Wick-er Warmup Towel by Discovery Trekking Outfitters

"Gear and Gadgets" from our May 9, 2007, CW Reckonings

If necessity is the mother of invention, could accessibility be considered the godmother? In our last "Gear and Gadgets," I wrote about Dick Segermark, a cruiser whose role as president of an industrial manufacturing company gave him the means to invent the Tiller Wheel.

This time, the inventor is Leslie Hanes and the product is the Wick-er Warmup Wicking Towel. Leslie owns Discovery Trekking Outfitters, a brand of outdoor athletic clothing. Before going on vacation a few years ago, Leslie grabbed a piece of wicking fabric normally used for high performance base layers and packed it in her bag to use as a towel. The fabric performed impressively in its new role, drying quickly, compacting easily, and--most importantly--refusing to stink.

When she returned home, Leslie set to the task of developing and patenting the Wick-er Warmup Towel. The towel owes its performance to two key features, the first of which is the composition of the fabric. "Basically it's made of polyester," says Leslie. "It's made up of small fibers on top of large fibers." The small fibers touch the skin and wick away moisture, transferring water to the large fibers via capillary action, she says. Because the fabric is hydrophobic, water stays on the outside of the fibers and evaporates quickly.

In addition to its moisture-wicking fabric, the towel benefits from the antimicrobial qualities of silver, which fights the bacteria that can cause funky odors in between washes. Unlike the trichlothon-based anti-bacterial treatment used on other performance clothing, the Wicker Warmup Towel's silver treatment does not wash away with use. In fact, Leslie encourages customers to wash their towels as often as they like.

The towels (from $14) are available in four sizes (from 60 inches by 36 inches, to 13 inches by 10 inches) and eight colors. I've been testing a large, dark blue towel for the last week, and although at times I feel like I'm toweling off with the long underwear I wear to go skiing, I have found all of Leslie's claims to be true. The towel dries almost as soon as I hang it up and has yet to emit any noxious odors. It does not float, however, so if you choose to hang it on the lifelines, don't count on retrieving it when it flies overboard.
For information and to order, click here.