Updated on December 14, 2020 by Lyric Fergusson
Hiking is one of my favorite things to do. Not only is it a great way to exercise your body, but it’s also one of the easiest ways to become one with nature. I went years without using a towel while hiking, but my life was changed forever once I did. Now I carry a towel with me pretty much everywhere I go. Who wants sweat dripping in their eyes when they’re trekking up a mountain? I know I don’t. These seven hiking towels have completely changed my hiking game, and I can’t recommend them enough.
If you’re like me and enjoy being in the great outdoors, consider utilizing a towel specifically made for hiking. They not only help you stay dry, but they also help you feel clean, which is much needed when you’re scaling the cliffs.
Best Hiking Towels
Why it’s great: I’ve used my fair share of towels, but I have to say that the Chill Pal PVA is one of my favorites. Especially for hiking. Dampen it to start the cooling process, or keep it dry and wipe away sweat as you go. I recently used it on a humid hike, and it kept me cool (and dry) the entire time.
Because it is thicker than many towels on the market, the cooling sensation lasts longer. This means you can hike for hours at a time, and you won’t have to worry about repeatedly wetting it. I’ve used mine for hours, and it has still maintained its moisture. A bonus is the fact that it doesn’t soak your clothes. This means you won’t be stuck with a soaked shirt while you’re making your way up the mountain.
Keep in mind: When dry, this towel hardens to the touch, which can feel a little icky. When this happens, wet the towel once more. When you’re done using it, wet it and put it back in the pouch so it maintains its shape.
Good for: Difficult hikes
Why it’s great: Youphoria is a towel that truly does it all. Available in three different sizes (small, medium, large) and ten different colors, the Youphoria towel has a wide variety for everyone. It’s compact, super absorbent, and fast-drying. I’ve used this towel in the past for multiple outdoor activities, and it did a great job of keeping me cool. After all the hard work and sweat, it dried with no odor.
If you’ve ever used a microfiber towel before, then you know they tend to feel rough on dry hands. I never got that uncomfortable feeling with this towel, which makes a huge difference when you’re regularly using it.
Keep in mind: The towel’s thinness may have you concerned that it won’t be absorbent, but don’t worry. It maintains its moisture for long periods of time and dries extremely quickly.
Good for: Backpacking
Why it’s great: If I’m hiking to a lake or waterfall, I like having a beach towel. You’re going to want to stay dry after a dip in the water. It dries 3x faster than a standard cotton towel and is marketed as the original sand-free towel. Long gone are the days of worrying about a dirty towel that just won’t seem to get clean. It’s also super absorbent, lightweight, and soft to the touch.
While packing a beach towel may seem less than ideal if you have limited space, this towel folds down smaller than you’d expect and even comes with a travel accessory pouch. Use its handy hook to hang it to dry before packing it away in your CamelBak.
Keep in mind: Because the Dock & Bay comes in many bright colors, the colors may bleed during the first wash. It’s best to wash this towel with like colors before it’s first use.
Good for: Hikes to the waterfalls.
Why it’s great: With the ability to dry in minutes, the Wetcat Turkish towel is by far one of the quickest drying towels on this list. It’s also the most stylish. While most beach towels are made of terrycloth, this one is on the thinner side. But don’t let that deter you. It’s a must-have after a day in the water. It’s pre-washed so you don’t have to worry about it shrinking. Plus, the soft fabric makes it ideal for delicate skin, all without sacrificing absorbency.
At 37×71, it’s perfect for post-hike picnics and days by the water. It is on the larger side but don’t let that discourage you from using it. It’s incredibly foldable, making it perfect for days on the go. Once folded, it can easily fit in a backpack.
Keep in mind: Its thinness may not feel like the fluffy towels you are used to. Give it a chance and it will quickly become your favorite towel.
Good for: Post-hike picnics
Why it’s great: 4Monster was born when four senior outdoor enthusiasts took a trip to Yellowstone National Park and realized that a lot of the gear they were using was overpriced and of poor quality. So they took matters into their own hands and created the camping towel (among many other products). The towel is made of microfiber, making it super lightweight and portable.
When purchasing these towels, you get four towels, a large travel case (including a zipper and handle, which makes for easier transporting), and one small mesh bag for moments when you’re saving space. The carrying case even includes instructions for folding, so you’ll never misplace it, and you’ll never struggle to get it back in its bag.
Keep in mind: They do not recommend that you use this towel around sand. Sand will cling when wet.
Good for: The every day easy hike
Why it’s great: Featured on Forbes, BuzzFeed, CNN, and more, Wise Owl Outfitters has made a name for itself in the outdoor industry. Designed in the USA, family-owned and operated, the company started designing hammocks and has since turned into one that is focused on creating useful yet affordable outdoor gear. The towels are made with a suede-like microfiber that is lightweight, packable, and absorbent.
On a recent camping trip, I brought this towel along to keep me clean and refreshed during my multiple hikes. After a few days of mountain climbing and sweating, the Wise Owl Outfitters towel stayed soft, didn’t smell, and relatively spotless.
Keep in mind: Wash this towel with like colors before first use. After every wash, you will also want to hang the towel using the attached snap loop rather than throwing it in the dryer. This will help the longevity of the towel.
Good for: Multi-day hikes
Why it’s great: The ScorchedEarth microfiber towel set on Amazon comes with two different sized towels, breathable net bags, and a carabiner clip so that you can pack it up and take it with you everywhere you go. The microfiber material makes them extremely lightweight and compact, which is far easier to travel with. The last thing you want to do is lug around a large, heavy towel while hiking.
The material is also designed to absorb far more water than a regular towel and can dry up to ten times faster. This makes it ready for repeat uses in a very short period of time.
Keep in mind: The included bags are on the small side, so unless the towel is folded perfectly after use, it may not fit. Once you get accustomed to this, folding the towels will be a piece of cake.
Good for: An intense sweat sesh
FAQs about hiking towels
1. Are hiking towels essential?
I went years without hiking with a towel. So technically, they are not essential. However, now that I’ve started hiking with one, I can’t recommend it enough. They are great for wiping away sweat, cooling you down, and days on the water. Staying cool will, in turn, also help keep you from getting dehydrated.
2. What size should hiking towels be?
The size of your hiking towel truly depends on what you are looking for. If you know the hike will be a bit more intense and you’ll be heavily sweating, you might want a more oversized towel. If you are just looking for something on the go that will do the job quickly, you can get away with something on the smaller side. You also want to think about what size backpack you are bringing along.
3. What are hiking towels made of?
Typically hiking towels are made of cotton, terrycloth, or microfiber. Microfiber tends to be more absorbent than cotton, and cotton tends to be softer than microfiber. Both are good options. You just want to think about how vital absorbancy is to you.
4. What are the qualities of a good hiking towel
There are hundreds of hiking towels on the market, deciding which one to purchase can be overwhelming. However, there are some crucial qualities that you want to keep in mind before purchasing. I highly recommend looking at features such as absorbency, how compact the towel can become, and how quickly it dries.
5. What’s the best way to take care of your hiking towel?
When caring for a hiking towel, I highly recommend checking the included care instructions. Some require hand-drying, while others can be thrown in the dryer. Take a look at the instructions before using and washing. There are times when you will need to wash it in a load by itself before using it for the first time to prevent color bleeding from sweat. Aside from that, you will want to see what is recommended for water temperature, detergent, etc.
6. Can I use a bath or hand towel as a hiking towel?
Bath or hand towels can always be used as hiking towels. However, they don’t have the absorbency that hiking towels have. They also do not come with carrying pouches and tend to take up more space.
Hiking towels make a world of a difference when you’re climbing the mountains. They help you stay cool which prevents you from getting dehydrated, and help dry you off after an intense sweat–there’s nothing I hate more than sweat dripping down my face while scaling a trail, that’s for sure.
Getting a hiking towel that is perfect for you depends on what you’re looking for. While all towels can pretty much achieve the same thing, they’re not created equally. What is most important to you? Absorbancy? Size? The cooling aspect? Once you decide that, go from there. Use one of these seven hiking towels, and I think you’ll be truly impressed!