The 10 Best Sports Towels

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This wiki has been updated 32 times since it was first published in August of 2015. You might be surprised by how often a gym or fitness towel will come in handy. Workout buffs, campers without much extra room for gear, boaters, beachgoers, and travelers staying in hostels will find these sports towels to be exceptionally portable and convenient. Our selection includes options both small and large in various materials, including microfiber and cotton. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. PackTowl Personal

2. AmazonBasics Cotton

3. Rainleaf Compact

Editor's Notes

June 18, 2021:

There are plenty of high-tech towels out there designed for travel and use in sports settings. The PackTowl Personal is one of our favorites thanks to the quick drying time and range of sizes. The Rainleaf Compact is a thoughtfully designed option with a tiny zippered pocket for stashing keys or other valuables. Some, like the Shandali Yoga Travel and SportLite Sport, promise to be optimized for peak softness. In the end, though, sometimes a towel is just a towel, so we're still pretty high on the straightforward AmazonBasics Cotton hand towel set, due to the high absorption, durable material, and low cost.

March 26, 2020:

Currently, the Swol Fitness Fast Drying and the Youphoria Sport Multi-Purpose have become hard to find, so we've removed them, along with the Cages Way 2 Cool, which has seams with less-than-impressive durability. And because the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping tends to emit unpleasant odors, we've removed it, as well; if you're like many people, you probably don't need help smelling up your gym bag. When it comes to lightweight, packable sports towels, we think the PackTowl Personal, the Shandali Yoga Travel, or the Rainleaf Compact are options worthy of consideration. They come in plenty of colors, boast fast-drying microfiber, and aren't unnecessarily expensive. You can count on them for all kinds of sports activities, from running to yoga and more.

We know, however, that some users don't like the feel of microfiber, so we've added the AmazonBasics Cotton at this time. These are typical cotton towels, each great for mopping up sweat, and they come in packs of 12 or 24, so you should always have a clean one on hand. If these are too plain, there's the Gatorade Premium Bi-Color, a sideline towel designed for draping around the neck. It's a far more expensive choice than the former, though. And, finally, if you're looking for a texture that's just a bit different, consider the Desired Body Fitness. Its waffle weave does a good job of getting the moisture off your skin. It doesn't come in many color choices, though.

Special Honors

Porsche Gym Towel The Porsche Gym Towel costs more than most, which isn't hard to imagine given its design pedigree. It does, however, have one relatively uncommon feature: a zippered compartment that conceals small valuables. The elastic hanging loop is a nice touch, too.

The Towel by Lululemon The Towel by Lululemon is plain but sleek and perfectly sized for laying over your yoga mat during those super-sweaty sessions. A 100 percent polyester option, it is machine washable and safe for the dryer at low temperatures, making it a great choice for busy people who don't have time for hand washing and air drying.

Rumpl Shammy Towel Travel Set The Rumpl Shammy Towel Travel Set will keep you dry through all kinds of sports, as well as during outdoor activities, such as camping or hiking. Both the towel and washcloth are incredibly lightweight; you can pop them into a suitcase or gym bag and hardly know they're there.

4. Shandali Yoga Travel

5. SportLite Sport

6. Sunland Ultra Compact

7. Gatorade Premium Bi-Color

8. Mission Original

9. Desired Body Fitness

10. Deconovo Microfiber

What Makes One Sports Towel Superior to Another?

In the final analysis, a sports towel is whatever you make of it.

When choosing a sports towel, most people tend to go with whatever looks good and is affordable. But this is a short-term strategy that rarely yields the best results. If you want a towel that looks good, does the job, and will last, it pays to understand how a sports towel actually works.

Read any sports towel's description (or label) and you're likely to find that the towel has been designed by using a polyester blend. You're also likely to find that the towel was designed by using microfibers. Microfibers are remarkably efficient at absorbing liquid, and they dry much more quickly than traditional fibers. Microfibers are also durable, which is important, given sports towels are constantly being either washed or wrung out.

Repeat washing means you'll want to avoid buying sports towels with a low thread count. Low-thread towels are a lot more likely to fray or snag in the wash. Over time, they may feel rough against your face, as well.

Ideally, you'll want to choose a sports towel that comes with its own carrying case. A separate carrying case will allow you to transport the towel wherever you go, and it can also keep your gym bag from smelling like dry sweat. If you shower after every workout, it helps to find a sports towel that comes with a pouch for toiletries built in.

In the final analysis, a sports towel is whatever you make of it. Taking the time to research and purchase a high-quality towel significantly decreases the chances that you'll want - or even need - to replace it.

Sports Towels ... They Aren't Just for Athletes, Anymore.

The term sports towel is reductive. It creates an impression that people should only be using these towels to wipe off massive pools of sweat. In reality, a sports towel is unique by virtue of its design. And while the average sports towel may cost a bit extra, it's also bound to last longer and prove more versatile than any run-of-the-mill towel ever could.

This means they're great for sopping up spills or laying down on bathroom floors.

Sports towels come in a variety of sizes, which means that you can buy one for the beach. What's more, certain top-of-the-line sports towels come with UV protection, which means you can avoid getting sunburns if you're laying out and you fall asleep.

Sports towels are ultra-absorbent, and they're custom-made to be wrung out. This means they're great for sopping up spills or laying down on bathroom floors. A sports towel's microfibers are usually stain resistant, which means they're great to keep on hand in any kitchen, if not a restaurant or a pub.

Sports towels come in flashy colors, which might be appealing if you have any kids. They also come in matching sets, so you can stack them in any pool house or indoor gym. A sports towel is soft, which means that you can use it as a yoga mat. Certain sports towels are also odor resistant, which means that you can use them as a bed liner for your pets.

From The Turkish Towel to The Sports Towel (A Brief History)

Towels date back to 17th-Century Turkey, where they were handwoven long and thick, so that they could be wrapped around the body. These early towels were made of cotton, and known as peshtemals. Peshtemals were specifically designed for wearing at the Turkish baths.

Towels date back to 17th-Century Turkey, where they were handwoven long and thick, so that they could be wrapped around the body.

As production grew and costs decreased during the mid-to-late 18th century, towels became a requisite part of any home, or public spa, or hotel room. Next came the marketing and expansion of towels by type and division. Over the course of several decades there were bath towels and beach towels and hand towels and foot towels and oven towels and disposable towels, and towels that very much looked the same, but were designed differently, depending on specific needs.

Sports towels were originally invented for swimmers and divers during the second half of the 20th century. The goal was to produce a towel that would not only absorb water but also dry quickly enough for the swimmer to reuse it every time he or she exited the pool. Unlike bath towels, these early sports towels were durable and resilient enough to be wrung out without losing their texture. Sports towels became more lightweight and compact toward the end of the 20th century as the technology surrounding microfibers began to improve.

Today, sports towels are a major industry, with microfiber blends of polyester, viscose, and polyvinyl providing benefits including stain resistance, odor resistance, and even UV protection from the sun.

Melissa Harr
Last updated by Melissa Harr

Melissa Harr is a language-obsessed writer from Chicagoland who holds both a bachelor of arts and master of arts in English. Although she began as a TEFL teacher, earning several teaching certificates and working in both Russia and Vietnam, she moved into freelance writing to satisfy her passion for the written word. She has published full-length courses and books in the realm of arts & crafts and DIY; in fact, most of her non-working time is spent knitting, cleaning, or committing acts of home improvement. Along with an extensive knowledge of tools, home goods, and crafts and organizational supplies, she has ample experience (okay, an obsession) with travel gear, luggage, and the electronics that make modern life more convenient.

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