In March 2021 we were contacted by the British brand Amberoot, which specializes in sustainable clothing and textiles, and presented for their Backpacking Sports Towel, made out of natural flax fibres. I was intrigued and agreed to test the towel in return for an unbiased review. I have been using it for every single shower since I received it, and I have learned that the Amberoot backpacking towel is suitable for:
- Everyday Use
The reason why I was so intrigued about the Amberoot towel is that it, unlike most packable sports towels, is not made of synthetic materials (microfiber polyester blends etc.), but 100% linen, which is made from linseed or flax (Linum usitatissimum). Linen is a fabric which has been used since the ancient Egyptians (who wore little else), and was one of the most common textile materials in the West up until the 19th century where the cheap cotton started to dominate. Linen otherwise has many advantages over cotton, such as it is stronger, absorbs less moisture (up to 20% of its own weight compared to cotton’s 2500%), dries faster, and last but not least, it is much more sustainable to produce than cotton. Not only does the flax plant need merely a fraction of the water needed to grow cotton, but it also requires much less herbicides and pesticides. All-over, linen has a much smaller impact on the environment and Earth’s resources than most fabrics.
The linen used for the Amberoot backpacking towel is grown in Europe (as is about 80% of all linen produced worldwide), and indeed the whole production and sewing of the towel takes place in Europe, which means that you can be fairly sure that the workers have been paid and treated fair. To attest that the towel does not contain any harmful substances and thus poses no threat to your health, it has been certified with the Oeko-Tex 100 standard. The Amberoot linen towel is available in three colors (which are all the result of eco dyes); moss green, cherry red and sky blue.
Comfort and Functionality
“Yes, sustainability is all well and fine, but how does it FEEL to use a linen towel?”, you might ask. The reality is that I have used regular terrycloth cotton towels all my life, and that it does feel quite different to dry your body with a linen towel. Not in a bad way, however. It is true that linen as such is less soft than cotton to begin with (it gets softer with each use and wash) and that the smooth woven surface of the Amberoot towel feels a lot different than the nubbly protruding loops of thread on regular towels. The sensation is indeed more silky and light. While I was positively surprised over both the softness and good absorbency of the linen towel, one has to be a bit more thorough with drying oneself as you need closer skin contact with the towel to absorb the water droplets properly.
It sounds weird, but I guess that the loops of cotton thread on regular towels mean that water is absorbed readily, although there are a few millimeters between the top of each loop and the actual woven surface of the towel. With the Amberoot towel you do need closer contact between your skin and the surface of the towel, which makes for a different sensation. It is, however, a much more pleasant experience than using a synthetic (microfiber) towel which I, fortunately, only have had to use few times in my life while visiting someone. Synthetic towels can be very soft, but I personally hate that plasticky overly supple sensation! So, while I might not replace my everyday cotton towels with linen towels altogether, I would choose the Amberoot backpacking towel over any synthetic sports towel for being on the go any day. It is very light – only 167 g (5.9 oz.) for a bath towel (135 cm x 75 cm/ 53 inches x 30 inches), and can easily be stuffed in the included stuff sack.
Washing and drying
Another aspect of functionality is of course drying time – not least when you are on the go. Luckily, the Amberoot backpacking towel dries very fast, both after being washed in the machine, or after a shower. Of course it all depends on the temperature, humidity level and wind conditions (if outdoors) of the place where you hang the towel to dry, but for me it only ever took a very little time. So, if you are backpacking, chances are that you can shower in the evening and have a dry towel before morning. In terms of washing, linen should be washed at around 30 ºC (86 ºF) as too hot water can otherwise cause the fabric to shrink or weaken the fibers. You can, however, tumbledry the Amberoot towel – but it might be a good idea to choose the low setting. I didn’t experience any issues with bad crinkling after hanging it to airdry but if you are the meticulous type, you can also iron the towel on the low to medium setting without a problem.
The Amberoot backpacking towel is officially my new towel for being on the go. It is light, packs small, dries fast and is sustainably produced. What’s not to like?
If you have any questions about this product, drop me a line in the comments below.
We field tested this product. The rating shows its overall performance.About Rating
- Grown, produced and sewn in Europe.
- Lightweight bath towel
- Quick drying
- Fabric gets even softer with every use and wash
- Different sensation if you are used to cotton or synthetic towels