The 9 Best Travel Towels of 2021

Use these compact picks on your next trip

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach Towel at dockandbay.com

"Its extra-large size means you can use it to change into your swimsuit."

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel at Amazon

"The absorbent microfiber towel stands out for its combination of functionality, style, and affordability."

Best Budget: RainLeaf Microfiber Towel at Amazon

"This towel has seven colors to suit all tastes and no fewer than six sizes."

Best Turkish: Nature Is Gift Turkish Cotton Towel at Amazon

"The material just gets softer and more absorbent with every wash."

Best Multipurpose: Snappy Towels Waffle Weave Microfiber Towel at Amazon

"This towel is as versatile and functional as it gets."

Best Eco-Friendly: Nomadix Yoga Travel Towel at Amazon

"The towel isn't just colorful and functional, it's also made from 100 percent recycled materials."

Best Set: OlimpiaFit 3-Size Towels at Amazon

"You get three, various-sized towels for the price of most individually-bought ones."

Best for Backpacking: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Towel at Amazon

"Its snap loop means you can easily hang it up on a tree or tent."

Best Linen: Goodlinens Lightweight Linen Travel Towel at goodlinens.com

"The 100 percent linen towel measures 36 x 56 inches, but folds compactly for travel."

In the midst of packing all of the other essentials in your luggage, it can be easy to forget those last-minute items like certain beauty products for your toiletry bag or even a travel towel. While it might be easy to treat them as an afterthought, travel towels are a handy necessity whether you're roughing it in the woods while camping or leisurely sipping cocktails on the beach. A great travel towel is one that's fast-absorbing and fairly sizable depending on what activities you'll be getting into. It also has to be compact and foldable.

To help you narrow down your choices, here are the best travel towels.

Best Overall: Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach Towel

Dock & Bay Quick Dry Beach Towel

Dock & Bay

What We Like
  • Super absorbent

  • Can be monogrammed

  • Repels sand

What We Don't Like
  • Limited colors

The Dock & Bay Microfiber Beach Towel is a travel towel made specifically with seaside vacations in mind. Its extra-large size (78 x 35 inches) means you can use it to change into your swimsuit, and you’ve got more room to sunbathe without getting sandy. In fact, the microfiber fabric repels sand so you can shake it off quickly and easily before packing the towel back into your bag. It’s also quick-drying, super absorbent, and has that smooth microfiber feel.

Despite its huge size, this travel towel is both compact and lightweight. It tips the scale at 1.1 pounds and packs down into a 10 x 6-inch roll. Use the included travel pouch to keep your towel clean and contained within your luggage. The loop sewn into one corner comes in handy when drying the towel after a day at the beach.

Runner-Up, Best Overall: Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel

What We Like
  • Comes with a carrying pouch

  • Resistant to pilling

  • Colors for all styles

What We Don't Like
  • Edges can fray

The Youphoria Outdoors Microfiber Travel Towel stands out for its combination of functionality, style, and affordability. Made from absorbent microfiber, the towel can hold up to five times its own weight in water and dries up to 10 times faster than a normal terry cloth towel. The fabric is also anti-microbial and won’t succumb to mildew halfway through your trip.

There are three sizes: 20 x 40 inches, 28 x 56 inches, or 32 x 72 inches. Whichever you choose, the travel towel rolls neatly into the provided mesh bag, keeping it compact throughout your trip. Use the quick-snap loop to hang it from your hotel shower rail, or to turn a branch into a makeshift washing line when camping. Contrasting hems give it extra style points, with 11 color combos to choose from including mint/gray, blue/green, and gray/pink. Your purchase is protected by a lifetime warranty.

Best Budget: RainLeaf Microfiber Towel

What We Like
  • Waterproof carrying bag

  • Extremely soft

  • Has a zippered pocket

What We Don't Like
  • The color can bleed when washing

If you’re looking for a towel that's wallet-friendly and comes in different colors or sizes, consider the RainLeaf Microfiber Towel. Similar to most other travel towels, it's made from fast-drying, absorbent microfiber. There are seven colors to suit all tastes (think army green, blue, rose red, or orange) and no fewer than six sizes ranging from extra small (12 x 24 inches) to an extra, extra-large (40 x 72 inches).

This soft towel is also anti-microbial and folds (rather than rolls) into a breathable, waterproof carry bag that protects the rest of your clothes even if it's still a bit damp. When you get home from your travels, it works just as well as a beach or gym towel. Use the snap loop to hang it up to dry and the corner zip pocket to hide your cell phone or wallet from prying eyes on the beach.

Best Turkish: Nature Is Gift Turkish Cotton Towel

What We Like
  • Quick drying

  • Organic material

  • Lightweight

What We Don't Like
  • Can shrink over time

Nature Is Gift’s Turkish Cotton Towel takes inspiration from the peshtemals, or traditional towels used in Turkish hammams. It is made from 100 percent natural Turkish cotton — a premium fabric with extra-long fibers that gets softer and more absorbent with every wash. It dries more quickly than terry cloth towels and is significantly more compact. When folded flat, this travel towel also takes up very little luggage space when you're on the go.

At 39 x 71 inches, this is a large towel that provides ample coverage, whether you use it as a changing screen at the beach or as a cover-up when walking from your bedroom to a communal bathroom. There is a range of colors to choose from, including grass, lilac, aqua, and rich gray. All colors have statement-making stripes and hand-knotted tassels along the shorter edges. When you’re not using it as a towel, this product also doubles as a scarf, sarong, picnic blanket, or throw for your living room at home.

Best Multipurpose: Snappy Towels Waffle Weave Microfiber Towel

What We Like
  • Versatile snaps

  • Lightweight and compact

What We Don't Like
  • More expensive than similar styles

The Snappy Towels Waffle Weave Microfiber Towel offers the same properties as other microfiber towels in the market: it’s quick to dry, absorbent, compact, and lightweight. None of the others are as versatile as this one, however, which has clever snaps along its edges. You can use them to fasten the travel towel around your waist as a sarong or changing cover. You can also fasten it around your shoulders as a shade-giving cape or poncho.

If you’re traveling with small children, the towel can double as a stroller cover and offers privacy to breastfeeding moms. You can even connect the snaps to transform the towel into a tote bag for carrying belongings to and from the beach; and at the end of the day, you can fasten it over a deck railing to dry. If you buy more than one towel, they can snap together to create a large beach blanket for your friends and family. Available in green or orange, the sand-free, travel towel measures 54 x 27 inches and there are other sizes offered online. 

Best Eco-Friendly: Nomadix Yoga Travel Towel

What We Like
  • Made from sustainable materials

  • Great colors and prints

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Environmentally conscious and sustainable travelers will love the Nomadix Yoga Travel Towel. It’s made from 100 percent recycled materials, including fibers extracted from post-consumer plastic bottles. More than just a gimmick, the travel towel also works well. At one pound, it’s lightweight, dries quickly, and stays fresh thanks to its anti-microbial properties. It’s also slip-resistant, making it ideal for yoga camps and wellness retreats.

The towel’s multipurpose nature is in line with the brand’s “own less, do more” ethos, whereby customers purchase one quality, long-lasting product that fulfills several functions. You can use your Nomadix towel for traveling, yoga, camping, beach trips, and gym workouts. Additionally, the two-sided towel comes in a variety of trendy, travel-inspired prints. The Yosemite towel is a favorite complete with a rendering of El Capitan.

Best Set: OlimpiaFit 3-Size Towels

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Great for a range of uses

  • Includes an elastic band

What We Don't Like
  • Doesn't hang well

An excellent value, you get three, various-sized towels for the price of most individually-bought towels with the OlimpiaFit set. The 100 percent microfiber travel towels measure 50 x 30 inches (large), 30 x 15 inches (medium), and 15 x 15 inches (small), making the set perfect for multi-purpose use — whether you're headed to the beach, campgrounds, or gym. They're also all anti-microbial, extremely absorbent, hypoallergenic, and quick-drying, while the lightweight, compact towels can pack four times smaller than terrycloth towels. In addition to a hanging loop, the travel-friendly set also comes with a mesh carrying bag for each towel.

Best for Backpacking: Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Towel

What We Like
  • Comes with a washcloth

  • Durable stitching

  • Sand repellent

What We Don't Like
  • Large label that's hard to remove

From outdoor experts Wise Owl Outfitters, the brand's camping towel is ideal to bring along for your next backpacking trip or adventure. Thanks to the towel's snap loop, you can easily hang it up on a tree or tent. Made of a special microfiber blend, the lightweight travel towel is extremely soft compared to other microfiber towels. It's also extra-absorbent and fast-drying, with an included washcloth and mesh carry bag for convenience. With two sizes available, the large size (24 x 48 inches) also comes with a 12 x 12-inch towel and the extra-large size (30 x 60 inches) comes with a 12 x 24-inch towel. Better yet, Wise Owl Outfitters is a family-owned, U.S.-based brand and makes all of their products in their Tennessee headquarters.

Best Linen: Goodlinens Lightweight Linen Travel Towel

lightweight linen travel towel

Goodlinens

What We Like
  • Highly absorbent

  • Durable material

  • Easy to clean

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

  • Doesn't come with a carrying bag

Measuring 36 x 56 inches, Goodlinens' travel towel is pretty sizable whether you want to use it while enjoying a picnic or wrap yourself up after taking a dip in the ocean. In spite of its size, it folds compactly to fit in a backpack. The towel is made from 100 percent linen and is easy to wash and even gets softer over time. The design is a natural or beige hue and the single blue stripe adds a fun touch, but can also distinguish your towel from everyone else's.

Final Verdict

A travel towel should be one that's large enough for your needs but still compact, like Dock & Bay's Microfiber Bech Towel (view at Dock & Bay). The microfiber isn't just quick-drying, but also repels sand. More importantly, it neatly folds into the compact carrying pouch. Youphoria Outdoors (view at Amazon) is another top pick for similar reasons but it's also particularly useful for outdoor activities.

What to Look for in Travel Towels

Material

The choice of material is usually at the top of the list when determining which travel towel is the best option for you. Microfiber towels will feel great against the skin and they stand up pretty well to tons of washing. Some even repel sand, which is great if you're a frequent beach goer. Other options can include cotton or the luxe feel of natural, organic Turkish cotton.

Packability

Long towels are great and provide tons of function, whether you plan to use it for a picnic, at the beach, or drying off. However, bulky towels can be pretty inconvenient when traveling. Opt for a towel that's lightweight and folds easily. Some towels come with carrying bags and even elastic bands to keep them tightly wrapped while traveling.

Absorbency

For activities like beach days or camping, an absorbent towel will be useful. Look for a towel that has a high absorbency so you can dry yourself off quickly, but also so you're not carrying around a soggy towel.

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