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In addition to the right fitness tracker, water bottle and gym bag — a gym towel is a must-have for every workout. If you’re doing it right, you’ll need to dab some sweat off at the end, and if you’re at a public gym, any other shared surfaces you come into contact with during your workout (don’t be that guy). The best gym towels absorb sweat without collecting odor, and you can even find a gym towel with special features like cooling abilities, super absorbency, or quick drying.
Whether you enjoy cycling on a spin bike, running on a treadmill, lifting heavy weights or all of the above — you probably get a good sweat during each training session. You’ll want a gym towel to keep things dry, comfortable and stable, as having weights slip out of your hand or too much liquid on a moving belt can be dangerous. And if you’re going to hop in the gym shower after, it’s good to have a convenient, quick-drying gym towel on hand.
In this post, we’ll share our favorite options and must-have gym towels, a few tips on how to shop for gym towels and information on how we chose the best ones. All of our top picks are affordable enough to buy multiples or come in multi-packs, which is great if you work out daily (in our experience, you also don’t want to reuse the same gym towel day after day because, hey, super gross).
How We Chose the Best Gym Towels
All the gym towels we reviewed are compact, absorbent, soft to the touch and come in multiple sizes depending on your preferences and/or needs. They’re also made of high-quality materials that can be used repeatedly and machine-washed for an easy refresh. We included options for many different activities and great bulk options for stocking your linen cabinet or gym bag. Finally, we’re in the process of testing the best quick-drying towels, and we’ve looked for products made with fast-drying fabrics.
Keep reading to find the best gym towels to toss in your bag.
1. Rainleaf Microfiber Towel
The Microfiber Towel by Rainleaf is made using only the highest quality microfiber to keep your towel fresh and free from germs and mildew. Due to the specialty materials, the towel will dry itself quickly and, if needed, can absorb as much as three times its weight in water for a quicker drying experience. These compact and ultra-light towels are available in six sizes and are ideal for everything from travel to the gym, beach, camping, swimming and backpacking.
2. Utopia Towels Salon Towels
BEST BULK BUY
The Salon Towels by Utopia Towels come in a set of 24 towels made from 100 percent soft and durable, ring-spun cotton. Each soft, fluffy towel provides the optimal coverage, absorbency and versatility needed and can be used in your bathroom or salon, as a gym towel or even a quality spa towel to treat yourself at home.
3. REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite
REI’s in-house Co-op line is a great source for affordable outdoor gear, and this multi towel is a great option for every workout. It packs into a tiny, easy-to-carry pouch, meaning you can easily throw it in your gym bag or even a backpack. The towel also has a handy loop, so you can easily hang it up. The gym towel is made from a blend of polyester and nylon and is available in several different sizes.
4. Manduka yogitoes 3.0 Repreve Towel
BEST HOT YOGA TOWEL
Manduka is a trusted yoga brand that’s been around for over 20 years, so if you’re looking for the best gym towel specifically for yoga sessions, the Repreve towel is a solid option. It has silicone nubs designed to grip your yoga mat to stay in place during sweaty hot yoga sessions. Since it’s designed for yoga, it’s a larger size at 71 x 24 inches. It’s made from polyester and nylon to dry more quickly, and the polyester component is made from recycled materials. It comes in stylish prints as well.
5. Matador NanoDry Towel
As if microfiber wasn’t light enough, Matador innovated with nanofiber, which is even lighter than microfiber and plenty absorbent. It can absorb 2.3 times its weight in water and is designed to dry just as fast. In addition to the innovative fabric, Matador’s NanoDry towel comes in a convenient carrying pouch, which includes a carabiner clip that easily attaches to your gym bag or backpack. The towel itself also has a convenient hanging loop for easy storage. When opened, the towel is 47 x 24 inches, so it’s big enough to efficiently dry off.
6. Manduka YogiToes Hand Towel
BEST HAND TOWEL
If you want a smaller version of Manduka’s yoga towel, consider picking up this hand towel, made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester and nylon, some of which are recycled. The hand towel is 24 x 16 inches. The gym towel has silicone nubs, so it will stay in place without skidding wherever you decide to use it.
7. PackTowl Personal Towel
PACKABLE AND PORTABLE
PackTowl’s towels were made with camping in mind, but they’re also an excellent option for taking to the gym. It has a convenient loop to easily hang it up wherever you are, and the entire towel packs into a small pouch for easy transportation. Like many of the best gym towels, this option is made from a blend of polyester and nylon for absorption and quick drying. Plus, it comes in a range of sizes and colors.
8. Alfamo Cooling Towels
The Cooling Towels by Alfamo are unique due to their superior material, which is made to cool your body quickly, up to 30 degrees below body temperature when wet. Ideal for sports and outdoor workers, these super-absorbent towels provide this cooling effect through the evaporation of absorbed water to keep you comfortable for up to several hours. These multipurpose towels also come with a bonus waterproof carrying pouch with a carabiner clip allowing for easy travel.
9. G Grounded Sports Store Cooling Towels 3-Pack
EASY TO CLEAN
These cooling gym towels from G Grounded Sports are machine-washable, so they’re pretty easy to clean, and they’re made for holding up to repeated use and frequent washing. They’re highly absorbent and can be dunked in water, wrung out and worn for a cooling effect. They’re super soft, lightweight and UV-resistant as well. They’re also purposefully cut longer and narrower than standard gym towels for more coverage and easier use.
10. Lululemon The Towel
BEST FOR YOGA
This towel from Lululemon is made for covering a yoga mat during a sweaty heated power or Bikram class. It’s made of absorbent, microfiber material that can handle moisture of all kinds — from sweat and tears during a challenging class to the power-session shower before you head to the office. It’s got clean-cut edges designed not to fray, and you can lightly spritz it with water before class for extra grip.
11. Gatorade Premium Sideline Towel
Gatorade is one of those thirst-quenching brands irrevocably tied to fitness, working out and athletic activity. Why not have your gym towel fit the vibe of your entire afternoon at the gym? It’s long enough to drape over your head or around your neck and quickly absorbs sweat. Plus, it’s got complimentary designs on either side and will stand out amongst the best gym towels, so you don’t accidentally grab a stranger’s sweaty fabric.
12. Desired Body Store Fitness Towel 2-Pack
These premium sports towels are made for drying sweat quickly and comfortably during a workout. They’ve got a stylish blue waffle design with a reinforced white border that adds durability and style to the design. They’re super soft, lightweight and portable, and made of stretchy microfiber material that won’t cause irritation. They’re also made to be anti-odor. If your partner is always complaining about how bad your gym bag reeks, consider picking up a few of these instead.
13. Naisi Anti-Slippery Handlebar Sweat Towel
BEST FOR SPINNING
If you ride on a Peloton or NordicTrack spin bike regularly, you know that when you’re riding out of the saddle, a lot of sweat can drip down onto the handlebars. The problem is that the flywheel is just below the handlebars, and you want to keep that from getting wet or dirty, as moisture and dust can easily erode the materials.
This spinning towel fits the Peloton bike perfectly and is made of soft, absorbent terry cloth. It gives you a firm grip on the handlebars and is dust-proof and scratch-proof, so your handlebars stay protected. It also has pockets for storing your phone, headphones or other accessories during your ride.
14. S&T INC. Microfiber Gym Towels
There’s almost no better way to harsh a flow in the gym than by using an old, ratty, stringy gym towel with holes in it. You want to invest in fabric and a design that will last you through many training sessions and work as hard as you. This pack of microfiber towels from S&T INC does just that, with a durable blend of polyester and polyamide. They’re excellent for use on the bike, treadmill or other equipment, and covering or drying off weight benches. The microfiber is knit closely in an absorbent blend and is machine-washable, so you can keep your towel collection fresh.
15. Sukeen Breathable Microfiber Gym Towels
The best part of these microfiber towels is that they come with portable pouches and carabiners. This makes transporting your towel to and from the gym easy and makes it easy to pack up a super sweaty towel and keep it from contaminating the rest of your bag.
The towel is hyper-evaporative, breathable and will stay chilled for up to three hours if you dunk it in cold water. It’s designed to be multipurpose, and the pack comes with six different colors, so you’ve got variety.
16. Wise Owl Outfitters Gym Towels
These towels measure 12 x 24 inches and only weigh three ounces apiece, so you can easily roll them up to stash them in a locker or gym bag. These towels from Wise Owl Outfitters are super soft, absorbent and dry quickly, making them perfect for the gym. They also have a hang loop you can attach to the handlebars of a cycling bike, which doubles as a wrap and makes storage easy. They also come in packs of two and four, so you can choose what fits your needs and budget best.
What to Consider Before Buying Gym Towels
You could use a regular ol’ bath or beach towel at the gym, but they might not be as lightweight or absorbent as towels specifically made for athletic activity. Gym towels are made to absorb moisture and dry quickly, so you stay comfortable throughout your training session. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when shopping for the best gym towels:
- Fabric: The best towels for home are cotton, but cotton takes a while to dry, so it might not be the ideal fabric if you’re throwing it straight into your gym bag after use. Polyester microfiber is an excellent alternative because it dries quicker than cotton and folds smaller. That said, cotton tends to be softer, so if space or super-fast drying isn’t a priority, you might still opt for a traditional cotton towel.
- Size: The best gym towels should be compact enough to be rolled up and placed in your gym bag. What are you using the towel for? Are you a hot yoga person and need a towel that’ll stretch the length and width of your mat? Or are you a spinner and need a towel that can fit over your handlebars? Assessing your towel needs based on activity is a great way to find the one for you.
- Bonus Features: Some workout towels are packable, while others have an interesting color or print, so you won’t get it mixed up with someone else’s.
- Current Gym Routine: Do you work out every day, sweat a lot and need a new towel often? Then a large pack of 24 towels will be a good option. These are made from 100% cotton and provide optimal coverage, performance and versatility. These towels are also highly absorbent and will remain soft after numerous washes.
There are also gym towels with fast-drying microfiber and gym towels with a feature that reduces your body temperature up to 30 degrees. If you frequently overheat, that’s probably a good one for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Gym Towels
Gym towels are towels made of especially absorbent, lightweight material that are better suited for keeping you dry and comfortable during and after a workout. They're typically made of a microfiber polyester blend, are smaller than towels you use at the beach and faster-drying than cotton towels you use after showering.
Gym towels can absorb a lot of moisture and dry quickly, so they can be used more than once. However, if you're a very sweaty person or used the towel to clean off your space at a public gym, you're going to want to wash it after every use.
Gym towels tend to be smaller than shower, bath or beach towels, but certainly can be bought in the same size if that's your preference. They're smaller and more compact, making them easier to carry to and from the gym or workout class, and easier to wash between uses.