Best Backpacking Towel: What You Need to Stay Dry

Best backpacking towels
Written by Rita Warfield

If you’re out backpacking you’ll generally find that you get a little bit warm or that you need to take a shower. Maybe you get stuck in a rain storm and you get a little too wet for your own comfort.

If any of these things happen you’re going to need a towel, but you’re going to want something that works well for any conditions and won’t bog you down when you need to pack it up and store it somewhere.

The best thing you can do is look at a towel that is super absorbent but not that large. The best backpacking towel is going to combine this and more.

Looking for the Best

When you start looking for a backpacking towel you want to make sure that the towel you choose is going to work for your needs. That means cataloging what your needs really are before you even head out or get started.

Man with towel on neck

A towel may seem like a pretty straightforward thing for you to buy, but if you’ve ever walked into a regular home good store you know just how many options there are. When it comes to a backpacking towel there’s just as many choices.


Just like everything else that you have for your backpacking adventures, your towel needs to be lightweight. You don’t want it to add too much to your overall backpack, after all and a lightweight towel can still be just as effective as a heavier one.

The key is looking for something between 1 ounce and 12 ounces, depending on what size towel you’re actually hoping to get (but that’s going to be its own section too). A lot of towels won’t advertise the weight, which means you’ll need to do a little bit of digging on your own.

Young woman hiking with backpack


Are you looking for a large towel that is going to work for your next shower or do you want something that is smaller and lets you dry off a little at a time or get rid of sweat? You’ll need to think about this before you pick out your next towel and you’ll also need to consider the amount of space your towel takes up when it’s folded.

Just because it’s large when you unfold it doesn’t mean it’s going to be the same when folded. Some towels can be folded up quite small.


Check out just how absorbent the towel that you’re getting really is. If it’s able to absorb only as much as a standard towel it’s going to be okay, but it’s not really ideal for your backpacking trip.

Rather, you want to look for something that can absorb up to 5x as much water as it actually weighs. You’re not generally going to find these types of towels in the home good section at your local store. Instead, you want to look at exercise stores and outdoorsy places that might have more options for you.

Man with a towel in his hands

Drying Time

No one wants to spend all of their backpacking time waiting around for their stuff to dry out and you don’t want to pack up your back with a wet towel in it.

That means on top of being super absorbent, your towel needs to be quick drying. That’s another feature you’ll find more commonly with sports towels from sporty and outdoorsy stores rather than home goods stores.

Pay attention to how long your towel should be able to dry in and then monitor it for yourself before you take it out on that next trip. You don’t want to be stuck at camp waiting for it to dry out before you can head out.

Fabric Material

What is your towel actually made of? If it’s made with traditional cotton you’re definitely going to want it to dry completely before you move on because it can easily mold. If it’s made with anti-bacterial materials, however, you’ll have fewer problems with this.

Blue towel

It’s important that you look at the material and try to get something that’s anti-bacterial or even hypoallergenic rather than a standard towel. This will keep you cleaner and healthier because you won’t have to worry about what’s growing on your towel.

Wash & Dry

How are you supposed to wash and dry your towel? Can they be put in the regular washing machine and dryer? Do they need to be washed a certain way or does it need to air dry? You want to know all of this just like you do with the clothes that you buy.

Keeping track of washing instructions is going to save you time and it’s going to save you money since you won’t have to constantly replace the towel because you didn’t wash or dry it the right way.

Carrying Ability

Some towels will actually come with their own carrying case or bag so you can fold them up and store them when they’re wet (as long as you take it back out again when you stop somewhere). These can be more convenient and make it easier to keep track of your towel when you need it.

Towels with carrying case

You won’t need to dig through your entire bag to find it because it will be right in its own carrying case every time you want to find it. This can make it a lot easier to dry off and get back moving when the rain comes down.

Top Towels Around

Sunland Microfiber Towel

Sunland Microfiber Towel

Dimensions: 12” x 24” to 40” x 72”

Weight: 1.69 oz. to 14.46 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features: Microfiber, super quick dry, includes carrying case

Best Use: Mild-moderate sweating, rain or other moisture

Available in eight different colors, the Sunland Microfiber Towel also comes in 4 different sizes as well as a couple two pack options. It even comes with its own hook and little carrying bag to make it easier to hold onto or hang up when you’re using it.

Designed to allow you more than one use in a single day, this towel is lightweight, soaks up a whole lot of water, and feels super soft on your skin.

The microfiber material makes this great for getting caught in the rain, taking a shower or completing a strenuous exercise program. It works for more than just your skin as well and will actually dry out your hair and then dry itself super-fast so you’re ready for whatever you have planned for the rest of your day. It can be machine washed and tumble dried.

Check the price on Amazon

Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters

Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters

Dimensions: 4’ x 2’ to 5’ x 2 ½’

Weight:  6.8 oz. to 10.8 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features:Free hand towel included, two sizes available, three colors available, microfiber, quick dry

Best Use: Mild-moderate sweating, rain or other moisture

Designed as a camping towel, the Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters actually comes with two towels packaged together. You can choose between three different colors and two different sizes but you’ll get the hand towel for free with either one.

That’s definitely going to make it easier for you to be prepared for anything. Not only that but these towels are super soft and super absorbent to soak up anything and you’ll be able to dry them out quickly. Not only that but they’re going to offer a 100% money back guarantee to go along with them so you will definitely love what you’re getting.

There’s a super-easy loop right on the towel so it can be hung up when you’re taking a shower, working out at the gym or waiting for it to dry and it can be used for just about anything.

Check the price on Amazon

Enkeeo Microfiber Travel Towel

Enkeeo Microfiber Travel Towel


Dimensions:24” x 12”

Weight: 0.16 lbs.

Specific Features:Small, lightweight, no color bleeding, microfiber material

Best Use: Minor-mild sweating, rain and moisture

With the Enkeeo Microfiber Travel Towel you only get one size option but two different color options. It’s a smaller towel because it’s meant to be ideal for packing up small and using while you’re at the gym or hiking rather than taking a shower. Still, it’s extremely fast drying and feels soft and smooth on your skin because it’s made with high-quality microfiber.

Machine washable, this towel has a snap loop built right in so it can be hung up wherever you are and it’s lightweight. Even better, it folds up small into its own bag so you don’t have to worry about packing or moisture getting into anything else you’re taking. All you have to do is attach the bag to the outside of your pack and you’re ready to go.

Check the price on Amazon

Fox Outfitters Ultrasoft MicroDry Towel

Fox Outfitters Ultrasoft MicroDry Towel

Dimensions:12” x 24” to 30” x 60”

Weight: 0.15 lbs. + (depending on size)

Specific Features: Five size options, three color options, microfiber suede material, durable material

Best Use: Mild-high sweating, rain and moisture depending on towel size

With the Fox Outfitters Ultrasoft MicroDry Towel you’re going to have a choice between five different sizes and three different colors that match your needs and your style.

Microfiber suede material is super soft to your skin and it’s going to absorb a whole lot more than your average towel. It’s able to absorb up to 4 times its weight in water and won’t give you any kind of lint while you’re at it.

Even better, it’s able to hold more than just water and will even take in dirt and dust, which is important when you’re hiking the trails. It’s made with poly and nylon, which makes it tougher than other towels even though it’s lightweight. There’s also a loop directly on the towel and a small sack included to carry it in.

Check the price on Amazon

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

Sea to Summit DryLite Towel

Dimensions: 12” x 24” to 30” x 60”

Weight: 1.4 oz. to 10.4 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features: Five size options, five color options, microfiber suede material, silver ion coated

Best Use: Mild-heavy sweating, rain and moisture depending on size

Choose your favorite of five sizes and five colors in the Sea to Summit DryLite Towel. Made with microfiber suede, this towel is soft and will absorb a whole lot more than its own weight. It’s also coated with silver ion to make sure that you don’t have to worry about bacteria growing on your damp towel. It also means that you won’t have to worry about any kind of germs or even smell when you throw this towel in your pack.

But just in case you’re still a little concerned, you’re also going to get a mesh bag to go along with it. When you’re ready to use this towel just pull it out of the sack and when you’re done it folds up small and stays lightweight, even when you use it.

Check the price on Amazon

Packtowl Personal Packtowl

Packtowl Personal Packtowl

Dimensions:10” x 14” to 36” x 59”

Weight: 0.7 oz. to 9.7 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features: Five size options, five color options, durable material, antimicrobial

Best Use: Mild-heavy sweating, rain and moisture depending on size

The Packtowl Personal Packtowl is designed in five different sizes and colors so you get to choose exactly what you’re looking for. Each one is designed for a different use, such as the face, body or even as a beach towel, but of course, they’re going to be ideal for any use you may need and that includes heading out on your next backpacking trip.

Each is made with antimicrobial polyester and nylon to make sure it’s strong enough to withstand anything you come across on your next trip and it can absorb up to 4 times its own weight in water. It’s also extremely soft so you won’t mind using it all over your body. When you’re done, it dries 70% faster than a cotton towel and it stays odor free.

Complete with a loop for hanging and its own carrying case, this towel is one you’ll want to have with you.

Check the price on Amazon

Microfiber Towel by Rainleaf

Microfiber Towel by Rainleaf

Dimensions: 12” x 24” to 40” x 72”

Weight:2.1 oz. to 13.8 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features: Six size options, six color options, gift options, antibacterial, waterproof bag

Best Use: Mild-heavy sweating, rain and moisture depending on size

Six different sizes mean that you can do just about anything with the Microfiber Towel by Rainleaf. Available in six colors for personal use or six colors with gift packaging available, this super-fast drying towel is absorbent and able to be used more than once in a day. It is antibacterial to keep from developing mildew and germs and super lightweight to make sure you can take it with you anywhere.

The carry bag that it comes with is waterproof so it can easily keep your other stuff dry while you take your towel with you and you can hang it up easily with the snap loop attached. A lifetime warranty definitely lets you know you can trust this towel.

Check the price on Amazon

Zero Grid Travel Towel

Zero Grid Travel Towel

Dimensions:30” x 60”

Weight:11.6 oz.

Specific Features: Two towels included, two color options, 10x drying speed, 5x smaller

Best Use: Mild-Moderate sweat, rain and moisture

Two different color options mean you get to make your own choice about preference with the Zero Grid Travel Towel. It’s super absorbent and made with microfiber to make sure it dries super-fast, up to 10 times faster than your regular towel. It’s also up to 5 times smaller than that regular towel and comes with a money-back guarantee that lasts for a lifetime.

If you’re not sure how you’re going to carry it that’s not a problem anymore because it has its own travel pouch and carabiner to make things easier on you. Each pack comes with a body towel and a hand towel so you’re ready for anything, whether it’s a shower or a little bit of sweat.

Check the price on Amazon

Wild Wolf Outfitters Towel

Wild Wolf Outfitters Towel

Dimensions:12” x 24” to 30” x 60”

Weight: 1.5 oz. to 8.8 oz. (depending on size)

Specific Features: Three size options, easy carrying case, super-fast drying

Best Use: Mild-moderate sweat, rain and moisture, short drying time needed.

Choose between three different sizes of towels or a three-pack that will get you one of everything so you’re ready. Super lightweight, The Wild Wolf Outfitters towels are 8 times more compact than a standard towel and 75% less weight. They’re also guaranteed to be completely dry in just 1 ½ hours after being soaking wet, which is definitely a benefit.

Every towel is packaged individually in a mesh bag to keep it compact and ready for the next use and each one has a carabiner so it’s easier to get ahold of and keep track of. Lightweight and ready for anything, these towels are definitely going to keep you dry and comfortable with the soft material and perfect size.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping it Up

All-in-all, each of these towels is going to make things easier for you while you’re on the trail. Make sure that you’re considering each one and then choosing something that will really do the most for you without having to purchase extra.

Backpacking towels

For example, one towel that can do multiple things for you and fulfill more than one need is definitely going to be a better way to spend your money, right?

Do you have a towel that you like best that wasn’t included here? How about a specific feature that you look for that we didn’t mention? We definitely want to know.


Rita Warfield

Fully passionate about the outdoors and totally committed to a life of exploration and learning, Rita is the perfect guide when it comes to choosing the right gear for your adventures. She gathered years of practical experience in testing her survival skills and knowledge in a wide range of difficult situations but she is also a passionate mountain climber. Even more, Rita loves hunting, she knows her way around a weapon, and she doesn’t back off in a difficult situation.