August 23, 2011 Posted by Josh in Gear Reviews, Van Dwelling Gear

MSR PackTowl Personal and Nano

Towels... wait, seriously?  A review on towels?  Yes.  If these were any regular towel, I don't think they'd be worthy of review, but the MSR towels are anything but regular.  Think Super Shammy meets Bear Grylls.  Currently, we own 4 MSR towels: 2  Packtowl Personals (Size Large) and 2 PackTowl Nanos (Size Small).  For those who just found this blog, there's two things you must know about us: 1) We live in a van.  2) We love to go backpacking, camping and such.  When making selections as to which equipment we're going to use, there's a few of things we always have to keep in mind: space, weight and effectiveness.  As far as I'm concerned, the MSR towels accomplish all three.

Space:  As the personal packtowels are our primary "do everything" towel, we opted for the large size.  When unfolded, the personal packtowel is roughly 16.5" wide and 36" tall, but once folded down into it's neat little half-mesh carrying case, the large pack towel condenses to a convenient  xx" wide, xx" tall and only a few centimeters thick.  The Nanos (16" wide & 17" long) also come with a carrying case (which they are stuffed into rather than folded) and compact down small enough to fit in the palm of your hand.  Also note that both cases and the personal packtowels have button-snap loops, making them easy to hang for drying or storing purposes.


Weight:  Definitely a winner here, too.  Because the packtowels are so absorbent (see effectiveness section below), they don't have to be as large as the standard bath or beach towel to work well, making them quite lightweight at only 4 oz.  The Nano is super lightweight as well, weighing in at only 0.4 oz., making it the lightest camp towel on the market.


Effectiveness:  I would definitely say that both towels are quite effective.  MSR claims that the personal packtowel can hold up to 4 times it's weight in water.  I'll vouch for them.  They are incredibly absorbent, in fact they work well enough that when showering or bathing, Meisha and I are often able to use the same towel without any issues.  They also wring out very easily and because they're so thin, drying time is also quicker than the standard terrycloth towel.
In a nutshell...


The Pros:  As stated above, they are quite small, very lightweight, super absorbent and definitely convenient.  They are made of a polyester/nylon microfiber blend which means they're soft, but also won't leave any annoying fuzz behind.  These towels also have an antimicrobial treatment to prevent odor retention.  Quite simply, I find them perfect for any kind of travel situation.


The Cons:  Really, I can only think of one... We originally intended to use the one of the microtowels as a dish towel, but for some reason, food stains are not easily removed and the towels end up discolored  and dirty-looking, which made us a little nervous to use.  When in the van, we now just use paper towels (Preferably Viva) sparingly.  If backpacking, scrubbing with fingers and air drying is a perfectly acceptable method for us.
Where can you buy them?  We recommend Amazon.  And yes, we get a commission *wink wink*, so if you found this review helpful, check out the link(s) below:
Click to share thisClick to share this