For years, I didn’t own a single pair of pants. The reason: it was too hot for pants. As I spent the majority of my time on tropical islands, all I owned were shorts – and with shorts, comes sweat.
Whether it comes as soon as you step out of the air conditioning on a hot summer’s day (which most days that you have to wear shorts), or you’re somewhere cooler and are just exerting yourself, sweat is one of those things that you’re going to encounter while traveling, no matter how light your clothes are. Genetics, weight, fitness, and of course, climate, will influence how long it takes, and how much of it you get, but it is going to happen, so why not take care of it?
Granted, if you’re going to be exercising, then carrying a full travel towel is not a bad idea, as you can expect to sweat a lot, and will want to be prepared. But, travel towels take space, and are not practical to carry around day-to-day, for handling those beads of sweat that can peek out when it’s just a bit too hot, and you’re walking just a bit too far, while perhaps carrying a bit too much.
The “Standard” Solution
When this kind of “casual sweat” happens, you normally have three options: your arm, your sleeve, or – if you have abs – the bottom of your shirt. Neither option is ideal, even the latter, where there can be some secondary gain depending on who is around you. Sure, you get the sweat off your forehead, but now one of your sleeves is wet, or you have a wet spot near your crotch, or your arm is sweaty (and if you’re wearing sunscreen, you may get some in your eyes).
Tired of these 3 being my only options, I endeavored to find a solution to getting rid of sweat, without having to carry around huge towels.
The “Improvised” Solution
First, I started with what I could find easily while traveling: smaller towels. Some people would call them wash cloths, and others would call them small hand towels, or face towels. While still larger than I would have liked, I managed to find some that I could fold up a few times and fit in my pocket (albeit bulging somewhat). Never one to miss an opportunity to name something, I’d call these my sweat cloths – rather tongue-in-cheek, as I disliked how big they were.
Given that their sole purpose was to soak up sweat, it wasn’t enough to have just one, as they would go right in the laundry basket with everything else. That meant that in addition to taking a lot of pocket space (of which there was a “short” supply), they also took a lot of luggage space, since I managed to find ones that were particularly small, and didn’t want to look for new ones everywhere I went.
It wasn’t an ideal setup, but it was the best I could find while thinking linearly.
The “Unlikely” (and Ideal) Solution
Then, I stumbled on a perfect solution, from an unlikely source: the world of golf.
Avid golfers will be familiar with regular-sized golf ball towels, which are usually much larger than washcloths. However, a more niche alternative is the pocket-sized version, which is not much bigger than a golf ball.
It’s designed to be hooked on to your bag or your belt, but I was happy about the size, which at just 4 inches square, fit perfectly in to my pocket, so I threw out the carabiner it came with. If you sweat enough that it would be a good idea to hang it on your person so it can air out, it would be a good idea to buy a retractable clip as well, so you don’t have to keep unclipping it.
Some alternatives come with those types of clips, but I prefer the one from Frogger, because, lucky for me (as it was the only one available from Amazon at the time), it has some features that make it more practical:
Firstly, the logo on this one is actually functional, meant as a finger grip to make it easier to clean your ball. Since it’s only sewn on 2 sides, it’s far easier to remove the label, thus making all surfaces of the square convenient to wipe sweat. As an aside, there’s a small bit of fabric that sticks out when you take the logo off – you could probably cut it off, I had a friend sew it to the inside.
Next, while you can use the outside to wipe your sweat, it is cotton, and even though it feels good on your skin, cotton can take a while to dry (less so if you hang it in the open air), so keeping it in your pocket may not exactly keep it fresh. Thankfully, the inner layer is polyester, which means that it’ll dry fast, and there is even a third layer between the two that is waterproof, which will keep your pocket dry.
Now, you may be thinking: boy, that’s a lot to write about a tiny travel towel (I think that’s a step up from “sweat cloth”). And it is. But, next time you’re sweating while traveling, wiping your sweat all over your shirt or your arm, over and over again, just remember: you could have something in your pocket that you don’t otherwise notice (I keep it in my back pocket when I have one), that could keep your head, neck, and arms, dry and comfortable. I’m grateful for these tiny pieces of fabric; I have one with me most times I’m out of the house, and they’re now a long-term part of my travel gear.
The good news, is that golf is popular all over the world, so if you’re not able to get one online, just pop in to your local golf or sporting goods shop – hopefully they will have some in stock, or will be able to order some for you. Just remember: get a few! You’ll want to have some ready while others are waiting your laundry day. I personally carry around 4 with me, which always last me with at least 1 or 2 to spare between loads.
Know somebody who could use one? (not necessarily because they sweat a lot – we all sweat at least a little) Share this article with them! Have a better solution? Post it in the comments!