REI MultiTowel Lite Review

Fred Perrotta

Magnifying Glass IconThis post is part of our Travel Product Review series. At Tortuga Backpacks, we love to find the perfect tool for the job. We couldn’t find the perfect travel backpack, so we created it. When we find other great products, we like to let you know about them with a review. The following review was unpaid and unsolicited. It reflects the opinion of its author only and is based on his/her own experiences.

The guide said the water at Milla Milla Falls would be “refreshing.” I knew what that meant. Even Tropical North Queensland has dreary days during the Australian winter, and this was one of them. Since the falls were one of the highlights of the tour, five of us decided to steel ourselves against the elements and go for a swim.

Even though the water was freezing, we were able to swim in and around a waterfall so isolated and picturesque that it has been used as a location in music videos and commercials. Totally worth it.

Once we had all lost feeling in our extremities, we trudged back to the van, shivering. Soaking wet, with a long ride back to Cairns ahead, I had the opportunity to test out a new addition to my travel gear arsenal: the REI MultiTowel Lite.

Why Bring a Travel Towel?

Since many hostels either charge for towels or don’t provide them at all, a compact travel towel can be a valuable money and space saver. Renting a towel every day can get expensive. Normal cotton bath towels take up too much room in your bag and take far too long to dry when you’re on the move.

A low-cost travel towel can alleviate these problems. A good travel towel will be both compact and quick to dry. The latter is necessary so you don’t have to leave your towel hanging out in the open in the hostel all day or stuffed in your bag getting musty and growing mold.

REI MultiTowel Lite

Quick Drying

Curiously, REI does not make any claims about how fast the towel dries, arguably its most important feature. Let’s put it to the test.

To simulate typical conditions, I used the towel to dry off after a shower (girls, please control yourselves) and hung it to dry from its handy loop in my apartment. Checking on the MultiTowel’s drying process hourly, I found it completely dry by the five hour mark. The towel can easily dry overnight or while you’re off exploring during the day. Just don’t shower immediately before a flight or train ride unless you want to be trailing it like a cape behind you.


The MultiTowel is extremely thin (~1cm) and folds into a 9″x5″ zippered pouch, roughly the size of a slim Zagat guide. REI says the towel is made of a synthetic, antimicrobial fabric. The fabric feels very similar to a microfiber cloth. Your first reaction will likely be disbelief that this towel can actually hold any water, especially if you’re used to plush cotton towels. Have no fear, the MultiTowel can and will hold plenty of water, up to 8x its weight, according to REI.

The downside of the towel being so compact is that you can’t wrap it around you after use. I have the large, 37″ x 23.5″, which is still too short to wrap around my 32″ waist. The towel is also too short in the other direction for a girl to use to cover her top and bottom. The lesson here is: if you’re using a shared bathroom, bring something else to cover yourself with after your shower. Hostels can be very intimate, but let’s draw a line here.

Final Verdict


  • Dries in 4-5 hours
  • Takes up much less space than a cotton towel in your backpack
  • Affordable (<$20) and will quickly pay for itself by eliminating the need to rent towels from hostels


  • Too small to provide any post-shower coverage

Bottom line: The REI MultiTowel Lite is a quick-drying, space-saving alternative to renting towels from hostels.


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