What is a "buff", how is it used, and why should I have one?
I've seen them advocated in numerous places, but I'm not sure why a tube of cloth is better around my neck than a scarf, etc.
To be honest I was dubious about getting something that I thought was gimmicky, but my son’s Scout troop was selling custom Buffs to raise group funds so I ended up buying one.
A Buff is just a tube of lightweight, stretchy material.
I’ve found them useful in three particular situations:
I think they are versatile and useful, but certainly not a full replacement for a scarf, hat, or whatever.
I know a few people who say they're useful - and they are certainly very versatile. There's nothing very complex about them, it's just a section of stretchy material that you can wear however you like.
They can be used wet for cooling, or dry underneath a hat for a bit of extra warmth, or as a scarf.
If you're on a gentle hike or a fun backpacking trip then there's no harm in having one, they're cheap and if nothing else a bit of fun! I wouldn't say they're an essential piece of serious gear though - kit dedicated to the task it's meant to do will almost always do a better job (a proper scarf will likely be a lot warmer than a buff as a scarf for instance.)