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slow tide beach towels

The Slowtide Turkish Towel is a great, stylish beach towel. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

The Inertia

If you’re anything like us, 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 your go-to towel 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. For more info on beach towels and how we chose the best of the best, check out our Buyer’s Guide and Comparison Table.

The Best Beach Towels of 2024

Best Overall Beach Towel: Nomadix Original Towel

Best Turkish Towel: Slowtide Koko Towel

Best “Classic” Beach Towel: Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel

Best Travel Beach Towel: Matador NanoDry Trek Towel

Best Lightweight Towel: Nomadix Ultralight Towel

Most Comfortable Beach Towel: Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel

Best Overall Beach Towel

Nomadix Original Towel ($40)
nomadix beach towel

Pros: Made from recycled water bottles, dries quickly, packs down small
Cons: Not as absorbent as cotton/terrycloth towels

Nomadix advertises their original towel model as the only towel you’ll ever need. The Nomadix Original 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.


Best Turkish Towel for the Beach

Slowtide Koko Towel ($34)slowtide turkish towel best beach towels

Pros: Made from 100% sustainably sourced organic cotton, stylish
Cons: Not the most absorbent

Made from 100 percent sustainably sourced organic cotton, Slowtide’s Koko Towel is 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 our tester loves about this style is when she’s finished at the beach, she wears it like a sarong or cover up for the trip home.


Best “Classic” Beach Towel

Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel ($60)

patagonia beach towel

Pros: Made from 100% organically grown cotton, absorbent
Cons: Doesn’t pack down small

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.


Best Travel Beach Towel

Matador NanoDry Trek Towel ($35)lightweight portable towel from matador is the nanodry

Pros: Packs down super small and weighs just two ounces
Cons: Not the comfiest towel

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.


Best Lightweight Towel

Nomadix Ultralight Towel ($30)

nomadix towel

Pros: Made from recycled bottles, lightweight
Cons: Not super absorbent

As the name suggests, the Nomadix Ultralight Towel is a lightweight, packable towel. Measuring 54 x 30 inches, the Ultralight Towel is a full size towel, but it’s thin and packs down small. The towel is a microfiber style towel, so it’s absorbent for what it is, but not as plush and absorbent as a traditional cotton towel. On the flip side, the Ultralight Towel dries insanely quick. Due to its size and weight (8 ounces) the Ultralight Towel is a great pick for backpacking or travel where space is limited. The Ultralight Towel is slightly larger and heavier than the Matador Travel Towel, which is why it got our pick for lightweight towel over travel towel.


Most Comfortable Beach Towel

Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel ($60)pendleton jacquard towel harding best beach towels

Pros: Absorbent, sustainably made
Cons: Doesn’t pack down small

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.


Best of the Rest

LEUS XL Beach ECO Towel ($60)

Leus beach towel

Pros: Made from sustainably sourced cotton, absorbent
Cons: Oversized design isn’t the most packable

Measuring 70” x 40”, the XL Beach ECO Towel is the largest towel LEUS offers. The oversize towel is plenty big for spreading out on and is great for lounging on at the beach. The towel is made from 100% sustainably sourced cotton that is absorbent and soft to the touch. The towel features a specialized coating that helps ward off funky smells and while we didn’t notice the coating, we will say that this towel stays smelling fresh longer than some of my other towels. While the XL Beach ECO towel isn’t the most packable option, it’s a super classic design that is perfect for beach and pool adventures near home.


Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towel ($48)

sand cloud turkish towel

Pros: Lightweight, cute, portion of profits donated to marine conservation efforts
Cons: Not super absorbent, pricey

Like many others, we first heard about Sand Cloud via an ad on Instagram. The brand received early backing via a Shark Tank appearance and claimed to be quick drying, sand resistant, and to “save the fishies.” At nearly $50 a towel, we were skeptical, but we decided to give their towels a try. Something we love about Sand Cloud is the abundance of fun prints they offer; their towels are more like a work of art than a towel.

The Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towel is incredibly lightweight and while we wouldn’t say it’s sand resistant, it easy to shake off the sand once you’re finished at the beach. Like most Turkish towels, it’s not the most absorbent towel, but it’s perfect for tropical vacations and warm settings. We also found that the Sand Cloud towel doubles nicely as a sarong and our tester often wraps hers around her waist to venture into stores after the beach. 10% of profits are donated to marine conservation, which is probably what we love most about supporting Sand Cloud.


PackTowl Personal Beach Towel ($42)

packtowel beach towels

Pros: Dries quickly, packs down small, has Polygeine odor control
Cons: Thin

The PackTowl Personal Beach Towel, is a lightweight, packable towel that’s great option for traveling and beach days near home. The towel measures 36” x 59” when unfurled, but it packs down nice and small to easily fit in a backpack. The towel is definitely on the thin side, but the microfiber fabric is soft, absorbent, and dries quickly. The quick dry material coupled with the towel’s Polygeine odor control helps ward off funky, mildewy smells. Other thoughtful features that we appreciated were a hang loop for drying and a zippered storage pouch for packing the towel into.


Salt Life Pineapple Paradise Beach Towel ($36)

salt life beach towel

Pros: Fun colors, absorbent, soft
Cons: Doesn’t dry quickly

Salt Life’s Pineapple Paradise Beach Towel is a classic terrycloth towel designed for a day at the beach. The towel sports fun and bright colors on top, with an all white underside. The top is nice and soft for laying on, while the underside is very absorbent and is perfect to dry off with. At 64″ long by 33″ wide, the Pineapple Paradise towel is standard size, allowing plenty of room for lounging but still easy to pack into a backpack. Because it’s 100% cotton, this towel is absorbent, but takes some time to dry out. We found it was best suited for beach days near home rather than traveling.


Slowtide Beach Towel ($40)

slowtide beach towels

Pros: Absorbent, fun prints
Cons: Heavy

Nothing compliments a beach day better than a classic cotton beach towel in a fun print. The Slowtide Beach Towel has everything we could want in a beach towel and comes in so many fun colors and prints. The cotton towel is the perfect size for lounging and drying off and the cotton is absorbent. The towel is made from sustainably sourced cotton and comes with a convenient loop for hanging it to dry. At 1 lb 8 oz it’s one of the heavier towels on our list, but for beach days close to home it’s not a problem.


Nomadix Mini Towel ($28)Nomadix towel

Pros: Packs down small, absorbent
Cons: Too small to lay out on

Some days a plush, oversized towel is the move, but others days, you want something lightweight and packable. For those times, the Nomadix Mini Towel fits the bill. Measuring 40 x 16 inches and weighing just 9.6 ounces, the Nomadix mini towel is incredibly packable, making it a great option for backpacking, traveling, hikes, or those days when you are tight on space. The towel packs down small and is easy to stash in a backpack. The blend of recycled polyester and nylon is soft and absorbent, and the towel is just large enough to completely dry off with. The Nomadix Mini Towel isn’t the best pick for laying out on or chilly days, but if you need a towel to dry simply dry off with, it works nicely.


Best Beach Towels Comparison Table

Brand Model Price Weight Dimensions Notes
Nomadix Original Towel 40 1 lb 3 oz 72″ x 30″ Super versatile
Slowtide Koko Towel $34-40 7.4 oz 73″ x 38″ Stylish turkish towel
Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel $60 1 lb 9.5 oz 36″ x 64″ Velour front, terry back
Matador Nanodry $35 5.6 oz 52″ x 24″ Ultralight, compact
Nomadix Ultralight Towel $30 8 oz 54″ x 30″ Packable, lightweight
Pendleton Oversized Jacquard $60 2 lb 70″ x 40″ Oversize, plush
LEUS XL Beach ECO Towel $60 2.33 lb 70″ x 40″ Oversize, plush
Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towel $48 12.2 oz 64″ x 38″ Stylish turkish towel
PackTowl Personal Beach Towel $42 6.4 oz 54″ x 25″ Microfiber towel, lightweight
Salt Life Pineapple Paradise Beach Towel $36 1 lb. 5.2 oz 64″ x 33″ Plush, cotton
Slowtide Beach Towel $40 1 lb 8 oz 60″ x 30″ Plush, cotton
Nomadix Mini Towel $28 9.6 oz 40″ x 16″ Packable, lightweight

Slowtide’s Quick Dry Towel was edged out by other quick-dry options on this list, but is a great alternative to their turkish towel. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

How We Tested The Best Beach Towels

As surfers, paddlers, and outdoors enthusiasts, we’ve done our fair share of toweling off with a variety of different towel styles and options, some more effective than others. We leveraged this knowledge in selecting the best beach towels on the market to test against each other, and then we tried them all out.

We dried off with them after swimming and surfing to see how absorbent each is, and laid them out to compare drying times. We hung out on them at the beach and the campground. We rolled them up and packed them into backpacks and bags to test the portability of each, and used them as pillows and blankets on airplanes. And we asked friends and co-workers to try them out as well because multiple opinions is always better. After dozens of trips to the beach, camping, international travel and more, we came up with this list of our top thirteen picks for beach towels.

Editor’s Note: We first ran this review in the spring of 2023. We then updated it in April, adding in a few additional towels and more info to our Buyer’s Guide. We updated it once again in June of 2024, adding in three additional towels that we thought were worthy of inclusion. 

Best Beach Towels Ratings Table

Towel Absorbency Packability Aesthetic Dry Time Overall
Nomadix Original Towel 4 5 4 5 4.5
Slowtide Turkish Towel 3 4 5 5 4.25
Patagonia Organic Cotton Towel 5 3 5 3 4
Matador NanoDry Trek Towel 4 5 2 5 4
Nomadix Ultralight Towel 3 5 5 5 4.5
Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel 5 2 5 3 3.75
LEUS XL Beach ECO Towel 5 2 4 3 3.5
Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towel 3 4 5 5 4.25
PackTowl Personal Beach Towel 4 5 4 5 4.5
Salt Life Pineapple Paradise Beach Towel 5 3 4 3 3.75
Slowtide Beach Towel 5 3 5 3 5
Nomadix Mini Towel 3 5 5 5 4.5

Best Beach Towels Buyer’s Guide

Types of Beach Towels

While there are countless different towel options out there, the main types of beach towels are traditional terrycloth towels, turkish towels, and microfiber towels.

Terrycloth Towels

Terrycloth towels are the most common type of towel and are likely what you think of when you picture a traditional beach towel. Usually made of 100% cotton, these types of towels are free of chemicals, breathable, soft, absorbent, and durable. We’ve had some cotton towels in our closet for upwards of a decade. Cotton terrycloth towels tend to be the most absorbent option and also are usually the most affordable.

slowtide beach towel

The Slowtide Turkish Towel can be used as a towel or a sarong, making it perfect for traveling and beach days. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Turkish Towels

Traditionally, turkish towels are hand woven and are made from 100% turkish cotton. The often have fringe on the outer ends and are one of the more stylish towel options. They are also lightweight, pack down fairly small, are soft, thin and are fairly absorbent (although not as absorbent as a terrycloth towel).


Microfiber towels are super lightweight, super absorbent, and they dry at lightning speed. Microfiber towel don’t retain moisture, which allows them to dry quickly, and they also resist odor. Microfiber towels aren’t quite as comfy as plush, cotton towels, but they pack down incredibly small and dry quickly, making them a great travel option.

slowtide turkish towel

The Slowtide Turkish Towel is stylish yet packable. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

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 we like to take into consideration are absorbency, packability, aesthetic, and how quickly it dries.

Best Overall Beach Towel
Best Overall Beach Towel

The Nomadix Original Towel is a high-performance travel towel, beach towel, and yoga towel wrapped into one. It’s soft, dries quickly, and is absorbent.

Price: ($40)

Check Price on REI


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. In our tests, the towels that rated the highest on absorbency were the plush terrycloth towels like the Pendleton Oversized Jacquard Towel, however these towels also tended to score lower on the packability side of things. To an extent, you have to pick your poison based on where you’re located and what purpose you want the towel to serve, but it can also be a good idea to have a couple of different types of towels so you can choose what’s best based on the occasion.

sand cloud turkish beach towel

Turkish towels like the Sand Cloud Turkish Towel are great, packable options. Photo: Jonathan Kemnitz//The Inertia


Between traveling and hiking to lesser-known surf spots, we like to have a towel that packs down fairly small. If we’re hanging at our local beach where parking is easy then it’s not as important, but when we’re going on a long haul trip, the smaller the better. The Matador NanoDry Trek Towel was the most packable towel on our list, followed by the Nomadix Original Towel and the PackTowl Personal Beach Towel.

nomadix beach towel on a rock in front of a waterfall

The Nomadix Mini Towel is packable, making it a great pick for adventures. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia


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. We’d opt for the latter, even if it means shelling out a few extra bucks. In our humble opinion, the trendiest towels on our list are the Slowtide Turkish Towel and the Sand Cloud Turkish Beach Towel. For their good looks, both towels sacrificed a little when it came to packability, but they still ranked high in that category as well.

slowtide beach towel

Microfiber towels are lightweight and dry quickly. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia

Dry Time

How frequently does your towel end up wadded up in the back of your car? If you’re like us, it’s often. Having a towel that dries quickly is a game changer and helps eliminate the moldy towel smell. Having a towel that dries quickly can also be extremely helpful if you’re on a trip and bouncing around from one activity to the next. It’s also nice if you’re towel dries quickly so that you can pack a dry towel into your suitcase for the return trip home instead of a damp, musty one. Of all the towels we tested, the Matador NanoDry Trek Towel dried the most quickly.


The material of a towel effects how absorbent it is, how quickly it’s able to dry, and how it feels against the skin. Most microfiber towels are made from a blend of polyester and polyamide, which allows them to dry quickly. However, they are lacking a little in absorbency and comfort. On the flipside, traditional terrycloth towels are made from cotton, making them ultra absorbent and soft and comfortable against the skin. Finally, turkish towels, which are made from a premium cotton, sit somewhere in the middle.

woman laying out a beach towel at the beach

Salt Life’s Pineapple Paradise Beach Towel is soft and plush. Photo: Rebecca Parsons//The Inertia


How small a towel packs down and how large it is when it’s unfurled are two entirely different things. An ideal towel packs down small but is still large enough to lay on and dry off with when it’s spread out. Depending on how you plan on using your towel, there are small towels, standard size towels, and oversized towels. Smaller towels like the Matado Nanodry (52″ x 24″) are great for backpacking and travel. But for beach trips close to home it can be nice to have an oversized towel like the Pendleton Oversized Jacquard (70″ x 40″) to cozy up in.

a girl sitting on a towel at the beach

The Slowtide Beach Towel is a full sized towel, perfect for lounging or drying off. Photo: Beth Parsons//The Inertia

Hanging Loops

Some towels come with small loops that you can use to hang the towels to dry. Although you can easily throw your towel over a fence, hanging loops are nice for hanging them off of hooks. It’s not essential by any means, but is a nice extra.

Return to Comparison Table | Return to Top Picks

Editor’s Note: If you’d rather sit upright on the beach, check out our article on The Best Beach Chairs. Looking to escape from the sun? Here’s The Best Beach Umbrellas and The Best Beach Canopies. For more gear reviews and features on The Inertia, click here.

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