Cruising with three young children, a staple of everyday, often several times a day, is swimming. Where there is swimming on a sail boat, there are wet towels hanging from the lifelines.
Tiring the boys with swimming is an important part of our daily sanity, but it sure does suck to have big wet beach towels hanging like it’s laundry day. Worse still if its raining and we have to bring them inside, worse that a wet dog.
(Though it is somewhat amusing to anchor in somewhere like Caneel Bay, an ultra-exclusive resort for laundry day)
The wet towels had to go though.
Enthralled by the adverts, I wondered if I could Shamwow the boys dry. This didn’t work too well, they had a strange clammy feel and were not that big.
As former backpackers, our next step was to try Microfiber Pack Towels. These were a winner. We had a five year old one and realized it dried fast, took up less room, and was light weight. All perfect characteristics for a cruising family!
We reached out to YogaRat and Sea to Summit and each sent us a selection of microfiber pack towels to use and test.
YogaRat sent us a large selection of their SportLite RatTowls, in increasing size; Hand + Face, Sport + Bath, Beach + Pool and Beach Blanket. They were nice enough to send 5 sets, in five different colors (Simon chose pink). The most useful it seemed were the Beach + Pool RatTowls (the Official Towel of the Los Angeles County Lifeguard Association). They are “thin, featherweight towels are made from super-absorbent microfiber that’s impossibly soft to the touch yet extremely durable and fast drying” and cost $19.99.
The YogaRat SportLite RatTowels were also excellent quality, and seemed to have a greater selection. The massive Beach Blanket is also a great addition. We realized that we can actually use it as a V-Bert blanket as well as for the beach. One less thing to take!
Sea to Summit sent us their MicroFiber Dry Lite Towels. They are “70% polyester, 30% nylon Microfiber with ultra-suede finish and remarkably absorbent and fast drying” and cost around $39.95.
The Sea to Summit DryLite towels perhaps have a slight edge of quality to the touch, slightly more robust hems and stiching. As a specialist in ultra-light backpacking gear, that might be expected. They are also more expensive.
We lined up both sets of towels and compared the beach sized pack towels from each. As you can see, a set of beach towels is over double the volume. They are heavier too, five weigh 4.8lbs. By comparison, the YogaRat pack towel weighed 3.2lbs and the Sea to Summit 2.7lbs, though the YogaRat were 32×68 and the Sea to Summit we tested was 30×60. We then tested them at the swimming pool. Both pack towels got the thumbs up from the boys, they found then warm, big enough to wrap round then (key) and soft to the touch (it’s so fuzzy I could die!) They also both dried off soggy small children AND dried off themselves, even when crammed in the bottom of the swim bag.
Conclusion is that Microfiber Packtowels are a slam dunk replacement for old-fashioned beachtowels. They dry faster, take up less volume and weigh less. You could go wrong with neither of the brands we tested. If you are only getting a couple, the slighly higher quality, and more expensive Sea to Summit MicroFiber Dry Lite Towels will serve you well. If you have several to get, the affordable SportLite RatTowls are a great deal.
We’ll be continuing to use and abuse these towels in our long term testing during the year.