DTO WICK-ER WARMUP TOWEL
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
INITIAL REPORT - June 24, 2009
FIELD REPORT - August 28, 2009
LONG TERM REPORT - October 27, 2009
Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
130 lb (59.00 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with involvement in a local canoeing/camping group called Canoe Trails. The culmination was a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since my college days in Pennsylvania. I have completed all of the Appalachian Trail in Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina. My typical trip now is in the Sierra Nevada in California and is from a few days to a week-long. I carry a light to mid-weight load, use a tent, stove and hiking poles.
June 24, 2009
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
|Photo courtesy of DTO website
Manufacturer: Discovery Trekking Outfitters
Year of Manufacture: 2009
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.discoverytrekking.com
MSRP: $19.95 US
Medium: 150 g (5.3 oz) according to box
Ultralight: Less than 113 g (4 oz) according to website
Medium: 138 g (4.8 oz)
Ultralight: 97 g (3.4 oz)
Size: 71 x 86 cm (28 x 34 in)
Medium: Camel Brown (available in many colors)
Ultralight: Sage Green (also available in Army Brown and Light Grey)
The box says 'Fabric Made in USA, Sewn in Mexico' but the tags on the towels say 'Made in Canada'
Clarification added 8/19/2009: The towels tested were made in Canada. DTO has plans to ramp up production by having them sewn in Mexico. The box was provided as a packaging example only.
The DTO Wick-er Warmup medium towel is a light weight sport and travel towel. The ultralight version is an even lighter version of the medium towel although it is the same length and width. The towels are both made from 100% polyester. The ultralight version seems to simply be a thinner version of the medium. The fabric texture is more pronounced on the medium version. Both towels are stretchy especially in one direction.
The medium claims to dry 4 times faster than other conventional towels. It also claims to kill bacteria and contains silver 'which kills hundreds of odor-causing bacteria and fungus'. It has a high UV protection and lists a UPF of 15 or greater and blocks 93% of UV rays.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
The medium towel came in a box while the ultralight towel came packed loose. There were two Polartec tags: one listing Sun Protection and the other Odor Resistance. Two other inserts were included both of which talk about wicking and odor resistance. The summary of these is that the towel wicks water away (not absorbing it) and contains silver to discourage bacterial growth, so the towel dries quickly and doesn't get moldy or musty.
The first thing that struck me about the towels was the fabric. I was expecting something thin but very absorbent (like a ShamWow or PackTowl). However, these towels are polyester and remind me of a wicking t-shirt. I found the inserts to be really helpful because it was odd to see a towel that is not absorbent. One of the inserts describes the towel as the 'un-towel' and notes that 'one expects a really good towel to be thick and absorbent.' The included information states that these towels do not absorb water. Instead they wick moisture from the skin. This is an interesting concept.
The second notable thing was how light weight they are. When I weighed them they even came in below the listed weights.
We typically carry terry cloth hand towels on the trail which are used as bath towels and as pillow covers (over a pile of clothing) at night. I found it ironic that one of the included inserts is titled 'Discovery Trekking Fast-Dry Towels and Hot Flash Pillowcases'. So, they make pillowcases of a similar material. Although I'm not testing the pillowcase, I will get an idea of how they function as one. The material feels soft and comfortable on my skin.
I had planned to test the towel absorbency versus our terry cloth towels, but considering the wicking properties, that didn't seem appropriate. Instead I just used the ultralight one to dry my body following a shower. I dried off in the shower because I didn't want water wicking onto my bathroom floor. This turned out to be unnecessary.
It was unusual to dry off using a thin polyester towel instead of a thick cotton towel. It felt like I was drying myself with one of my husbands wicking t-shirts. However, the towel dried my skin and did absorb some water in that it was slightly damp afterwards and had darker wet sections. I tried to wring it out and wasn't able to get a drop of water to come out. After just 30 minutes, I checked on the towel and it already was quite dry. There was no darker color from the wet areas as there had been right after my shower. I haven't yet used it for towel drying my hair nor have I used the medium towel, but that will happen during the test period.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Besides the Polartec tags and inserts mentioned previously, there were the following instructions on the towel tags:
Machine wash in cool water.
Do not bleach.
Tumble dry on cool setting or hang to dry.
Do not dry clean.
Do not iron.
The DTO Wick-er Warmup towels appear to be well-constructed and high-quality. My initial thoughts are that they are light weight, easily packable and feel comfortable on my skin. I find it to be quite unusual to wipe my skin with this material but am interested to see if that changes through more use.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
I used the towels for backpacking, boat camping and car camping for a total of 13 days. They were used for drying body parts, hair, and dishes and as a pillowcase.
Loon Lake, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 6,200 ft (1,890 m); 50 to 75 F (10 to 24 C). They were used for drying hair and body after a shower and as a pillowcase at night.
Pacific Crest Trail, Sierra Nevada (California): 4 days; 7,820 to 9,000 ft (2,384 to 2,743 m); 45 to 75 F (7 to 24 C). I used the ultralight towel for drying my hair and the medium towel for drying my legs. I used both throughout the trip as my pillowcase.
Pacific Crest/Tahoe Rim Trail, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 7,390 to 9,010 ft (2,252 to 2,746 m); 50 to 85 F (10 to 29 C). I used both for a pillowcase and used the medium towel to wash and dry my legs.
Crystal Springs, Sierra Nevada (California): 3 days; 6,500 ft (1,981 m); 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C). I used the ultralight for drying dishes and used the medium as a pillowcase.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
At Loon Lake my husband put our 5 gallon (19 L) water carrier in a black plastic bag and set it in the full sun while we went out fishing. At the end of the day, I got to have a WARM shower! It was fantastic. I dried off (body only) using the ultralight towel. He dried off (body and hair) with the medium towel. I put the ultralight on a rock and it was dry enough to pack in about 10 minutes. I then set it in a bush to finish drying and put the medium towel next to it to begin drying. I began timing the drying time of the medium towel. However, I got sidetracked and before I knew it 20 minutes had elapsed and it was bone dry. I was literally able to watch them dry. I could see the wet portions that were directly facing the sun slowly disappear.
On the last night of our PCT hike my legs were filthy, so I washed them off using a bandana and water. I thought that they were clean but after drying them the medium towel was really dirty. It must've been able to pick up dirt easily. I also washed my hair and used the ultralight towel to dry it. The ultralight is the thinner of the two towels but still does a fine job of removing the water from my hair. There is a similar amount of residual water left in my hair as with any other towel.
During our camping trip at Crystal Springs, I used the ultralight towel to dry dishes. It worked well for that and again dried quickly on a pine bough.
The durability has been great despite drying them on granite boulders and in pine boughs. They haven't snagged or become abraded.
The fabric is quite comfortable and makes a nice pillowcase. I don't carry a pillow and typically pile up clothing and then wrap it in a towel or fleece. I find the DTO towels to feel even more comfortable on my face than the terry cloth towels that I used to use.
I found the DTO Wick-er Warmup Towel to be a great addition to my backpacking gear. They are light weight but so far have been very durable. It takes some getting used to drying with a wicking towel instead of a thick absorbent towel, but I have to admit that it works just as well.
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the long-term testing period, I used the towels for 3 backpacking trips and 3 camping trips for a total of 12 days. I used the towels for washing and drying hair and body, for drying dishes and as a pillowcase. I also used them to wrap my windscreen when stuffing it into my backpack so that the sharp edges don't damage anything.
Appalachian Trail, White Mountains (New Hampshire): 3 days; 2,032 to 5,367 ft (619 to 1,636 m); 45 to 70 F (7 to 21 C). I used them as a pillow at night, for washing and drying my body and for drying dishes.
Pacific Crest Trail, Central Sierra Nevada (California): 2 days; 9,610 to 10,500 ft (2,929 to 3,200 m); 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C). I used both of them as a pillow.
Desolation Wilderness, Sierra Nevada (California): 2 days; 6,560 to 7,520 ft (2,000 to 2,292 m); 40 to 70 F (4 to 21 C). I used them both as a pillow and then used the ultralight to dry dishes.
Baxter State Park, Maine: 4 days; 1,079 ft (329 m); 38 to 65 F (3 to 18 C). They were used for drying bodies and hair.
Recompence Shores, Freeport, Maine: 1 night; nearly sea level. They were both used for drying bodies and hair.
Shawme-Crowell State Park, Cape Cod, Massachusetts: 2 days; nearly sea level; 40 to 55 F (4 to 13 C). Used for drying dishes.
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
I have found that when drying my skin, it works better to blot than to rub. Nevertheless, my skin remains slightly damp afterward. This isn't a big issue for me although it is different than with a terry towel.
During the camping trip in Baxter State Park, we climbed Mount Katahdin and were really in need of a cleaning afterwards. We each used our bandanas as washcloths. I used the ultralight towel for drying my body. My husband used the medium towel for drying both body and hair. I left both towels on top of our tent for drying. They were still there the next morning when we went off for a hiking and canoeing trip. We were gone several hours and when we came back it was raining. I grabbed the towels and threw them in the trunk of the car. They weren't soaking wet, so I figured they'd dry.
For the next few days they were in the trunk until I pulled them out 3 days later. Wow! Were they stinky! We used them as makeshift curtains in a rustic cabin that night after spraying them with air freshener. The next day we washed them in hot soapy water on the stove. Then we hung them to dry on a clothesline and went for a walk. One hour later they were not quite dry, so we put them in the direct sun. 15-20 minutes later we decided that they were dry enough to use, so we again used them for drying bodies and hair.
When I used the towels to dry my body I usually used a bandana for the washing. Since my bandana is cotton, I realized that it would be nice to have a small Wick-er Warmup washcloth. Then I thought about all of my bandana uses; wiping sweat, head scarf, hair band, coffee filter and neck cooler (when wet) and realized that a synthetic version of a bandana would be better for all of my uses. I don't plan to cut up one of my towels for this, but I would buy a smaller version.
The durability continues to be very good. I mentioned that I wrap my metal windscreen in these towels to keep the edges from contacting other things in my pack. Despite this and frequent contact with granite and tree branches, there is really no sign of wear on these towels. There are no snags, no loose threads, no cuts or even abrasion in the fabric.
I continued to use the towels for pillowcases. They are still comfortable on my face even though they have been washed many times.
I found the DTO Wick-er Warmup Towels to be a nice compromise for backpacking. They don't dry my body as luxuriously as a thick cotton towel, but they are light weight and dry quickly making them perfectly usable for backpacking.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
I would love to see a washcloth-sized version of this towel. I use a cotton bandana as a multi-use item on every trip. For all of my uses it would be even better in a synthetic material.
None really, but it leaves my skin slightly damp after drying.
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series.
Thanks to Discovery Trekking Outfitters and BackpackGearTest.org for allowing me to participate in this test.
Read more reviews of Discovery Trekking gear
Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith