Buying the right beach towel is tricky. Expensive towels might be too thick and plush to perform in the sand and sun. Cheap towels might be easy to pack and carry, but the material is coarse and its size too small to do the job. If you spend any time at the beach, you’ll be up close and personal with your towel for hours on end, so think carefully about the give-and-take of its design. Here are three things to think about when the water beckons and you need something to help dry off.

This material is lint-free, which makes for easy washing and drying. Ben Kaufman Sales

Small towels are the worst. Either your head is off the towel and in the sand, or your feet stretch off the other end and you’re bringing beach sand inside your house. Don’t scrimp on size. Get a double-sized or oversized towel that’s at least 60 inches long, or longer if you’re taller than 6 feet.

Great Value

With reinforced, hemmed edges, this material won’t fray in the wash. Utopia Towels

A thick towel is definitely great for a cushy feel at the pool or beach, but all that material can weigh a ton if you drop it into the pool or let a wave wash over it, and it’s harder to shake sand from a thick, fluffy towel than a thinner one. A thin towel will dry quickly, and be easier to roll up and carry, but might not be as comfortable for long naps in the sun. Think about material density and what you prefer performance-wise before deciding on a specific towel.

Also Consider

Fabrics made with natural materials like this design are a good compromise between feel and function. Great Bay Home

With its smooth, sleek surface, a microfiber beach towel will shed sand with a few good shakes and dry quickly in the sun. The downside is microfiber is comprised of synthetic fibers like polyester that sometimes feels hot and clammy on your skin. Velour towels are comfortable, but its tight weave makes it less absorbent that good old-fashioned terry cloth.