I always thought these were such a gimmick. Why would you want a travel towel? And then I bought one and I realised why.
I bought one because my trips to Iceland had shown me that there are hot pots and pools a-plenty, several of which required me to take my own towel and several which required me to carry it around with me during the day. Borrowing one from my accommodation was sometimes ok but real towels take up space in bags.
So I bought a travel towel and a drybag. Now I can fit all my swimming stuff in my backpack and keep everything dry as well. It’s brilliant. I’m a total convert.
I bought the biggest travel towel I could find (actually, I have two. I have a lot of hair – it needs its own towel). The pale blue one is a Hi Gear Microfibre Bath Towel that measures 140 x 90cm (living in the case for my lost lamented dark blue Lifeventure one that hasn’t been seen in many a year) and the bright blue one is a Mountain Warehouse Microfibre Giant towel that measures 150 x 85cm. For the price vs quality, there’s no need whatsoever to buy the Lifeventure one, which is easily twice the price of either the Mountain Warehouse or the Hi Gear.
They’re just big enough to wrap around me while I run back to my room from whichever shared bathroom I’ve got this time. Microfibre feels a little bit like ultra-lightweight suede and although the case says my lost one was Softfibre, it felt exactly the same as these two. I won’t say it dries brilliantly. To be honest, it tends to stick to wet skin so I tend to dry myself like I’m trying to sculpt the thing onto me – towel stays still while I rub it instead of rubbing me with the towel. A second one does a good job of mopping up the water in my hair and when I’m dry-ish, I shove them into the drybag. Left in there, they’ll eventually start going mouldy but so far they’ve been fine to be left wet for up to a week. Once you take them out they dry very quickly. Having got one covered in volcanic mud, I washed it thoroughly in the sink and hung it up overnight. By morning it was bone dry and probably had been for hours.
They come in a case to keep them nice and compact in your luggage but I’ve only ever bothered putting them there for the purpose of taking this photo. Just shove them in the drybag when you’ve used it and when you’re going to take it out to use it.
But drying isn’t all they’re good for. They’re pretty windproof, so you can use them to keep warm while you run from a hot spring to a hut in a snowstorm. You can tape them over windows if your hotel neglects to supply enough curtains. You can tie it round your neck to wear as a cape. You can do anything else you can do with a towel-sized cloth.
I also own keyring travel towel – more useful for things like everyday handwashing while you’re at camp or out and about. That one clips into a tiny mesh bag with a karabiner attached and I usually put it in the top pocket of my bag, where it’s easily accessible.
They’re such useful things, they really are. I highly recommend them. And for what it’s worth, they’re also endorsed by an officer of the Royal Navy of my acquaintance – ideal for cramped, wet conditions like a destroyer.
On a similar note, I’ve just bought a microfibre dressing gown. It’s the done thing to wear one at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland, only it costs £10 to hire a robe, unless you get the Premium Entrance package, which itself costs £29.50 more than the basic package (it does include towel, slippers, two face masks, a drink and dining options as well as the robe, to be fair) so I started thinking I’d take my own robe. I should have space in my luggage. However, robes are bulky and slow-drying. I like to shove all my wet stuff in a drybag. Aha! A microfibre robe! My initial plan was to buy three giant towels and sew one myself but fortunately, they do exist. As it only arrived a few hours ago, I haven’t tested it yet but I’m taking it to Iceland at the end of the month and if anyone’s interested, I’ll report back. It’s bright red and has the biggest hood in the world.