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7 ways to wear a buff or bandana for hikers and runners

There are many different uses for the simple buff (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

A buff – or bandana – is arguably one of the most versatile accessories for hikers, trail runners and backpackers.  For such a simple looking item – essentially a tube of lightweight fabric – there are many different ways to wear and use a buff.

The most obvious use of a buff is as headwear, as an alternative to the best running hats and hiking hats but there are other ways to utilize the outdoor accessory.

7 ways to wear or use a buff for hiking and running 

Follow our guide to making the most of the trail running and hiking essential, the buff.

1. Protection from the elements

A buff worn as headwear (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

Whether you want to keep the wind from your ears, the rain from your head or simply stop your hair flying around as you hike or run, the buff can be folded over several times to form a useful item of head gear. 

When worn like this, the buff offers a good barrier form the hot sun, too, especially when you plan to run or hike in warm weather

2. A sweatband


A buff worn as a sweatband (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

When it's hot and you want to keep the sweat from your forehead rolling into your eyes, the buff can be rolled over to create an effective band for soaking up the wet of your perspiration. 

3. A wristband


Wear the buff on your wrist (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

If you need a way to wipe the sweat from your brow, you can wear a buff on your wrist. This is also a useful place to carry a buff – just in case you might need to use it – when going for a run or hike.

4. A hairband


A buff doubles as a handy hair band (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

Everyone who has long hair will know that there are times when they are caught short without a band to tie back their hair. Whether your usual hair band has snapped, or you need an extra bit of support, a buff can be utilised as a way to keep your hair tied back.

5. A face mask


A buff fashioned as a face cover (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

For times when the wind, sand or snow is in your face, you can fashion a buff or bandana as a form of protection. Many people now also use a buff as a face mask during the Covid pandemic.

6. A full head cover


Use a buff for full head cover (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

There are times when you might require fuller head cover, such as when you are hiking or running in vey warm temperatures and want tohave  a greater shield from the sun's rays.

A buff worn as headscarf will also be useful when travelling to countries where you are required to have head cover for religious reasons.

7. As neckwear


A buff as neckwear (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

A buff is a useful way to protect the neck from the chill of the wind or from the sun in hot weather.

Fiona Russell

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, who is better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favourite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing, both downhill and back country. Her target for 2021 is to finish the final nine summits in her first round of all 282 Munros, the Scottish mountains of more than 3,000ft high. Aside from being outdoors, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy the great outdoors, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.