommendations, all constructed from different materials. Each material has its qualities and will ensure that you get dry. A new mission for us is promoting environmentally friendly products for travel worldwide. It’s not just the traditional qualities of a towel; we’re also considering the environmental impact of the towel.

The Best Travel Towels

Nomadix All Purpose Towel

Nomadix All Purpose Towel

A Nomadix towel advertises itself as ready to handle any job you’d want a towel. It’s great for the beach, travel, gym, or yoga studio and fits your everyday life. The towel is ultrasoft and highly versatile. We love that the towel is antimicrobial and dries fast. It stays fresh on the road while in your luggage.

It gets some credit for being eco-friendly as the fabric is made from post-consumer recycled plastics that make for a very durable material. That material provides the towel with slip resistance, so it’s great to lay on a yoga mat. It works wonders at the beach as sand slides right off the towel, unlike traditional cotton beach towels.

A particular highlight is the fun prints they offer, such as “Banana Leaf Green,” “Mud Cloth,” and “Retro Stripe.” Important to note that the prints are single-sided, and the opposing side is a neutral charcoal color.

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PackTowl Luxe Towel

Best Travel Towel - Packtowl

The biggest complaint about travel towels is that they often feel nothing like the plush cotton towels at home and in hotels. However, with the PackTowl, you can forget about all that because they set out to create a towel that mimics its cotton counterparts with the technical features of a travel towel.

It’s similar to other towels on this list with polyester and nylon microfiber materials. It allows it to absorb lots of water and dry much faster than cotton. It’s an excellent towel for those with extra space in luggage or backpack.

I wouldn’t recommend it for ultra-minimalist travelers or thru-hikers because there are more compact options. However, it is by far the best and most comfortable for showers and baths when it comes to actual use.

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Youphoria Travel Towel

Best Travel Towels

The Youphoria is a tremendous travel towel, but it’s equally helpful at the gym or yoga studio as it is traveling. The best microfiber towel we found is a synthetic blend. The towel is absorbent and fights bacteria, so it always smells fresh.

The towel comes in three sizes: 20×40, 28×56, and 32×72. We recommend the largest towel; otherwise, it is difficult to wrap around the body. The towel is soft, absorbent, and dries fast thanks to the microfiber. It is the best microfiber towel we’ve found in our testing.

Microfiber can absorb up to four times its weight in water. It makes for a great travel towel to pack for your next trip. One thing that we hate, though, is the fabric from petroleum, which is essentially plastic.

Yes, the evil plastic that takes thousands of years to go away is wreaking havoc on our oceans. However, there is the argument that a synthetic towel has a longer life, takes less washing, and creates no agricultural waste compared to cotton. Our biggest complaint is that microfiber towels tend to be less comfortable.

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REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite

Best Travel Towel - REI Micro Lite towel

We love REI Co-op products as they focus on giving the best possible value to their customers. The company has made it a clear priority to pursue a sustainable business aiming to develop all of their business carbon neutral and encourage suppliers to follow similar paths.

They’re active outdoor market and conservation leaders, so we love them and Patagonia. The Multi Towel Lite is a polyester and nylon microfiber blend with waffles to maximize absorption. It’s great for hikers or outdoor enthusiasts with its ability to pack up into the size of a coffee mug.

It also comes with a convenient carrying bag that you can attach to the outside of your pack allowing the towel to dry during the day when you’re hiking or moving locations.

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Linen Towel

Best Travel Towels

A 100% linen towel may not be the first thing you think of, but it checks off all the boxes. This option is not as cost-effective as the best microfiber towel but is more environmentally friendly. It also looks great and is unlike some generic colored microfiber towels.

In our experience, linen is more effective at soaking water up than microfiber, with the added advantage of not giving off a synthetic smell when wet. One of the most vital qualities of linen is its ability to dry. It is a natural fiber, yet it dries as fast as polyester.

Linen claims to be antibacterial, but that could be up for debate. However, that is not where the strength of the towel lies. A linen towel is a winner because it is environmentally friendly and looks great.

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Bamboo Towel

Best Travel Towels

Finding a bamboo towel here shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Bamboo is pretty much a super plant with the ability to produce excellent products and has a small environmental footprint to grow. The towel is not as purpose-built as the previous towels, but it is still a great travel towel. It also carries the same great attributes you seek when traveling or backpacking worldwide.

A bamboo towel is lightweight at only 350 grams. It’s soft and feels the best of our three recommended travel towels. Effective at drying, it can absorb up to three times its weight in water. Bamboo is also antibacterial, antifungal, and odor resistant. Due to a natural property of bamboo textiles called “Bamboo Kun,” seriously, it’s a real thing.

The only downside to the bamboo is that it is not as quick-drying as the other two towels above. It is the largest of the three recommended towels. However, it’s our personal favorite due to its price, eco-footprint, and feel.

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What Makes the Best Travel Towel?

We use our towel for all the expected/unexpected/crazy things during world travels. A good beach towel? Check. Want to take a swim while camping? Check. Hostel? Check. Protect your souvenirs? Check. Made a mess? Check. A good towel needs four primary qualities to be well suited to travel.

  • Quick Dry – You’re on the go, and no one wants to stick something wet in their luggage when they’re on the way to catch a flight.
  • Comfortable – This should go without saying, but if it doesn’t feel good against the skin, what’s the point?
  • Anti-microbial – It will be living in your luggage a lot of the time, so it needs to be active in fighting odor. We’ve often had to place our towels in our luggage before dries.
  • Portable – Most importantly, to be one of the best travel towels, the towel needs to be packable and able to travel.

Importance of Traveling Light

Almost everyone is looking to have lighter bags these days because traveling with suitcases, and full wardrobes worth of clothing is old school. We love to have our towel for almost every destination because you never know when you’ll need it. We’ve used our towels on the beaches of Portugal, hot springs of Iceland, and living out of a truck in Africa.

As international travel continues to grow, its time travel products change with them. Light synthetic towels keep up with the modern-day traveler and make their way into any traveler’s style. We always travel with three staple items: a water bottle, a travel towel, a travel camera, and a packable down jacket.

Our Best Travel Towels Round-Up

No matter what option you pick out of these three, you’re sure to be satisfied and stay dry while on the road. Our personal favorites for the best travel towels are eco-friendly towels! If you’re looking for more of our travel recommendations on great products for world travel, click on one of the links below.

Plan For Your Trip

About Cameron Seagle

Cameron Seagle is one of the principal writers and photographers for The World Pursuit. He is a travel expert that has been traveling the world for the past decade. During this time, he established a passion for conservation and environmental sustainability. When not traveling, he's obsessed with finding the best gear and travel products. In his free time, you can find him hiking, mountain biking, mountaineering, and snowboarding. His favorite countries are Scotland, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Italy, and Japan.

You can learn more about Cameron on The World Pursuit About Us Page.

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