“ Brand: Riviera / Type: Travel Extras - Towl „
One of the biggest things that takes up room in your backpack can be your towel. Alas it is probably one of the most important things you will take with you on your trip. Therefore it is imperative that you find a towel that is good quality and will last you for the whole trip and one that also packs down small. There are a large number of travelling towels on the market and when I went travelling there was quite a lot to choose from. The Riviera anti-bacterial towel was and still is one of the cheapest out there. My whole travelling plan was based around how much money I had; I was only going to come back home when my money ran out, therefore I wanted to spend as little as possible on the travelling essentials. I paid £3.99 for this towel from Springfield Camping supplies, which I thought was quite cheap. In Thailand though, the same amount of money got me a bed for the night and a noodle supper!
*Let's take a closer look at the towel...*
The towel I bought came in a "mint" green colour; which looks more like a washed out mushy pea colour! As it was only a travelling towel, colour did not really matter that much, however. The material of the towel is micro fibre. Now this is definitely the material of choice for travel towels and it is favoured because of its ability to i) dry quicker than normal materials, ii) soak up more water than other materials and iii) because of its ability to compress the fibres into small compact spaces.
The towel is thin compared with other travelling towels I have and the fibres do not feel as soft against my skin. On opening the towel for the first time, the towel felt a little stiff and so I before I took it travelling, I washed it and used a good quality fabric softener. The fabric softener refreshed the towel and made it softer and smell nice. I never got chance to wash it with fabric softener while I was away, so this was a good move.
This towel has specially treated fibre technology making it anti-bacterial. It is supposed to prevent mould, fungi and odours. I still experienced my towel smelling foisty at times so do not think that this is a cure to never washing the towel again! I did not particularly notice this treatment at all. The towel can be stored and comes in a little mesh zippable pouch. This pouch keeps the towel small in your bag and also the mesh lets it breath.
The one I bought was 'large' and measures 40cm by 90cm, it is quite short but to be honest I mainly used this towel for my hair as I had another larger travel towel with me. It is a little too short to be running round communal showers in! The pack size is 20cm by 24 cm by 1 cm thick and weighs 115g! A perfect size for my back pack as I could squeeze it into a side pocket for easy access. It is a bit of a squeeze getting the towel in the bag but this is the case for all travel towels.
The towel does soak up quite a lot of moisture for its size but it is not as successful as the packaging claims. It does dry body parts but the towel does get really damp afterwards rendering it quite useless. It is soft on the skin but if you are in a cold climate, do not expect this towel to keep you warm by any means. Once it is damp it sticks to the skin and feels quite uncomfortable.
I have had other travelling towels that have really impressed me and being just as good as my luxurious bath towels at home. This one was a bit disappointing, however it is quick to dry out again afterwards. There is no hook on it though, which is useful to have, so I sewed one on before travel, this made is easier to hang on to things to aid the drying out process.
I did not manage to bring my towel home with me, travelling took its toll and by the end of my trip it looked disgusting, smelt terrible and started to fall apart. This was a little disappointing as I did expect it to last longer, micro fibre fibres are supposed to be quite long lasting. The other towel I took with me lasted much longer, albeit it was slightly better quality and cost more money.
If you want a cheap, "throw away" towel that is small for travelling, then this ticks the boxes. Just do not expect it to keep you warm and cosy.
"A towel...is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have."
And, it's not a bad thing for a regular traveller, either. I have long hair thus needing access to at least 2 bath towels at any one time, so when I've shampooed I can turban it up to dry. On previous stints abroad I have taken one towel with me and bought another when I got there, but shopping in West Africa is limited, so I wanted to bring along two in case I never found a shop selling them (and 7 weeks in...I haven't). I brought one normal towel but given space and weigh constraints, I gladly took Big Sis up on her offer to buy me a travel towel for my birthday. She had previously bought my mother one which I had nabbed for my use when I visited her in Ecuador, so I knew they were a useful item to have.
"Partly it has great practical value - you can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta..."
Warmth is not really an issue here. It's not been under 20 C even at night since I arrived. Today it was pushing 35 C which feels deliciously wrong in November. But, I CAN wrap this towel around me. The Riviera comes in two sizes, large and extra-large. It makes me think of condoms - who would ever buy the small, if they sold them? I have the extra large...towel, that is. And while it's hardly a bath sheet, and is in fact smaller than the 'medium' fluffy one I brought with me it's big in the world of travel towels. And, of course, it's not the size that matters, it's what you can do with it that counts. This towel is big enough to wrap around me and cover all the vital bits. It in wide enough in the body to cover boobs and bum simultaneously, and long enough that it goes all the way round, over a waistline that is not shrinking fast enough (I came to Africa to get skinny...I didn't count on them having Dairy Milk, even though they have neither dairy nor milk). I can't really bend over in this towel without flashing parts of me my new housemate really doesn't want to see, but it is definitely bigger than most handkerchief sized travel towels.
"...you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a mini raft down the slow heavy river Moth..."
This, like all travel towels, is on the thin side, but it is surprisingly soft and, dare I say it, comfy when used as a blanket or rug. I've used it to sit on on one of my balconies to stop the tiles sticking to my legs, and it does the job perfectly.
"...wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat..."
Why certainly, this towel is super light, even when wet, so I can use it to flick at the mossies. It is also extremely absorbent - it is thinner and smaller than my other towel but quickly wicks away the drops after any one of my 3 daily showers. Most importantly, given that last fact, it dries super fast meaning it's almost immediately ready for another use. I tend to stick it on the balcony to dry in the sun (sunlight kills germs...no germs means I don't have to wash it regularly, right?) but even when I forget and leave it in my bedroom it is never more than mildly moist an hour later and, even better, doesn't make my room humid or smelly as other towels can (safety concerns mean I leave my windows shut and bedroom door locked when I'm out). The towel has a unique texture, a bit like a chamois cloth, which makes it dry faster, and is treated with an antibacterial agent, a great advantage since I imagine most users will be sticking it, still damp, into their backpacks each morning. A pair of shoes I brought with me have started growing Penicillin in the last week. Happily this towel shows no such signs of a mould. invasion
"...wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or to avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal..."
Bingo - my main purpose for needing it...ish. This towel really is so thin and light, which is great for using on your hair. You can wind it round and tuck it under securely, and then wander around getting dressed or doing whatever, with your hair neatly piled up out of your way, drying. I find this is much easier than normal towels to secure because there's less material to fiddle with, and it's easier to create a gap to fix the end of the turban into. What's more, while you're not worrying about balance, you also don't have to worry about neck strain as you can barely feel it. I have found my hair dries much quicker with this than a normal towel, and I'm much more comfortable while it's happening, too. You don't need to rub or pat, you can literally just twist it up and leave it, then comb out later and you're good to go.
"...you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough...."
Alas mine is the mint coloured version (it also comes in denim blue) so not that eye catching as perhaps a red one might be, but it's a lovely colour, nice and strong and not too pale. It does stain if you use it inappropriately (like putting it on a dusty balcony for a little light sunbathing) but marks come out with little effort. Just as well, given my complete lack of skill in the field of hand-washing. A quick rinse and a half-hearted scrub, and, yes, it is clean enough to dry myself off with. (If you live in the civilised world, you can machine wash this at up to 40 degrees, but shouldn't tumble dry).
"...any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still know where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with..."
I always know where my towel is. It comes in a zip lock plastic pouch as shown above, and I have found this very useful for storing other things (like my hair accessories) in. I keep hold of it as I think it will be a good way to pack my towel when I'm next on the move: here it stays out as I use it every day. This towel would be ideal for treks or camping or other on-the-go trips as it weighs next to nothing, and will fold or roll easily into a variety of shapes for packing if you don't want to use the pouch. I've not had the scales to test this claim, but the manufacturers reckon it is 6 times lighter than normal linen, which, when you're on a Ryanair luggage allowance, could be the difference between getting that extra book or bar of chocolate or not.
Not a traveller? Don't Panic. The company also think it's ideal for use on wet pets.
I would highly recommend this travel towel. It is that crucial bit bigger than most makes, but packs so small you'll hardly notice. It is super absorbent, dries rapidly and is easy to transport. Unlike a dedicated hair-drying towel, it has a multitude of uses thanks to its normal towel shape, so has the edge over the likes of the Turbie. There are only two colours, but they're both nice (and unisex).
The manufacturer's site has these for £6.15 for the large, £10.25 for the extra large at present. There are also tons for sale on eBay.
Alternatively, find your local high street stockist here: