Picking out blankets or bedsheets are easy. Right on the package you can see the thread count and what it is made of, you pick the biggest number you feel like you can afford and put them in the cart (I know, slightly more difficult but that is not the point I am trying to make here.) With towels, other than looking at the color and pattern, there is not much to know. Sadly, this is not totally true.
The first thing you have to look for is the size. The average size for a bath towel is about 27″ by 50″. This should be fine to wrap around just about any average sized guy’s waist, but anything smaller might be an issue. Think about buying a 45″ towel if you have a 40″ waist. (I know, likely not a marathon runner but lets not hurt this hypothetical man’s feelings) While you may be able to get it around your waist, there won’t be much to tuck or tie to keep the towel on. Even if you can, what happens if after a few dozen washes the fabric becomes frayed. Make sure you buy the right size the first time.
The next thing to look for is the fabric. In terms of absorbency, cotton is king. Polyester doesn’t really absorb anything. This is the reason why microfiber has become a trend for furniture makers. Repelling water is great for a sofa, bad for a towel. Egyptian cotton is at the top of the line, but doesn’t work any better. It is just a softness issue. Personally, I won’t shell out the extra money for a less absorbent towel that you only “wear” for five minutes, but that is your decision.
Color is an issue, however this is a matter of personal preference. I merely want to point out that a white towel will look worn out sooner than a darker color, but neutral and light towels can go with anything if you decide to repaint your bathroom down the line. This is just an issue to keep in the back of your head.
The last bit is the density of the materials. While this is not out in front of you the way it is with bed sheet, you should be able to feel a slight difference in the weight. If both are made from 100% cotton and both are the same size, the heavier towel is the better one. However with the spike in cotton prices, they could be priced considerably different prices.