Finding the best bath towel is totally uncomplicated, and that’s what makes it so complicated. Buying towels is like buying sheets—there's no easily discernible specification or technology to look for. It’s cotton, it dries you off, and, ideally, it feels nice on your skin. There are thousands of variations, with product specifications that imply every citizen should be well aware of the cotton-production process and know why it’s critical that cotton is Egyptian.
There are plenty of good towels, because the threshold for technically being a towel is so low. If it can move water from your body to itself, I believe it’s legally a towel. I have not heard a persuasive argument that a carpet is not just a large towel waiting for its chance to shine.
The best bath towels, though, do the few tasks asked of a towel extremely well: They’re soft, dry you off quickly, and then dry quickly themselves. Though it’s not hard to feel soft and durable on the showroom floor, the best towels also hold up to repeated washing and drying without becoming less absorbent or soft. They usually do this by using long-staple cotton, which feels softer and holds up better to being rubbed vigorously against something for five years in a row; be wary of cheap towels that feel soft, as synthetic materials and fabric softeners will feel plush and soft but fall apart quickly.
No matter if you like a lightweight, quick-dry towel in muted earthy tones or a heavy, plush comforter-esque one, we’ve found the best of the best. Just remember to wash and dry this one more often than you did your old set.
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Originally Appeared on GQ