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- Rating and Summary
- Product Details
- Testing and Performance
- What Other Reviews Say
- Pros and Cons
- 2 Tips for Reducing Weight
Rating and Summary
The Matador NanoDry towel is an absolute beast as a backpacking towel, and even as a camping towel.
The Matador NanoDry’s biggest appeal is its weight – Coming in at just 68 grams or 2.4 ounces, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more lightweight shower towel in the market. (I know I was.)
And let’s not forget its other insane advantages – It dries 100% faster than a cotton towel outdoors, it picks up no odors at all, and nothing sticks to it. On top of that, it’s super high quality, and comes with a cool storage pouch (but just bear in mind that this storage pouch is heavy – 74 grams or 2.65 ounces).
However, the lightweight nature of the Matador NanoDry has also resulted in it being very thin, less comfortable, and slightly less absorbent. Nevertheless, the Matador Nanodry is an absolute steal for backpackers, hikers, or those who prioritize portability.
That’s why the Matador NanoDry is my “Best Portability + Fastest Drying” Top Pick. You simply can’t beat it in terms of performance.
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Here’s what we’re going to discuss here:
- In the Box
I bought the Matador NanoDry towel from REI Co-Op (Shower size), and paid $35 U.S. dollars for it.
The Matador NanoDry towel came in an REI Co-Op cardboard box along with a bunch of other camping products, right here:
The packaging of the Matador is actually really nice for a towel; I think it’s the nicest packaging I’ve seen in all my camping towels. Here’s what the front, back and side packaging of the Matador NanoDry looks like:
For the unboxing, you might want to watch the video embedded above instead; it’s much nicer there.
What’s in the Box?
You get a cool looking storage pouch, the Matador NanoDry towel, and a small carabiner (which comes attached to the storage pouch, though it can be detached easily).
The marketed dimensions given by Matador for their NanoDry towel is kind of accurate, but I’ll just give you my personal measurements anyway. These are for the Shower size (not to be confused with the smaller Trek size):
- Length: 46 inches / 117 centimeters;
- Width: 23.5 inches / 60 centimeters;
- Weight of towel: 68 grams / 2.4 ounces;
- Weight of storage pouch: 74 grams / 2.6 ounces;
- Packed size: 5 x 3 x 2 inches / 13 x 8 x 5 centimeters;
- Blend: 85% polyester and 15% nylon; and
- Made in: China.
The Matador Nanodry towel has a hanging loop, so you can hang your towel on a hook at home, on a clothesline in the outdoors, or even on your pack when you’re hiking.
For additional convenience, it is also machine washable.
Its storage pouch is made of silicone, and has ventilation on one side. The pouch also comes with a hanging loop plus a carabiner, so you can hang it on your pack.
Testing and Performance
And now, moving on to the meat of this blog post, here’s what we’re going to discuss next:
- Drying 1
- Drying 2
- Odor Resistance
- Grass/Dirt Repellence
- Sand Repellence
- Quality and Comfort
To test absorbency, I measured the amount of water in this blue bucket, and soaked the Matador NanoDry towel in it.
After the Matador NanoDry got completely soaked, I lifted it above the water and let excess water drip back into the bucket. When the water stopped dripping from the towel, I measured the water left inside the bucket.
From this testing, I found that the Matador NanoDry absorbed 150 milliliters (or 5.1 fluid ounces) of water. Since it weighs 68 grams, total absorbency is 150 divided by 68, which is about 2.2 times.
I did the same thing to a similar sized cotton towel and found that it had a much higher absorbency of 3.26 times. As the cotton towel is a lot fluffier, it beats the Matador Nanodry in terms of absorbency.
After soaking the Matador NanoDry towel, I wringed out as much water as possible.
After wringing, the Matador NanoDry weighed 133 grams, or 4.7 ounces. After doing some calculations, I found out that 43% of water was left. Here are the calculations in case you’re interested:
Water absorbed before wringing = 150 milliliters (5.1 fluid ounces)
Water left after wringing = 133 grams (weight after wringing) – 68 grams (original weight) = 65 grams = 65 milliliters (2.2 fluid ounces), because 1 gram = 1 milliliter.
Percentage of water left after wringing = 65 milliliters / 150 milliliters = 43%.
As for the cotton towel after wringing, 46% of water was left.
Drying Test 1 (With Wringing)
To test drying time, I conducted 2 separate drying tests.
This first drying test measures how long it’ll take the Matador NanoDry Towel to dry after being completely soaked and wringed out as much as possible (this is to recreate the situation where you’re drying your towel after you wash it while camping).
As mentioned above, the Matador NanoDry weights 133 grams (or 4.7 ounces) after wringing.
When left outdoors, the Matador NanoDry takes just 14 minutes to dry; and when left indoors, it takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to dry.
I weighed the Matador NanoDry at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying, and here they are:
- 0 mins: 133 grams / 4.7 ounces (0% dry)
- 5 mins: 110 grams / 3.9 ounces (35% dry)
- 10 mins: 83 grams / 2.9 ounces (77% dry)
- 14 mins: 68 grams / 2.4 ounces (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 133 grams / 4.7 ounces (0% dry)
- 1 hour: 94 grams / 3.3 ounces (60% dry)
- 1 hour 45 mins: 68 grams / 2.4 ounces (100% dry)
On the other hand, the cotton towel took 2 hours and 15 minutes to dry outdoors, and a whopping 27 hours to dry indoors.
Drying Test 2 (100mL)
This second drying test measures how long it’ll take for 100 milliliters / 3.4 fluid ounces of water to dry off. This is to recreate a situation where you take a shower and dry off with the Matador NanoDry towel while camping, and also to conduct a more fair drying test (where all the towels that I test absorb the same amount of water – 100mL).
As the Matador NanoDry towel’s original weight is 68 grams, adding 100mL (3.4fl oz) to it will bring its weight to 168 grams (or 5.9 ounces). When left outdoors, the Matador NanoDry takes about 20 minutes to dry; when left indoors, it takes about 2.5 hours to dry.
Again, I weighed the Matador NanoDry at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying:
- 0 mins: 168 grams / 5.9 ounces (0% dry)
- 10 mins: 115 grams / 4.1 ounces (53% dry)
- 20 mins: 68 grams / 2.4 ounces (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 168 grams / 5.9 ounces (0% dry)
- 1 hour: 127 grams / 4.5 ounces (41% dry)
- 2 hours: 86 grams / 3.0 ounces (82% dry)
- 2.5 hours: 68 grams / 2.4 ounces (100% dry)
In contrast, the cotton towel took a whopping 40 minutes to dry outdoors, and 7 hours to dry indoors.
For the first odor resistance test, I went to the beach and soaked the Matador NanoDry towel in seawater. After, I wringed out as much seawater as I could, and sealed the towel in a plastic bag for 4 days, or 96 hours.
After the 4 days, the Matador NanoDry had absolutely no smell at all. The Matador is treated with an antimicrobial coating, so that explains why it did so well in the odor resistance tests.
For the second odor resistance test, I took a shower and then dried off with the Matador NanoDry once, then sealed it into a plastic bag immediately, also for 4 days.
After the 4 days were up, again, the Matador NanoDry had no smell. This means that if you’re in a rush, and you need to pack your Matador towel without first drying it, the antimicrobial coating will prevent odors from developing, and fantastically at that.
For the third and last odor resistance test, I used the Matador NanoDry every single day for 7 days without washing it. In between uses, I hung the Matador towel indoors on a rack.
After the 7 days of continuous usage, the Matador NanoDry had no smell at all. I’m absolutely sure that I could have gone 2 weeks (maybe even more) without washing it at all, but I decided not to (for hygiene reasons).
In contrast, the cotton towel started smelling like rotten food in the first seawater test, smelled musky in the second shower test, and had a musky (but not too strong) smell in the third continuous use test.
Grass and Dirt
For the grass and dirt test, I dragged the Matador NanoDry towel along some grass and also stepped on it.
After picking it up to check, I found that the Matador NanoDry picked up no dirt at all; it only picked up a little bit of moisture. I didn’t even need to shake the Matador NanoDry; it was already clean without shaking.
In contrast, the cotton towel picked up more dirt, which I thought came off easily after shaking, but after getting home, I noticed some dirt was still stuck to it.
For this test, the Matador clearly beats the cotton towel.
For the sand test, I covered both the Matador NanoDry towel and the cotton towel with sand. Basically, the same thing as the grass test above. Just a little bit of sand stuck to the Matador NanoDry after picking it up from the beach, and here’s what it looked like:
In fact, I think you can hardly see that there’s sand on the Matador towel at all. It was easy to shake the sand off after, and the Matador towel was completely clean after shaking.
However, even though the Matador NanoDry towel is sand repellent, which is a really nice feature to have, I wouldn’t recommend using the Matador towel as a beach towel. It’s way too lightweight, and if you’re not careful, your Matador towel could get swept away in the wind.
As for the cotton towel, it picked up much more sand, but the sand shook off easily.
The Matador Nanodry towel weighs 68 grams, or 2.4 ounces, whereas a slightly larger cotton towel weighs 337 grams, or 11.9 ounces.
The Matador is also significantly more compact. Here’s what it looks like beside the cotton towel from the side:
Both the Matador and its storage pouch come with hanging loops for easy carry and drying, and you never have to worry about the towel dragging on the floor.
To fold the Matador, first half it three times until it becomes a square, then third it, roll it up, and put it back into the pouch. Or you can just stuff it back in without folding, though it might be a tight fit.
Comfort and Quality
The Matador Nanodry towel is kind of soft, it’s smooth to the touch, and it’s not stiff at all. Compared to other camping towels, the Matador feels much thinner. However, compared to other backpacking towels, all of them have about the same thickness, or rather, thin-ness.
Because it’s thin, it doesn’t feel plush or super comfortable, and might take some getting used to. As for sizing, the Matador is slightly smaller than my regular cotton bath towel.
It does stick to my skin, so I have to pat instead of wipe. It surprisingly does not leave me feeling like my skin is still damp after drying off. However, if I were to share this towel with someone else of my size (5’3”, 115lbs.), the Matador will be completely soaked and will need to be wringed out.
As for quality, after about 4 months of light usage, the weight of the Matador Nanodry towel was still the same, so no material was lost. The material is entirely intact with no loose threads or fraying. I actually don’t see any stitching on the edges, but there’s absolutely no fraying at all after 4 months, so whatever it is that’s holding the towel together, it’s working well.
However, the color does bleed quite a bit, so you might want to wash it a few times before using it, or just be careful when washing because it might stain. My Matador tag used to be white, and now it’s pink.
The hanging loop is useful and secure, and the catch does not feel stiff. As for the storage pouch, it feels high quality and strong, and it looks really cool.
To sum up, the Matador Nanodry isn’t the most comfortable towel, but the quality is amazing.
What Other Reviews Say
I read the reviews on REI, and here’s what I found.
Positive reviews said that the Matador Nanodry Towel is super compact, lightweight, absorbent and dries you off well. It also dries very quickly, does not smell, is easy to wring out and to clean, and is durable. Lastly, it has a good size, and is almost as large as a regular shower towel. I actually do agree with all these positive reviews.
On the other hand, negative reviews said that the Matador Nanodry gets soaked fast, the size might not cover you up and can be bigger, it’s expensive, it bleeds and there are issues with the casing. For the casing, reviewers said that it’s heavy, the towel tends to fall out off the casing, and it’s difficult to fit the towel back in.
I don’t agree with some of these points. It does get soaked faster than my other camping towels, but for me, the Matador can dry me off completely after a shower, so no issues for me.
The Matador is also almost as big as my regular bath towel, though I guess some people might like it bigger. It is expensive, it does bleed, and the casing is heavy. But my Matador does not fall out of the casing easily, and it fits back in just fine.
Pros and Cons
As for pros, the Matador Nanodry is the lightest and most compact camping/backpacking towel that I have. It is also the fastest drying towel that I have, and took just 14 minutes to dry in the hot sun after being completely soaked, and after wringing excess water out. The Matador Nanodry also has excellent odor resistance, and it did not smell at all even after I soaked it in seawater and sealed it in a plastic bag for 96 hours. It’s also the most outstanding towel in terms of grass, dirt and sand repellence, and nothing sticks to it. Lastly, it’s high quality and very durable.
As for cons, the casing is shockingly heavy, and weighs more than the towel itself. The Matador Nanodry also bleeds for the first 4-5 washes, and does stain white fabrics. Also, it’s one of my most expensive towels.
To be completely transparent, the Matador Nanodry’s absorbency of 2.2x is one of the lowest of all the towels that I have. It’s also one of the strangest feeling at first. This is because of how thin and minimal the material is. But I really do feel that it dries me off well, and I got used to the feeling after a few days of using it, so I did not put these points as cons, but do take note of them if they’re important to you.
2 Tips for Reducing Weight
First, if every ounce counts for you, you could just leave the storage pouch at home, and use a tiny ziplock bag instead. This has negligible weight, while keeping the Matador Nanodry as compressed as possible, and separate from everything else. This will not have any ventilation though, so do dry the Matador before keeping it up in this.
Second, for the ultra-minimalists, this Matador Nanodry Shower size towel has a tiny counterpart, which is the Matador Nanodry Trek size, which is much smaller and lighter. For a full review on the tiny Matador Trek towel, you can check out this link right here: Matador NanoDry Trek Towel Review (The Tiny Matador NanoDry)
Would I recommend the Matador Nanodry Shower towel?
For backpacking, hiking, or when space and weight is a priority, the Matador Nanodry is an absolute gem. It is an outstanding and high quality camping and backpacking towel that cannot be beat in -terms of portability, drying time, odor resistance and dirt repellence.
What it does sacrifice is comfort and luxury, but if you can get used to the feeling, and it might take a few days, this is easily the best towel for you.
However, if you prioritize comfort and plush towels, and you need something that feels much closer to a regular bath towel, and you want to check out other camping towel options in the market, I do a complete review on the 10 Best Camping Towels out there, so you could consider check out this post: 10 Best Camping Towels
You can also check out this post: 5 Best Backpacking Towels.