Hot! Trying New Things: Pack Towels and Soap Sheets

So, I’m trying out a couple new things on this trip, and I thought it might be a useful to mention them. I know some folks absolutely love travel gear stuff, and this post, well, it’s for those folks. Anyway. Here you go:

Pack Towels

I’ll be honest: I have never traveled with any sort of towel before. Some hostels have them available for free, some rent them for pocket change, and in the absence of either option, I usually just dry off with the previous day’s clothes. It’s not perfect, but I don’t really care if I’m slightly damp for an extra 15 minutes of my day.

However, this time around, I’m going to be staying in friends’ houses for part of the time, and I figure that I should probably have my own towel. Also, since I’ll be working on a horse farm, my previous day’s clothes will probably be covered with aerosolized horse poo and sweat, so they’re not going to be the best thing to dry off with. So, I have decided to purchase two pack towels for this trip: one large one, one tiny one. The large towel is an X-Large MSR Pack Towel. I could have gotten by with the large or even the medium, but the difference in size once they were folded up was negligible, so I thought “what the hell” and got a larger one. I went with MSR instead of the REI brand towel because, frankly, this one folds up to be considerably smaller.

The smaller towel is a Campack Medium Towel, which is actually quite tiny (slightly larger than your average wash cloth). It is super light and super absorbent, and wads up into a tiny little bag half the size of my fist. There’s a river nearby Lagamas that many residents like to swim in, and I plan on going there frequently. This towel will work perfectly for drying off afterward.

I’ve tested both of the towels already, and they work great. The MSR towel doesn’t do a great job at drying my hair, but I leave my hair mostly wet anyway, so it’s not really a big deal. The tiny little Campack towel is absolutely amazing and dried me off completely (except hair), and then was 100% dry again within an hour.

Soap Sheets

The other thing I wanted to try on this trip was sheet-based soap. Since I’m traveling by carry-on only, I’m extremely limited in the amount of liquids I can carry, and I had been trying to think of ways around that. I used to use the LUSH solid shampoos when I was in college, but I wasn’t too impressed by them and they get messy rather quickly. When I was at REI, I was reminded of the Sea-to-Summit brand of soaps, which specializes in biodegradable cleaning products for camping. They have various types of soap available in little tiny sheets reminiscent of those Listerine tongue freshener things. I got three packs. One is laundry detergent, one is body wash, and the other is a shampoo/conditioner combo.

The laundry detergent is enough for 10 washes, which is enough to get me through the entire trip. The body wash and shampoo is also enough for about 10 washes, but that, combined with a travel-bottle of each of those things that I will bring with me, will get me through my time on the farm, and by the time I meet up with Marc in Lyon, I’ll be able to buy “real size” bottles of stuff to use for the rest of my trip. The great thing about these soap sheets is that since they’re not liquids, they don’t count toward my limit, which leaves me with more room for other stuff!

There are a few new techniques I’ll be trying for this trip, such as grouping my clothing into large-size ziploc bags to keep everything organized (and in a pinch, dry), but these are the only new gear I’ll be testing for this trip. In the future I’d love to replace my oversized bookbag-style backpack (about 45L) with something a bit more sturdy, but that will have to wait until a later date unless some friendly company would like me to test out their bag and put it through my usual rough treatment. Any takers? 😉

As I use all of these items throughout my trip, you can expect updates on how they have performed and fared during my time in France this summer.

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  1. As a person who is obsessed with gadgets I’m fascinated by all of these and looking forward to hearing how well they work on your trip.