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Boardcave’s Surf Towel Buying Guide

When it comes to surf towels, we all have our own preferences. But this is more than just choosing a surf towel based on a specific style. Some surfers would like a towel that could double as a surf changing towel, surf hooded towel, or something big enough to double as a mat on the beach.

Surf Towel Materials

Surf towels like bath towels are made from natural and synthetic fibres. Each has its own unique advantage and quality that makes them ideal for towels.


Cotton is the material of choice when it comes to towels and this for a good reason. Cotton surf beach towels are soft, absorbent and dries quicker. 100 percent cotton towels are the best in terms of absorbing power and incredibly soft. Cotton is also a popular choice because it can retain colour better and gets stronger when wet. Important things to consider when determining the quality of a cotton towel is the fibre length and GSM. The longer the fibre, the higher the quality of the fibre. And some cotton towels are not made equally. Cotton towels with short fibres tend to shed and become less absorbent over time.

Flax (Linen)

Linen is an extremely absorbent, lightweight, and quick drying material. Line towels are also durable and softer with age without losing its strength. Because it is lightweight, it is easier to carry when travelling and takes little space when folded.


Microfiber is made from synthetic fabrics which are usually a mix of nylon and polyester. Microfiber towels are lightweight and quite effective in absorbing water. Microfibers are thin, almost a third the diameter of cotton fibre. The fineness of the fibres makes it possible to pack more fibres in an area. This property also allows microfiber towels to be ‘sand free,’ meaning it does not collect sand easily. One downside is that microfiber towels do not feel as soft on the skin compared to cotton towels.


GSM (grams per square metre) – is often overlooked when shopping for towels. It determines how soft and absorbent the towel will be. The GSM ranges from 300 to 900. The plushest towels are between 620 to 900 GSM while surf towels and bath towels range from 400 to 620 GSM. More grams also translate to heavier towels. When it comes to absorbing power, towels with a higher GSM are more absorbent. Anything lower than 400 GSM should be avoided.

What to Look for in Surf Towels

Fibre content – the amount of fibre of the surf towel determines its plushness and water absorbing capacity. Most towels are made of terry cotton which is a soft cotton produced by weaving in looping patterns. The resulting loop increases the surface area, hence more water can be absorbed. Cotton also feels softer on the skin making them a great choice for making towels.

Size – again, this would not be an issue when you are at home but when you are in a public place then you would want a towel that could sufficiently cover you up. A surf towel poncho or surf changing towel that can at least reach the thighs can give you all the privacy you need when you are taking off your suit.

Absorbing power – generally, thicker, and heavier towels are more absorbent, but this takes longer to dry. Cotton is a popular material for towels because these are highly absorbent. 100 percent cotton towels are the most absorbent. However, even the best towels lose their absorbing power. This happens when fabric softeners and other impurities build up on the fibres. To fix this, you can use baking soda and vinegar to remove the residue.

Sand Resistance – you might not have given much consideration to this but yes, towels have different sand resistance. Surf towels are basically used for drying the body but can also be used as beach mats. There is also the case of sand getting caught in your towel which can be irritating when you are rubbing it against your skin. Shop for a surf towel that does not collect sand. This can be determined by the thread count and towel’s material. Terry cotton and microfiber towels are the best when keeping sand out.

Warmth – we know how cold it could get when the chilly wind starts blowing. And when we come out of the water, we just want to put something over to keep us warm. A thick, good size surf towel can do a good job of keeping you warm. A surf towel hoodie or surf hooded towel can easily double as a jacket.

Surf Towel versus Bath Towel

Compared to your everyday bath towel, a surf towel is wider and longer. If we go into specifics, bath towels are 27 inches x 52 inches (70cm x 130cm) compared to a surf towel which is 31 inches x 63 inches (80cm x 160cm).

Why need a bigger towel? For practical reasons surf towels are bigger because these should be able to adequately cover you when you are changing on the beach. While we can get away with a smaller bath towel in the privacy of our home, this might not be enough for the outdoors.

Bath towels are also thicker making them more absorbent, but this also means that they take longer to dry. And this might not be a good idea when using the surf towel multiple times when getting in and out of the beach.