Even in the best-kept gyms, workout equipment is still covered with layers of grime from all the sweaty people using it. It is good etiquette to bring a gym towel (aka sweat towel) to put over equipment when working out. You might even want a second smaller gym towel to use for wiping the sweat off your face. Compared to standard towels, the best gym towels will dry faster so bacteria and fungus don’t breed in them.
Last update on 2018-12-16 UTC -5 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API - Details
- 1. Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters
- 2. Fox Outfitters Ultrasoft MicroDry Towel
- 3. Fullbore Fitness Exercise Fitness Gym Towel
- 4. Desired Body Fitness Gym Towels
- 5. Wazzala Premium Microfiber Gym Towel
- 6. Wolyok Microfiber Travel Sports Towel
- Why You Need a Gym Towel
- How to Choose a Gym Towel
- How to Use a Gym Towel
- Caring for Your Gym Towel
1. Camping Towel by Wise Owl Outfitters
Wise Owl Outfitters is known for making some of the best fast drying towels for the gym and backpacking. The weight to absorbency ratio of the towel is really great. I just wish it didn’t have the giant label on the towel as those can feel weird on your skin.
2. Fox Outfitters Ultrasoft MicroDry Towel
Next up for best sports towel is this one from Fox Outfitters. Compared to other workout towels, it is considerably lightweight. However, the sacrifice for this is that it won’t absorb as much sweat. That’s why I’d recommend this gym towel for people who don’t sweat buckets and want to keep their gym bags light.
3. Fullbore Fitness Exercise Fitness Gym Towel
Most microfiber towels are made for camping and travel. This one was designed specifically as a sports towel for the gym. There aren’t any size options for the towel, but 26×40 inches is good for almost anyone. You can tell from the stitching on the edges that this towel is of the higher-quality gym towels.
4. Desired Body Fitness Gym Towels
The thing that really makes this one of the best gym towels is that the microfiber has a waffle texture. People who can’t get used to the feeling of microfiber will prefer this texture, plus it is more absorbent. The only thing keeping me from saying that this is the all-time best sports towel is the width. At 16.5 inches, the towel is only suitable for thin people and narrow gym equipment.
5. Wazzala Premium Microfiber Gym Towel
Compared to the other best gym towels on this list, the Wazzala honestly isn’t anything special. What makes it worth considering is that it comes with a free smaller towel. This towel is perfect to use for wiping sweat from your brow so you aren’t tempted to use your dirty gym towel for the task.
6. Wolyok Microfiber Travel Sports Towel
If you are looking for a larger workout towel, the Wolyok is a good option. At 58 inches, it is long enough for even the tallest people to use during workouts. I also love that it comes with a free smaller towel and the pack is very lightweight and compact considering its larger size.
Why You Need a Gym Towel
Gyms are full of sweaty people getting in close contact. In addition to sweat, there are oils from hair, skin flakes, and other bodily secretions that get all over the gym equipment. No wonder studies have found that gym equipment is filthy.
Honestly though, I’m not that scared of bacteria in the gym since I’m just going to shower afterward anyway. Other than a case of athlete’s foot that I got long ago (before I was smart enough to bring shower sandals), I’ve never had any bad experiences from gym bacteria. Nor do I know of anyone who has gotten an infection from touching gym equipment.
What IS important is not leaving sweat pools behind on machines!
Without an absorbent sports towel creating a barrier between you and the equipment, the machine WILL get wet. It is rude and inconsiderate to leave this wetness on the machine. Most gyms do have paper towels and sanitizer which can be used for cleaning equipment after you use it, but a gym is much better.
In short, don’t be that person who works out without a gym towel!!!
How to Choose a Gym Towel
1. Gym Towel Size
Your workout sweat towel is not the same one that you are showering with. So, it doesn’t need to be huge. You just need the workout towel to be large enough to cover the machine or matt you are using.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a gym towel which is at least half your height. The logic behind this is that you rarely put your entire body on a machine. For example, when doing bench presses, just your head, back, and butt are on the bench. The same goes with any matt exercises you are doing.
2. Gym Towel Thickness
A lot of newbies at the gym will bring a standard bath towel to sop up sweat. This is fine if you don’t want to invest in anything else, but there are a lot of disadvantages of using a thick gym towel.
Thick gym towels:
- Take longer to dry
- Trap bacteria
- Take up a lot of space in your gym bag
Because of these issues, the best gym towels are made from thinner material. A thin gym towel won’t absorb as much sweat as a thick one. However, you probably don’t need that amount of absorption unless you are (literally) sweating buckets.
3. Gym Towel Material
Pay careful attention to the material of the gym towel you choose. My favorite gym towel material is microfiber. Cotton and bamboo are also good options.
Microfiber is a newer material that is made out of polyamide and polyester synthetic fibers. The fibers are incredibly tiny, which makes the fabric really soft and thin. They are still super absorbent though and can absorb 8x their weight. As far as fast-drying gym towels go, microfiber is the best material.
- Very compact and lightweight
- Great absorbency
- Dries very quickly
- Bacteria resistant
- Wears down quickly
- Require special washing
You’ll have no problem finding cotton gym towels. They have a good absorbency and are easy to care for. However, you’ll probably find the cons outweigh the pros.
- Easy to care for
- Good absorbency
- Thick and bulky
- Take a long time to dry
- Gets dirty easily
- Bacteria grows easily on damp cotton
Thanks to the eco-craze, bamboo has become a really popular towel material lately. As far as sweat towels go, bamboo is a good option for those who don’t like the feel of microfiber but want something less bulky than cotton.
- Very soft
- Good absorbency
- Eco-friendly material
- Withstand multiple washings well
- Tend to be pricy
- Still fairly bulky
4. Gym Towel Absorption and Drying Time
Gym towels don’t need to have the same amount of absorption as a bath towel does. Even if you sweat buckets, you aren’t going to be as wet as if you’d taken a shower. Plus, you shouldn’t wipe away sweat. If you wipe away sweat before it evaporates, you prevent your body from naturally cooling down.
*Because I don’t like sweat dripping into my eyes, I do keep a smaller sweat towel handy for moping my brow. But I don’t ever wipe away the sweat on my body.
Thus, you want to look for a gym towel with enough absorbency so you don’t get gym machines all drenched but is still going to dry very quickly. Microfiber is the best gym towel material for this.
5. Gym Towel Durability
While I love microfiber towels, even the best workout towels will degrade with each washing. If you don’t want to constantly buy new gym towels, then cotton might be better for your budget. To get the best of both worlds, choose bamboo gym towels. They cost more initially but pay off because they withstand hundreds of washings.
How to Use a Gym Towel
Whenever you are going to lay down on a piece of equipment, spread the gym towel underneath you. The towel creates a barrier between your body and the equipment. The towel protects your body from any gross bacteria lurking on the equipment and protects the equipment from your sweat.
Never use your gym towel to wipe away sweat on your body. That would be gross! Instead, have a smaller towel for wiping the sweat off of your face.
Caring for Your Gym Towel
The first thing you need to know is to NEVER USE BLEACH OR FABRIC SOFTENER on microfiber towels! The bleach will destroy the fibers whereas the fabric softener causes a waxy film on the fibers (thus preventing them from being absorbent).
The right way to clean microfiber towels is to wash them separately in warm water and then air dry.
You really shouldn’t wash microfiber with other materials because contact with the other fabrics will cause the microfiber to wear down. However, I personally am not going to run an entire load of laundry for two towels! So, yes, I wash my microfiber gym towels with other laundry and accept that they might wear down a bit faster.