An item I have in my Bug-Out Bag (and one I find is often criminally underrepresented) is the towel. As many of the items in my Bug-Out Bag are often used when I get out for a week or weekend trip, I have had numerous opportunities to speak to the value of having a towel. Depending on geographic location, time-of-year, and emergency circumstance, a towel can be invaluable. Ideally, you can stay dry when you need to in an emergency situation. Getting wet can’t always be avoided however, and can lead to getting cold – I know you the importance of staying warm.
It took me a number of strikeouts before I knocked my towel choice out of the park. Bringing a bar towel or wash cloths on a trip makes sense, but it wasn’t until I was actually out that I realized the need for something more. Traditional towels are bulky, don’t dry out reasonably quickly, and don’t absorb enough to make up for these disadvantages. This is when I came across the Tek Towel, by Sea-to-Summit. I now own a Tek Towel and a Dry Lite (also by Sea-to-Summit), but the Tek was the first purchase. Although I personally prefer the Tek Towel over the Dry Lite, let me tell you why I haven’t needed to switch since:
Size – I bought the 50 cm x 100 cm (20″ x 40″) ‘Medium’ Tek Towel, and it represents the perfect size for meeting a variety of needs.
I’ve used it for drying myself after swimming, and I’ve also used it for drying out wet gear. At 200 grams (7.2 oz.), I am able to easily justify including it in my BOB. What’s more, the Tek Towel comes with a handy mesh pouch that the towel easily folds back up into. The thing fits in one hand, and won’t take up much room. The Dry Lite Towel now too comes in a mesh bag, and folds up even smaller. I’m right about 6 feet tall, 170 lbs. – if a medium works perfectly for me, I can see one being able to scale accordingly to meet personal needs.
Quick-Dry – I really love hanging a towel up to dry, only to return many hours later to find it’s not much more dry than when you left it. Oh it’s just the bee’s knees, right? Seriously though, didn’t have those concerns after I bought the Tek Towel, and same goes for the Dry Lite. Most recently some friends and I did a two-day run of the Napanee River, and I brought the Tek as I figured I’d get a chance to do some swimming. Soaked, head-to-toe, and the Tek not only dried me out but was dry itself within a couple hours. I didn’t have it hanging by the fire, I wasn’t running around with it really fast trying to air-dry it; I stuck it on a branch in the semi-shade and it was good to go shortly thereafter. The Dry-Lite is even better in this regard. Both towels make use of microfibre technology – basically, these microfibres have an increased surface area that helps maximize the amount of liquid that can be absorbed. Sea-to-Summit has a pretty good video explaining how over here. Oh, and it’s machine washable.
Comfort – This is why I prefer the Tek Towel to the Dry Lite. Sea-to-Summit has shared that the Tek Towel is ideal for someone traveling, staying in hostels or activities in that vein. The Dry-Lite is the more versatile of the two, and the Pocket Towel (the kid brother of the trio) is the lightest and most compact. The Tek Towel choice was a personal one – I was willing to add a couple oz. to my pack for a more comfortable towel. Even the Tek Towel isn’t as ‘luxurious’ as advertised, but then again that’s a subjective word. I likened it to a toothbrush – all other things being equal, I want the toothbrush with the rubber comfort grips versus the plastic handle, and am not ashamed to admit it. The micorfibre is comfortable on your skin no matter what choice you make.
As an aside, one drawback to any towel is potentially smell. After multiple uses, it might start to smell a little funky. I have only had this happen to me once, and I think it might have resulted from not letting my Tek Towel dry completely after a second use.
You can’t go wrong with a towel from Sea-to-Summit, but considerations you need to have in mind are:
- How big of a towel do I need?
- How fast do I need my towel to dry?
- What might I be using my towel for?
Where do I fall on the comfort/weight continuum?
After running through these questions personally, I settled on the Medium Tek Towel. I hope I’ve convinced you of the value of including a towel in your personal Bug-Out Bag!