How to choose the best camping towel in 6 easy steps
Updated: Mar 28, 2021
You like to play outside. Take your tent, or your camper somewhere quiet and beautiful, fill your lungs with fresh clean air and let your eyes rest on trees, sky, mountains, water. Chances are, you're not going to be overly obsessive about showering, but you might want to clean up occasionally. Or, better yet, you'll get to play in water -- a lake, or a stream, or the ocean. Maybe you'll get muddy and sweaty on a hike and will want to rinse off. Whatever your outdoor pleasure, you will need to bring along a good camping towel.
So how do you choose the best camping towel? There are a few things to consider, and this handy 6-step guide will walk you through the various qualities that make for an awesome camping towel.
1. The best camping towel should pack up compact and light
Your camping towel should be lightweight and easy to pack, not take up too much space. After all, you gotta lug it around along with all your other camping gear and supplies. Space is limited whether you're packing all your stuff into a backpack, or your hatchback, or even your RV -- you still want a small and light towel that won't take up too much room. So regular bath towels are clearly out -- they are meant to be lavishly sprawled on towel racks in bathrooms, not to roll up tight and go traveling on adventures. But that doesn't mean that you want to simply get a tiny towel, like a washcloth, to dry yourself with. Washcloth will pack up small, but won't work very well to dry your whole body, and won't be much fun. The best camping towel is large in size like a regular towel, but made from lightweight high-performance terry, so it serves you like a full size towel, but then packs up small and light when its job is done.
2. The best camping towel should be fast drying
Your camping towel should dry quickly. You are not bringing your dryer with you, the best drying implement you'll have is a clothes line, maybe not even that. It might rain, or there might be heavy dew at night.
Your towel might need to dry on the picnic table, or inside your camper, or draped across the back of your car seat. It's best to choose a towel that can dry quickly and efficiently in outdoor adventure conditions. For this reason also your bath towel is not a good choice -- regular bath towels are usually quite thick and take a while to dry.
3. The best camping towel is highly absorbent
Obviously, you want your camping towel to have good absorbency. I mean, what is the point of having a towel that doesn't do a good job absorbing water? That would defeat the purpose. When it comes to absorbency, your regular bath towels do a great job. On the other hand, those thin flat microfiber towels that are being so aggressively marketed as "camping towels" don't work well at all, despite the marketing hype. A bit like trying to dry yourself with a thick plastic bag, a close relative of the microfiber camping towel.
4. The best camping towel should be soft and pleasant to use
This point often gets overlooked. People focus on the technical performance characteristics of a towel, and forget the softer side. After all, what's the point of having some "highly performant" camping towel with "specialized" carrying case and "technical" hanging loop that might look great in marketing photos, but feels like synthetic sandpaper on your skin? You want a towel that your skin loves, a towel that is truly soft, fluffy and comfy.
Showering on the road or while camping is often a tricky experience, you don't have all the conveniences and comforts of your home bathroom. Or you might even be washing yourself in an icy cold stream or a lake. In either case, your towel needs to be soft and lovely, so you actually look forward to using it after the rigors of your camp shower.
5. The best camping towel should be aesthetically pleasing
You're in nature, everything's beautiful and easy on the eyes. You got your fancy camping gear that is color-coordinated with your t-shirt. You want your towel to look good also, thrown across your camping chair or hanging on a branch. This point is highly individual of course -- some people like classic light colors, some people like the bold neon statement-makers, and some people like discreet earthy muted tones. Whatever your aesthetic is, we're here to encourage you to express it with your favorite camp towel! And if you have suggestions for us on the colors you would like to see in the Zumi lineup, we'd love to hear from you! Just shoot us a line and let us know what your best camping towel would look like.
6. Camping towel should be environmentally safe
This point comes as a surprise to many people. Not that camping towels should be environmentally safe, everyone can get behind that, but the fact that it's even an issue to consider. Is this really something to worry about, can a camping towel really harm the environment? Like if a moose steals and eats it, and then gets a tummy ache?
Alas, there is a very real concern here, and it has nothing to do with moose (they pretty much never steal and eat towels).
The environmental danger that many folks are not aware of is posed by the microfiber towels that have been aggressively marketed as "camping towels" in the last few years. See, the microfiber towels are made of petroleum-based plastics. The technology used is called "micro plastics", when very very tiny strands of plastics are formed and then shaped into a towel. And while petroleum-based plastic production is bad for the environment, this isn't even the main danger we're talking about here. The biggest problem posed by these microfiber towels is that every time they are washed, millions upon millions of minuscule micro plastic beads break off and are shed by the towel. They are way too small to be filtered out by washing machine filters or the sewage treatment plants, so they flow freely into our waterways and end up in our drinking water, the fish we eat, and our own bodies.
Oof, let's pause there for a sec. If you didn't know about this "feature" of microfiber towels, that's a lot to take in. After all, if you're the kind of person who likes camping, nature, outdoors, you're probably the kind of person who would be concerned about micro plastic pollution.
Although it's hard to imagine a person who wouldn't be, no one in their right mind would want microplastics polluting the water they drink, the fish they eat, and settling in their own bodies.
So please -- spread the word, tell your friends, tell everybody -- microfiber camping towels are dangerous and should not be used. Friends don't let friends use microfiber camping towels!
Especially now since there is Zumi, and you don't need to compromise on any of the technical features like lightweight and fast drying in a lovely soft 100% Cotton camping towel.
So there you have it. Your handy 6-point guide to Choosing the Best Camping Towel. We hope that you found it useful, and it will lead you to the best camping towel for your needs and wants, and maybe you'll even pick Zumi camping towels for your next adventure.
See you out there!