Nearly every checklist for items you should have in your survival kit will include a bandana. There is good reason for that, in that there are literally hundreds of uses for it during a crisis.
Not only that, but there’s really no excuse to not have a bandana in your survival kit. Bandanas are so lightweight and so cheap that you can store several of them inside your survival kit or on your own person.
Here are 10 ways you can use one:
1. Pouch. We’ve all seen movies or cartoons where a homeless character has a wooden pole with a bandana tied to the end of it that carries his or her few possessions. Well, you can actually do that if you or a friend lack a backpack and need to carry your items. As an alternative to this method, you can also tie a bandana to a backpack to hold additional items.
2. Neck Gator. It can hang around your neck loosely for simple added comfort, or it can fit a more traditional role and keep your neck warm and protected from the outside elements in colder conditions. Additionally, if temperatures are hot and you’re perspiring heavily, you can soak your bandana in water and wrap it around your neck or head to cool off.
3. Face Covering. We’re not referring to what we imagine in westerns where the outlaws cover their faces with bandanas to hide their identities (although you could use one as such), but rather to cover your nose and mouth from anything you don’t want to be inhaling — smoke, chemicals, dust storms, salt water, etc.
4. Hat Alternative. Keeping your head warm or cool is particularly important in cold and warm climates, respectively. Hats are designed to keep your head warm and protected from rain or other outside elements, but if you don’t have a hat in a survival situation, a bandana will serve as an excellent alternative.
5. Makeshift Strap. You may need more than one bandana for this one, but you can use bandanas as makeshift straps for pretty much anything that you need to sling around your shoulder. Simply tie multiple bandanas together, and then tie them to two ends of what you need slung, and if tight enough, it should work beautifully.
6. Rag or Washcloth. There’s a lot of different purposes for having a good rag or washcloth, a majority of which are related to personal hygiene and other cleaning purposes. What could possibly be a better rag in a survival situation than a bandana (other than a real rag, of course)?
7. Gun Cleaning. Guns need taken care of, but cleaning them properly is tricky when stuck out in the wild with limited resources. Needless to say, a bandana will work just fine. You can either use the entire bandana to wipe a gun down, or you can cut it up into small patches to get inside the gun.
8. Fire Tinder. You should only turn to this option if you have no other fire tinder or kindling choices available, but you can sacrifice and cut apart your bandana to use the tiny pieces as fire tinder if you’re desperate. It will take a flame easily, especially if it’s covered in chap stick, Vaseline or hand sanitizer, all of which are extremely flammable.
9. Tourniquet. Injuries can happen during a survival situation, and just like everything else, you’ll have very limited resources to tend to wounds and bone damages. A bandana is an excellent makeshift tourniquet, and can additionally be used to cover any open wounds to prevent infections.
10. Pillow! Okay, so this one is mostly for fun, and it isn’t as important as the other reasons on this list (or many other reasons outside of this list), but getting a good night’s sleep in the wilderness is imperative to saving up your energy for the next day. You can fold up a bandana or two and use them as a pillow. It won’t be nearly as comfortable as your pillow back home, but it will work.
Of course, there are many, many other survival uses for a bandana. List your favorites in the section below: