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How To Choose The Best Microfiber Towel For Camping

Updated on April 23, 2011
My microfiber camping towel being dried in a tree at a campsite.
My microfiber camping towel being dried in a tree at a campsite.

Years ago, before lightweight, absorbent and quick drying microfiber towels for travelers and hikers came along, I took many backpacking trips abroad to places like Central America, the Caribbean and Australia as well as a cross country bicycle trip or two. While taking a bath daily may not be practical in some hiking areas, if you can find a source of clean water or a campsite with showers it is a wonderful thing. Drying off when bathing outdoors isn't easy unless you take a towel along, and the only option for camping towels a few years ago were cloth towels that dried slowly. Microfiber camping towels have fortunately came along and work very well for hiking and camping.

What Are Microfiber Towels?

Microfiber towels are made of synthetic fibers that measure less than one denier. A Denier is a standard measure of the linear mass density of fabric fibers and is equal to 1/19 of a Tex.

1 denier = 1 gram per 9 000 meters
= 0.05 grams per 450 meters (1/20 of above)

= 0.111 milligrams per meter

As you can see, if a fiber weighs one denier, only about a gram of it would reach 9000 meters. Microfiber cloths are made up of thousands of strands of very thin and strong fiber even smaller than a Denier, which can hold air and water between them. Because of the incredible surface area provided by a mesh of microfibers, they can hold much more water than regular cloth. Also, since the fibers themselves are not absorbent, water can be wrung or dried out of the cloth very easily.

How To Choose A Microfiber Towel For Hiking and Camping

I've used these handy towels for about two years now when I go hiking. They are available in sizes from about that of a dishcloth, to that of a full sized beach towel. Even though they take up a little bit more room, I prefer the extra large size (29x55"), because they have more surface area and dry you off much faster than the compact size towels. Weight of the extra large Aquis Adventure microfiber towel is about eight ounces and it fits in a bag that is about eleven inches long. For those who are into super light gear, you may want to opt for the smaller size microfiber camping towels. For most hikers and campers, the large size of most microfiber camping towel brands should work just fine and not take up too much space.

How To Care For and Clean Microfiber Camping Towels

Try to choose a brand that comes with a mesh carrying case. After drying a hiking microfiber towel by wringing it out, and letting it sit for about half an hour in the breeze, I place it in the mesh bag and carry it on the outside of my backpack, attached by a carabiner. In hot weather and with a fair breeze, these towels dry out very fast. When the weather is cooler and cloudier, you may have to leave them outside a bit longer to dry. Some brands come with a small strap that features a snap connector so that you can hang them up on a wire or branch without the wind carrying them away. There are versions of microfiber camping towels that feature the towel and mesh bag as one unit. I don't really care for these, since they are too small and tend to come apart after a few washings.

Keeping Microfiber Camping Towels Odor Free

Most microfiber camping and hiking towels are machine washable. Do not use fabric softer or chlorine bleach on microfiber towels. Odor is not as much of a problem with microfiber towels since the material is non porous and non organic. You can use non-chlorine bleach on most of these towels and just use the gentle machine setting. I use regular laundry detergent and a tablespoon of baking soda to cut down on odor. Grass burrs and stickers can be a real problem with microfiber camping towels. Always be careful not to let your towel fall from where you are drying it into any kind of vegetation that is prone to sticking to fabric. (I once spent about two hours picking tiny grass burrs out of my microfiber hiking towel). Also, these towels are not very fire resistant. Never try to dry them near a campfire or a cooking stove. If you take proper care of a microfiber camping towel, it can last you for years and years.

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