FREE shipping for orders over $30.00

Bandana hiking: which one to choose?

Posted on

Bandana hiking: which one to choose?

Best Bandana for hiking

Why you need a bandana and how to find the right one for you... We tell you everything.

You may think bandanas are tacky or useless, but let me tell you, you are greatly mistaken.

see bandana for men royalbandana

Bandanas have a million different uses (okay, maybe just a couple dozen that we'll talk about later) and they weigh almost nothing.

There's a reason these old accessories are making a comeback. Hikers and backpackers have begun to realize that the newer ones aren't always better.

The bandana is the most versatile and can replace a bunch of different things in your pack.

Bandanas are a quality choice.

If you're impatient and just want to see my top pick, here it is. I'll explain why in a bit.

men's hiking bandana

I am a hiking fanatic.

Anytime I have the opportunity to get out in the wilderness, I take it and have been able to field test a ton of gear over the years.

I've spent hundreds of hours reading reviews and testimonials from other hikers about what they liked and didn't like about each piece of gear.

I hate it when I buy a crappy backpack to upgrade later; I like to buy the right gear up front and not have to worry about it breaking down or wearing out in 6 months.

natural man bandana


Bandanas: Cotton vs. synthetics

Most hiking and general sports gear is designed to repel water. From socks to moisture-wicking shirts, almost everything is made with synthetic materials that keep water out so you can stay dry.

But bandanas are different. Most of the time, you will wear a bandana on your forehead or around your neck and it will be used to absorb sweat and keep it away from your face.

There are a few synthetic bandanas on the market, but they are more for fishemen who need protection from the sun's glare on the water. For hikers, it's more about staying cool and keeping your face dry in hot weather.

buy bandana for men royalbandana

You were probably expecting a fancy, high-tech bandana made of crazy materials with an impressive design.

But the truth is, a bandana is one of the few pieces of gear you want to be made of cotton.

Unlike most of your gear that you want to repel water, the bandana is designed to absorb sweat and protect you from the sun and cotton does a fantastic job.


Elastic Bandana vs. Classic Bandana - What's the difference?

If you've never heard of an Elastic Bandana before, it's essentially a stretchy bandana that is permanently connected to be shaped like a cylinder. It's essentially a scarf; just tighter around your neck and made of synthetic, breathable materials.

But seriously, fishermen can use the Elastic Bandana for example to protect themselves from the sun reflecting off the water. Elastic bandanas are super breathable and they don't make you hot even if you have your head completely covered with your elastic bandana.

And here's a look at the different ways you can wear them. The most common hiking uses are to use it as a neck gaiter and as a mask to protect yourself from the dust that gets stirred up.

I've also heard of people using it as a blindfold that they pull down over their eyes at night to block some of the sunlight so they can sleep in it.

Whether you want an elastic bandana or a classic bandana, will depend on what you are trying to accomplish.

  • In general, a classic bandana is going to be better for keeping sweat away from your face.
  • An elastic bandana is going to be better for covering multiple uses (as the image above showed).

These are convenient because they are stretchy and don't need to be tied, so they are easier to use. A cotton bandana needs to be tied and has a fixed size so you can't stretch it and use it the same way.

Here are some examples of specific uses where elastic bandanas are better than regular bandanas:

  • Neck warmer to stay warm
  • Face mask
  • Head cover
  • Pillowcase


sports bandana

And here are some use cases where a classic bandana is better than an elastic bandana:

  • Bath towel
  • Washcloth
  • Pre-filter for water (removes large pieces that can clog the filter)
  • Tourniquet in case of emergency


BONUS: 18 Other ways to use a bandana

Bandanas are mostly used as headbands, towels, or washcloths, and are thus great accessories for sports in general. But they have a ton of other uses.

Here's a look at some other ways you can use your bandana while hiking:

  1. As a hat - The most common use for a bandana. Keeps the sun off your head and can also protect you from bugs.
  2. Sun protection - Drop the bandana down to your neck and wrap it around yourself to protect you from the sun.
  3. Tissue - This grosses me out, but if you want to use your bandana as a snot rag, you can do so without having to bring tissues.
  4. Headband - Wrap it around your head to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes.
  5. Sleeping Mask - Fold your bandana and put it over your eyes to block out the sun and get some extra sleep on the trail.
  6. Stay Warm - Wrap your bandana around your neck like a scarf to trap heat.
  7. Stay Cool - Soak your bandana in water and place it on your head/neck to help cool you down while hiking.
  8. Pre-filtered drinking water - Backcountry filters get clogged, which means more pumping and waiting for your water to filter. Use your bandana to cover the opening of your water filter so that when you fill it, all the large solids and bits of dirt will be filtered through your bandana. This will extend the life of your filter and prevent clogs.
  9. Strainer - Noodles are a popular meal for backpackers because they are dehydrated and light. You can use your bandana as a strainer when the noodles are cooked; just toss them into the bandana and squeeze it to get the water out.
  10. Coffee filter - If you bring in coarsely ground coffee, you can use your bandana as a filter.
  11. Napkin - Wipe your hands on it.
  12. Tourniquet - If you have a serious cut and are bleeding heavily, you can tie the bandana tightly around your arm or leg to reduce blood flow to the injured area and help stop some of the bleeding. This is a situation where you really want a classic bandana and not elastic! Pads are too soft to apply enough pressure.
  13. Cold compress - Wet your bandana and hold it over a burn or other injury to help reduce swelling and pain.
  14. Emergency signal - If you have a colorful bandana, you can wave it around to get attention and call for help. This would be a last resort, but it is an option.
  15. Towel - Use your bandana to dry off after crossing a stream or to clean up water in your tent.
  16. Toilet paper - This is pretty gross, but if you're out of toilet paper, it's better than nothing. War is war, as they say.
  17. Trail Marker - If you decide to go down a long and dangerous unmarked trail, you can leave this at the junction to let other people know you made a horrible decision.
  18. Attach items to your backpack - You can use your bandana to tie items together or attach them to your backpack.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published.