How to Wear a Buff in Any Weather

A buff is one of the most multi-functional pieces of kit that any hiker can carry. Learn how to wear one in a total of thirteen different ways in this eye-opening guide to the hiking world’s most utilitarian accessory.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Brian Conghalie
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Learn the many uses and benefits of this simple, lightweight, but very handy accessory in our straight-talking guide on how to wear a buff.

In a few words, buffs are possibly the best piece of multifunctional headwear there is. These extremely versatile accessories can be tweaked and tailored into several configurations that are suitable in all kinds of situations and conditions.

By the end of this article, you’ll know every one of them!

What You Will Need To Follow This Tutorial

To follow this tutorial, the only things you will need are a buff*, a pair of hands, and maybe a dog (see step/style 13!).

*When choosing your buff headwear, we highly recommend opting for one made with merino wool. This fabric is high-wicking, lightweight, itch-free, and is far less likely to stink up than synthetic outdoor buffs.

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  • WAYS TO WEAR & USE: Can be worn 12 different ways - from cap to balaclava, neck...
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  • FIT: One size fits most adults

How To Wear A Buff: 13 Ways

1. Wristband

We’ll start off wearing your multifunctional headwear by wearing it on your wrist! Wearing your buff on your wrist not only frees up space in your pack but also keeps it handy for wiping away sweat or quick deployment on your dome.

2. The Head Buff (Sweatband/Headband)

Wearing this buff configuration lets you channel your inner Roger Federer and keeps the sweat from getting in your eyes in higher temps. In cooler temps, simply pull the buff down a little at the back to cover your ears, and you have yourself an ear-warming headband.

3. Buff “Scarf” (Neck-warmer)

The buff neck scarf configuration works well on chilly days by blocking unruly breezes trying to make their way down the collar of your shirt. It’s also, we should add, a damn sight more practical than wearing a regular scarf! Simply pull the original Buff over your head and let it hang, to cover your neck.

4. Face Mask

This is the ideal way to wear your buff when cold temperatures are trying to turn your nose and lips to fleshy lumps of ice or in dusty conditions. Unlike a scarf, most buffs are typically made with highly breathable material, moreover, doing so won’t result in wearing a sodden, sticky sweat muzzle over your face, nose, and mouth.

5. Beanie Hat

This conversion can be made with a simple twist in the middle of the buff and then by folding the top portion inside-out over the lower portion. The result is a stylish, streamlined, two-layered beanie that you can wear easily under a hood or helmet.

6. Buff Balaclava

This one’s a winner when outdoor conditions are especially frigid, wear a buff as a balaclava, creating a bulk-free “buffer” around your neck, head, and face.

To create a balaclava buff, start by wearing the buff on your neck. Pull the back of the buff over your hair until it rests just above your eyes. Pull the bottom of the buff back down towards your neck, fold it in on itself, then pull it up over your nose, and Bob, as they say, is your uncle!

Sound tricky? See a demonstration of this buff configuration in the following video from Original Buff.

7. Sun Hat

This one may leave you looking like an improvised human windsock or one of the seven dwarves, but it’s a useful way to protect your skin and keep the sun’s rays off of your head and ears in toasty temps. Thanks to the breathable fabrics used, wearing a buff in hot heat, should also help wick away sweat, meaning less sweat-drenched hair.

If you anticipate using your buff in warm weather as much as cold weather, we recommend choosing a buff with UV protection, such as the Buff Coolnet UV+.

8. Bandana Buff

This pirate-style bandana buff configuration is another simple way to create a heat-enhancing hat or sun cover protection without using a bulky knot.

If you want to wear a buff pirate bandana style:

Turn the buff inside out and place both arms through the opening. Pinch the fabric on either end at opposing sides (i.e., left hand on the bottom, right hand on the top) and then pull the fabric back through on itself. Place either side of the buff on your head, then slip the fabric backwards on your head, hold the knot, and tug the tail until you have a comfortable fit.

9. Wear Your Buff As A Bobble Hat

This simple buff configuration is created by simply tying a knot in one end of your buff and pulling the open end over, and wear on your dome. Easy, but highly effective.

10. Legionnaire-Style Buff

This style is ideal for desert dwellers, high-temp hikers, or anyone else in need of more serious dome and neck sun protection than their factor 50 can provide.

To use this style, place the bottom of the buff on your forehead inside out. Then pull the free side of the buff back over your head while keeping the front section on your forehead. This will create a snug cap over your dome with a tail that covers your neck.

In especially hot temps, you can wet the buff before putting it on for added cooling.

11. Buff Hair Band Scrunch

This helps to keep long locks under control. It’s made by simply feeding your hair through the middle of the buff and then doubling back with a second loop to tighten things up.

12. Buff Headband

The “buff band” is another good way to keep your hair out of your face in windy outdoor conditions or to let it dry after a rain shower or wash. It’s made by simply feeding your hair through the opening and then pulling the buff far enough over your head to keep it in place when the wind is blowing strong. 

13. Doggy Style

For those who fear their four-legged hiking companions will feel left out by their human’s buff-wearing, there are a handful of online vendors of canine-specific buffs that will let your pooch join in the fun.

The Buff: Multifunctional Headwear At Its Best

So, how did you like our tutorial on how to use a buff?

We hope that the above guide has convinced you that a buff is something that merits its place in any backpack at any time of year, whether you’re camping, climbing, hiking or just love to have a little warmth-giving accessory to hand on your daily rounds.

We’re also sure that wherever and whenever you do your hiking, at least a small handful of the above buff-wear configurations are sure to come in mightily handy somewhere down the line.

If you have any comments, tips or questions, please drop them in the comments box below. And if you’d like to convert your friends to the buff-wearing clan, feel free to share!

Last update on 2024-03-23 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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