The importance of a towel cannot be understated. The towel is the most important item that you need to have when you are going for a swim. It is the most essential article of swimming gear that you need to have with you. A good quality towel will not only keep your skin dry and prevent from getting sunburned, but it will also help to maintain your body temperature while in the water.

A good quality swim towel should be lightweight, quick-drying, absorbent and easy to carry around with you when not in use. It should also be able to dry quickly after use so that it doesn’t take up unnecessary space in your bag or locker when not in use. See this review of our top rated best swim towels.

Popular Choice

Microfiber Towel 3 OLYMPIAFIT

★★★★★

OlimpiaFit Quick Dry Towel - 3 Size Pack of Lightweight Microfiber Travel Towels w/ Bag - Fast Drying Towel Set for Camping, Beach, Gym, Backpacking, Sports, Yoga & Swim Use

Top PickMost Popular

Travel Towel FIT-FLIP

★★★★★

Travel Towel - Compact & Ultra Soft Microfiber Camping Towel - Quick Dry Towel - Super Absorbent & Lightweight for Sports, Beach, Gym, Backpacking, Hiking and Yoga (12x20 inches Blue - Without Bag)

Best Value

Microfiber Beach Towel DARCHEN

★★★★★

DARCHEN Microfiber Beach Towels Oversize Quick Dry Towel [1 or 4 Pack] - Travel Beach Towel for Swimming Pool, Sand Free Towel(Extra Large XL 70x35, Large 63x32) for Kids Adult, Compact Lightweight

ALL THE BEST SWIM TOWELS THAT WE TESTED

FIT FLIP Microfiber Travel Beach Towel

OUR TOP PICK

Travel Towel - Compact & Ultra Soft Microfiber Camping Towel - Quick Dry Towel - Super Absorbent & Lightweight for Sports, Beach, Gym, Backpacking, Hiking and Yoga (12x20 inches Blue - Without Bag)

General Impression

The Fit-Flip Microfiber beach towel is definitely one of the best swim towels you can get – as tons of buyers would agree. They are available in a choice of eye-catching designs, or just plain blue if you don’t want to stand out too much. The silky, suede feel microfiber fabric is soft, super absorbent, and dries quickly, thus remaining odor-free. It’s a great beach swimmer’s towel as it is easy to shake any sand off the fabric (even when wet). These towels are compact, light, and great for travel. They have a hanging loop, come with a mesh storage pouch, are machine washable, and can be tumble dried, so they are super easy to care for.

Specifications

BRAND: Fit-Flip
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: Four
FEATURES: Super absorbent, sand repelling, quick drying, compact and lightweight
SUITED FOR: Swimming, watersports, beach, travel, gym, sports

PROS

  • Eye-catching designs with non-fading colors
  • Super absorbent and fast drying
  • Well-made and durable
  • Has a hanging loop and mesh pouch
  • Excellent value for money

CONS

  • Microfiber fabric is not to everyone’s taste
  • Fewer color options than alternatives

DARCHEN Microfiber Beach Towel

BEST VALUE

DARCHEN Microfiber Beach Towels Oversize Quick Dry Towel [1 or 4 Pack] - Travel Beach Towel for Swimming Pool, Sand Free Towel(Extra Large XL 70x35, Large 63x32) for Kids Adult, Compact Lightweight

General Impression

The DARCHEN beach swim towels are some of the best towels for swimmers on a budget. Luckily, with these pieces, low price doesn’t mean missing out on quality. They come in a pack of two good-sized microfiber towels which are lightweight, highly absorbent, fast-drying, and soft on the skin. They are compact for travel and even come with mesh bags for storage. They are convenient for swimming pools and great for the beach as sand shakes off easily. Buyers’ reviews are generally very positive with many mentioning the towels are well made and durable.

Specifications

BRAND: DARCHEN
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: Four
FEATURES: Portable, Quick dry, Soft, Hypoallergenic, Super Absorbent
SUITED FOR: Swimming, sports, travel, camping

PROS

  • Brilliant value for money
  • Machine washable
  • Comes with mesh bags for each towel

CONS

  • Limited range of colors
  • Colors may bleed when new

OLYMPIAFIT Microfiber Towel 3

General Impression

This is a set of three microfiber towels in varying sizes (51”x31”, 30”x15, and 15”x15”) which can be compacted into a small space for packing, making them some of the best swim towels for travel. They are absorbent and fast drying with high-quality, odor-resistant, anti-microbial fabric that is soft and kind to the skin. Made from plush microfiber, they are lightweight and easy to clean. They can be machine washed but should be washed separately at first as colors may bleed. A few minutes in the sun will have them dry and ready to reuse. There is a choice of eight colors, and they come with mesh bags to store them in.

Specifications

BRAND: Olympiafit
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: Eight
FEATURES: Portable, Quick dry, Soft, Hypoallergenic, Super Absorbent
SUITED FOR: Swimming, diving, sports, travel, gym, beach

PROS

  • Great range of colors
  • Set of three different sizes
  • Comes with a mesh bag
  • Quick-drying and very absorbent

CONS

  • Some reports of color bleeding
  • Needs to be washed before use to remove fine lint
  • No hanging loops on smaller towels

YOUPHORIA Outdoors Microfiber Camping Towel

General Impression

This is a generously sized multi-purpose microfiber swim towel which is available in ten color options and is very popular with buyers. Great for pool or beach swimming, it’s super absorbent fast-drying, lightweight, and easy to pack as it can be folded or rolled up into the supplied carry bag. These towels can be machine washed and tumble dried. They also have a snap loop makes it easy to hang them up to dry quickly in the sun. The lint-free, brushed microfiber wicks sand away and resists mildew, so it won’t get smelly. The towels are lovely and soft, and the largest size could also be used as a travel blanket. There are three sizes available, so if you’re traveling and space is at a premium, you could go for a smaller version as it will still get you dry after swimming.

Specifications

BRAND: Youphoria
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: Ten
FEATURES: Super absorbent, quick-drying, machine washable, ultra-soft, hanging loop
SUITED FOR: Swimming, travel, gym, sports, camping

PROS

  • Can be machine washed and tumble dried
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Available in three different sizes

CONS

  • Some buyers have reported loose stitching after washing
  • May have a chemical smell when new, but this should go with washing

RAINLEAF Microfiber Towel (Large)

General Impression

With ten colors and six sizes to choose from, this quick dry swimming towel offers plenty of options to help find the best swim towel for you. Popular with buyers, this is a super absorbent towel that dries quickly, making it excellent for use after swimming, whether you’re in a pool or on the beach. The antimicrobial microfiber fabric is soft and skin-friendly. The Rainleaf is good for traveling as it is compact, lightweight, and comes with a storage bag. As these towels dry quickly, they won’t smell damp, and they even come with a handy loop for hanging them up to dry. Rainleaf gets good reviews from buyers as these towels do a great job and are well made.

Specifications

BRAND: Rainleaf
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: Ten
FEATURES: Fast drying, ultra-compact, super absorbent, skin-friendly
SUITED FOR: Swimming, diving, sports, travel, gym, beach, camping

PROS

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Wide range of colors and sizes
  • Lifetime warranty
  • Fast drying

CONS

  • Colors may bleed
  • Some buyers say the towels have a chemical smell when new
  • Metal snap hook can’t be removed

ELITE TREND Microfiber Beach Towel For Travel XL Size

General Impression

If you like your swimming towel to be big, bright, and bold then this is for you. With a vast choice of colors and prints, this microfiber swim towel (which is also available in smaller sizes) features double-sided prints and is extra light, quick-drying and compact. They also come with a handy zipper bag. The soft, smooth, antibacterial microfiber fabric dries faster than cotton and is ideal for sea swimming as you can shake the sand off it quickly. This would be an excellent choice for a swimmer who likes a big towel to wrap up in when they get out of the pool and fabulous for travel as it packs well and can double as a travel blanket. The XL version we tried is 78” x 35,” but if this is too big for you, there are smaller, lower-priced versions available in the same range of prints and colors.

Specifications

BRAND: Elite Trend
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: 31
FEATURES: Compact, Extra-large, Quick-drying
SUITED FOR: Swimming, diving, beach, yoga, travel, gym, beach

PROS

  • Extra-large and very versatile
  • Huge range of colors and designs
  • Comes with a zipper pouch
  • Quick drying

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Not as fluffy as some other towels

KAUFMAN 100% Cotton Velour Striped Beach & Pool Towels

General Impression

If you’d prefer a more traditional, fluffy cotton towel to microfiber or chamois for getting dry after swimming, then this four-pack from Kaufman ticks all the boxes. You get four vibrantly colored stripy towels, which are great for the pool or beach, and would also be useful to have at home. They are soft and absorbent and feel more luxurious than alternative fabrics. They are not as compact or portable, so not great for traveling with, but they remain lightweight and well-made. Some buyers have been disappointed by the fabric’s quality, but for a cheap and cheerful product, they do an excellent job of getting you dry. Furthermore, a simple gentle wash should keep them in good condition.

Specifications

BRAND: Kaufman
MATERIAL: Cotton
COLORS: Four
FEATURES: Super soft cotton fabric, Bright colors, Traditional towel feel
SUITED FOR: Swimming, beach, bathroom

PROS

  • Incredibly soft, warm, and comfortable
  • Great value for money
  • Bright, bold colors

CONS

  • Bulky compared to alternative fabrics
  • Colors may bleed
  • Need careful washing to stay in good condition

FLOW Swim Chamois

General Impression

This chamois towel for swimming comes with a convenient storage tube to prevent it from drying out too much. It is also available in five colors, and much like other chamois swim towels, it is smaller than what you might expect at just 13” x 17”, making it extremely portable. A swim chamois absorbs more water than traditional towels, and these just need wringing out in between races or dives before they are ready to get you dry again. They are very absorbent and lightweight and can be dried quickly when necessary.

Specifications

BRAND: Flow
MATERIAL: Chamois
COLORS: Five
FEATURES: Ultra-absorbent, extremely compact, quick-drying
SUITED FOR: Swimming, diving, triathlon, camping, travel

PROS

  • Absorbs more water than traditional towels
  • Portable and compact
  • Comes with a storage tube
  • Doesn’t need to be laundered frequently

CONS

  • The small size means you can’t wrap it around yourself
  • Colors may run
  • Stiff when dry

DOCK & BAY Lightweight Beach Towel

General Impression

With a fabulous range of colors and sizes, it’s no wonder that these sand-free beach towels are a popular choice with buyers. This quick dry swimming towel is perfect for the pool, beach, or travel as it’s compact and lightweight. It has excellent absorbency to get you dry quickly and is fast drying, so it won’t get smelly. Although it is thicker than some microfiber towels, so it may take that little bit longer to dry in the sun while you relax. They have an elastic hook for easy hanging and can be folded into the supplied cotton pouch for storage. The fabric is soft, thin, and strong with a suede-like feel.

Specifications

BRAND: Dock & Bay
MATERIAL: Microfiber
COLORS: 22
FEATURES: Compact & portable, Wide range of colors, Repels sand
SUITED FOR: Swimming, beach, travel, watersports

PROS

  • Quick drying
  • Sand doesn’t stick
  • 12-month warranty
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Fantastic variety of colors and sizes

CONS

  • Dries a little slower than some other towels
  • Colors may bleed on first washes
  • Can be tricky to pack into the storage bag

SPEEDO Cotton Sports Towel

General Impression

The Speedo swimming towel is a cotton chamois towel, so it is relatively small-sized but works well at getting you dry as it is extremely absorbent. A chamois swimming towel will come with a storage tube to keep it in, and the speedo towels are no exception. They can be kept damp in the tube and will still get you dry, but if kept there too long, they can become a bit smelly. They can be very hard when dry, and you need to be careful to moisten them before unfolding. These Speedo swim towels are great if space is at a premium, so it would be a good buy if you stop off at the pool on the way to work or need something small to take traveling.

Specifications

BRAND: Speedo
MATERIAL: Cotton Chamois
COLORS: One
FEATURES: Compact & Portable, Quick dry, Super Absorbent
SUITED FOR: Swimming, diving, triathlon, camping, travel

PROS

  • Super compact and portable
  • Comes with a storage tube
  • Does not need regular laundering

CONS

  • Can get smelly if kept damp
  • Only in one color
  • Hard and fragile when dry

BEST SWIM TOWELS
Buyer's Guide

Whether you are a competitive swimmer training in a pool or just going for a dip in the ocean while on vacation, a good towel is necessary. The best swim towels are absorbent, fast-drying, and don’t take up much space. They are also easy to keep clean, so they don’t get smelly over time.

We’ve included some traditional cotton towels in our guide to the best towels for swimmers for those of you who prefer the feel of them. We have still concentrated on the more portable, quick-drying microfiber towels that have become increasingly popular with swimmers, beachgoers, and watersport enthusiasts. Chamois towels are also a popular choice as they are so efficient, but their small size might not appeal to everyone.

Types of Towel

Cotton

Most bathroom towels are made from cotton, and they can serve as swim towels as well. They are soft, comfortable, and reasonably cheap. The durability of cotton can stand up to a lot of laundering, and they are available in an endless array of sizes and colors.

The absorbency comes from the cotton loops in the fabric, which increase the surface area and soak up water effectively. But is a big fluffy towel good for swimmers? If you have the space to carry it and time to dry it afterward, then there’s no reason not to use them if you prefer the look and feel, but there are much more practical alternatives such as a swimmer towel. Cotton towels are bulky and aren’t small when folded. They are not so suitable for travel, can take a long time to dry, and hold water, which increases their weight. And damp towels can get smelly, so a quick dry towel for swimming is a better buy.

Chamois

A chamois towel for swimming is a high-performance product with specific needs in mind. They don’t have the same comfort and softness as alternatives, but they are incredibly efficient. The fabric has a smooth finish and is very absorbent. Once it is saturated with water, you simply wring it out and it’s ready to be used again afterward. A swim chamois needs to be slightly moist to use as they are very stiff when dry. After use, simply wring them out, roll them up and keep them in the supplied tube ready for your next swimming session.

Due to their small size, this kind of towel won’t be appealing to beachgoers, and they would not be suitable for anyone who gets cold after swimming and likes to wrap themselves up. They can feel uncomfortable on the skin, and the sensation can take some getting used to. Chamois swim towels are great space savers, require little laundering, and work well for those of you who want to get dry fast and don’t need something bigger.

Microfiber

Microfiber has taken over the world of swim towels for good reason; the fibers are much thinner than a standard cotton towel, so they have a greater surface area. This allows them to absorb more water and dry much faster after use. They are generally made from a mixture of polyester and nylon and are available in many different sizes, colors, and prints. Some are very smooth, have a similar feel to a chamois towel, and are very efficient at drying, but like a chamois, the fabric’s feel and how it dries may feel strange. These are used in a patting motion rather than rubbing like you would with a traditional cotton towel. Textured microfiber towels may feel more comfortable on your skin.

One of the big reasons for their popularity is that they can be folded or rolled into a very compact form, making them fantastic for traveling or just saving space in your swim bag. They dry quickly, so you don’t have to put a damp towel in your bag. Most come with hanging loops to be hung up off the ground or clipped onto the outside of a bag. Mesh bags are included, which reduces odor, and antimicrobial treatments will keep them fresh.

Microfiber towels will work great for use at the pool and are suitable for beach use as it’s easy to brush sand off them. The range of sizes and bold colors mean you can find something to suit your needs and personal style.

Other Considerations

If you are a serious athlete focused on training and competing in an indoor pool, then a chamois is likely to suit you. If you are lucky enough to have a home swimming pool with plenty of space to dry your towels and no need to transport them, then fluffy cotton towels could work great. But for most people, microfiber is the best bet.

Microfiber and cotton offer a huge range of colors, styles, and design options to suit your style.  Some microfiber towels have different prints on each side, and you can even get customized versions with your own photos or designs on.

Keeping your swim towel in good condition is essential, so make sure you read the instructions for washing it. Chamois towels don’t need to be washed after every use. Just rinse them out before storing them. They should only be cleaned occasionally, by hand, with a mild detergent. Cotton and microfiber are machine washable, but if they are new make sure you wash them separately for the first few washes as colors may bleed.

If you’re heading to the beach or going out on a boat, then we’d recommend getting a good dry bag to keep your towel from getting wet before it’s time for it to do the work of drying you off. Afterward, you can store it in the supplied mesh bag or tube. Most microfiber towels come with snap clips or elastic loops to make attaching them to things easy.

BEST SWIM TOWELS
FAQs

1. How Can I Dry Up Faster After Swimming?

If you’ve just taken a refreshing dip in the ocean in a tropical destination, getting dry isn’t much effort as the sun will do the work. But if you’re in a colder environment or indoors, you will want to get dry fast. Therefore, super-absorbent towels are a must. All the swim towels in our review can get you dry fast (so long as you use them properly). With chamois or microfiber, the drying action is a little different to cotton and can take some getting used to; pat rather than rub and let the towel do the work for you. Be sure your towel is ready to use before you get in the water as all chamois towels need to be slightly moist to work, which can seem counter-intuitive. After use, remember to wring them out as they get saturated with water. However, with microfiber or cotton towels, be sure to have dried them before you need to use them.

For those of you with longer hair, it can be the hardest thing to dry – so you might want to consider an extra towel for your hair. Consider buying a turban-style towel to wrap it up in and check out some tips on how to keep hair dry when swimming.

2. What is the Difference Between Cotton, Chamois, and Microfiber Towels?

Cotton has been around for a very long time and is what we are used to seeing in bathrooms; it makes for soft, fluffy, and comfortable towels, but they are bulky, take longer to dry, and are less absorbent than more modern materials. As a natural material, cotton is biodegradable, environmentally friendly, and easy to wash and care for.

Chamois is made from cotton, viscose, PVA, or a mixture of these. It is very smooth yet absorbent, and these towels are almost always very small as they are so efficient. They are kept damp when not in use as they will become very stiff if allowed to dry out. Chamois soaks water up very effectively.

Microfiber is available in a huge range of sizes; it is very absorbent due to the increased surface area of the fabric compared to cotton. Primarily made from plastic derivatives such as polyester and nylon, it is soft and lightweight. These properties also mean it can be folded or rolled up very small and is ideal for traveling. Microfiber is fast drying, which is especially beneficial in hot and humid climates as it prevents mildew and odors.

3. Is There a Difference Between A Swim Towel and a Bath Towel?

Bath towels don’t need to travel anywhere other than between your bathroom and the laundry, so they can be as big and bulky as you like! If you have a home pool with space to store and dry them, there’s no reason not to use bath towels for double duty. However, if you go anywhere else to swim, be it the pool or beach, then a swim towel is a much better choice.

Swimming towels are designed to be compact and easy to pack, so they are perfect for travel. But even if you are just headed to the local pool, a compact, quick-drying swim towel will save you having to carry a big towel around, which may be heavy when wet. Chamois or microfiber swim towels will get you dry fast and take up little room compared to a bath towel. They do however need some special care when washing them.

4. What Kind of Towels Do Olympic Swimmers Use?

Chamois or chamois swim towels are associated with competitive divers needing to dry quickly while competing and are also used by competitive swimmers. Olympic divers like these as they can absorb a great deal of water from their bodies between jumps, whereas a bath towel would end up too wet to use. They’re favored for their exceptional absorbency, which provides great drying ability in a very small sized towel. Competitive swimmers also use microfiber towels as they have similar benefits but are available in a broader range of sizes.

5. How Should I Wash my Swim Towel?

If you choose a traditional cotton towel as your swim towel, then you most likely already know how to wash it – the same as your bath towels. Be sure to check any instructions and if you have bright colors, then always wash them separately at first. Many are washable at high temperatures but try cleaning them at lower temperatures to keep them in good condition. They generally tumble dry well, and this can even help keep them nice and fluffy.

A chamois does not need frequent washing, but when you wash it, do it by hand with a mild detergent, excluding fabric softeners and heat. They should be air-dried rather than machine dried.

Microfiber towels also have some more specific washing requirements, which will help prolong their life. They do not respond well to high temperatures as this can damage the tiny fibers, and avoid fabric softeners as they can clog the fabric and reduce its effectiveness. Only wash with other microfiber fabrics to avoid attracting lint.

6. Do All Swim Towels Shrink in the Dryer?

With any towel, it’s essential to read the laundering instructions that come with it. Cotton towels are likely to shrink somewhat after they are washed and dried for the first time, particularly if you are using high temperatures. But once they have shrunk, they should retain their size during future washes.

Microfiber swim towels shouldn’t shrink in the dryer because you shouldn’t be using high heat to dry them, and if you do, then there may be some shrinkage when they are new. The high heat could cause the fabric fibers to melt, so dry them on low heat or cool to avoid damage. And chamois towels should not be put in the dryer at all because they are designed to stay moist.

7. Why Do Colored Swim Towels Bleed?

Even the best swim towels are prone to color bleeding; when the fabric gets wet, the dye can leach out of the fibers and transfer to other materials either in the wash or through rubbing against another item’s surface. Over dying to produce vivid colors, the wrong dyes being used, or badly set dyes can all be culprits. Chemicals in detergents or fabric treatments can also cause colors to be released or even bleached. Labels and instructions will often advise of the possibility, and you should follow any advice given to reduce the risk. When your colored swim towels are new, be sure to wash them before use, as this should reduce any color bleeding when you use them after swimming. Wash bright colors separately, and remember that colder temperatures will help prevent colors from bleeding or fading.

REACH OUT

As always, we create our content with you, fellow adventurers, in mind. So, how’d we do? Did you find this informative? Did it help you make a decision? Did we miss anything? We’d love to hear from you below. Thanks for reading and we hope your next adventure is a great one!

Heather Barbour

Heather is a product expert, a degreed communications and business professional, and an adventurous, entrepreneurial travel writing enthusiast originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. Heather is a PADI-certified Master Scuba Diver Trainer (MSDT) and holds a Silver Advanced Open Water Instructor certification from SSI, having logged more than 300 training classes over the last four years. Heather is a certified Travel Specialist and also holds a Day Captain's license qualifying her to skipper a boat up to 72 feet. She has extensive experience in specialty dive training, navigation, and booking travel accommodations. Her interests include writing, social media marketing, and serving her Virtual Assistant and Travel Clients from around the globe.

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