30 Uses for a Bandana

A bandana is another one of those things that is useful for a thousand things but nothing specific. It’s right up there with duct tape and rope.  The things only weigh a couple ounces, they are dirt cheap, and are a must-have in your Bug Out Bag or Urban Survival Gear. Here is just a shortlist of possible uses for a bandana.

Before that, if you are looking for a multi-use bandana. We highly recommend the product below:

Big Bandana Review
  • 100% Cotton, 42X42 inches, Multiple Colors
  • 1000 times more useful then a normal bandana
  • Indispensable for Every Day Carry
View Latest Price

1. Signal (also see signal mirror)
2. Neck Gaiter for cold weather
3. Tourniquet (But for Snake Bites use a Sawyer Extractor)
4. Pot Holder
5. Collecting Wild Edibles
6. Sun block for neck
7. Sling (first-aid – also see medical kits for you BOB)
8. Sling (as in David and Goliath)
9. Sling (for a staff )
10. Cordage  (strips or as is)
11. Washcloth/Towel (Bathe out of a Collapsible Bucket)
12. Sweatband
13. Waist pack/pouch
14. Hobo Pack
15. Padding a hotspot
16. Cleaning Patches for Firearm
17. Bullet Patches for Muzzleloader
18. Gun Wipe Cloth (with oil)
19. Toilet Paper
20. Mark a Trail
21. Dish Rag
22. Napkin
23. Eye patch
24. Pre-water Filter (like Coffee Filters)
25. Clean Glasses and other lens
26. Ear Muffs
27. Bind a stone and toss a line over a limb
28. Dust Mask (in Urban Survival)
29. Wet and wear for Hot Weather
30. Sneezing

Quick Navigation

What Else?

Bandanas have many uses and we highly recommend them. They have many use-cases and should be a essential part of any type of “go” bag. If you are looking for a quality Bandana, we highly recommend the product below:

Big Bandana Review
  • 100% Cotton, 42X42 inches, Multiple Colors
  • 1000 times more useful then a normal bandana
  • Indispensable for Every Day Carry
View Latest Price

Leave a comment and tell us what else you use bandanas for.



Joel Jefferson
Written by Joel Jefferson

Joel is one of the original founders of SurvivalCache.com. After college, he joined the USMC where he served as an (0302) Marine Infantry Officer. Joel is an avid outdoorsman and spends much of his free time in the mountains. Joelโ€™s hobby is researching survival gear & weapons as well as prepping. Read his full interview here. Read more of Joel's articles.

94 thoughts on “30 Uses for a Bandana”

  1. Roll up as if it were a headband and cut slits for eyes and use as snow shades (prevent snow blindness). Use as pockets for making other weapons such as bolos and hurls.

    Reply
    • Survivor_1997,

      Good idea for the snow blindness, it can be a real pain and even dangerous in a survival situation.

      The only time I have made something like a bolo is when I was a kid, but it could definitely work.

      Reply
  2. A bandana was one of the first things I got for backpacking and it goes with me every time no matter how light I'm packing.

    My preference is a thin 100% cotton cowboy bandana, at least 34" x 34" in a light/neutral/dirt color/pattern. Unless you really can't find/make something similar, don't bother with those crappy little poly blend ones you can buy at 'sports' stores, urban outfitters, convenience stores or truck stops. A fallback and good for some of the mentioned uses in the article would also be one of those Arab scars – variously known as keffiyeh, kafiyah, (ya)shmagh, ghutrah, mashadah, shemagh, or hijab.

    My uses:

    1. drape a wet one loosely around your neck for evaporative cooling when hot – very effective
    2. knot/fold into a hat/head and neck shade for protection from sun, wind or cold
    3. draped loosely over the head and shading the eyes to keep gnats or no-see-ums out of your face and eyes
    4. general sweat/dirt wipe
    5. folded up as a butt pad for sitting on rough/damp surfaces

    You could use one as a field dressing too, but I'd really hate to have to use one as a butt wipe – too useful for other things.

    Reply
  3. I used it to knot my pack shut when the zipper failed. I didn't want to duct tape shut it because I wanted fast access to what was inside.

    Reply
  4. I agree equalizer.
    My all around survival round?
    Give me my .22 rimfire.
    Ammo is super abundant almost anywhere you go.
    You can easily pack 500 rounds in one small box.
    It's effective out to 50-75+ yards,
    It can kill a deer, small game, even a person if need be .
    it's quiet

    Reply
  5. The 5 shot 870 Express (#25549) is a 4+1 gun, meaning it holds four in the magazine plus one in the chamber. The 7 shot is a 6 + 1 gun (#25077). You can convert it to a 5 shot, but you'll need a magazine cap and the correct spring.

    You're looking at about 1/4 pound difference between basic guns (7 1/2 pounds for the 7 shot). Loaded weight is not going to much more. You are striking into the heart of the "firepower vs. mobility" dilemma. Those two extra rounds may be very beneficial, but you may find that every ounce adds up if you plans include a long trek via foot.

    Reply
  6. A bandana, is about the most massively useful thing a survivalist can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your bandana in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a bandana has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-survivalist) discovers that a survivalist has his bandana with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the survivalist any of these or a dozen other items that the survivalist might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his bandana is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

    oh wait, that's towels.

    Damnit.

    Reply
  7. A bandana, is about the most massively useful thing a survivalist can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapors; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can't see it, it can't see you); you can wave your bandana in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

    More importantly, a bandana has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-survivalist) discovers that a survivalist has his bandana with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the survivalist any of these or a dozen other items that the survivalist might accidentally have "lost". What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his bandana is is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

    oh wait, that's towels.

    Damnit.

    Reply
  8. They are great when you get an allergy attack or have a cold and don't usually carry around a box of tissue or a roll of TP. The only down fall is that you have to wash them often.

    Reply
  9. Wet the bandana with any liquid you would allow to touch your body/face. Pinch one corner of the bandana between thumb and fingers. Twirl the bandana quickly for about ten seconds. Apply cooled bandana to hot area of body. Temporary relief. Twirling the wet bandana uses the principle that heat goes where there is less heat. Remember this principle whether you are hot or cold.

    Reply
  10. Living down south (Louisiana) in a very humid environment, I once found myself in a survival situation where I needed to start a fire, but everything was soaking wet. After sorting through my pack for what little I had available, I actually came to the conclusion that I could add an oil-based insect repellant to my bandana in attempt to at least dry the tender enough to light. Unfortunately, I lost my bandana…fortunately, I'm living today to tell the story.

    Reply
  11. -By tying a bandana around the legs of your pants you can keep out ticks and chiggers when hiking. But by doing this in the mornings when dew is fresh on the ground you can pick up a good bit of fresh drinking water. If your rag is clean of course.
    -If you are caught in a dust or sandstorm you can tie them over your long sleeves at the wrists to keep particles from getting in your clothes.
    -And you can use them to make good old fashinoed cowboy coffee to hold your grounds.

    Reply
  12. Another "odd" use I just thought of…. ALMOST anything organic, cotton bandanna included, can be eaten as a "last ditch" attempt to obtain calories. I don't think it will taste good, or go down easy, but its an option. There are many stories of folks in arctic climates eating their gloves/mucklucks/ ect. that are made of animal skins, though they take a considerable amount of boiling from what I understand!

    Reply
  13. I use two types, 100% silk and 100% cotton, and they are both the extra large cowboy style. I would carry one made of fine woven wool if I could find one.
    If you wet them and put over your head and around your neck they keep you immensely cooler and if tied, one over the other, around your neck in the winter they will keep you warmer(use the silk one for this).
    Other than that the only thing I can think of is using your worn out 100% cotton bandanna to make char cloth for starting fires with.

    Reply
  14. -For urban survival, used to cover your hand to bread a window in an emergency.
    -Can be used to start a fire.
    -Can be used to apply pressure to a sucking chest wound.
    -A wet bandanna can be placed inside an empty water bottle. This bottle can then be duct taped to the muzzle of a firearm. For smaller caliber weapons this will MUFFLE the initial shot. This is important when hunting as it may allow you a follow up shot without giving away your position.
    -Can be used as a component in numerous items from booby traps to weapons. (used to create drag at the tail end of the spear, thereby making it more accurate.)

    Reply
  15. tie around ankles legs or waist while walking through tall grass to gather a small amount of water (desperate measures)

    Reply
  16. Few other uses. Silence a rickety sounding rifle due to loose fitting hand guards. As a good dust cover over the bolt or action when not in use. A modified rest/sling for a rifle when in the standing where offhand shooting may be too unstable. The use as a bandage if no first aid kit is available and as a pressure bandage by tying the knot over wound. Place a rock in it and it can be used to smash a window, tethered to a stick can be used as a bludgeoning implement for self defense from animals.

    Reply
  17. These things got some good uses. Another thing is wet it and wrap it around your neck. Keeps you cool. The people who thought of all this sure are hitting it square on the ball.

    Reply
  18. Fold it into a strip tie a padlock in the middle and you have a good weapon if its needed
    wrap it around your face as a mask
    Grab a stick and you have a turniquet
    bandanas are almost as important as duct tape…..only almost

    Reply
  19. I'm particularly fond of the Cambodian krama scarf, myself. It's been used in that country for centuries and with good reason. One of the uses I've read about was stuffing them in motorbike tires to seal a puncture.

    Reply
  20. Great for leaching out found acorns to make them less bitter entertainment for small children protection while gathering food like stinging needle or fruit from cactus

    Reply
  21. you know that In the U.S., a sleeping bag's rating typically indicates the lowest temperature at which it will keep the average sleeper warm. For example, with a 0° bag, you should be able to sleep comfortably in 0° temperature.

    Reply
  22. Thermal pharmaceutical bags are designed to provide a method for pharmacists to supply their customers with a way to transport and protect their medications from extreme outside temperature changes, as well as shocks and light. They have been in use for more than 15 years in Europe by major drug companies to help preserve the cold chain.

    Reply
  23. I carry a cowboy bandanna thing, plus wear a camo bandanna on my head with most of my hats.. . also carry/wear two shemags (terrorist rap thing)

    Reply
  24. dont forget you can also use it as a reusable baby diaper. if you tie a couple of them together and put a few slits in them then you have a makeshift fishing net. and not to mention you could tie 2 together fill it with leaves or whatever and make a pillow.

    Reply
  25. roll it up like a headband, tie the ends to your front two belt loops, use it as a hammoc for your *ahem*. Greatly reduces chafing, and provides relief if chafing has already started.

    Reply
  26. Bandanna can be use as stone thrower ,roll it and put a stone and hold both end and swing to direction you wanna hit and remember to let go the other end when swinging ,remember how david
    used it to slew goliath.

    Reply
  27. Has anyone actually tried using a bandanna as a rock-throwing sling? I have, and I use a oven sling as well. A bandanna is pretty much useless as a sling.

    The other uses are all good, although some of them mean the bandanna becomes a one-use item.

    Another good use is for water collecting from water sources otherwise hard to collect… dew, trickles on stone, or small pools in rocks.

    Reply
  28. Some of the Arab scarves (called keffiya or shemaugh) are made of fine wool. They are usually a bit larger than a bandana.

    Reply
  29. Just got my shamagh and its really cool and could come in really handy. I'm still working out the kinks like different ways to put it on and things like that but for the most part its really cool.
    I'm a new survivalist and im building my B.O.B and this is so going in it, really useful.

    Reply
  30. i got this from a survival manual you can wrap them around your ankles and walk through tall grass in the morning the bandnana will soak up the dew and you can wring the water out of the bandana into your mouth or into a container of some sorts

    Reply
  31. Just had my bandana confiscated by the police for suspicion that i might be gang affiliated or using it to commit armed hold ups. Despite the fact that it was plain black with paisleys on it and was bought from an organisation that supports kids with cancer and had their logo printed on it. and was not tied around my head but neatly folded and packed in my every day carry bag. The survival machete and survival knife along with 11 other assorted blades scattered around the cab of my truck did nothing to help the situation. The whole lot got confiscated. Has it come to this that you can’t be a prepper without being victimised?

    Reply
    • in short, "yes"
      in our town there's all sorts of PSA's about preparing for disasters after upwards of 200 twisters came through the state a few years back, but then cops with a bone to pick will look for that kind of stuff just to start trouble. for me, it was friends in the police force and emergency services that woke me up to prepping in the first place!

      Reply
  32. if you're city folk and don't typically have a bandanna handy, any T-style undershirt can be used as a face mask. Simply wear on top of your head, tuck the sleeves inside-out and peek through the neck hole placed in-front of your eyes, twist-up the bottom and tie into a knot behind your head – alternatively, you could just buy a bandana, as the article suggests; they're about .60¢ at most any country service station, instead of $50 at your local Urban Outfitters, chumps…

    Reply
  33. Bad idea. I was a fireman for 24 years. My buddy had fire fighting insulated leather gloves while using an axe on a window. A large shard of glass skewered his hand strait thru, just from the weight of the glass dropping a couple feet. His hand never was the same after that. He cut tendons etc…
    So during a shtf scenario doing that to your hand could be the end of you and your family due to lack of heath care. Did I mention it is painful too?
    Not trying to embarass you just take my word for it, BAD IDEA. Instead use a rock or a piece of wood.

    Reply
  34. Those colorful cowboy-type bandannas can still be used to lure rednecks into truck stop stores to buy chrome even though there are no more Americans who own or drive trucks anymore.

    Reply
  35. I've found that a 3-foot square silk scarf bandana is very helpful and seems better than cotton. I have 2 that are finely woven and they work great in dust storms such as you get out on the Black Rock desert in Nevada, they don't burn as readily as cotton which makes them great to get things out of the fire. In a pinch Ive used them when a cold front came in as a quickie but short-term layer under my shirt.

    Reply
  36. The Hobo Hanky is designed to fill the void between the bandana and the shemagh. Its 42×42, about 4 times the size of a bandana. It's patterned after the old time kerchief carried by hobos and cowboys. And it makes an excellent hobo bindle. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

Leave a Comment