If your idea of camping is to load up the family car with every creature comfort known to man, including the kitchen sink, then the main selling points of the Nikwax Travel Towel are probably going to be lost on you. If, however, you’re looking for a way of drying off whilst keeping the weight and bulk of your kit low, then you’d best read on.
At 241g, the 143cm x 73cm ‘Beach’ size version of this towel falls nicely within many people’s remit of lightweight backpacking and it takes up relatively little space when stored in its supplied elasticated-draw-cord mesh bag – approximately 19cm x 10cm. If you’re looking to reduce those numbers still further, I’d say take a look at the 100cm x 70cm ‘Trek’ size version also available.
Size and weight are all very well, but does it actually do a good job of drying you? In the name of science, I put this to the test at 6:15am in a campsite shower cubicle after a night where temperatures hit -4 degrees. That meant I wasn’t going to hang around. Despite the usual cold floor and water which didn’t exactly reach ‘nice and hot’ levels (does it ever?), I suffered none of the shivering I’ve often experienced drying off using a traditional cotton towel.
Why? Simple – the Nikwax offering uses Parameta S reversible directional fabric (commonly found in Paramo clothing), which does a great job of quickly absorbing and shifting water from the super-soft fleecy side (against the skin) to the other smooth surface on the reverse. It also traps air on the fleecy side at the same time, meaning you’ll stay warmer if you wrap the towel around your shoulders, for example. Clever stuff, especially when you can actually sense this process happening right there in the palms of your hands.
Drying the towel itself is pretty quick, too. I folded it up, along with some other wet kit, for my journey back and by the time I arrived, it was considerably less damp than when I’d packed it. After a full wash back home, it dried equally well when hung up in the usual manner.
Summary: Let’s not get silly here – it’s a towel. But a very good one at that. It takes up very little space in your backpack, weighs next to nothing and will do a great job of drying you off when you’ve just come out of the shower or a mountain stream.