Monday, October 5, 2009
Don't spend $20+ on a pack towel. Seriously, just don't.
I have a love-hate relationship with REI. They have everything I will ever need, their sales staff is helpful, courteous and knowledgeable, and they give me all kinds of advantages for being a member, including their dividends, the world's best return policy and member only discounts and sales. Sometimes, though, they just sell overpriced crap. I guess it's the same with many stores, but there are some things I just would not buy at REI.
One example: the camp towel. A friend of mine went to REI a few weeks before a long backpacking trip seeking a camp towel. The cheapest one in store was around $20.00, and the size of a small dish towel. Apparently the micro-fiber is supposed to make this a worthy purchase. It doesn't. He borrowed towels for the entire trip and plans to make the most of the return policy. My other friends are happy with their towels, but still paid $25-30 and greater to purchase them. Not me!
On a whim, while purchasing my cheaper, less essential backpacking gear about 3 years ago, I picked up a Coghlans Camp Towel for $3.00 at Dick's Sporting Goods. This towel is 12 x 30 and the "deluxe" version is 14 x 40 for about $7.00-8.00.
I have used this (extremely lightweight) towel for 3 years, and it is no worse for the wear despite its price implying that it might be somewhat disposible. Its claim that it absorbs ten times its weight in water is completely believable to me (though I have not engaged in any testing that would prove this with scientific certainty). I never would have believed, based on its size, that it would be enough towel to dry my body and hair after a shower, until I was in the situation where it was the only thing I had. While you can't wrap this towel around your body or long hair, it will dry you thoroughly. An added, and very important bonus, is that the towel itself dries significantly faster than the $30.00 microfiber towels my friends were sporting on the same trip. Yessir, mine dried, theirs didn't. $3.00. Take that, expensive outdoor gear sellers!
Grade: A-, for lack of modesty. I am guessing a larger sized version would be A+.