Why Linen (Flax) is the Best Travel Towel Material
The oldest known textile is making a comeback and for good reason.
Whether you’re heading out for a weekend, traveling in your van for a month or living out of your backpack for a year, a quality towel that is enjoyable to use can make all the difference.
For every kind of travel, we love a good linen (flax) towel. When it's responsibly sourced and thoughtfully crafted, a linen towel doesn't just perform, it does so with a very minimal environmental impact. Read on to learn more!
The Search For The Best Travel Towel Starts At Its Source
Sure, a travel towel might feature an attractive design or a handy carry-bag. But the most important aspect is what it’s made of. When seeking the best travel towel, you need a material that can do it all without taking up much space.
The most common travel towel material is microfiber. Second is cotton. We believe linen, made of flax fibers, will soon be the most sought after material.
And this is why...
A Travel Towel So Compact, You’ll Forget It’s Already Packed
No matter how much luggage you’re carrying, space is a precious commodity. The less space your towel requires, the more likely you’ll be able to bring it along on every adventure.
A common cotton bath towel can weigh as much as two pounds, and take up the majority of space in a small carry-on bag. In comparison, a quick-dry travel towel made of microfiber or linen is extremely compact. A full-sized Lava Linens linen towel, for example, can be easily rolled to the size of a 32-ounce water bottle making it one of the best travel towel materials for compact travel.
Linen is an ultra-thirsty textile.
If your travel towel doesn’t dry you off, then what’s the point?
It seems simple, but in fact, many towels marketed as ultra-absorbent are not necessarily designed to absorb water. For example, microfiber is good at wicking moisture, or spreading the moisture across the surface of the towel, it's not very absorbent. Therefore, microfiber towels may quickly become sopping wet and unusable.
A linen (flax) travel towel, on the other hand, absorbs more water per ounce of fiber than microfiber and cotton. In part, because linen fibers are hollow, they absorb up to 20% of their weight in water before even feeling wet. Compared to microfiber, a linen towel absorbs up to 50% more water.
Linen is naturally antimicrobial.
No one enjoys the scent of a musty towel.That’s why the best travel towels are naturally antimicrobial. In other words, they fight odor-causing bacteria before they multiply.
Unfortunately, neither cotton nor microfiber are naturally antimicrobial. To prevent cotton and microfiber travel towels from developing a musty odor over time, they’re often treated with anti-odor or antimicrobial finishes such as silver nanoparticles or chemical compounds. Unfortunately, these finishes tend to become less effective over time.
In comparison, a linen towel is made from one of the few existing naturally antimicrobial textiles. Linen, woven from fibers of the flax plant, prevents bacterial growth by creating an inhospitable living environment for these organisms. One study found that linen cuts the growth of bacteria by 30% to 50% compared to other materials. And, it does so without the use of any additives or chemicals.
A linen travel towel means no more damp luggage.
Imagine...your Airbnb or hostel check-out time is in a few short hours, and you’d really like to shower before the long day of travel ahead. But if you shower now, will your towel be dry in time to pack it up?
This situation is precisely why having a quick-dry travel towel is essential. If you’re a traveler who loves to be spontaneous or keep a flexible schedule, it’s important you have gear that works for your style of travel. You don’t want the fear of a damp towel keeping you from a hot shower or an amazing swimming opportunity.
Luckily, linen (flax) is both very absorbent and quick to dry. The same hollow fibers that are so good at absorbing water also allow for the water to quickly evaporate.
Linen towels dry much faster than cotton and microfiber per ounce of water absorbed, making them ideal for travel. If tossed in the dryer, a linen towel can dry in as little as 10 minutes. And if you place your towel outside on a warm, breezy day, it’ll be dry before you know it.
Best Travel Towel Performance, Smallest Environmental Footprint
Linen travel towels easily outperform cotton and microfiber. They're a top pick for their ability to absorb a lot of water, dry quickly, pack down small and resist the dreaded towel funk.
There is one additional and very important area where linen shines bright - its environmental impact. Once again, it all comes down to the material.
Microfiber is a petroleum-based, synthetic material.
In other words, microfiber towels are simply plastic in another form. Beyond the harmful extraction process used to create plastic, microfiber towels hold a dirty secret. As they’re used, microfiber towels begin to break down and shed tiny pieces of material. These are known as microplastics. Microplastics infiltrate water systems, harm marine life and are nearly impossible to collect due to their small size.
While the fibers are small, the problem is big. In just one wash, a single synthetic garment can shed upwards of 1,900 pieces of microplastic. What's more, microfiber itself is not accepted at recycling centers, nor is it a biodegradable material.
But what about cotton?
At first glance, cotton is a natural fiber that can be easily grown and harvested. But the reality of cotton is quite different.
Once harvested, cotton is often bleached to achieve its pure-white color. And compared to linen, cotton is far less durable. Not only is linen 30% stronger than cotton, it becomes even stronger when wet.
While towels made of cotton wear out over time, linen towels, made of flax, age beautifully. You may notice your cotton clothing and bed sheets typically last up to four or five years.
Linen, on the other hand, can last decades. The longevity of linen towels is ideal for rugged and long-term travel. Rarely will you need to replace your towel and you'll keep the landfills free of less-durable alternatives.
While cotton and flax are both natural fibers, flax is able to thrive without the use of pesticides or artificial irrigation. Flax also improves soil health, prevents erosion and leads to a beautiful and durable, chemical-free material.
When shopping for linen, look for theMasters of Linen certification. This certification ensures that no pesticides or irrigation were used in the growth and production of your linen towel.
Because it’s a natural, plant-fiber textile, linen contains no synthetic materials. With a linen towel, you can enjoy lakes, streams, and other waterways without leaving microplastic pollution in your wake. And after the long, long life of your linen towel, your towel may return to the earth - linen is naturally biodegradable.
Did this guide help you understand more about the benefits of a linen travel towel? If so, share it with a friend who could use a towel upgrade!
Ready to experience the difference that a luxurious, linen towel can make?