One of the most versatile pieces of gear I’ve tried this year are Buff Bandanas. They make excellent hats, headbands, scarves, potholders, bug masks, and so on.
A buff is a tube of polyester fabric. If you slip it over your head, it will form a hat that will keep you warm or keep the sun off of your head. You can roll it up and also make it into a head band to keep the sweat out of your eyes.
One variation I used this year was as a bug mask at night when the black flies were biting. I sprayed permethrin, a contact insecticide, on my buff that kills flying insects by short circuiting their nervous systems. When the bugs would come out in the evening, I would put my buff on so that it covered my entire face, head, and neck except for a small slit where my glasses could see out.
When I went to sleep, I’d wear my buff as a tube covering my face and head to keep the bugs off me at night when I didn’t have a head net. It was a little odd, but it worked pretty well in the absence of a bug net. Buffs are made from Coolmax polyester which is thick enough to keep the bugs from biting through, but cool enough to breath through.
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not sure about the DEET considering the damage it can do to clothing and gear. Wouldn't a non DEET based one be a better recommendation?
Great point, although it turns out that I hardly used any DEET this year anyway after spraying permethrin on my clothes. I've had one bug bite despite hiking 400+ miles so far this year.
thanks for the post. great idea never seen this before. Is it one single piece of material or just a normal bandanna?
It's just a single piece of material in a tube shape that's got some stretch to it. I use mine as a hat and a pot holder.
I live for my buff. I've recommended them to a dozen or so people, pretty much all of which now claim that if they could only bring one piece of kit with them, anywhere, it'd be their buff. A few people scoffed and vowed that it was wasted space/weight and that they'd never need a tube of polyester… but they later admitted their folly. Seriously, everyone: buy a buff. Facecloth, pot holder, bug mask, sleeping hat, headband, hair elastic (longer hair), pirate sexiness, towel, my friend uses hers to keep an icepack on her neck, in one case of desperation, I used two of mine as upper leg warmers under a skirt, hahaha… anyway, they're amazing.