We are often asked just how fast the drying time is for our two styles of quick-dry towel. The long answer of course, is that drying times vary depending on how wet the towel is and the environment in which the towel is drying. However, we can tell you that based on our own testing, a completely wet medium sized Extreme or Ultra Fast-Dry can dry in as little as 30 to 45 minutes!
To put our towels to the test, we took a medium (28" x 34") in each of the Extreme Ultralight and Ultra Fast-Dry style, as it is our most popular size for backpacking, and put them through the cold water rinse cycle of our washing machine, for even and maximum 'wetness', and hung them up to dry outside. The weather that day was warm, about 20 C / 68 F, and there was a very light breeze - ideal conditions. The towels were in direct sunlight most of the time. We set a timer for 15 minute alerts so we could check their drying progress at this interval. We snapped a photo, time stamped it and noted the moisture state of each towel.
In the first 15 minutes the towels changed from definitely wet to damp, a subtle difference! At the 30-minute mark, the face of each towel was dry but the bottom hems and any areas where the towel was bunched or folded on itself, was still a little damp. At this point, if we were on a backpacking, river or camping trip, we would have no qualms about packing up our towels for the day as they would not have made other items in our pack wet. At the 45-minute mark, both towels were completely dry!
Knowing that these conditions were ideal, we decided to repeat the experiment with the wet towels placed in the shade. Drying times were slightly longer with the towels reaching 95% dry in just over an hour and 100% dry in about 90 minutes. Air temperature was approximately 16 C / 60 F.
In actuality, when using the towel after a swim or shower it will never be completely wet as the towels were for these experiments. This means your towel should dry even faster.
How do these towels dry so quickly? It all starts with the fabrics used. Each towel is made from a moisture-wicking fabric that doesn't physically absorb the water. Rather, the water is pulled through the fabric and spreads out across the surface area of the towel providing as large a surface area as possible to speed evaporation. The more surface area exposed to the air, the faster the towel will dry. That's why we suggest always buying the biggest towel possible for your needs.