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Rating and Summary
The PackTowl Luxe is the most comfortable camping towel that I have, and comes the closest to feeling like a regular cotton towel at home. It’s fluffy, plush, soft, has perfect sizing, is true to size, does not stick to skin at all, and dries me off plenty well.
Not only that, the PackTowl Luxe is also incredibly high quality, completely odor resistant, dirt and sand repellent, super absorbent, and dries 30% faster than a cotton towel – everything you need in a good camping towel.
However, its main disadvantage is portability – it’s about double the weight of my non-fluffy camping towels, and more than double the packed size.
While the PackTowl Luxe is out of the question for backpackers and hikers, it’s a true gem for all the car and RV campers out there.
That’s why the PackTowl Luxe is my “Most Comfortable” Top Pick.
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Here’s what we’re going to discuss here:
- In the Box
I bought the PackTowl Luxe towel from REI Co-Op on sale, because the color that I bought was being discontinued. I paid US$23 for a Body size.
You can check out the retail price here on Amazon. Last I checked, REI was no longer selling the PackTowl Luxe (though you can still check it out if you prefer buying there; they might have restocked.)
I bought the PackTowl Luxe from REI with a bunch of other camping towels, and they came in a cardboard box like this:
Here’s what the front and back packaging of the PackTowl Luxe 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 storage pouch, and the PackTowl Luxe.
The care instructions are printed on the packaging.
The marketed specifications given by PackTowl for the PackTowl Luxe are kind of accurate (though not completely), but nevertheless here are my personal measurements for a Body size:
- Length: 54 inches / 137 centimeters;
- Width: 24 inches / 61 centimeters;
- Weight of towel: 305 grams / 10.8 ounces;
- Weight of storage pouch: 15 grams / 0.5 ounces;
- Packed size: 9.5 x 8 x 2 inches / 24 x 20 x 5 centimeters;
- Blend: 80% polyester and 20% nylon; and
- Made in: Vietnam.
The PackTowl Luxe 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, the Luxe is machine washable, and can be tumbled dry.
The storage pouch is made of a strong and lightweight material, and also comes with a hanging loop.
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 PackTowl Luxe towel in it.
After the PackTowl Luxe got completely soaked, I lifted it above the water and let excess water drip back into the bucket. When the water stopped dripping, I measured the water left inside the bucket.
From this testing, I found that the PackTowl Luxe absorbed 1,300 milliliters (or 44 fluid ounces) of water. Since it weighs 305 grams, total absorbency is 1,300 divided by 305, which is about 4.3 times.
I did the same thing to a similar sized cotton towel and found that it had a lower absorbency of 3.26 times. Although the PackTowl Luxe is slightly lighter, it beats the cotton towel in terms of absorbency.
After soaking the PackTowl Luxe towel, I wringed out as much water as possible.
After wringing, the PackTowl Luxe weighed 692 grams, or 24.4 ounces. After doing some calculations, I found out that only 30% of water was left. Here are the calculations in case you’re interested:
Water absorbed before wringing = 1,300 milliliters (44 fluid ounces)
Water left after wringing = 692 grams (weight after wringing) – 305 grams (original weight) = 387 grams = 387 milliliters (13.1 fluid ounces), because 1 gram = 1 milliliter.
Percentage of water left after wringing = 387 milliliters / 1,300 milliliters = 30%.
As for the cotton towel after wringing, 46% of water was left. Although both towels are about the same weight and size (actually the PackTowl Luxe is slightly lighter), the Luxe was significantly better at wringing water out.
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 PackTowl Luxe Towel to dry after being completely soaked and wringed out as much as possible (this is to mimic the situation where you’re drying your towel after you wash it while camping).
As mentioned above, the PackTowl Luxe weights 692 grams (or 24.4 ounces) after wringing.
When left outdoors, the PackTowl Luxe takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes to dry; and when left indoors, it takes about 14 hours to dry.
I weighed the PackTowl Luxe at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying, and here they are:
- 0 hours: 692 grams / 24.4 ounces (0% dry)
- 30 mins: 545 grams / 19.2 ounces (38% dry)
- 1 hour: 410 grams / 14.5 ounces (73% dry)
- 1 hour 30 mins: 305 grams / 10.8 ounces (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 692 grams / 24.4 ounces (0% dry)
- 2 hours: 620 grams / 21.9 ounces (19% dry)
- 4 hours: 575 grams / 20.3 ounces (30% dry)
- 6 hours: 521 grams / 18.4 ounces (44% dry)
- 8 hours: 482 grams / 17.0 ounces (54% dry)
- 10 hours: 420 grams / 14.8 ounces (70% dry)
- 12 hours: 365 grams / 12.9 ounces (85% dry)
- 14 hours: 305 grams / 10.8 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 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 PackTowl Luxe towel’s original weight is 305 grams, adding 100mL (3.4fl oz) to it will bring its weight to 405 grams (or 14.3 ounces). When left outdoors, the PackTowl Luxe takes about 30 minutes to dry; when left indoors, it takes about 4 hours to dry.
Again, I weighed the PackTowl Luxe at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying:
- 0 mins: 405 grams / 14.3 ounces (0% dry)
- 10 mins: 368 grams / 13.0 ounces (37% dry)
- 20 mins: 335 grams / 11.8 ounces (70% dry)
- 30 mins: 305 grams / 10.8 ounces (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 405 grams / 14.3 ounces (0% dry)
- 1 hour: 376 grams / 13.3 ounces (29% dry)
- 2 hours: 350 grams / 12.3 ounces (55% dry)
- 3 hours: 327 grams / 11.5 ounces (78% dry)
- 4 hours: 305 grams / 10.8 ounces (100% dry)
In contrast, the cotton towel took 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 PackTowl Luxe 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 PackTowl Luxe had absolutely no smell at all. The Luxe is treated with Polygiene odor control, 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 PackTowl Luxe once, then sealed it into a plastic bag immediately, also for 4 days.
After the 4 days were up, again, the PackTowl Luxe had no smell. This means that if you’re in a rush, and you need to pack your Luxe without first drying it, the Polygiene odor control will prevent odors from developing, and fantastically at that.
For the third and last odor resistance test, I used the PackTowl Luxe every single day for 7 days without washing it. In between uses, I hung the Luxe indoors on a rack.
After the 7 days of continuous usage, the PackTowl Luxe had no smell at all. I’m absolutely sure that I could have gone weeks 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 PackTowl Luxe towel along some grass and also stepped on it.
After picking it up to check, I found that the PackTowl Luxe picked up quite a bit of stray leaves and dirt, and looks like this:
Then, I shook the Luxe to see whether the stray leaves and dirt would fall off. They did, and pretty easily at that. I didn’t even have to shake vigorously, and the PackTowl Luxe was clean after shaking. (You might want to check out the YouTube video on this to see how easily it fell off.)
I did the same to the cotton towel, which picked up less dirt; However, that couldn’t shake off easily (there were still tiny pieces of dirt stuck when I got home).
For the sand test, I covered both the PackTowl Luxe towel and the cotton towel with sand. Basically, the same thing as the grass test above. Some sand stuck to the PackTowl Luxe after picking it up from the beach, and here’s what it looked like:
It was incredibly easy to shake the sand off. In fact, after I just lightly shook the PackTowl Luxe one time, and all the sand fell off. (To see this, you might want to check out the video embedded at the beginning of the blog post.)
As for the cotton towel, it was clean after shaking as well, but it took more shakes to dislodge all the sand.
The Packtowl Luxe weighs 305 grams, or 10.8 ounces, whereas a similar-sized non-fluffy cotton towel weighs 337 grams, or 11.9 ounces.
Here’s what it looks like beside the cotton towel from the side. Even though the Luxe is fluffier, it’s lighter and it packs down slightly smaller in my opinion.
Both the Luxe and its storage pouch come with hanging loops for easy carry and drying.
Unfortunately, if you’re not tall like me, the Luxe will drag on the ground if you hang it on your pack.
To fold the Luxe, first fold it in thirds, then fold it in thirds again, then lastly fold it in half. You can also just stuff it back into the pouch easily without folding.
Comfort and Quality
The Packtowl Luxe is extremely soft, isn’t stiff at all, and it feels almost like a regular cotton bath towel. It’s very comfortable, because it does not stick to my skin. It’s also great for drying off, and my skin does not feel wet at all. As for sizing, its dimensions are pretty accurate, and it’s the perfect size for a shower towel, not too big, not too small.
As for quality, the stitching is tight and consistent with no gaps, and hasn’t frayed at all. The material is still entirely intact, with no loose threads or fraying. After about 4 months of light usage, the weight of the Packtowl Luxe was still the same, so no material was lost. There was a little bit of bleeding on the first wash, but subsequent washes were all good.
The hanging loop is also high quality and secure, but the storage pouch has loose threads and a little bit of fraying on the inside. This hasn’t affected my use of the pouch though, and the rest of the pouch has been holding up really well.
To sum up, the Packtowl Luxe is incredibly comfortable, and 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 Packtowl Luxe is ultra-soft and comfortable, and comes the closest to feeling like a regular cotton towel. It is very absorbent, dries you off well, and is a great size for a shower towel. It dries faster than a cotton towel, while at the same time packing down to a smaller size. It also doesn’t retain odors. From my experience and testing, I agree with all of this.
On the other hand, negative reviews said that the Packtowl Luxe is not the fastest drying towel, it’s too big and heavy for backpacking or hiking, and tends to pick up a lot of dirt and grass. Some reviews also said that there’s a smell out of the box. I agree with the first 2 points, but my Packtowl Luxe shook off dry grass and sand easily, and there’s no smell out of the box.
Pros and Cons
For pros, the Packtowl Luxe is super soft and one of my most comfortable camping towels, and for me it even doubles as my everyday shower towel. The material and stitching is high quality, and the towel has been very durable. Its Polygiene odor control and resistance is incredible, and there was no smell at all after soaking it entirely with seawater and sealing it in a plastic bag for 96 hours. My Packtowl Luxe was also one of my most absorbent camping towels, with an absorbency of 4.3x, and one of the best at wringing water out.
As for cons, the Packtowl Luxe was one of my heaviest and biggest camping towels, and while it’s not that expensive, it’s pricier than average.
For drying, the Packtowl Luxe dries about 30% faster than a cotton towel. However, when compared to other camping towels, the Luxe has only an average drying time, and tends to pick up a little more grass and sand, though it is very easy to shake off. So, neither a pro nor a con for these.
Would I recommend the Packtowl Luxe?
Without a doubt, I would recommend the Luxe to people who hate the feeling of microfiber towels, and who prioritize something that’s more comfortable and luxurious. For these people, the Packtowl Luxe is undoubtedly the best camping towel on the market.
Compared to a regular cotton towel, the Packtowl Luxe is more absorbent, easier to wring out, dries 30% faster, has infinitely better odor resistance and control, is more dirt repellent and is more compact and lightweight. Basically, it beats a cotton towel in every aspect you can think of.
However, compared to other camping towels that I have, it is a bit on the heavier side, and doesn’t pack down as small. So, if you’re backpacking or hiking, this will not be the towel for you.
But if you’re car camping or glamping, and you love luxurious and comfortable camping towels, then the Packtowl Luxe will be the best camping towel for you.
If the Packtowl Luxe is not for you, and you’re looking for something more portable, 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