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Posted on Dec 16, 2022
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
And here are some use cases where a classic bandana is better than an elastic 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:
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