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Best Lightweight (~100g) Trekking Towel

Lightwave RAP-VAP Towel

Lightwave's RAP-VAP Towel


As always, we're looking at the Lightwave RAP-VAP from the point of view of long distance trekking over tough terrain.

Test subject: Chest 42", Waist 33", Height: 5ft 8"
Test item: Grey, size = Medium
Kit Tests: Winter, Summer
Disclaimer: None required (item not provided by manufacturer)


Materials: Polartec™ 140 g/m² (Polyester) 100%
Treatments: Silver-based anti-microbial odour control -
Weight (Size Medium, stated / measured) 95g / 89g
Dimensions (Size Medium) 60 x 95 cm
Manufacturer RRP £25.00

Manufacturer's Page


Scramble Review



Introduction: Easy Pickings

When trying to shave grams off your pack-weight, sometimes big savings can be made in some of the more mundane areas.  Trekking towels vary greatly in dimensions and for us hardy trekkers a large, wrap-around number is not really necessary; we're not at the beach and often conditions are so disturbing, the last thing one wants to do is hang out in a micro-fibre sarong.

I won't go too deep into my personal hygiene and washing habits, but my target areas are generally the dark moist corners of the body (those that present conditions enjoyed by fungal and bacterial populations). In sub-zero conditions, it's often not that pleasant to get exposed and have a good wash. When you do finally pluck up the courage, you want to get it all over with pretty quick and a towel that dries you off fast is most welcome. A towel that dries itself out equally fast is even better. When you make a move, you don't want to be carrying a heavy slab of excess moisture in your pack.

This is where the Lightwave RAP-VAP really shines.

Material Solutions

Lightwave are a sister company of Crux and Crux's mountaineering founder realised that certain Polartec baselayer fabrics (like Powerstretch) were not only efficient at "pulling moisture away from the body" via their capillary action but, being hydrophobic, instead of absorbing moisture they would transport it to the material's surface where it quickly evaporated.

A close-up view of the Lightwave RAP-VAP's Polartec fabricThe Lightwave RAP-VAP uses a 140g/sm Polartec baselayer material.

For baselayers, we take these wicking and hydrophobic properties for granted; the smart thing was to apply the same logic to a towel. Most micro-fibre towels are highly absorbent and take a good while to dry out (especially in poor conditions - I've had whole weeks pass without being able to get such towels dry) and while wet, they add significant weight.

The experience of drying yourself off with the RAP-VAP is quite strange,  It feels more like you're rubbing moisture off your skin - you get dry and the towel doesn't seem to get that wet.

Dimensions & Weight

Lightwave seem to have stopped making the small version of this towel, which in our view is no big loss. At 40 x 70cm it's a little too small (fine for a day trek perhaps). The medium however is still around and weighs in at a very respectable 90g or so (they state 95g, mine weighs 89g).

The medium Lightwave RAP-VAP Towel's dimensionsLightwave RAP-VAP size medium is no beach towel but just about right for long distance treks.

Any Negatives?

We realise Polartec fabrics aren't cheap, but a towel is little more than a fabric rectangle and as such the RAP-VAP is rather pricey, especially considering it doesn't come with a stuff sack. That's really its only negative.  We feel the towel's performance and weight savings go some way to easing the pain of paying £25 for a bagless rag. But still. 

To maintain the weight savings, I use a small DCF (Cuben Fiber) stuff sack from Tread Lite Gear which adds just 3g and makes for a tidy (but not cheap) package.

Bring your own stuff sack to the Lightwave RAP-VAP partyThe Lightwave RAP-VAP in a Tread Lite Gear DCF Stuff Sack.


Conclusion & Rating

It's a towel, it gets you dry. It's a premium towel made from a 140g/sm, silver-infused Polartec baselayer fabric. Unlike micro-fibre towels, it kind of wipes the moisture off you without getting soaked itself. It weighs very little and packs down extremely small.

If you value an efficient drying off and appreciate a lighter pack and not having to carry the excess moisture of a damp towel on your back then the price premium for this little sackless towel may be worth paying.

We think it is and that's why the Lightwave RAP-VAP is our top choice in the trekking towel category.


Product Images


Rating (out of 10)

RRP Value *

* The value score is derived from two factors:
1) Competitive Market Price (CMP). This represents our judgement of a competitive online price point if we were to stock the item. e.g. if we feel we would need to sell an item at 40% off (i.e. 60% of its full RRP) to be competitive, then our CMP score will be 6/10.
2) Customer Value Price (CVP). We then make an honest appraisal of the maximum price we would be willing to pay for the item (and we're mean). So if we'd pay 80% of its RRP our CVP score would be 8/10.
We then average the two scores to get our final value score, which in our example would be 7/10.



Last Updated: 19/05/23

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