The Best Camping Towels of 2024, Tested and Reviewed

Stay comfortable and dry with these packable, quick drying towels
We tested the best camping towels.

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Forgetting to pack a towel is an easy and upsetting mistake to make while camping. Whether you’re hitting a camp shower or jumping in a lake, you’ll be highly disappointed when you have to air dry as a chill sets in and mosquitos take advantage of your vulnerable state. Though, it’s arguably worse to whip out a perpetually damp beach towel that attracts dirt and develops a musky smell by the second day. That’s why I tested some of the best camping towels on the market to find out which ones actually absorb moisture, dry in a timely fashion, clean up easy, and pack down small.

How I Tested the Best Camping Towels

The best camping towels are supposed to dry quickly, yet that is the antithesis of the sole job of a towel: to absorb moisture. So I did a controlled test to see how absorbent these towels actually are by pouring ¼ cup of water on my tile kitchen floor then lightly throwing the towel on top of it. I waited for 20 seconds and pulled it off to see how much it had soaked up. 

Later, I used the towels to dry my arms and noted how well they did the job, how they felt on my skin, and roughly how long they took to dry. Then, I used them to clean up my mid-ski season car trunk which is wet, muddy, and honestly pretty gross to see how they stood up to dirt and stains. I also added a normal beach towel to my tests as a control, and as expected, it was the last to dry and completely stained. All of the towels on this list are machine washable, because who has time to hand wash a camping towel?

Best Camping Towels: Reviews & Recommendations

Best for Car Camping: Rumpl Everywhere Towel

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Key Features

  • Size: 29.5 x 72 inches
  • Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Material: Polyester antimicrobial microsuede
  • Buckle closure hanging loop

Pros

  • Very absorbent
  • Dries fairly quickly
  • Stain resistant
  • Antimicrobial

Cons

  • Too large and heavy for backpacking

The Everywhere towel is highly absorbent. It soaked up the entire quarter cup of water that I dumped on the floor in 20 seconds. While it doesn’t dry as quickly as some of the less absorbent towels on this list, it was certainly faster than a beach towel and easily beat the Sand Cloud. It’s also true to its stain-resistant claims. After a quick shake out and a couple swats of my hand, most of the mud fell away and it still smells fresh. That’s the beauty of the best microfiber towels, as they dry, the dirt tends to loosen up and fall off, with no long fibers to cling to. And the anti-microbial finish is certainly working.

The microsuede is soft to the touch and feels good on my skin. This is great for car camping when you want a quick-dry, packable towel but don’t want to sacrifice on absorbency and skin-feel. Rumpl’s Everywhere towels only come in one size, and it’s a great beach towel size, but too large and heavy to carry on a backpacking trip.

Most Versatile: PackTowl UltraLite Towel

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 10 x 14 inches (face), 16.5 x 36 inches (hand), 25 x 54 inches (body), 36 x 59 inches (beach)
  • Weight: 3.4 ounces (body)
  • Materials: 70 percent polyester, 30 percent nylon
  • Snap closure hanging loop

Pros

  • Dries quickly
  • Good skin feel
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not the most absorbent
  • No antimicrobial properties

PackTowl’s UltraLite towel did leave about half of the water on the floor during my absorbency test, but it dried my arm just fine. You have to assist this towel with pressure and motion to effectively dry off. But the towel itself dries very quickly and feels good on the skin. 

The PackTowl didn't absorb the entire quarter cup of water in 20 seconds.
The PackTowl didn’t absorb the entire quarter cup of water in 20 seconds. Ashley Thess

I love how lightweight this towel is for backpacking, and I’ve even packed the full beach size before at 5.1 ounces. It was well worth the marginal weight in my opinion. I was hiking to an alpine lake where I used the towel to sit on top of by the water and dry off after swimming. Actually, it is so large that I also used it as a swimsuit cover-up until the sun started to go down.

While this towel doesn’t have any antimicrobial properties, it doesn’t stain easily and dirt just falls off of it. This towel didn’t stain at all in the car trunk test, which makes it versatile enough to use anywhere: camp kitchen, after swimming, or on a run. The extremely small packed size, quick dry, and good skin feel makes this a great option for backpackers, campers, and travelers.

Best for Backpacking: Sea to Summit Pocket Towel

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 32 x 16 inches (small), 20 x 40 inches (medium), 24 x 48 inches (large), 30 x 60 inches (extra large)
  • Weight: 3.9 ounces (large)
  • Material: 100 percent recycled polyester microfiber
  • Snap closure hanging loop
  • Includes zippered soft case

Pros

  • Very absorbent
  • Dries very quickly
  • Best skin feel
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No antimicrobial properties
  • Not stain resistant

While the Sea to Summit pocket towel left a small amount of water on the floor after 20 seconds, it absorbed most of it. And it was easy to dry off my skin. Most importantly, it feels incredible. This towel is soft, like a hug. I’d be thrilled to wrap up in it after using one of the best camp showers. It also dries shockingly fast, and Sea to Summit says it is their fastest drying towel.

The Sea to Summit pocket towel absorbed the entire quarter cup of water in 20 seconds.
The Sea to Summit pocket towel absorbed the entire quarter cup of water in 20 seconds. Ashley Thess

It’s a touch heavier than the PackTowl with Sea to Summit’s large pocket towel coming in at 3.9 ounces, while PackTowl’s slightly larger UltraLite body size is 3.4 ounces. However, because it’s more absorbent than the PackTowl, the pocket towel is better for backpacking because you can get away with using a smaller towel. And I think the skin feel is worth an extra couple ounces if you plan to be near water while in the backcountry. I also like that the pocket towel comes with a carrying case; the size medium’s case weighs 0.9 ounce.

Likely due to its soft texture and stellar absorbency, this towel did stain pretty heavily after using it to clean out my trunk, and it doesn’t have any antimicrobial properties to protect against smell.

Best Beach Towel: Sand Cloud Beach Towel

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 38 x 64 inches (regular), 51 x 68 inches (large), 72 x 76 inches (extra large)
  • Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Material: 100 percent Turkish organic cotton

Pros

  • Absorbent
  • Great skin feel
  • Packable

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Doesn’t dry as quickly
  • No antimicrobial properties

This trendy beach towel is marketed as softer, stronger, and more absorbent than traditional cotton. I’ve used and abused this towel for four years and it’s holding up impeccably. It feels great on my skin and it is super absorbent, though I wouldn’t say it’s more absorbent than a normal towel. This is the best beach towel to bring camping because it’s slimmer than a normal towel, dries faster, and is easily cleaned. You can shake off most sand and dirt, and in the car trunk cleaning test, it had very minimal staining. 

This towel is heavier and dries slower than the microfiber and synthetic options on this list, but it’s miles better than a normal beach towel. I travel and car camp with this towel frequently because of how comfortable and stowable it is. 

Matador Ultralight Travel Towel

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 47 x 24 inches (large), 15 x 15 inches (small)
  • Weight: 2.9 ounces (large)
  • Material: Nanofiber
  • Buckle closure hanging loop
  • Included mesh storage bag

Pros

  • Very absorbent
  • Dries very quickly
  • Ultralight

Cons

  • No antimicrobial properties
  • Not a great skin feel
The Matador ultralight travel towel has an abrasive triangular-cut edge.
The Matador ultralight travel towel has an abrasive triangular-cut edge. Ashley Thess

The ultrathin and lightweight Matador travel towel surprised me when it effortlessly absorbed all the water on my absorbency test. And it dries extremely fast. When I dried my arms off, the Matador felt dry to the touch just minutes later. The absorbency and drying capabilities are great, but the feeling on your skin is less than appealing. The edges have a triangular cut that also feels abrasive. And phew! It certainly smells like the inside of my ski boots after wiping out my trunk. But the dirt brushed right off and there was no staining. This is a great back up towel for traveling or to keep in your car, but I wouldn’t rely on this one for a camping trip.

Read Next: Best Travel Backpacks

Sea to Summit Drylite Towel

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Key Features

  • Sizes: 16 x 32 inches (small), 20 x 39 inches (medium), 24 x 47 inches (large), 30 x 59 inches (extra large), 34 x 67 inches (XXL)
  • Weight: 5.1 ounces (large)
  • Materials: 80 percent recycled polyester, 20 percent nylon microfiber
  • Snap closure hanging loop

Pros

  • Good skin feel
  • Dries quickly

Cons

  • Not very absorbent
  • No antimicrobial properties
  • Not stain resistant

The Drylite towel from Sea to Summit left a lot of water on the floor, similar to the PackTowl’s performance in the absorbency test. It dried my arms fine, but didn’t efficiently absorb the ¼ cup of water passively. It has a good skin feel, and the fabric has some heft to it. There are lighter options for backpacking, but this would make a good car camping towel. It dries quickly, but doesn’t resist smells or stains.

Things to Consider Before Buying the Best Towel for Camping

Balance your desired size and weight with how absorbent the towel is.
Balance your desired size and weight with how absorbent the towel is. Ashley Thess

Absorbency

Unfortunately, not all microfiber towels are capable of really the only job a towel has, absorbing moisture. I made note of the most and least absorbent towels on this list. While all of them are capable of drying you off and don’t just move water around, balance this crucial function with your other priorities.

Dry Time

While your conditions, location, and frequency of use will affect the dry time of your camping towel, all of the options on this list dry faster than a standard beach towel; in most cases, much faster. 

Size (and Weight)

Part of the beauty of a camping towel is that it takes up less space in your car. If you’re backpacking, weight is a huge factor. Luckily there are some great lightweight options on this list, regardless of what size you’re looking for.

FAQs

Q: Are microfiber towels worth it for camping?

Microfiber towels are lighter and dry much faster than standard towels, but they can have a less than appealing texture and less absorbency. However, there are microfiber towels on this list that are doing it right, and if you’re short on space or drying time, it’s worth the switch.

Q: How long does it take for the best camping towels to dry?

Dry times will vary depending on your conditions, location, and frequency of use, but after the absorbency test, the fastest options were dry in a few hours just hung up in my house. Keep in mind this is from thoroughly soaking the center through with water, not rub drying after a dip.

Q: What size camping towel do I need?

If you want your towel to completely wrap around you, you’ll want to get the beach sized towels. The bath sized towels are large enough to dry off and sit on, but won’t cover your entire body at once. The smaller towels are sufficient for washing your face, wiping condensation off your tent, drying your hair, or patting down after a swim.

Final Thoughts

Don’t resort to a musty beach towel while camping; a soft and dry towel is one of those creature comforts that is worth it every time. Whether you’re car camping, traveling, or backpacking one of the best camping towels on this list will fit your needs. 

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