7 ways to wear a neck gaiter for hikers and runners

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

A neck gaiter 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 that keeps your neck warm – there are many different ways to wear and use a neck gaiter.

The most obvious use of a neck gaiter is as headwear, as an alternative to the best running hats and hiking hats but there are other ways to utilize the outdoor accessory. The following will also work using a simple bandana.

7 ways to wear or use a neck gaiter for hiking and running 

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

1. Protection from the elements

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 neck gaiter can be folded over several times to form a useful item of head gear. 

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

2. A sweatband

neck gaiter

A neck gaiter 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 neck gaiter can be rolled over to create an effective band for soaking up the wet of your perspiration. 

3. A wristband

neck gaiter

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

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

4. A hairband

neck gaiter

A neck gaiter 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 neck gaiter can be utilised as a way to keep your hair tied back.

5. A face mask

neck gaiter

A neck gaiter 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 neck gaiter  as a form of protection. Many people now also use a neck gaiter as a face mask during the Covid pandemic.

6. A full head cover

neck gaiter

Use a neck gaiter 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 to have a greater shield from the sun's rays.

A neck gaiter 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

neck gaiter

A neck gaiter as neckwear (Image credit: Fiona Outdoors)

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

Fiona Russell
Outdoor writer

Fiona Russell is a widely published adventure journalist and blogger, better known as Fiona Outdoors. She is based in Scotland and is an all-round outdoors enthusiast with favorite activities including trail running, mountain walking, mountain biking, road cycling, triathlon and skiing (both downhill and backcountry). Aside from her own adventures, Fiona's biggest aim is to inspire others to enjoy getting outside and exploring, especially through her writing. She is also rarely seen without a running skort! Find out more at Fiona Outdoors.