Please sign in to post.

Travel towel alternative

I have a simple question. Is a travel towel the same thing as a "ShamWow"?

Posted by
2147 posts

Hi Kathleen, I don't think they are the same thing. A travel towel would be a small fast drying towel to use on your body (see the Travel Store tab in this site). I've read that some people use a "sham wow" type cloth to squeeze the moisture out of their hand laundry. I use them on my car.

Posted by
8889 posts

I have never heard of a "ShamWow".
What I think you mean is a "chamois leather cloth". The pronounciation is similar. This is a yellow cloth originally made from the skin of a chamois goat, and used for cleaning windows.

Posted by
12040 posts

"I have never heard of a "ShamWow".

Consider yourself lucky that those commercials don't air in Switzerland. And that the terms "Mighty Putty", "Slap Chop", and "Oxi Clean" probably don't ring a bell either.

Posted by
14249 posts

In NO way is the fabric of the ShamWow anything like the natural animal skin of a chamois nor in fact does it even vaguely resemble a product from nature. (Tom, laughing at your examples and trying to block the yelling pitchmen from my brain!)

Whatever product you choose, do some trials at home to see how long it takes to dry. You may need to include a ziplock bag to use for packing a damp towel.

Posted by
2081 posts


to quoin a phrase.... unknown captain...

i got my "travel towel" from REI and its like a microfiber type material. if i remember correctly there were some tradeoff between the materials used.

happy trails.

Posted by
4411 posts

The first travel towels were basically 'ShamWows' - those viscose towels, the most common brand being PackTowl. I've owned several for nearly 20 years now; they go to Europe every time I go. I usually use them for rolling my handwashing in...and sometimes for drying myself off.

I'm not sure I've actually ever handled a ShamWow; my PackTowls are thicker than most of these types of towels. I have used lots of these types of towels around the house [like when the water pipe broke under the kitchen sink and was turning my kitchen into a wading pool :-( ]. They are great for absorbing AND HOLDING lots of water until wrung out, then repeat the process.

The big deal for travel is that they hold a lot of water, dry well while wet, and AIR-DRY QUICKLY!

They're also great for wrapping beer steins in I've been told ;-)

The are many other types of travel towels - mostly microfiber types. WalMart (for instance) has some in their household cleaning and their car detail departments.

Posted by
7626 posts

I travel (and also camp) with my PackTowl from REI, too ( It's soft, but not plush like a cotton terrycloth towel, and not big, like a beach towel, but it works in a pinch, packs easily, and dries pretty quickly. I store it in a Ziploc baggie, and take it back out if it needs more time to air-dry. It has a snap-on loop for hanging. Toweling off after a shower usually feels more like wiping water away than blotting. A ShamWow could give you similar results (not sure how soft it would be next to your skin), minus the hang loop.

Posted by
5837 posts

Pack towels, the name brand and generic microfiber towels, are effective to the point that I only need a smaller size towel than the all cotton towels. That said, prior to this discussion, I hadn't heard about a ShamWow.

I have only needed a packtowel for hostel or mountain hut travel where we needed our own "linens" meaning sleep sheets and towel.

The pack towel that is sized about the size of a cotton hand towel is large enough to dry a normal body.

Posted by
507 posts

The Absorber is found in Walmart Auto Supply. If it can be used to dry multiple pieces of laundry, then it can be used to dry a person instead. Here is the forum link. Drop down to 7/27/2014 Judy Bikes (poster)

It is micro fiber. Buy one & try it at home. It can do double duty in getting the excess water out of your sink laundry, & according to the poster it dries fast. Will be trying one tonight as a bath towel.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks guys,
I used the brand name of towels I got at a flea market. Main selling point seemed to be that they were made in Germany. Mine is like felt, not woven. I can see now that what I have would be great for shortening my laundry drying time but itself would need to be transported in a plastic bag. Not very light if wet or damp. Just was trying to think of using what I have before buying something else. Thanks for the input!

Posted by
93 posts

I bought a set of Sham Wows years ago as a joke. I went on a fishing trip in Alaska in 2010 and I had to pack a lot of gear for the 2 weeks in the bush so keeping size and weight down was essential. When I was thinking of a towel, I looked at these with a silly grin and thought, hey give it a try. I showered and used the sham wow to dry off. It worked darn it! So rather than take a bulky towel that takes a long time to dry, which nothing dried when I went. This little guy did the job! Now you can't wrap it around you, but you can really squeeze it out and dry it overnight, if it's not completely dry, its small enough to fit in a larger zip lock baggie! Best of all, it's cheap enough that you can leave it behind and make some room for gifts to pack home!