Made from the same material as pile or polarfleece jackets with slight modifications to the polymer cross-linking to make them water absorbent instead of water repellent synthetic backpacking towels are small, lightweight, wring-able, and quick drying—great for everything except modesty (most are closer to the size of a napkin than a beach blanket—too small to cover much).
The interlinked polypro fibers form millions of tiny pockets per square inch that capture the water droplets and then because the fibers are very flexible when you twist the towel the pockets collapse and you can easily wring nearly all of the water out.
These towels used to meet all my requirements for a fun travel toy (small, light, functional, good value for the money, durable, unique) but recently they’ve gotten popular and quadrupled in price.
I thought there was some sort of mistake last weekend when I was in REI picking up a couple of last minute items for a camping trip in our Colorado backyard when I saw a $39.95 pack towel. I’m not sure I’d pay that much for towel woven out of genetically modified penguin fur…