REI Mini MultiTowel review

{ 5 comments }

REI-minimultitowel_05In the worlds of rucking, backpacking, hiking and travel, there is an axiom: “Ounces become pounds.” This is loosely translated as, “Even small, lightweight items can add up to a lot of extra weight when walking around carrying that weight for miles.”  That’s one reason why absorbent microfiber towels have become popular among folks who participate in these activities. Check out the REI Mini Multi Towel.  A tiny towel that weights only a few ounces but is surprisingly absorbent in a pinch.  Let’s check it out.  Gadget on!

Background

As I’ve become more involved with GORUCK and the sport of rucking—which is an activity that originated with the US military and basically consists of walking or hiking with a weighted backpack—I’ve learned a few things.  Sometimes you want to have weight on your back because you are training or participating in one of GORUCK’s events.  Other times you want to minimize the weight you are carrying because either you know you will be walking or hiking a long distance, or you just want to carry a lighter load every day or while traveling. Over the past year or so, I’ve been paying more attention to how much stuff I’m carrying around every day, and how heavy it is.  I stumbled on the Mini MultiTowel on a trip to REI this past spring, and bought one to try it out.

Specs

  • Materials: 80% polyester %20 nylon microfiber
  • Dimensions: 15.5 x 15.5 inches
  • Weight: 0.6 ounces (0.8 in carry pouch)

Options

Size Options: REI offers several sizes of MultiTowel, the smallest of which is the Mini MultiTowel reviewed here. See the REI site for the additional larger sizes.

Color Options: The Mini MultiTowel is available in the color options listed below.  (Other sizes of MultiTowel are available in other colors.)

  • Kiwi (reviewed here)
  • Hyper Blue
  • Hollyhock
  • Lava

Packaging & Contents

  • Mini Multi Towel
  • Carry Pouch with Carabiner clip

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Packaging is minimal, just a cardboard hang-tag.  Simple and recyclable.  Just unhook the carabiner hook from the small webbing loop, remove the cardboard, then slip the carabiner back onto the webbing.  Easy peasy.

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I like this type of packaging because it allows direct, visual and hands-on access to the product.  There’s nothing better for a first-hand evaluation of a product by a potential buyer.

Features

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The Mini MultiTowel includes a small pouch for storage.  The pouch has a mesh front that presumably is intended to help allow the MultiTowel to dry, though with it stuffed inside, I’m not sure how well it would actually dry like this, mesh or not.  The top of the pouch has a small, plastic, spring-loaded carabiner hook attached via a small webbing loop.  This carabiner is great for attaching the MultiTowel to your pack, belt loop or other items.

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The back of the pouch has a small opening consisting of two overlapping flaps of elasticized material.  Simple and very little chance of MultiTowel falling out of it accidentally.REI-minimultitowel_06

Removing the MultiTowel from the pouch is simple.  Just pinch a bit of it with your fingers and pull it out through the opening.
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Now, I realize that the Mini MultiTowel has probably not been designed for or marketed toward me.  I carry it in my EDC ruck for emergencies and not much else.  Rather, it is probably more for backpackers, and more specifically, ultralight backpackers who count every ounce of gear that they carry.  However, I do carry the Mini MultiTowel every day.  It take sup very little space but it has come in very handy on a few occasions.
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The MultiTowel itself has a small loop of webbing sew into on corner.  The loop attaches to a small plastic snap-hook sewn to the inside of the carrying pouch.  This hook allows the MultTowel to be hung up while inside the pouch, so that it can dry, and it does dry rather quickly, especially in the sun or a breeze.

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The Mini MultiTowel is 15.5 x 15.5 inches square, about the size of handkerchief.  This is a good size for a quick partial towel-off, but if you want to use it as a full-blown shower towel or beach towel, you will have to do several wring-outs, and you probably won’t be completely dry.

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How well does it work?  Let me tell you a few stories.  The first is from our family trip to Peru this past spring break.  We were fortunate to spend a night in a town with a hot springs, but not all of us had remembered to bring towels on our short walk across town.  My son and I had planned to rough it and just air dry while walking back to our hotel, but the dry evening air in the Andes Mountains was much cooler than during mid-day, and we were quite chilled.  Then I remembered that I’d packed my Mini Multi-towel and into my GORUCK GR1 ruck. I reached in, popped it out, and my son used it to dry off completely.  It took me a couple of wring-outs and I got pretty dry, but we were both much more comfortable than we’d have been without it.

The second story is from leaving work recently.  My carpool buddy and I stepped out the door of our building and into an unexpected and furious downpour. By the time we’d sprinted across the parking lot, we were drenched head to toe.  We jumped into my car and I immediately reached back into my GORUCK GR1, unclipped the Mini MultiTowel and we very quickly used it to dry off our swamped spectacles and head home.  The Mini MultiTowel was even dry before I pulled into my driveway. And without it, we’d have been using the Dunkin’ Donuts napkins that I keep in my glove compartment.

And finally, I used it to substituted for my gym towel.  We have towels provided for us at our fitness center at work, but one day the dryer broke down and I had to break out the trusty Mini MultiTowel.  It worked pretty well, but I did have to wring it out several times and at the end I wasn’t quite as dry as if I’d used an actual cotton towel.  However, withing a few minutes I’d finished air-drying and the whole process was much better than not having anything at all.

Conclusion

I really like the Mini MultiTowel.  It is very small, inexpensive, extremely lightweight and handy in a pinch when you need to dry off.  I carry it as part of my EDC gear and I might even buy a few more and stash them in my car and my desk for emergencies.

Updates 04/11/16

I continue to carry the REI Mini Multitowel every day in either my daily commute bag or my travel bag. I don’t necessarily use it often, but it is small and light enough to have it on hand for emergencies.

Source: This product was purchased with the reviewer’s own personal funds.  For more information, please visit http://www.rei.com.

 

Product Information

Price:$7.50
Manufacturer:REI
Requirements:
  • None
Pros:
  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Very hand in a pinch
Cons:
  • Absorbent, but not as absorbent as a full-blown cotton towel
Posted in: Outdoor Gear, Pocket Gear, Reviews, Travel Gear
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • DStaal July 1, 2015, 6:25 pm

    Note that they have the same towel material in various sizes – I have two, the mini listed here and their second-largest size that I’ve used as a bath towel on occasion. It works well, though it has a very different feel than a normal home bath towel.

    • Andy Jacobs July 2, 2015, 8:35 am

      Thanks for that reminder, DStaal. Yes, REI does sell these in various sizes, as I mentioned in the “Options” section above. I have considered buying one of the larger ones for camping. And I would agree that although these microfiber towels do work, they are certainly not the same feel as a cotton terry cloth bath towel.

  • Betty Widerski July 6, 2015, 8:18 am

    How stiff is this towel? I’m remembering towels like this from 10+years ago that were rather stiff when dried after wetting. Those were kind of thick – this looks like it is probably thinner and more supple since it fits into that small stuff sack.

  • Etta July 16, 2015, 10:38 pm

    No still at all. I use mine for as a bath towel when camping.

  • Etta July 16, 2015, 10:39 pm

    “still” = stiff

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