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best pack towel?
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Amy Bithiah
(plantedbystreams) - F
best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 13:40:05 MST Print View

What is the best lightweight packtowel you've used?

(MSR... Rick Steve's... etc.)

Factors to consider:

-- Weight
-- Absorbability
-- Softness on skin
-- Drying time

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 13:45:16 MST Print View

Italian hanky -- my shirt sleeve :) or most often my bandanna, which I can use for other things. Also a HandiWipe works great, but I can't find the original style anymore, just the heavier heavy duty ones. I tried the pack towels a long time ago, but they were kind of bulky and heavy.

Steve Gaioni
(sgaioni) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
MSR Packtowel on 02/02/2012 13:53:28 MST Print View

Compared to many of the towels I've tried, I've found the MSR Packtowel Ultralite to be excellent in all four of your listed attributes and it improves for the last three with each washing. I'll scrub-up with a bandana...then dry with the ultralite. I like the medium size and consider it one of my "luxuries" on the trail. You can also trim these to size, buying a large or medium and cutting it in half.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Wal-Mart on 02/02/2012 14:33:52 MST Print View

Also if you go to Wal-Mart or an auto parts store they sell cloths for cleaning your car in virtually all the same materials as the expensive REI brand towels they just call them things like 'polishing cloth' or 'detail towels' etc. You can find one to match virtually any of the REI options and they are MUCH MUCH cheaper. I bought some microfiber ones that are the same material as an MSR one I had but I paid I think $29.99 for the MSR and I got three small yellow ones at Wal Mart for $3.99 I think.

Wal-Mart also sells 100% cotton bandannas in the clothing section for a couple bucks for 2 or 3 packs.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 14:50:51 MST Print View

How much water to absorb? An occasional wipe or two? If so, then the world's lightest and most compact towel by far -- and one that's reasonably comfy to the touch -- is the Lightload Towel! Cheap too.

I use the Lightload towel (cut down to size) when hiking. But when traveling where I sometimes give myself a "towel bath" -- I prefer a thin, cotton hand towel. Cotton, you ask? Yes, for its comfort. And the thin ones (which also happen to be the cheapest ones found in Wal Mart) really don't take all that long to dry.

Stephan Doyle
Re: best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 14:55:27 MST Print View

Ultralight Pack Towel from Zpacks. Half an ounce, absorbs lots of water. Dries quickly.

Not as durable as some others, but at $2 each I don't worry. I find that if I'm careful, there aren't any issues (you have to tear them, basically).

Jim W.
(jimqpublic) - MLife

Locale: So-Cal
Pack Towel on 02/02/2012 15:15:03 MST Print View

Seriously, I swiped some from my folks and they're great.

Mostly I use a bandanna or nothing. I don't like to carry a single-use item like a packtowel. Sometimes I use my merino beanie. Mostly when washing myself I also wash my hiking shirt, wring it out, and use it to dry with. Then put on my warmth layer (light fleece). When ready to start hiking again I put on the wet shirt (wrung out again) and walk it dry.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
ShamWow on 02/02/2012 15:22:39 MST Print View

I too use a ShamWow, one of the smallest size ones, it is about the size of a sheet of paper, very light and absorbant.

Ty Ty

Locale: SE US
Sham Wow on 02/02/2012 15:30:30 MST Print View

Hate to keep preaching Wal-Mart but they sell a towel in the car care section made out of that same 'Sham Wow' material for a couple bucks.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Pack Towel on 02/02/2012 15:44:03 MST Print View

"I don't like to carry a single-use item like a packtowel."

If I take a dip in the stream, I use the pack towel to dry off. Then I try to let it dry out before sunset. At night, it becomes part of my sleeping pad. I can also clip it around my neck to use as extra insulation on my back on a cold day.


Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Re: Sham Wow on 02/02/2012 16:21:43 MST Print View

Shamwow 23 x 17 inches = 2.75 oz

cotton bandana 21 x 21 inches = 0.5 oz

You can carry 5 bandanas in different colors for less than 1 Shamwow.

I've used both.The Shamwow does a better job as a body towel, but the bandana beats it hands down everywhere else....and is multi-functional. I carry 2 bandanas; one for the kitchen and 1 for me (headband, hanky, sun screen, wiping down tent, straining big stuff out of water, triangle bandage, etc.)

No comparison!

Edited by wandering_bob on 02/02/2012 16:24:04 MST.

George Geist
(geist) - M

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 18:24:14 MST Print View

> What is the best lightweight packtowel you've used?
> -- Weight
> -- Absorbability
> -- Softness on skin
> -- Drying time

Hi Amy,

I actually did a study on this. Included cotton bandana, a half dozen different types of microfiber cloths including ShamWow. What I found beat all the others by a wide margin in all four of the categories you list was...

HandiWipes (Heavy Duty). And only about $1 a piece.

Not the regular HandiWipe which was good but was closer to cotton bandana in performance. Give the Heavy Duty a try. I think you'll be surprised.
I've even sewn two together to make a bigger towel.

Rob E

Locale: Canada
ShamWow on 02/02/2012 18:45:57 MST Print View

The ShamWow I have is about the size of a piece of paper and lighter than my bandana, works great.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
Re: Re: best pack towel? on 02/02/2012 20:52:01 MST Print View

I just use a generic 12 in by 12 in very thin microfiber towel. Very thin, around an ounce. I find it works better than cotton. I picked it up at the dollar store

Bret Barel
(bretb) - F
Costco microfiber no good on 03/15/2015 06:48:58 MDT Print View

Thought I'd use microfibre towels we got at Costco, but I don't like these at all. I've not had this sensation with any other fabric, but I can feel the fibers "catching" my skin almost like fiberglass. Very uncomfortable almost as bad as fingernails on a chalk board. I think these are going back.

Edited by bretb on 03/15/2015 06:50:38 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Costco microfiber no good on 03/15/2015 09:47:09 MDT Print View

I'm headed for Nepal soon (dayhiking) and will try Ben's cotton hand towel, measuring about 15" x 26", 3.5 oz. May bring my backup Walmart towel too.

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Sham Wow on 03/15/2015 10:25:14 MDT Print View


Where are yu finding cotton bandanas that weigh 0.5oz? I'd love to know, as the 21x21 ones sold at REI are 1.2oz.


Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Re: Costco microfiber no good on 03/15/2015 10:37:19 MDT Print View

I like the Packtowel Ultra at REI:


Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: best pack towel?" on 03/15/2015 10:56:01 MDT Print View

I have been using standard HandiWipes for several years. I can get 6 months of use out of each towel. They dry within minutes in the sun and weigh about .2 oz each. For a buck or two I would encourage you to try them out for yourself.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: RE: best pack towel?" on 03/15/2015 11:12:21 MDT Print View

Handi wipes are for house cleaning; not for your body.
Clorox is a toxic and corrosive chemical

just sayin....