So you’re about to embark on the trip of a lifetime and you’ve packed all your travel gear into your backpack, but wait, what’s that bulky thing taking up half of your packing space?!
You may well think that rolling up a towel or two from home will be sufficient for your trip, but not only do they take up masses of space, but when the wash facilities are few and far between, you’ll find yourself wishing you’d packed their microfibre alternative!
What is a Travel Towel?
Travel towels are a great alternative to standard sized towels and are extremely versatile, from drying off after a swim or shower to sunbathing on the beach, or drying yourself and your gear when you’re caught in a rain shower during treks.
Most travel towels are made from microfibre material, this is smooth in texture and feels similar to that of a chamois leather. Some travellers have complained of the texture and opt for ones that feel more like normal towels, it’s all down to personal preference, but there is most certainly an option available for everyone! Here we give you a rough guide to travel towels, a must have for your gap year or volunteer experience.
What is the Difference Between Softfibre & Microfibre Towels?
You may have heard people refer to both microfibre and softfibre travel towels, and you may wonder, “what’s the difference?!”.
To be completely honest there is very little difference between the two, both materials have the same properties and benefits. Softfibre is often a term used by Lifeventure, described as having a soft and smooth feel. Traditionally, Microfibre would have a more bobbly feel, similar to that of an ordinary towel.
However, many manufacturers refer to towels with a softfibre texture as ‘Microfibre’, so it’s always worth double checking the product description to ensure whether or not it has a texture similar to standard towels of if it has the smooth texture of a Softfibre towel, the retailer will normally specify!
Microfibre travel towels have many benefits for travellers and backpackers, which include;
1) Compact size – Most travel towels come with their own handy storage pouch (often ventilated) and pack down to an extremely compact size, saving you masses of space in your backpack.
2) Lightweight – Microfibre material is much lighter compared to that of standard sized towels, so you could take a few without noticing you were carrying them.
3) Quick Drying – Microfibre towels can dry up to 10 times quicker compared to standard towels, meaning it’ll be ready to use again in no time.
4) High Absorbency – These towels won’t be dripping wet in a matter of minutes, you’ll be bone dry before it starts to feel damp!
5) Anti-bacterial Protection – This is a feature of many travel towels, but not all. Anti-bacterial treatment helps to prevent the development of unpleasant odours and mould – ideal for when your towel is stored in a hot and sticky environment, where bacteria loves to breed.
Which Towel is Right for Me?
There are many great travel towels available on the market, brands to look out for include Lifeventure, Trespass and Trekmates.
Knowing which travel towel is going to be best suited to your needs will all depend on where you’re visiting and where you’re staying. For example, a traveller heading to South East Asia would be wise to opt for a travel towel with an anti-bacterial treatment, as the hot climate would encourage bacteria growth and could result in a foul smelling, mould infested towel!
The same thing would be true of people on multi-day treks, opt for an anti-bacterial coated towel or run the risk of carrying an unpleasant odour around with you for the remainder of your expedition.
For travellers heading to milder climates, an untreated towel should not be an issue, but always keep it well ventilated and try let it dry as much as possible before packing it away.
Which Size of Towel Do I Need?
Travel towels come in a range of sizes to suit a range of uses, sizes available include face, hand, body and bath sized as well as larger, giant sized towels!
Face and hand sized towels are perfect for a quick dry down after a rain shower and can be slipped inside a daypack for day trips and excursions. The Trespass Anti-Bacterial Travel Towel is a great option for those looking for a smaller sized travel towel for their trip, packing down into a compact, wash bag sized carry case. The towel itself is 45cm x 90cm in size.
Body sized towels are great for getting dry after showers and swimming and can also be used as a beach towel when you fancy catching some rays. There are many large or body sized travel towels available including options from Lifeventure, Trekmates & Trespass. The Trespass Bamboo towel is a good choice for days at the beach, water sports and trekking, with a 120 x 60cm size. It’s also the perfect size for doubling up as a sarong!
If you’re looking for an even larger sized towel, bath sized is the way to go. The pack size of this Trekmates Bath Towel is still extremely compact and the towel measures 75cm x 130cm in size, great for using as a beach towel as well as for general use during treks and after hitting the showers. Bath or XL/Giant sized towels generally cover all the bases and are suitable for all your gap year requirements.
Now you know more about the benefits of the travel towel, you can kick that cumbersome beach towel to the curb and fill your backpack with the essentials…as well as more than a few keepsakes from your time away!