Sea to Summit Tek Towel Review: I Bought & Tested It
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Rating and Summary
To cut a long story short, after buying 9 other camping towels and testing all the towels together, the Sea to Summit Tek towel was the worst performing. In fact, it had an overall performance that was even worse than a cotton towel.
So, I won’t be able to recommend this Sea to Summit Tek towel, and you’re better off with a regular cotton towel that you grab off your shelves at home. (Sorry, Sea to Summit. I do love your other products though.)
Check out these ratings; pretty dismal, huh?
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Check out the Sea to Summit Tek Towel:
Here’s what we’re going to discuss here:
- In the Box
I bought the Sea to Summit Tek towel with a whole bunch of other Sea to Summit products, and they all came in a cardboard box (you can check out the video for the unboxing process; it’s much nicer through video).
Here’s what the Sea to Summit Tek towel packaging looks like, both front and back:
In the Box
So, what do you get when you buy a Sea to Summit Tek towel? You get a storage pouch, the Tek towel, and an instruction manual.
The following specifications are from my personal measurements of the Sea to Summit Tek towel (and differ a little from the marketed dimensions by Sea to Summit):
- Length: 47.75in / 121cm;
- Width: 23in / 58cm;
- Weight of towel: 9.2oz / 260g;
- Weight of storage pouch: 2.05oz / 58g;
- Packed size: 8 x 5 x 3in / 20 x 13 x 8cm;
- Blend: 70% polyester and 30% nylon; and
- Made in: China.
The Tek 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. You can also just hang it on a tree to dry without the loop. And if you’re at home, it is machine washable.
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. It also has ventilation in case you need to pack your towel up without fully drying it.
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 Sea to Summit Tek towel in it. After the Tek towel 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 Sea to Summit Tek towel absorbed 1,090mL (or 36.9 fluid ounces) of water. Since it weighs 260 grams, total absorbency is 1,090 divided by 260, which is about 4.2 times.
I did the same thing to a similar sized cotton towel and found that it had a much lower absorbency of 3.26 times.
After soaking the Sea to Summit Tek towel, I wringed out as much water as possible. After wringing, the Tek towel weighed 568 grams, or 20 ounces. Since its original weight is 260 grams, this means that 308mL (or 10.4 fluid ounces) of water was left (568 deducted by 260 is 308, and 1mL = 1 gram). Therefore, the percentage of water left is 308mL (water left) divided by 1,090mL (total water absorbed), which means that only 28% of water was left.
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 Sea to Summit Tek towel to dry after being completely soaked and wringed out as much as possible (for example, drying your towel after you wash it while camping).
As mentioned above, the Tek towel clocks in at 568 grams (or 20 ounces) after wringing. When left outdoors, the Tek towel takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes to dry; and when left indoors, it takes about 18.5 hours to dry.
I weighed the Tek towel at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying, and here they are:
- 0 hours: 568g / 20oz (0% dry)
- 0.5 hours: 430g / 15.2oz (45% dry)
- 1 hour: 349g / 12.3oz (71% dry)
- 1 hour 40 mins: 260g / 9.2oz (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 568g / 20oz (0% dry)
- 12 hours: 356g / 12.6oz (69% dry)
- 18.5 hours: 260g / 9.2oz (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.
Note: I actually had more timings than what I put above, but I seem to have lost some of the timings/research that I conducted. Oh well.
Drying Test 2 (100mL)
This second drying test measures how long it’ll take for 100mL/3.4fl oz 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 Sea to Summit Tek towel’s original weight is 260 grams, adding 100mL (3.4fl oz) to it will bring its weight to 360 grams (or 12.7 ounces). When left outdoors, the Sea to Summit Tek towel takes about 45 minutes to dry; when left indoors, it takes about 7.5 hours to dry.
Again, I weighed the Tek towel at certain time intervals to determine the percentage of drying:
- 0 mins: 360g / 12.7oz (0% dry)
- 20 mins: 309g / 10.9oz (51% dry)
- 45 mins: 260g / 9.2oz (100% dry)
- 0 hours: 360g / 12.7oz (0% dry)
- 3 hours: 310g / 10.9oz (50% dry)
- 7.5 hours: 260g / 9.2oz (100% dry)
In contrast, the cotton towel took 40 minutes to dry outdoors, and 7 hours to dry indoors. I was surprised to find that the Sea to Summit Tek towel actually dried more slowly than the cotton towel.
For the first odor resistance test, I went to the beach and soaked the Sea to Summit Tek 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 Sea to Summit Tek towel had a sour smell. It was definitely unpleasant and not quite bearable. I don’t think that the Tek towel is treated chemically in any way, so that explains why the odor resistance isn’t that good.
For the second odor resistance test, I showered, and then toweled off with the Sea to Summit Tek towel once, then sealed it in the plastic bag for 4 days, or 96 hours, as well.
After the 4-day period, the Tek towel had a faint musky smell. While not too bad, and nothing as terrible smelling as the sour smell, it had one of the worst results of all my camping towels.
Grass and Dirt Test
For the grass and dirt test, I dragged the Sea to Summit Tek towel along some grass and also stepped on it.
After picking it up to check, I found out that the Tek towel picked up a lot of grass and dirt.
Then, I shook the Tek towel to see whether the grass and dirt will come off. Some didn’t, and I had to manually extract them by hand. Check out the YouTube video linked in the beginning of this post for the shaking process.
I did the same to the cotton towel, which picked up much less dirt (though this dirt also couldn’t be shaken off). Overall, while both towels didn’t do very well in this test, I still think that the cotton towel did better than the Tek towel.
For the sand test, I covered the Sea to Summit Tek towel with sand to see how much would stick. Basically, the same thing as the grass test above.
There was quite a bit of sand that stuck to the Tek towel. Even after shaking the Tek towel, there was still some sand that was stuck to it.
On the other hand, for the cotton towel, while some sand stuck to it at first, shaking it did the job and it was totally clean after.
Surprisingly, again, the cotton towel did better than the Tek towel.
The Sea to Summit Tek towel weighs 260 grams, or 9.2 ounces, whereas a similar-sized non-fluffy cotton towel weighs 337 grams, or 11.9 ounces.
The Tek towel is also more compact. Here’s what it looks like beside the cotton towel from the side.
Both the Tek towel 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 Tek towel, first fold it in thirds, then half it, then half it again, then roll it up and squeeze it back into the pouch. You can also just stuff it back into the pouch without folding, though it might be a tight fit.
Quality and Comfort
The Sea to Summit Tek towel might be the softest and least stiff camping towel that I’ve got. It didn’t stick to my skin that much, so I could wipe instead of patting down. The Tek towel also has a luxurious feel, and overall, it’s a pretty comfortable camping towel.
As for quality, the stitching doesn’t seem tight, and has started to fray after a few months of usage.
I also noticed a little bit of material coming apart.
After 4 months, the Tek towel lost about 1% of its original weight. Also, the lime green color bleeds a little bit when washed.
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 is a little heavy.
So, while the Tek towel is a comfortable towel, the quality might be a little lacking.
Pros and Cons
As for pros (and I’m trying really hard to come up with pros here), the Tek towel is one of the few camping towels with an absorbency of over 4x, and wrings out 72% of the water it absorbs (although honestly, it takes quite a while to dry after wringing. So maybe even this isn’t a pro at all.). It is also a decently comfortable camping towel.
However, for cons, the Tek towel dried slower than my cotton towel, and is my slowest drying camping towel. It doesn’t fare well against grass, dirt and sand, and tends to pick up odors. Also, the material sheds and has started to fray, so I’m not convinced as to its quality as well. And being one of the more expensive towels, I find that it’s quite overpriced.
To sum this up really quickly, no, I would not recommend the Sea to Summit Tek Towel. As much as I love Sea to Summit and I have a lot of their products, the Tek towel was a disappointment. Compared to a regular cotton towel, the Tek towel dries slower and picks up more dirt. Compared to other camping towels that I bought, the Tek towel is one of the worst-smelling, and I don’t like the fact that the material has started coming apart after just a few months.
At the same time, I’ll admit that the Tek towel is one of the most absorbent towels, one of the best at wringing water out, and is pretty comfortable. However, there are other camping towels out there on the market that are more absorbent, equally good at wringing water out, and much, much more comfortable.
Clearly, the cons outweigh the pros here, and the price tag makes it even more unattractive.
Bonus: Must Read!
If 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: The 10 Best Camping Towels.
Or, check out the Sea to Summit Tek Towel: