Sea to Summit Pocket Towel Review: I Bought & Tested it

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Rating and Summary

The Sea to Summit Pocket Towel is an incredibly silky soft backpacking and camping towel, one of the nicest materials in all of the towels that I bought and tested.

However, it’s pretty sticky against the skin, and the quality isn’t the best. On top of that, the Pocket Towel is not particularly outstanding in any aspect when compared to other backpacking and camping towels.

Me holding the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.
6.3
Absorbency
8.2
Wringing
8
Drying
9
Odor
9
Grass
8
Sand
9
Portability
4.5
Comfort
6.8
Quality
Overall Score 7.6 / 10
Pros: Silky soft, does not bleed much
Cons: Sticks to skin, quality is not the best
Price: I paid US$20 for this.

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Product Details

Here’s what we’re going to discuss here:

  • Price
  • Unboxing
  • In the Box
  • Specifications
  • Features

Price

I bought the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel from a local retailer on sale, and paid about $20 U.S. dollars for the Large size.

You can check out the retail price here on Backcountry or Amazon.

Unboxing

I bought the Sea to Summit Pocket towel along with a whole bunch of other Sea to Summit gear, and they all came together in a small cardboard box.

Here’s what the front and back of the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel looks like:

Front packaging of the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.
Back packaging of the Sea to Summit Towel.

For the unboxing or clearer images of the above, please watch the video embedded above instead; it’s much nicer there and definitely clearer too.

What’s in the Box?

What do you get when you buy a Sea to Summit Pocket Towel? You get a storage pouch, the Pocket Towel and the care instructions.

Specifications

These are my personal measurements of the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel in a Large size. These may differ from the marketed dimensions given by Sea to Summit.

  • Length: 46 inches / 117 cm;
  • Width: 22.5 inches / 57 cm;
  • Weight of towel: 4.1 ounces / 115 grams;
  • Weight of storage pouch: 0.9 ounces / 26 grams;
  • Packed size: 6 x 3 x 2 inches / 15 x 8 x 5 cm;
  • Blend: 100% polyester; and
  • Made in: China.

Features

The Sea to Summit Pocket towel has a hanging loop, so you can hang it on a hook at home, on a clothesline in the outdoors, or even on your pack when you’re hiking.

Hanging loop of the Sea to Summit Pocket towel.
Hanging loop of the Sea to Summit Pocket towel.

For additional convenience, it is also machine washable and can be tumbled dry on low heat.

The storage pouch is zippered, made of soft EVA, and also comes with a hanging loop, so you can use a carabiner to hang it outside your pack.

Hanging the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel's storage pouch on my pack.
Hanging the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel’s storage pouch on my pack.

Testing and Performance

And now, moving on to the meat of this blog post, here’s what we’re going to discuss next:

  • Absorbency
  • Wringing
  • Drying 1
  • Drying 2
  • Odor Resistance
  • Dirt Repellence
  • Sand Repellence
  • Portability
  • Quality and Comfort

Absorbency

To test absorbency, I measured the maximum amount of water the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel can absorb when soaked, which is about 350 mL / 11.8fl oz of water. As it weighs 115 grams / 4.1oz, total absorbency is 350 divided by 115, which is about 3 times.

I soaked the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel in a bucket to test its absorbency.
I soaked the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel in a bucket to test its absorbency.

I also performed the same test on a similar-sized cotton bath towel, which absorbed 1,100 mL of water and has a higher absorbency of 3.26 times.

As the cotton towel is a lot fluffier, it beats the Pocket towel in terms of absorbency, but not by much.

Wringing

After soaking the Sea to Summit Pocket towel, I wringed out as much water as possible.

I wringed out the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.
I wringed out the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.

After wringing, the Pocket towel weighed 236 grams, or 8.3 ounces. This means that 35% of water was left. Here are the calculations in case you’re interested:

Water absorbed before wringing = 350 milliliters (11.8 fluid ounces)
Water left after wringing = 236 grams (weight after wringing) – 115 grams (original weight) = 121 grams = 121 milliliters (4.1 fluid ounces), because 1 gram = 1 milliliter.
Percentage of water left after wringing = 121 milliliters / 350 milliliters = 35%.

As for the cotton towel, it weighed 842 grams, or 29.7 ounces, after wringing, and 46% of water was left.

Drying Test 1 (with Wringing)

After wringing, I left both the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel and the cotton towel to dry outdoors. This is to recreate the situation where you’re drying your towel after you wash it while backpacking.

Drying the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel outdoors.
Drying the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel outdoors.

The Pocket towel started off at 236 grams (or 8.3 ounces), and dried completely in about 32 minutes. On the other hand, the cotton towel took 2 hours and 15 minutes to dry.

When left indoors to dry after wringing, the Pocket towel took 4 hours and 30 minutes to dry completely. In contrast, the cotton towel took much longer, drying only after 27 hours.

Drying Test 2 (100mL)

For this next drying test, I measured 100mL (or 3.4 fluid ounces) of water for the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel, and also for the cotton towel, and left both to dry outdoors. This is to make sure that both towels absorbed the same amount of water.

The Pocket Towel started off at 215 grams (or 7.6 ounces), and dried completely in about 27 minutes. As for the cotton towel, it took quite a bit longer, drying in about 40 minutes.

I also conducted the same test indoors. When left indoors, the Pocket towel took 3 hours and 45 minutes to dry completely. On the other hand, the cotton towel took much longer, drying in about 7 hours.

Drying the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel indoors.
Drying the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel indoors.

Odor Resistance

I soaked both the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel and the cotton towel in seawater, wringed out whatever I could, then sealed both in separate plastic bags for 4 days, or 96 hours.

At the 4-day mark, the Pocket Towel had a damp sea smell. I also checked for mold, and there wasn’t any.

For the second odor resistance test, I took a shower and then dried off with the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel once, then sealed it into a plastic bag immediately, also for 4 days. After 4 days, the Pocket Towel had only a very faint smell.

Sealing the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel in a plastic bag to test odor resistance.
Sealing the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel in a plastic bag to test odor resistance.

For the third odor resistance test, I used the Pocket Towel every single day for 7 days without washing it. In between uses, I hung the Pocket Towel indoors on a rack.

After the 7 days of continuous use, the Pocket Towel had no smell at all.

Although the Pocket Towel isn’t chemically treated with any antimicrobial coating of sorts, it didn’t do too badly in these odor resistance tests.

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.

Dirt Repellence

For this grass and dirt repellence test, I dragged both the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel and the cotton towel along some grass and stepped on them.

The Pocket towel picked up a few specks of dirt, but it was very easy to shake the dirt off. Here’s what the Pocket towel looked like before shaking the dirt off:

Dirt picked up by the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.
Dirt picked up by the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.

The cotton towel picked up a little more dirt, which I thought came off easily, but after getting home, I noticed some dirt was still stuck to it.

For this test, the Pocket towel beats the cotton towel.

Sand Repellence

For the sand test, I covered both the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel and the cotton towel with sand. Some sand did stick to the Pocket towel, though a few good shakes got rid of it. Here’s what the Pocket Towel looked like with some sand stuck on it before shaking:

Some sand picked up by the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.
Some sand picked up by the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel.

Sand also stuck to the cotton towel, but shaking it did the job.

Portability

The Sea to Summit Pocket towel weighs 115 grams, or 4.1 ounces, whereas a similar-sized cotton towel weighs 337 grams, or 11.9 ounces. It is also significantly more compact. Here’s what it looks like beside the cotton towel from the side:

Rolled up Sea to Summit Pocket Towel (right) beside a similar sized cotton towel (left).
Rolled up Sea to Summit Pocket Towel (right) beside a similar sized cotton towel (left).

Both the Pocket towel and its storage pouch come with hanging loops for easy carry and drying, and you never have to worry about the Pocket towel dragging on the ground.

Hanging the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel on my pack.
Hanging the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel on my pack.

To fold the Pocket towel, halve it 4 times, roll it up and fit it back into the storage pouch. You can also just stuff it back into the pouch without folding, but it is quite a tight fit.

Comfort and Quality

The Sea to Summit Pocket towel is marketed to have silky soft fabric, and I can vouch for this. I love how soft it feels, and it’s not stiff at all. However, the Large size is a little smaller than a regular bath towel. I also find that it’s sticky against my skin, so I have to pat dry instead of wipe, and I feel a little bit damp after drying off.

As for quality, I don’t think the stitching is very consistent, and I find it kind of loose as well.

Stitching of the Sea to Summit Pocket is a little loose.
Stitching of the Sea to Summit Pocket is a little loose.

After about 2-3 months of light usage, my Pocket towel lost about 1 gram of material, which is about 1% of its original weight. My Lime green color is pretty good though and doesn’t bleed much.

The hanging loop is useful and secure, while the storage pouch is of good quality with smooth zippers. The only downside here is that the pouch isn’t very compressible and isn’t the most lightweight. It does look nice though.

What other Reviews Say

I read the reviews on Amazon, and here’s what I found.

Positive reviews said that the Sea to Summit Pocket towel is absorbent, compact, fast drying and soft. Do I agree with this? Well, in terms of absorbency, compactness and drying time, it’s not the best compared to my other camping and backpacking towels, but it’s not my worst towel either. Also, I do agree that it’s super soft and silky, and it’s really nice to the touch.

On the other hand, negative reviews said that the sizing runs a bit small, and you do feel a bit damp after drying off, both of which I agree with.

Pros and Cons

As for pros, the Pocket towel is silky soft as advertised, the Lime green color does not bleed much, and it’s decently dirt repellent.

The Sea to Summit Pocket Towel does not bleed much.
The Sea to Summit Pocket Towel does not bleed much.

As for cons, I find that the Pocket towel sticks to skin quite a bit, and the quality isn’t the best because of the loose stitching and 1% loss in material after a few months of light usage.

As for absorbency, wringing, drying, odor resistance and portability, the Pocket towel was only average compared to the other camping and backpacking towels that I have, so neither a pro nor a con for these.

Recommendation

Would I recommend the Sea to Summit Pocket Towel?

Compared to a regular cotton towel, it’s much better in terms of wringing, drying, odor resistance, dirt repellence and portability. However, compared to the other camping and backpacking towels that I have, while it’s not the worst, it’s not the best either.

The only thing that is really outstanding is how silky soft it is, and I really love the way it feels. But there’s nothing else that’s really great about it. Based on this, I don’t think I will be recommending the Pocket towel because there are better options available.

To check out those other options, you can click here: The 5 Best Backpacking Towels: I Bought & Tested Them All (complete with YouTube video).

Me holding all 5 backpacking towels. From left to right: Sea to Summit AirLite Towel, Matador NanoDry Trek Towel, Matador NanoDry Shower Towel, Sea to Summit Pocket Towel, and PackTowl UltraLite.
Me holding all 5 backpacking towels. From left to right: Sea to Summit AirLite Towel, Matador NanoDry Trek Towel, Matador NanoDry Shower Towel, Sea to Summit Pocket Towel, and PackTowl UltraLite.