Camping Towels

Face Towel by Marcelo Moura

Camping Towels: Sizes and Uses

Towels taken on camping trips can be broken down into 2 distinct categories:

  1. Travel
  2. Oversized

These two distinctions come from the activities connected to camping.

If you’re hiking from site to site, or just a long distance to your site, or just out for a weekend, travel towels will most likely serve your needs.

If, on the other hand, you are camping long term, have a large group with you, or enjoy using your towels as extra padding and warmth you will most likely want an oversized towel to use in multiple ways.

If you are living in a tent, you want one of both. For some functions they are interchangeable, for others they definitely are not.


Travel Towels

Travel towels are smaller, sometimes closer to a hand towel, and meant for quick-drying and saving space.

You want to go for a towel that comes in a bag or case, and is dries both you and itself quickly.

These types of towels may feel a little rough on the skin at first, but they are great at absorbing moisture, and are easy to clean in the shower or when you do the dishes.

Also, because of their size, you can really take them anywhere. If you keep them in their container, you can clip that to your pack, or just stick it in a utility pocket.

After you use it, just squeeze it (mostly) dry and lay it out somewhere to finish.

My brother (who is incredibly skinny anyway) has been using travel towels as his regular towels for a few years now, no matter what living situation he’s in. He absolutely loves them, and they appear to last as it’s been over 5 years now, and he’s only had the two towels he originally bought together. He uses them camping, for swimming, at the gym, and to dry off on long hikes. Of course, he’s skinny enough that he wraps it around his chest and connects each end to a small-ish bungee to keep his back from getting soaked when it’s a particularly long hike. I can’t do that…I imagine most adults can’t do that, but I can’t be jealous of him over his size: it’s a health issue.

There is an additional perk to these sorts of towels, and it relates to unexpected health situations while camping. I briefly touched on cloths and pads for wounds and cuts in my Medicine Monday posts. However, travel towels are also a great addition to a first aid kit. If you add the towel when you know it’s clean, and clean it thoroughly after every use, it’s a small and handy way to ensure you will always have at least one way of covering skin damage to keep it protected from the elements. As I’ve discussed before, if the situation is bad you need to go to a hospital; but for general cuts and bruises a travel towel works nicely and is easy to clean and disinfect.


Oversized Towels

What if you want to use your towel as an extra blanket at night? Or at the beach? Or as the floor for your tent, to stop the twigs and roots from poking you in the night?

Well, I very recently came across the Hitchhiker’s Guide towel.

Seriously. I’ll let Douglas Adams’ describe this wonderful creature:

“A towel, [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.”*
*Douglas Adams and whoever owns the rights to The Hitchhiker’s Guide series, I’m sure, do not know of or endorse this particular towel, it just perfectly fits as a description.

This is a beautiful creation:

Now, I know, I am waaaaaaaaaay too excited about a towel. But, see, I was going to make this section of the post about 5- to 7-foot towels and how you can almost sleep in them, and they mostly work as other things.

And then, oh then, a friend told me about this.

Rolls small, like a yoga mat or sleeping bag. Easy to carry. Lightweight.

It’s a 10′-by-10′!!!!

excuse the layman’s term: I Can’t Even!! 🙂

It still behaves like a towel, but with the perks of a Neat Sheet (which I will eventually post about) and none of the cleaning issues. It washes, and rinses, like a towel!

So Mar, you may be asking yourself, it’s a big towel. So What?

Well, my lovelies, this is a towel that can do everything you want your towel to do; but is normally too small for.

Think of it:

  1. towel – not too small to fit around your clothing/pack/etc when you slip (or get bumped) in the river
  2. group towel – for when the kids get the other towels soaked and don’t tell you
  3. extra blanket – youngin’ soaked their sleep bag so they’re using yours? Use this. Spouse hogging the blankets or using most of the sleeping bag? Use this. Ground too rough and you need padding? Use this. It’s colder at night than the weather warned? Use this.
  4. beach blanket – out for a day, or camping at the beach, lay this out and enjoy the sun. It’s big enough everyone gets their own section, and it has a few pockets.
  5. hiking to unfamiliar places – bring it along, it’s small and light, can be seating or bedding and as cover for sudden (hopefully light) rain. It comes with the carry strap, so you don’t have to sacrifice one of your own to transport it.

And it looks to be a good size to fold in half and roll up inside in your sleeping bag. Remember how I talked about Snuggies? Well, this may be even better, especially for those of you who are making homes of your tents, whether for the short or indefinite term.


Does anyone have the beautiful giant? Does anyone else want 5 of them? Do you have a favorite travel towel? I slipped one in my dad’s stuff years ago, and he just keeps using it. He never did ask where it came from, though, he was just happy it was there.

Leave a comment and let me know what you think about the uses of towels! or even your favorite Hitchhiker’s quote!


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I'm (now) an Affiliate, who blogs about the materials, gear and supplies needed for living in a tent and long term camping: http://longtermcamping.siterubix.com I also enjoy reading and sci-fi in all its many forms.

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