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.)
The primary advantage of the buff (an continuous loop of fabric) is the versatility (and fashion ability) of the item over a standard scarf or hat.
Features In addition to the wearable methods it can also be used as
All of which can be achieved without the need of a sling, complex knot or additional tying aid.
I have a couple of buffs - one is made of polartec with a piece of thin fabric attached, and another one is just the same thin fabric. I've found the first one to be very useful in winter because:
As for that small thin buff, it is just nice to have it for chilly days.
I use Buffs a lot. If you are out on the water fishing, a buff worn like a bandit mask combined with a big hat will save you a sunburn. I wear a one as a headscarf during long hikes. It keeps the sweat out of my eyes and I soak it in organic bug repellent to keep the gnats away. For winter hikes, I again use as a bandit mask to keep my face warm and prevent windburn. The advantage is you can easily pull it up/down. To be honest, I never travel without it.