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If you’ve ever read The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to The Galaxy, then you know how important a towel is. In the book, the towel is described as a “massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.” The idiom “a hoopy frood who really knows where his towel is” means someone generally alert and aware.

Obviously, you don’t want to carry your big fluffy bath towel everywhere. One almost perfect solution is the Packtowl from MSR.

I know, it’s hard to get excited about a towel. Well, I consider this an amazing piece of technology. On the surface, this looks very simple. A thin piece of cloth that is very light and packs easily. It claims to absorb water at 4 times its own weight.

During a recent 10-day trip (for a vacation, not for camping), I used the Packtowl exclusively every day.  I rinsed the towel thoroughly every 3 days, and I washed it in the washing machine once.

While I didn’t do any scientific measurements, it does an excellent job of drying every time. The towel itself dries out pretty quickly. In a hot and humid environment like the tropics, the towel went fully dry in about a couple of hours. If you hang it out in the hot sun, it dries much quicker.

While the Packtowl does the job in drying your body, it’s not useful at all in covering your modesty. I bought the L (large) version and it’s not bug enough as a wraparound towel. You’ll need to supplement your Packtowl with shorts 🙂

At one corner of the Packtowl is a simple, useful loop. You can use the loop to hang your Packtowl.

The Packtowl comes with a small convenient pouch. You can fold the Packtowl flat in the pouch, then hang the pouch outside your backpack so the towel can dry while you’re hiking or just walking around.

Would I buy the Packtowl again? The answer is yes. I would probably buy another one – the original Packtowl, which is not as lightweight, but has even more impressive water absorption capacity.

Buy the MSR Packtowl UltraLite.



  1. Stevia : on Monday 4, 2010

    i very much prefer bath towels that are made of cotton or polyester, they are very soft and easy to dry`.’

  2. […] Gear Review : MSR Ultralite Packtowl The Packtowl comes with a small convenient pouch. You can fold the Packtowl flat in the pouch, then hang the pouch outside your backpack so the towel can dry while you're hiking or just walking around. Would I buy the Packtowl again? […]


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