63 Survival Uses for a Bandana

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There are three items in my survival kit which I use more than any other:

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?

Collection of survival and fashion bandanas
This is only half my collection; the rest are packed away where I might need them!

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.

First, they’re small and light. You can stuff a bandana anywhere. I sometimes find ones I’ve hidden in the oddest of places.head for survival metrics blaze orange bandana with navigation water fire sos information

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.

How 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

  1. Hair covering, to keep my hair out of the way when chopping wood (long hair and axes don’t mix!)
    bandana bandanna survival uses protect head eyes nose mouth mask scarf
    Just, don’t try out all of these ideas at once…
  2. Blindfold, for sleeping after sunrise
  3. Breathing mask against dust and smoke
  4. Fire protection by getting it wet then covering my hair. Yes, really!
  5. Cool compress, wet and on the forehead, to help with headaches
  6. Scarf, to keep the cold out
  7. Napkin
  8. Dish rag
  9. Handkerchief
  10. Cleaning shoes
  11. Foraged berry holder
  12. Checking the wind direction
  13. Protecting pant seats against the unpleasant ground
  14. Cushioning fragile items in a bag
  15. Trail marker
  16. Neck shade
  17. Neck and ear warmer
  18. Teeny tiny parasol
  19. Sweatband
  20. Water filter
  21. Cordage
  22. Axe holster
  23. how why to use a bandana in the wild when bushcrafting camping hikingTowel (I’d recommend a compact towel instead, though!)
  24. Pot holder
  25. Patch for clothing
  26. Gun cleaning patch
  27. Glass cleaning rag
  28. Handcuffs (don’t ask…)
  29. Makeshift gloves
  30. Makeshift vice, by twisting the bandana around two pieces which needed to butt up against each other then pulling tightly
  31. 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

  1. Arm sling
  2. Bandage
  3. Tourniquet
  4. Binding a splint
  5. Eyepatch
  6. Carrying pack
  7. Toilet paper
  8. Emergency signaling
  9. Tinder
  10. Char cloth
  11. Diaper
  12. Self-defense weapon, by tying a rock inside and using it as a flail
  13. Sling, the projectile weapon, to hunt using a rock. Click the link to watch a video on how!
  14. Line throwing, by tying a stone inside and tying a line to the bandana
  15. Gag, by stuffing it in someone’s mouth
  16. Dog muzzle
  17. Wick for an oil lamp or Molotov Cocktail (hey, who know what “survival” will mean tomorrow…)
  18. Muzzleloader bullet patches
    the duality of man survival bandana belt splint sling other uses and ideas
    The light and dark bandanas used as a belt by the artist represent the duality of man. It’s very postmodern, and very practical
  19. Hobbling a pack animal
  20. Food strainer
  21. Tea strainer
  22. Nut cracking, by tying up the nuts inside the bandana then smashing them with a rock
  23. Eating apron to keep crumbs off your last clean shirt
  24. Water dew collection
  25. Nose plug
  26. Identifying gear as yours
  27. Minnow net
  28. 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!)
  29. Bear bag, by tying up your food then hiding it high in a tree
  30. Pillow
  31. Makeshift socks
  32. 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!

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