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From personal care items like SPF moisturizers and toners to high-tech fitness trackers and the latest pair of gym shoes, the average guy’s gym bag is stuffed with essentials. But gym lockers haven’t necessarily gotten any bigger. That’s why it’s worth investing in compact, high-performance versions of your essentials. That includes the best gym towels.
Whether you enjoy cycling, 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.
We’ve reviewed a lot of fitness equipment here at SPY, and we’ve learned that after an intense spin session or weightlifting rep, you need a good gym towel to wipe away the sweat. The best beach towels are nice to have for a picnic, and cooling towels are perfect for a day in the sun, but gym towels are made for keeping up with fitness enthusiasts.
In this post, we’ll share our favorite options and must-haves for the gym. 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).
What To Consider Before Buying Gym Towels
The demands of the gym are different from the comforts at home, so while you could use your home towel at the gym, you might be best served by a towel that’s built for your workouts. Here are a few factors to consider before buying a gym towel:
- Fabric: the best towels for home are cotton, but you might instead opt for a synthetic towel for your workouts. Cotton absorbs a lot of moisture but 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 one good option, because, like the best gym clothes, it’s soft, super-absorbent and dries more quickly than cotton. Plus, polyester towels are often more packable. That said, cotton has a classic, comfortable feeling, so if space or super quick-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 easily rolled up and placed in your gym bag. Compared with gym shoes and your water bottle, a towel is probably not the most important piece of gym gear, so it shouldn’t take up the most space. However, if you’re using your towel for yoga, you might want something that can cover the entire mat.
- Bonus features: Some workout towels are packable, while others have contrasting materials on either side for added versatility. Likewise, you might also want a towel in an interesting color or print, so you won’t get it mixed up with someone else’s or forget it at home.
When assessing these factors, you might also want to look at your own gym routine and find what works for you. Do you work out every day, sweat a lot and therefore need a new towel often? Then a large pack of 24 salon towels will be a good option. These are made from 100 percent cotton and provide optimal coverage, performance and versatility. These towels are also highly absorbent and will remain soft after numerous wash and dry cycles.
What size towels do you need? 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 which activities you engage in is a great way to purchase the right one for you.
They also make gym towels with fast-drying microfiber that is also super absorbent and ones that have a feature that cools your body down quickly and reduces your body temperature up to 30 degrees. If you frequently overheat doing any activity, that’s probably a good one for you.
How We Chose the Best Gym Towels
All of 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 again and again, and machine washed for an easy refresh. We included options for many different activities, as well as great bulk options for stocking your linen cabinet or gym bag.
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 that will 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. Available in six sizes, these compact and ultra-light towels 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 just a backpack. The towel has a handy loop as well, so you can easily hang it up. The gym towel is made from a blend of polyester and nylon, and it’s 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 to get. It has silicone nubs that are 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 too. 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, which is made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester and nylon, some of which is recycled. The hand towel is 24 x 16 inches. The gym towel has silicone nubs, so the towel will stay in place without skidding, wherever you decide to use it.
7. PackTowl Personal Towel
PACKABLE AND PORTABLE
PackTowl’s personal towels were made with camping in mind, but they’re also a great 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 quite 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. Acteon Microfiber Gym Towels
These microfiber gym towels from Acteon are made to absorb liquid quickly and dry just as fast. The smooth material dries up to three times faster than regular cotton and can absorb up to five times its weight in water. The microfibers have been treated with silver ions that promote cleanliness and resist odors, and the large 30.5 x 16-inch towel rolls up into a compact size so it’s easy to travel with.
11. 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 hard 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.
12. Gatorade Premium Sideline Towel
Gatorade is one of those thirst-quenching brands that’s 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.
13. 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 microfiber material that’s stretchy and won’t cause irritation. They’re also made to be anti-odor, and not hold onto sweaty stench even after a few uses in a row. If your partner is always complaining about how bad your gym bag reaks, consider picking up a few of these instead.
14. Naisi Anti-Slippery Handlebar Sweat Towel
BEST FOR SPINNING
If you ride on a Peloton or NordicTrack spin bike on a regular basis, 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 just below the handlebars is the flywheel, and you want to keep that from getting wet or dirty, as moisture and dust can erode the materials easily.
This spinning towel is made to fit the Peloton bike perfectly and is made of soft, absorbent terry cloth. It gives you a firm grip on the handlebars and is dustproof and scratchproof as well so your handlebars stay protected. It also has pockets for storing your phone, headphones or other accessories during your ride.
15. 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’s going to last you through many training sessions and works as hard as you do. 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, as well as 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.
16. Sukeen Breathable Microfiber Gym Towels
The best part of these microfiber towels is that they come with their own portable pouches and attached 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 itself 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.
17. Utopia Towels Pool Towels
BEST FOR SWIMMERS
If you got to the gym to swim laps and need a larger towel for drying off your entire body, this six-pack from Utopia Towels is a solid choice. They’re quick-drying and large enough to wrap around your hair, body or both if you use multiple. While being large enough to use after a swim, they’re not huge and won’t take up too much space in your gym bag after use. You can machine wash them without causing damage, and they come in a few different color choices.
18. 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. All of them also have a hang loop you can attach to the handlebars of a cycling bike, for instance, that 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.