Last week a friend asked me to name one piece of gear I never leave home without. “Not the 10 essentials”, she quickly added. Even though you should always carry those, I guess they’re not all that super exciting to talk about.
It took me only a few seconds to answer. “My Buff!”
“Your what!?” She looked at me curiously.
If you’ve heard of a Buff or own one, you know how awesome they are and that they really should be part of the 10 essentials. If not, you’re missing out on the single best, most versatile piece of outdoor gear ever invented!
What is this amazing invention? A Buff is simply a piece of tubular headwear. Yep, that’s it! But what makes them so great? Not only can you wear them at least 12 different ways but they’re made of a soft, breathable microfiber that is wind and odor-resistant, moisture wicking, and quick drying. A special knitting machine weaves a Buff into its tubular shape, making most of them completely seamless.
I was first introduced to Buff 6 years ago on the Mongol Rally when they provided free ones for every participant. Since then, mine has gone everywhere with me! It’s been around the world, on road trips, motorcycle rides, hikes, backpacking adventures, trail runs, mountain bike rides and even little city picnics. I’ve put it through the ringer and it still looks fabulous.
I liked my original Buff so much that when I found out there was a Polartec® Microfleece version for cold weather activities I snapped one up. It’s reversible, super soft, incredibly warm, and a cinch to pack.
So it’s a cool piece of headwear. Still not impressed? What I love most are the inventive ways I’ve found to use my Buff. It always comes in handy.
- Hand warmer. Forget your gloves? Wrap a Buff around your hands. Life saver!
- Heat relief. Soak your Buff in cool water on a hot day and wear it around your head or under a hat. Amazing!
- Sand guard. During a trip to Death Valley I needed to wrap my camera in something to protect it from sand but yet still keep it reachable. Voila! Buff to the rescue!
- Washing aid. While backpacking the John Muir Trail I not only Buff scrubbed myself, but I also used it to hold small items I wanted to wash without the risk of losing them down a river.
- Ice pack. When I needed to ice an angry knee at a race I was able to wrap my Buff around my leg, add ice, and have an instant compression wrap that stayed put.
- Replacement for bad sunglasses. One summer I backpacked up to Camp Muir on Mount Rainier and accidentally brought sunglasses with clear lenses. The sun reflecting off the snow was murder on my eyes! I ended up pulling my Buff completely over my face and sunglasses. Thin enough to still see yet thick enough to offer a wee bit of protection, I’m pretty darn sure it saved my retinas from burning to a crisp.
- Splint. My stepmom used her Buff to splint a trekking pole to her leg when she broke her foot and ankle while hiking.
- Chaffing guard? I went for a hike last year in a brand new pair of shorts with awful seams that slowly chaffed the inside of my legs in… well, let’s just say a bad spot. I’m not sure Buff would be proud, but I ended up wearing it maxi-pad style, hanging out of my shorts. Laugh it up, but getting those stupid seams off my skin was instant relief! I was never so happy about Buffs being soft. Thank goodness there are no photos of this epic event!
Buff® USA was born in 1991 by founder Joan Rojas, who needed a way to protect his face and neck on motorcycle rides. Buff is short for bufanda, which means “scarf” in Spanish. All design, manufacturing, and distribution is done from their facility in Spain.
The general size of a Buff measures 20″ x 9.5″ laid flat. They come in a wide variety of designs and colors and you can choose Merino Wool, Polartec® Microfleece, COOLMAX® UV protection, or the original classic style. Buff also takes orders for custom designs, a great idea for teams, fundraisers, events, or celebrations.
Already own a Buff? Congratulations on your shopping savvy! What are all the crazy ways you’ve used yours?
Don’t own one? Go buy one immediately! I promise it’ll be the best $$ you spend and will become your new favorite piece of outdoor gear. Check out Buff® USA for more details and watch the video below to see all the fun ways to wear your Buff!
Want to buy one?
Use this link to purchase through my REI affiliate program. You get the most versatile piece of outdoor gear ever made and hey, I’ll get a few bucks that help support this site and maybe enough to buy a refreshing post-hike beer! Thanks!
Disclaimer: I believe in doing good in the world and purchase my gear from companies who feel the same. I’m not paid to support any of the companies or products I review. Unless otherwise stated, all the gear I review has been purchased, tested, scuffed up, and loved by me!