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nomadix retro stripe best beach towels

The Nomadix Retro Stripe is a stylish, all-purpose option. Photo: REI

The Inertia

If you’re anything like me, you have a generous collection of beach towels yet simultaneously always need a new one. Towels tend to get easily worn out, stained, or covered in wax (if you’re a surfer). Plus, it’s nice to have extras on hand for when friends visit or for when your go-to starts to smell a little funky. While you could go to Costco and get the same towel as everyone else, there are plenty of other, and dare we say better, options out there. Here are our top picks.

What are the Best Beach Towels?

Best Overall Beach Towel: Nomadix Original Towel ($40)
Best Turkish Towel: Slowtide Turkish Towel ($35)
Best “Classic” Beach Towel: Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel ($49)
Best Travel Beach Towel: Matador NanoDry Trek Towel ($35)
Most Comfortable Beach Towel: Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel ($49)


nomadix original towel lifestyle shot best beach towels

Best Overall Beach Towel
Nomadix Original Towel ($40)

Absorbency: 4
Packability: 5
Aesthetic: 4
Dry Time: 5
Overall: 4.5/5

Nomadix advertises their original towel model as the only towel you’ll ever need. The towel is a high-performance travel towel, beach towel, and yoga towel wrapped into one, so it definitely serves a wide range of purposes. Made with post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, the towel is available in a number of fun prints and is sand and pet-hair resistant. When laid out, the towel measures 30” x 72.5” and when packed down it’s only 3.5” x 7”, making it ideal for travel and storage. The towel dries quickly, while still remaining absorbent and is soft and comfy, making it an all around winner.


slowtide turkish towel best beach towels

Best Turkish Towel for the Beach
Slowtide Turkish Towel ($34)

Absorbency: 3
Packability: 4
Aesthetic: 5
Dry Time: 5
Overall: 4.25/5

Made from 100 percent sustainably sourced organic cotton, Slowtide’s turkish towels are equally functional and beautiful. The towel packs down fairly small but measures 38” x 73” when spread out, so it’s got plenty of room for hanging on the beach with friends. For a little added flair, the towel features a woven design that is visible on both sides as well as fringe at the ends. The towel isn’t quite as absorbent as some other options, so it’s best suited for warmer weather. But on the flip side, it dries quickly. Another thing I personally love about this style is when I’m finished at the beach, I wear it like a sarong or cover up for the trip home.


patagonia organic cotton towel best beach towels

Best “Classic” Beach Towel
Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel ($60)

Absorbency: 5
Packability: 3
Aesthetic: 5
Dry Time: 3
Overall: 4/5

Made from 100 percent organically grown cotton, Patagonia’s organic cotton towel is ultra soft and absorbent. The towel features a soft velour front for sand removal and comfort and a terry backside for drying off. Available in four different color options, the towel is generously sized measuring 36” x 64” and weighing 25.5 ounces. While the large cotton towel is perfect for lounging, drying off, and local beach days it isn’t the most packable option out there, so you may opt for something different during your travels.


lightweight portable towel from matador is the nanodry

Best Travel Beach Towel
Matador NanoDry Trek Towel ($35)

Absorbency: 4
Packability: 5
Aesthetic: 2
Dry Time: 5
Overall: 4/5

The Matador travel towel is specifically designed for ultralight, compact travel with maximum absorbency. Constructed from Matador’s nanofiber towel material, the travel towel absorbs 2.3 times its weight in water and fits in the palm of your hand when packed down. Weighing in at just two ounces and measuring 47 x 24 inches, the towel is as small and light as they come, making it ideal for traveling. The towel packs down into a convenient silicone case with a carabiner, so you can clip it onto your bag or backpack for easy access.


pendleton jacquard towel harding best beach towels

Most Comfortable Beach Towel
Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel ($60)

Absorbency: 5
Packability: 2
Aesthetic: 5
Dry Time: 3
Overall: 3.75/5

Pendleton’s Oversized Jacquard towel is a massive plush towel that is ultra absorbent and mega comfortable. Made from 100 percent cotton, the towel measures 40”x 70”, so it’s got plenty of space for relaxing on the beach or curling up in. This towel is definitely on the big side and does not pack down small, so it’s best suited for local trips. The towel is sheared on one side for maximum softness while it’s looped on the other side for superior absorption. A conscientious company, Pendleton makes its towels following eco-friendly standards under safe, responsible working conditions as certified by OEKO-TEX.


Comparison Table

Brand Model Price Score Notes
Nomadix Original Towel 40 4.5 Super Versatile
Slowtide Turkish Towel $34-40 4.25 Stylish Turkish Towel
Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel $60 4 Velour Front, Terry Back
Matador Nanodry $35 4 Ultralight, Compact
Pendleton Oversized Jacquard $60 3.75 Oversize, Plush

Buying Advice

beach towel buying guide for surfers

A wise man once said, “Don’t forget to bring a towel!” Photo: Cody McLain/Unsplash

What Makes a Good Beach Towel?

What makes a good towel is subjective and really comes down to what you’re looking for. Some things that I like to take into consideration are absorbency, packability, aesthetic, and how quickly it dries.


The whole point of a towel is to dry off, so if it’s not absorbent, then it isn’t doing its job. If you’re located somewhere that’s warm or dry, having a big, fluffy towel probably isn’t as necessary but if you’re surfing or stand-up paddleboarding somewhere chilly, then you’ll want a big, cozy towel to wrap up in.


Between traveling and hiking to lesser-known surf spots, I like to have a towel that packs down fairly small. If I’m hanging at my local beach where parking is easy then it’s not as important, but when I’m going on a long haul trip, the smaller the better.


It doesn’t actually matter what my towel looks like but you know, it totally matters. You could get the classic striped resort towel or you could get a towel in your favorite color featuring a fun print. I’d opt for the later, even if it means shelling out a few extra bucks.

Dry Time

How frequently does your towel end up wadded up in the back of your car? If you’re like me, it’s often. Having a towel that dries quickly is a game changer and helps eliminate the moldy towel smell.

Editor’s Note: For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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