Best Survival Towel: Staying Dry and Getting By

by Tommy Grant

This is an updated review of the best survival towel. We update our roundups as new products are released and as we test more towels.

A survival towel is a great tool to include in a bug out bag for many reasons. Grabbing a soft bath sheet won’t do you any favors when it fills your bag to the brim, so there are a few requirements that need to be considered when picking your towel of choice.

There are a lot of options to consider when it comes to a towel: absorbency, size, durability, etc. This is where we come in. We’ve researched the best survival towels, tested them, and now the results are in: the overall best, a budget option, and a compressed option. If you need to get dry, one of our recommendations will keep you covered.

Contents (Jump to a Section)

The Best Survival Towel

4Monster Microfiber Towel

Large, Lightweight, and Absorbent

This towel does it big with durable quality that shows and absorbency to match.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

Camp and travel towels had a lot of competition to sift through, but this one rose to the top. Features like the snap loop make the towel more versatile, the overlock stitched edge proves manufacturing quality, and the price makes this towel get it all right.

Here is how it measures up:

  • 13 color options, 6 size options (I prefer the Large, shown above)
  • Size: 24″ x 47″ (Large)
  • Case Size: 7″ x 4″ x 2″
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Dry Time: 2 hours
  • Absorption: 7x weight

If you want the best survival towel at a reasonable price, pick up the 4Monster Microfiber Towel.

Lunatec Travel Towel

Budget Survival Towel

Lunatec Microfiber Towel

Inexpensive, Small, and Effective

Ridiculously inexpensive yet effective, this towel is a no-brainer for those on a budget.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

While this is on the smaller side (hand towel size), this towel is very lightweight and very inexpensive. It is the 80% polyester blend microfiber you find in most camp towels. The stitching on it isn’t the best, but at this price- who can complain?

Here are the specs:

  • Size: 11″ x 18″
  • Weight: 1.1 ounces
  • Dry Time: 2 hours
  • Absorption: 6x weight

If you are on a budget, there is no reason not to pick up the Lunatec Microfiber Towel.

Lightload Towels

Compressed Survival Towel

Lightload Towel

Lyocell, Lightweight, and Tiny

This tiny vacuum-packed full-sized towel is a marvel that earns a spot in any survival kit.

*Price at time of publishing; check for price changes or sales.

A Lightload towel is a marvel of nature.  It is vacuum sealed into a tiny plastic wrapper making it extremely easy to store away in your bug out bag, get home bag, or car kit. When you open it and get it wet, it expands out to a full-size beach towel. Even though the wrapper is not reusable, the towel is reusable and can easily be folded into a small ziplock bag after use. It is made of 100% viscose, which is basically fibers created from wood pulp, which means you can safely use this towel for kindling! 

The cheap price won’t make you think twice about cutting these into ribbons to use as cordage or tinder if needed. The towels take up hardly any space when packed and are lighter weight than even a bandana.  The regular Lightload towels are about a dollar cheaper, but really don’t hold up as well as the newer extra strength towel. They still aren’t the most durable towel out there, but their versatility, absorbency, and pack-ability make them an auto-include for your kit.

Here are the stats:

  • Size: 36″ x 60″
  • Packed Size: 3.5″ x 3.5″ x 1″
  • Weight: 5 ounces
  • Dry Time: 2 hours
  • Absorption: 9.5x weight

Grab a Lightload Beach Towel to stow in any kit.

Everything We Recommend

Lightload Towels

Lightload Towel

This tiny vacuum-packed full-sized towel is a marvel that earns a spot in any survival kit.

Where to Buy

$9* at Amazon

*at time of reviewing

The Towels We Compared

Our research narrowed the field down to several types and brands of towels that we compared: Lightload, 4Monster, Rainleaf, Lunatec, UST, SOL, PackTowl, and more.

You can see our full list of review criteria below in the What to Look For section, with an explanation for each.

We considered a wide range of towels made from all sorts of materials. From standard linen closet towels with cotton-poly blends all the way to compressed towels, most had their pros and cons. Finding the right blend of absorbency, durability, and size/weight was more difficult than you might think.

We’re always looking for new and better equipment, so if you have a towel that you swear by let us know in the comments. We review most of our tested equipment annually, so we can always get it in the next roundup round and see if it makes the cut and we can see if it will beat out our top picks.

What to Look For

The best survival towel has several important features to look for:

  1. Value
  2. Absorbency
  3. Comfort
  4. Size & Weight
  5. Durability

When you get the right blend of these, you can find a towel that will help with a wide range of tasks without being bulky. Below, we break down what each of these features means for towels that truly set themselves apart.

Value: Cost vs. Benefit

The amount of money you spend on something like a simple towel shouldn’t blow out your entire budget. There are plenty of cheap options or you can grab one out of the linen closet if you are on a really tight budget.

You never want to spend too much money on one resource, especially something that isn’t a survival necessity. It’s better to diversify your preparedness gear to make sure you are covered for a wide range of scenarios.


Towels have a purpose, and that is to absorb liquids. Nothing will get me angry quicker than a single-purpose item that is terrible at what it is designed for. Picking a towel that doesn’t absorb well is not what we are after. We’ll be taking a look at how much liquid they can absorb compared to their weight. At the same time, we want a towel that dries quickly so it can be reused.


When I lived as a single military guy living in a trailer in West Texas, I had the worst bath towels you could imagine. It was like dragging sandpaper across your body every morning after a shower. Fast forward a few years and my wife has us hooked up now with the plushest towels I’ve ever felt. I could even sleep with one as a pillow if I wanted to, whereas I wouldn’t even use my old ones to wipe off my Jeep. The moral of that story is that you won’t want to use a towel that feels like sandpaper, so get one you can at least tolerate.

Size & Weight

There is no point in toting a towel around if it is gigantic. The size needs to be manageable so it can be stowed away in your pack. Huge towels work great at home, but we are looking for portability and a large towel just won’t cut it. Leave the beach blankets at home or on the beach.

For the same reasons we don’t want a giant towel, we don’t want a heavy one. The two aren’t necessarily tied together because they do make towels that are dense and heavy, but we will just steer clear of both the heavy and the large towels.


This is the reason we aren’t going to go suggesting some paper shop towels in our picks above. While that might make a good inclusion for a get home bag, a bug out bag needs tools that are versatile, durable, and robust.

How to Use a Survival Towel

When you pack something in a bug out bag, you want to be able to use it for multiple applications. Most towels are pretty versatile. A few things that a towel will be able to do in a survival situation include:

  • dry yourself off (of course)
  • wash yourself
  • absorb liquid
  • make a makeshift water debris filter
  • dry clothes faster
  • use as a mask
  • head covering/scarf
  • use as insulation
  • supplement your first aid kit bandages
  • diaper
  • fire starter (only on one of our choices below)
  • cut for cordage
  • wave to signal

The list goes on and on. Although many of these uses double with a bandana or shemagh, the absorbency, hygiene, and insulation uses are hard to achieve with those. Plus you know that when it comes to tools and preparedness, two is one and one is none.

Who Needs a Survival Towel?

A survival towel isn’t a survival necessity on its own, but it is good to have for hygiene and a wide range of other purposes.

Because of that, we suggest that you consider putting a towel in these kits:

A towel is versatile, so you may find yourself using it for camping, sporting events, and other places you may need to towel off.

How We Review Products: We research thoroughly before selecting the best products to review. We consult experts in the field for a better understanding of what makes the gear great. Hours on end are spent field testing gear in stressful conditions. We assign performance criteria and impartially rate each tested item. After our review process, some of the items reviewed end up in our giveaways.

Sources and References

All of our experience and the testing we do to determine the best survival towel is useless without listing our research sources and references. We leaned on these for the book knowledge that we paired with our hands-on testing and practical military and prepping experience:

Syahbudin, S., et al. (2021). Minsyafah: Muslimah Smart Towel. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia. Pages 102-104. (Source)

Singh, J., et al. (2014). Performance of Terry Towel – A Critical Review. Part I: Water Absorbency. Journal of Textile and Apparel Technology Management. Volume 9. Issue 1. Pages 1-14. (Source)

Uyanik, S., et al. (2018). The Properties of Stiffness and Absorbency in Knit Towel Fabrics. Textile and Apparel. Volume 28. Issue 3. Pages 189-194. (Source)

The Final Word

It was a hard task to find the best survival towel. It really came down to storability vs. durability between the microfiber varieties and the light-load towels.

Douglas Adams wrote in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, “A towel is the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have.”  While he is obviously a comedy writer, a towel is pretty useful and should not be overlooked when you are getting together your survival kits. 

Here are some other guides our subscribers have found useful:

We presented quite a lot of information, but as always: if you have any questions let us know and we would be happy to help. Our research and testing found the 4Monster Microfiber Towel to be the best option given its value, ignition, burn time, profile, and weather resistance.

Keep exploring, stay prepared, and be safe.

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The Best Survival Towel

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