Discovery Trekking Extreme Ultralite Backpacking Towel
Size Tested: 34″ x 28″
Material: Polartec PowerDry with Polygiene
Weight: <3 oz.
When it comes to traveling and backpacking, a towel is often considered a luxury that you can do without. It adds weight, and if it gets wet, who wants to carry that soggy mess around in your pack all day?
Discovery Trekking Outfitters’ ultralight towels solve some of these issues. They’re lightweight, they dry quickly, and they have Polygiene technology to keep the odors down. Five of our reviewers tested these towels during Blister’s ski trip to New Zealand in August, and the following piece combines some of their overall impressions.
First off, let’s talk about the towel’s drying abilities.
Jonathan: My initial impression was that the towel would be way too thin to actually absorb water after a shower. But I’ve been impressed. It’s of course not a super plush next-to-skin feel, but it’s effective, and it’s very compact.
And that’s good news, because I almost always forget to pack a towel when I travel. And truth be told, I just don’t want to pack a towel because the ones that work tend to take up a lot of room in a bag.
Paul: I used this towel several times during our trip and was surprised by how well it absorbed water. I think it’s at least as good as a similar packtowel (a previous generation of the Cascade Designs UltraLite), I’ve used in the past. The dry time of the Discovery Trekking towel was actually a little better than that of the Cascade Designs one.
Julia: My biggest gripes with travel towels is the way they feel on my skin (they’re usually too fleecy), and their inability to soak up much water. The Discovery Trekking towel was the most comfortable packtowel I’ve used, and it absorbed water better than the others I’ve tried, including a travel / backpacking towel from MSR.
I would maybe have liked a bigger size, but, given how small this one was (34×28), it dried me well. Plus, it was consistently dry and ready to pack up in the morning.
Justin: I brought the Extreme Ultralite Backpacking towel on a kayak trip and used it to sponge out my boat. After wringing it out, it dried within five minutes. This towel will likely be a part of my kit for most adventures to come.
Dana: I have used towels like this in the past on long backpacking or bike-packing trips. One was a semi-rigid piece of material that only pushed water around on my skin. The next one I owned was made by Sea to Summit, and while it worked a lot better, it still didn’t absorb water very well. Both of these towels felt pretty rough and scratchy on the skin.
The Discovery Trekking towel feels softer on my skin and does seem to absorb water better than the previous ones I’ve used. It’s still a thin, lightweight towel, so the amount of water it can soak up is limited, but it definitely feels nicer to the touch.
Dana: I would definitely take this towel with me on another trip, although I do wish it was more rectangular so I could wrap it around my waist.
Justin: I love how compact and minimal this towel is, but I definitely think it should be bigger. Before I left New Zealand, I surfed for a day. But when I went to change out of my wetsuit “surf style” (e.g. hiding behind the towel), it didn’t go very well. This particular towel is just too small. But thankfully, Discovery Trekking Outfitters sells a larger version.
Jonathan: While each of us has used the 34″ x 28″ size, I’ve also been using the larger 34″x58″ size, and I’ve definitely found it to be plenty big while remaining ridiculously packable. Anymore, if I’m headed to the gym to run, I’ll bring the 34″x28″ size, but if it’s going to be an all-purpose towel for travelling, I grab the 34″ x 58″ towel.
Dana: When I compared this towel side-by-side with the Sea to Summit towel, I found that the Discovery Trekking towel, even though its almost twice as long, folded up to approximately half the size of the Sea to Summit one—Discovery Trekking, 32”x28”; Sea to Summit, 30”x16.” Nice.
Julia: I almost never bring a towel backpacking since I always convince myself that it’s a luxury and the “ultralight” backpacking towels are neither as light nor compact as I want them to be. But once I’m in the backcountry, I always end up wishing I had some sort of towel.
The Discovery Trekking towel is one that I would definitely take on backpacking trips and I’m sure it will accompany me on future trips where weight and space are issues.
Jonathan: I’ve run the towel through a washer and drier five or six times now, and it shows no signs of wear or pilling.
We all would travel with this towel again. We found that it packed down small and that its “post-shower performance” was better than many of the other quick-dry packtowels we’ve used in the past. That said, we recommend that you err toward the larger size if you’re debating which one to buy.
If you’re looking for a lightweight, super packable towel for outdoor pursuits and air travel, check this one out from Discovery Trekking.