Choosing the best towel for travel can be a difficult task. There are so many options, materials, and brands, it’s often hard to narrow them down.
Plus there are multiple functions you may need your travel towel to perform.
Whether it’s intended for lazy days on the beach or taxing yoga sessions. For a camping trip or simply to dry yourself each morning after a shower. One thing’s for sure, your travel towel is gonna have to work hard.
Sure, it would be lovely to travel with a big fluffy bath towel. But nobody wants one of those taking up their valuable baggage space.
So the best option is to find a top quality lightweight travel towel. One that feels and performs like a regular towel, but takes up a fraction of the space and weighs next to nothing.
This guide will help you to find the best quick dry travel towel to suit your exact needs.
Short on time? Click here to go straight to the best towel for travel overall.
Spoiler alert, it’s the Youphoria Microfiber Quick Dry Travel Towel which is an awesome all rounder. But if you’re not in a rush, read on as we run down how to choose the best towel for travel.
What Makes a Great Towel for Travel?
The best travel towel will not be the same for each and every person. But there are some qualities that all the best travel towels have in common.
So what makes a great travel towel? There are 6 main considerations:
How Much Your Travel Towel Weighs
No one wants to be lugging a massive fluffy bath towel around that weighs a tonne. Whether it’s a short vacay or a long backpacking trip, packing light is always a great idea.
Avoid wasting valuable space, and potentially money on excess baggage fees, by opting for a lightweight travel towel.
How Absorbent Your Travel Towel Is
Just because it needs to be small and lightweight, that doesn’t mean you should have to sacrifice performance.
The best towels for travel are super absorbent and perform at the same level as regular towels, if not better. How much water they suck up is a key indicator of this.
How Quickly Your Travel Towel Dries
When you’re on the move, the last thing you want is to be hanging around waiting for your towel to dry.
The best travel towels dry in an extremely short space of time. This means you don’t have to worry about them going mouldy in your bag, you can always pack them dry.
How Big Your Travel Towel Is
Just because it needs to be portable, that doesn’t mean you should end up with a comically small travel towel.
If it doesn’t cover your bits in the same way a regular towel would then it’s just not good enough. The best towel for travel should be large enough to wrap around you, but still pack down into a compact package.
How Your Travel Towel Feels
Having the best towel for travel should mean that it not only performs well, but also feels great.
No one wants to get dry with something that’s scratchy and uncomfortable on their skin. A great travel towel should feel like a warm hug from a loved one every time you use it.
What Extra Details Your Travel Towel Features
You’d be forgiven for thinking that a towel should simply be a rectangle of material. But you’d be very wrong.
The best towels for travel have awesome features made for purpose. A handy bag to store it in, a nifty loop to hang it with, a second smaller towel for your hair. These little added extras are what separate a decent travel towel from the best travel towels.
What’s the Best Material for a Travel Towel?
The secret to finding the best travel towel is narrowing down what will be the ideal one for your specific requirements. What material it’s made from will play a big role in this.
When it comes to picking the best towel for travel, people often think that there’s only one material worth considering. At the top of the pile always seem to be microfiber travel towels.
However, there are actually a few other materials worth thinking about depending on what you’re planning on using it for.
Here we’ll run down the most popular materials used to make the best towels for travel:
Microfiber Travel Towels
Now there are a few good reasons that microfiber travel towels are the most popular on the market.
Firstly they are lightweight, and particularly when you’re backpacking, weight is a big consideration.
Secondly microfiber travel towels dry extremely quickly, often in as little as 30 minutes.
Thirdly, microfiber towels are extremely absorbent. The reason for this is that they’re made up of tiny little, well, microfibers obvs.
This means they have a much larger surface area than most other materials. And because of this they can hold up to 7 times their own weight in water.
As a bonus many microfiber towels are antibacterial. So they don’t get that wet dog smell that towels can often end up with.
Microfiber towels do take some getting used to though. They require a different motion to when drying yourself with a regular towel – more of a patting than a rubbing.
Because of this, some people don’t actually like them the first time they use them. However, they’re highly effective and you quickly adjust to the different drying tekkers.
Cotton Travel Towels
We all know what cotton feels like as it’s what many clothes are made out of as well as bedsheets. But it may surprise you to find out that you can also get kickass cotton travel towels.
As a material cotton is extremely soft meaning it’s easy going on your skin.
It’s also really thin which means a cotton travel towel will fold down into a tiny space.
Plus cotton travel towels are also extremely durable. Much like cotton clothes, cotton travel towels tend to get better and softer the more you use them.
Because cotton is also a common clothing material, it means your cotton travel towel is extremely versatile. You can transform it into a sarong or a beach dress in a flash and they make fantastic beach towels.
They are super absorbent, although perhaps not quite as much as microfiber towels. However, many people prefer the feel of cotton against their skin over microfiber.
Compared to a traditional towel they dry quickly, although not as fast as many of the other materials available.
Bamboo Travel Towels
Before you start thinking we’ve gone absolutely bonkers, bamboo is the hottest new material on the travel scene. That’s right, those gnarly shoots can be transformed into a wonderful fiber with lots of incredible properties.
Bamboo travel towels actually have better absorbent properties than many microfiber towels making them a very credible alternative.
Bamboo material also has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties meaning you won’t be burdened with an offensive funky smell. Even if you neglect to wash your travel towel for a few weeks…
Bamboo is regarded as one of the most ethical materials out there as well, since it’s both sustainable and eco-friendly. So for the conscientious traveler a bamboo travel towel is probably the way to go.
Bamboo is lightweight, but the material doesn’t fold down as well as some of the others featured here. However, they’re still not going to take up a huge amount of space so this can easily be overlooked.
Linen Travel Towels
Linen travel towels are pretty similar to cotton ones in many respects.
Linen is an old, traditional, natural textile. Often used to make clothing, it can double as a sarong, beach dress, or beach towel.
However, linen actually outperforms cotton in a number of key areas.
Unbelievably, linen is actually stronger and more durable than cotton meaning your linen travel towel could literally last a lifetime.
It’s also slightly more absorbent than cotton soaking up around 20% more water.
Crucially, linen is naturally antibacterial. This means it’s less likely to build up a stench no matter how long you go between washes.
That said, some people don’t like the slightly scratchy feel that some linens can have on their skin. However, after a few washes this will completely disappear so it’s worth persevering.
Here are the Best Towels for Travel 2019:
Best Towel for Travel Overall
The Youphoria Microfiber Quick Dry Towel is the best towel for travel overall for a number of great reasons.
It’s made from unbelievably soft, extremely high quality microfiber material. This means you get all of the comfort and luxury you could want from a travel towel as it’s soft on your skin.
The Youphoria towel is super absorbent sucking up an incredible 5 times its weight in water. So no matter how wet you get, it’s able to do the job.
There’s a handy snap loop to hang it up, plus a mesh carry bag perfect for storing it between uses.
The Youphoria travel towel comes in 3 different sizes perfect for any occasion. The medium one is about the size of a regular bath towel, with the two other sizes slightly smaller an slightly larger.
The smallest size is great if you’re short on space. The medium towel is perfect for everyday use. The large version works great as a beach or pool towel.
Not only is this the best microfiber towel for travel but it’s the best travel towel overall.
Best All Round Travel Towel: Youphoria Microfiber Quick Dry Towel
Best Yoga Towel for Travel
If you’re a yoga enthusiast then it’s quite likely you’ll want to carry on practicing while you’re away. However, schlepping a full sized yoga mat around with you just isn’t practical.
So what’s the solution? Bag yourself a lightweight travel towel that can also double as a yoga mat.
The Yoga Jaci is the ideal answer, here’s why.
It’s made from top quality microfiber material that’s super absorbent. This means no matter how much you’re sweating, it’s gonna just soak it up.
The Yoga Jaci also a bit thicker than many microfiber towels giving you a surprising level of cushioning. Essential for when you’re downward dogging on a hard tile or wood floor.
Crucially, this travel towel is also non slip. So regardless of whether you’re outdoors or in a hot, sticky yoga studio, rest assured it ain’t going nowhere.
You can also choose a package that combines the regular yoga towel with a useful hand towel.
All of this means the Yoga Jaci is easily the best yoga towel on the market.
Best Yoga Towel: Yoga Jaci
Best Lightweight Travel Towel
While all of the best towels for travel are lightweight, some are smaller than others. If you’re super short on space then you’re going to want to opt for something tiny.
The 4monster Microfiber Towel comes in 3 sizes, the smaller two of which are really compact. Here’s why they’re the best lightweight travel towel.
Be aware that the smallest size won’t be big enough to wrap around you. However, it’s more than capable of drying you if you use it to towel yourself down.
The 4monster Microfiber Towels also come with handy absorbent travel cases. So you can pack them down into the case even if they’re still damp and they’ll continue to dry out.
If space and weight is your primary concern then we’d suggest opting for one of these.
Best Lightweight Towel: 4monster Microfiber
Best Extra Large Microfiber Towel
If you need something slightly larger for whatever reason, you’re gonna want to go for an extra large microfiber towel.
This Rainleaf Microfiber Towel comes in an incredible 6 sizes, the largest measuring a whopping 40 x 72 inches. If you’re after a BIG travel towel, this is the one to go for.
It also makes it a great towel to double as a beach mat, and has a handy zippable pocket to keep your valuables safe.
Despite its giant size, because it’s made from microfiber material, it still folds down pretty small.
It comes with a hanging loop and a mesh carry case for your convenience.
Best Extra Large Microfiber Towel: Rainleaf
Best Travel Beach Towel
If you’re a bit of a beach bum then picking a towel that will also look great on the sand is a must.
These Dock & Bay beauties come in lots of funky, brightly coloured striped designs. Not only will you never lose your towel but you’ll also look the part while you’re kicking back in the sun.
But more than just looking great, these travel beach towels have some nifty features that are perfect for the beach.
Dock & Bay beach towels are sand free so you can say goodbye to arriving home with half the beach rolled up in your gear. The sand literally just shakes right off them.
They’re also a quick dry beach towel and dry after just a few minutes in the sun thanks to being made from microfiber. Plus they have their own drawstring carry pouches for when it’s time to up and go.
Best Travel Beach Towel: Dock & Bay
Best Linen Travel Towel
If you’ve set your mind on something other than a microfiber travel towel and you’re a fan of linen then this is the towel for you.
This Green Foster Flax Linen towel feels great on your skin and is certainly a luxurious way to get dry.
It also folds down into an extremely thin package for when you’re on the move.
Additionally this can be used as a makeshift piece of clothing. You can turn it into a shawl or sarong and thanks to the fabric it still looks awesome.
Best Linen Travel Towel: Green Foster Flax Linen
Best Bamboo Towel for Travel
Bamboo is the latest new wonder-material when it comes to travel gear.
Its secret lies in the fact that it performs unbelievably well in all circumstances.
In clothes it keeps you cool in the heat and warm in the cold. On top of this, it’s naturally antimicrobial meaning it doesn’t smell.
It’s also got fantastic wicking properties which mean it soaks up loads of water. Just one of the reasons it’s a perfect material to make travel towels out of.
This Secret Sea Collection number is both stylish and practical sucking up around 60% more moisture than cotton. And they take up much less space in your baggage.
Best Bamboo Travel Towel: Secret Sea Collection
Best Cotton Towel for Travel
Turkish cotton towels have a fantastic reputation in general but are also a great choice for a travel towel.
Soft, stylish, and colourful, these Nature is Gift towels are a multi-functional choice for your travel bag.
They can double as an item of clothing or a picnic blanket for a trip to the park or the beach.
But when it comes to using them as an actual towel, you’ll be more than pleased. They soak up plenty of water, dry fast, and fold down into a compact package.
These bad boys come in a huge range of stylish colors so you’re only trouble will be picking your favourite.
Best Cotton Travel Towel: Nature is Gift Turkish Cotton
There really is a great travel towel out there for every kind of traveler. Regardless of what type of travels you’re undertaking, it’s essential that you pack one in your bag. If you still have questions about which one is best for you, shoot us a line down below in the comments.
Looking for more travel gear? Check out our travel gear page here to find out exactly what’s in our backpacks and what essentials to take with you on your trip.
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Travel lover, professional writer and football (soccer) obsessive, James loves nothing more than getting outside and exploring little known corners of the globe. He’s also very partial to a drop of Guinness.