I am a serial skeptic. Add that to serial cynic and jester and sometimes I am too much to handle. My filter for bullshit is always on, and sometimes it gets me in trouble. Somehow, MSR snuck through with a stupid piece of Made in Korea fabric that they call a towel. Beware the “ultralight sell” in today’s market; the ultimate comparison comes in deciding if the product at hand is more useful than nothing at all. Weird, but some things just don’t measure up. Enter, the MSR Nano Towel. Their website advertises the following:
Now the lightest and most compact microfiber towel available, the soft, silkweight Nano towel brings the utility of 2X absorbency and rapid drying to even the most discerning lightweight travelers. It’s ideal as a face, hand or dishtowel for backpacking and adventure travel.
Admittedly, I had a small MSR PackTowl Personal that was velvety soft, absorbent, and wrung to a nearly-dry state that allowed it to be immediately reused. I was satisfied. In the world of lightweight things and minimalism, some argue that a towel is a luxury; air dry, or dry off with a t-shirt they say. For me, this towel was a small, satisfying compromise. It was, unfortunately lost on the C&O Trail.
The Nano towel ($7.95) was a replacement purchased at a store that mostly sells guns and Carhartts. It is beyond me what they were doing stocking this glorified nose tissue. It is billed as the following:
- Ultralight: Size Medium (18” x 23”) weighs just .9 ounces (21g) making it the lightest camp towel on the market.
- 2X Rapid-Cycle Absorbency: Soaks up twice its weight in water; then wrings out almost completely dry – over and over.
- Laser Cut: Smooth finished edges without stitch bindings or fraying.
- Easy Care: Machine wash, then hang dry using the convenient snap loop or tumble dry
Ok, it’s light, but so is a puff of air, and that has proven to make people dry after a swim or a shower for millenia. Infinitely easy care.
It is able to absorb 2x it’s weight in water…my size small towel weighs 0.4oz x 2= 0.8 oz. It doesn’t dry my hands.
Laser cut? It’s cut with a zig-zag pair of scissors, shearing scissors I believe they are called. Maybe those are cut with a laser. This boastful claim is reminiscent of “Austin Powers”.
Easy care. Whatever MSR.
Oh yeah, its not soft either.
I noticed that this Nano-Not-Really-A-Towel is almost exactly the same size as a cotton bandana that I am carrying. The bandana is more absorbent, makes me look like less of a sucker, and costs an average of $2, anywhere. Here are some great Made in the USA bandanas. Visit your local truck stop for the one featuring the screaming eagle clasping the lighting bolts (you know).
Finally, I have a t-shirt which limps along toward a towel-ly grave. Limps along…yes, it shows nipple when the wind blows, that is how a t-shirt limps. Soon, I will cut it up and use it both as a towel and eventually as a rag to clean my bike and drivetrain. I have no doubt that the ragged old t-shirt will outperform the MSR towelette.
Update: In Sault St. Marie, camped at Velorution Cycles, which hosts touring cyclist in their back yard, right next to the dirt pump-track and North-shore style course. Showers and WiFi are included, all for free. I heard about this yesterday, and was passed a flyer with some super secret back-road directions which took some of the strain out of Trans-Canada Highway riding. I arrived, to meet a beautiful girl– a customer– riding a well-maintained Holdsworth fitted with a rather average, but beautiful and functional Campagnolo Gran Turismo derailleur (which apparently could accommodate cogs up to 36T). The bike had belonged to her father, and had toured Europe.
Sunny, breezy weather will bring me back into the States tomorrow– most likely to Mackinac Island– a cycling haven perhaps greater, and more historic than Portland and Minneapolis. The entire Upper Peninsula of Michigan is coming into view as a riding haven as well.