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Beach Towels vs. Bath Towels: What's The Difference?

Posted by Your Mother on

Canningvale Beach Towels

I know what you're thinking. I've been equally guilty in thinking that a towel is a towel and that there's no difference between a beach and a bath towel. Then I grew up and realized I wasn't some uncultured barbarian #truestory. A Beach towel is for the beach and bath towel is for the bathroom. If you are struggling with this concept, go to your bathroom, stare at the towels there, notice that they are in the bathroom, and now leave them where they are. You are now at the beach, notice that there are towels around, on sand and hanging to dry in the sea-breeze, realize you are at the beach and leave the towels there.

So you're heading to the beach or just jumping out of the shower. Grab a towel, right? Any old fabric scrap will do to lie on the sand or wrap around yourself as you head from the bathroom to the bedroom to get dressed. No. Where is your mother and why wasn’t your childhood perfectly coordinated in cabana-striped happy snaps at the beach and styled to within an inch of your life, cuddle pics in fluffy bath robe-towel situations?! Beach towels and bath towels are fundamentally different. But let me tell you why:

I’m hardly being unreasonable. Trust me: I’ve had enough close calls, wrangling a 100% Egyptian Cotton from the arms of an unsuspecting partner after he made a move for the beach bag. "They’re just towels, what’s the big deal?" Just your relationship status. #nbd

1. Size

If you're fairly observant, you will probably have noticed that beach towels are actually bigger and longer - by about 30 centimeters. Why's that? Because while they still need to be able to keep you clean and dry, a beach towel has a higher purpose in life: fashionable accessory. The function of a product and the environment it will be used in usually, informs the manufacturing process, and the beach towel is no exception. Inevitably, it will be stomped into the sand by well-intentioned feet, and exposed to salt water or chlorine. Often a beach towel will dry without being thoroughly rinsed to remove the salt, sand, and chlorine. Perhaps by now you’re beginning to see that a beach towel isn’t just a towel. In fact, it is far more than a towel. It is a blanket, a tanning bed, a makeshift pillow. It is a fashion accessory, a statement and the solitary barrier between you and the sandy beach below your back. With so much to do, it’s no wonder there’s usually more fabric than a normal towel!

Canninvale's extra large deluxe cotton velour beach towels marina

2. Appearance

Another key difference between a bath towel and a beach towel is in their appearance. Viewed out of context, the most immediate way you’d likely recognize the difference between the two, is the stark colour difference. A towel is made to complement the environment it’s found in. Bathrooms, for all of their variations, usually invite someone to relax and decompress. Whether this is by creating an open, airy space, a modernist monochromatic masterpiece or a room with rich, deep tones the intention is the same. The beach meanwhile is bright, with stark color contrasts of yellows, blues, and greens it invites bold expressive feelings and evocative patterns. Simply put, you’d likely lose the plush beige bath towel you frantically stash in your beach bag against the soft yellow sand. And you would give yourself a headache with an attention-grabbing red, orange and yellow towel in the bathroom.

As with everything else, in this day and age, there is a beach towel for everyone. All I want in life is a bathing box in Brighton with a chilled Sav and matching Cabana Striped beach towel for me and the girls, while some people need a tasseled red monstrosity towel to shout "I'M AT THE BEACH" or if you’re anything like my aunt you’re preaching the ‘aztec tribal’ right now.

Similarly, you could take a step into a black-tiled wonderland, with light brass effects that were wearing a plush off gray Royale bath towel and more than likely faint at the mere stylishness of it all.

Canningvale Royale bath towel range

3. Thickness

At this point in the beach/bath game, we’re going to need a bit of reader involvement. I’ll get you to grab both towels and give them a good once over.

Inspect the towels side by side and you'll notice they differ in thickness, not just colour. Bath towels tend to be very thick as absorbency is the name of the game in the Bathroom. Obviously, you want to leave the bathroom as dry as possible. Not to mention while a bath or shower could keep you occupied for a heavenly hour, I find the drying off process requires considerably more haste. But getting dry at the beach or pool is less of a priority. Sure, you’ll need to get out of the water eventually and when you do you’ll need a towel, not a picnic blanket. But a picnic blanket has a single use while a beach towel is primarily used as a barrier between your body and the ground. Being made from a thinner fabric, beach towels are less absorbent than their bathroom-dwelling cousins, however, this also means it'll dry very quickly in the sunlight and be nice and light to carry around in your bag.

4. Sides

No, we're not asking you to pick a side. Inside or outside, up or down, top or bottom. A towel needs two sides. Argue all you want on this point, but believe us - we've tried developing a single sided towel and there’s a reason the design hasn’t changed much throughout history.

This may rock the very foundation of your core belief system, so sit down: A beach towel is not necessarily the same on both sides. One side is more absorbent, designed to dry the body after the surf. Meanwhile, the other side is designed not to get soggy and clogged up with sand. The construction is exactly the same on both sides they have just been treated differently. At Canningvale, we have Velour towels; velour is the side that you lay flat on the ground, velour is the side that has been “veloured” which basically means the terry loops have been shaved off, leaving the towel feeling soft, un-absorbent and sand-repellant. The reverse side has the full terry loops which are absorbent and better for drying off with.

Canningvale Striped cabana cotton terry beach towels

5. Texture

Run your hand over that brand-new bath towel and you'll find its soft, absorbent and luxurious. But get it soaking wet at the beach and after just one or two uses, it will be stained, sandy and smelly. The materials of a beach towel, on the other hand, are designed specifically to resist these side effects.

So for your next trip to the beach, do yourself a favour, and browse Canningvale's huge range of large beach towels, ready and equipped to do the job right. And get wrangling on those bath towel sets, so they stay exactly where they belong, looking beautiful in your bathroom. Also checkout how to make your beach towels last.