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There are three items in my survival kit which I use more than any other:
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The first is a good knife. You can almost always use a good knife.
The second is a good flashlight, to bring light to the darkness.
The third is a bandana. More than one. I think there are three in my backpack right now.
And I use them all the time.
All three of these items can save your life. Yes, even the bandana!
Well, there are almost innumerable things you can do in a survival situation with a moderately sized piece of cloth.
Let’s get creative and see how many uses we can get!
Why Bring a Bandana?
Bandanas are excessively versatile, as you will soon see.
But, strictly speaking, you don’t need to do these with a bandana. Most similarly-sized pieces of cloth will work.
For example, you can tear a piece off of your shirt to make a bandage.
However, bandanas and related items have several advantages.
Most of these apply to similar articles of clothing, such as do-rags and shemaghs.
Second, they’re cheap. You can pick up many bandanas for very little money. You’ll always have one available and won’t cry if you need to throw one away
Third, they’re sturdy. You can use and reuse a bandana almost forever. Paper towels are disposable and cutting pieces off of clothing ruins the clothing.
Fourth, you can get them in many different designs. They come in all colors from paisley to blaze-orange, so you can use them for visibility.
Some even come with survival information printed on them. You can’t find a lighter and more versatile survival guide than one printed on a bandana!
Fifth, they’re versatile.
Just skim over this list to get an idea!
How do you spell bandana anyway?
The dreaded red squiggly line plagued this article until I added “bandana” to my computer’s dictionary.
What’s up with that?
If you look in the Merriam Webster dictionary then you’ll find this wonderful article of clothing under “bandanna.” That seems to be the more proper spelling.
However, if you look online, most people spell the word “bandana.”
I guess, like an ultralight backpacker cutting every ounce possible, that “n” was dropped to save a few electrons.
63 Survival Uses for a Bandana
There are many, many uses for bandanas.
I’ll start with things I’ve done personally then share some tips and tricks learned from other members of the outdoor community.
Ways I’ve Used Bandanas
- Hair covering, to keep my hair out of the way when chopping wood (long hair and axes don’t mix!)
- Blindfold, for sleeping after sunrise
- Breathing mask against dust and smoke
- Fire protection by getting it wet then covering my hair. Yes, really!
- Cool compress, wet and on the forehead, to help with headaches
- Scarf, to keep the cold out
- Dish rag
- Cleaning shoes
- Foraged berry holder
- Checking the wind direction
- Protecting pant seats against the unpleasant ground
- Cushioning fragile items in a bag
- Trail marker
- Neck shade
- Neck and ear warmer
- Teeny tiny parasol
- Water filter
- Axe holster
- Towel (I’d recommend a compact towel instead, though!)
- Pot holder
- Patch for clothing
- Gun cleaning patch
- Glass cleaning rag
- Handcuffs (don’t ask…)
- Makeshift gloves
- Makeshift vice, by twisting the bandana around two pieces which needed to butt up against each other then pulling tightly
- Belt, by tying several of them together
Those are the ways in which I’ve used a bandana. There are many more uses which I’ve, thankfully, not had to use!
More Bandana Uses
- Arm sling
- Binding a splint
- Carrying pack
- Toilet paper
- Emergency signaling
- Char cloth
- Self-defense weapon, by tying a rock inside and using it as a flail
- Sling, the projectile weapon, to hunt using a rock. Click the link to watch a video on how!
- Line throwing, by tying a stone inside and tying a line to the bandana
- Gag, by stuffing it in someone’s mouth
- Dog muzzle
- Wick for an oil lamp or Molotov Cocktail (hey, who know what “survival” will mean tomorrow…)
- Muzzleloader bullet patches
- Hobbling a pack animal
- Food strainer
- Tea strainer
- Nut cracking, by tying up the nuts inside the bandana then smashing them with a rock
- Eating apron to keep crumbs off your last clean shirt
- Water dew collection
- Nose plug
- Identifying gear as yours
- Minnow net
- Keeping fish fresh, by tying them up in the bandana then putting the fish back into the water (it’s a good idea to tie the bandana to something else, too!)
- Bear bag, by tying up your food then hiding it high in a tree
- Makeshift socks
- Loincloth (be thankful I didn’t take a picture of this one!)
This list of bandana survival uses ends with the pleasant image of a bandana loincloth lingering in our minds.
And this was just a list of survival uses. There are many more things you can do with a bandana that are just for fun, such as using it as home base for a baseball game or making tiny parachutes for action figures.
Whether you’re hiking, backpacking, bushcrafting, or escaping from society, a bandana will help you survive in the wild.
Can you think of more uses for a bandana? I’d love to hear them!