BUFF Headwear: A Wearer’s Guide To The Best Outdoors Accessory

After more than a decade of dedicated wear, from hot days to winter’s depths, our editor details the multiple ways he wears the versatile tubular product known as The BUFF.


A handkerchief-like product, the BUFF is a versatile tube of fabric. It comes in a few types, all wearable year-round as an indispensable layer for the head and neck, configurable into a beanie, a balaclava, or an under-the-hat flap to keep sun off your skin.

I am an undeniable fan. The simple product, which I first got to know in 2002, has existed in my pack or on my body ever since. Here I offer nine common ways to wear a BUFF, including for summer days, deep winter, and climates in between.

#1 — The Beanie

A classic BUFF style, a simple twist of the fabric converts the open tube design to a skull-cap wearable in the hot or cold. Soak it with water on a summer day for a heat sink on top of your head.

Buff as beanie

#2 — Headband

Wick sweat and keep it from running in your eyes with this classic configuration. Tip: Often a full BUFF is too much fabric for the headband style; check out the UV Half BUFF as a headband option or as an under-the-helmet garment (or simply cut an old BUFF in half).


#3 — Under-Helmet

A must-know move by bikers, the BUFF fits easily under a helmet. The thin layer does not interfere with fit but adds a significant layer of wind protection and warmth, plus it keeps sweat from dripping into your eyes.

hat under bike helmet

#4 — Sleep Mask

Best used on airplanes and bright campgrounds, a simple around-the-head wrap (covering the eyes) blocks out all light to let you sleep. Bonus: Your seatmate a little rank? Extend the BUFF over your nose to fend off unwanted odors.


#5 — Wristband

Not limited to the head, a BUFF can twist to fit nicely on the wrist. Wipe off a sweaty brow while on a run, and always have a hat with you out there sitting idle and unobtrusive on the arm. If it’s a toasty day, twist an ice cube in it to rest on your pulse point to keep you cool.


#6 — Neck Gaiter

A simple layer over the neck, this configuration is a superior stand-in for a scarf. I go with the gaiter on autumn days with a hat on or as a soft buffer from crinkly jacket collars that are harsh on the skin.


#7 — Face Mask

Pull it on over the head, and tuck it under the chin. The key is to ensconce the head, a tight wrap on top of the skull and with the fabric on the other side tucked on your neck. Tip: In summer months this method, especially worn under a ball cap, is an effective sun-blocking technique.

neck gaiter

#8 — Double Balaclava

Employ two BUFFs for this one, a life-saving maneuver I swear by in the cold. The technique: Follow the “face mask” steps above; then, with a second BUFF, pull it on neck-gaiter style to seal off the head and neck from all chill (while keeping the face open) for optimal winter comfort and warmth.


#9 — Double Balaclava + Hat

This is my daily technique for running and bike-commuting through winter. Follow the “double balaclava” above, then simply pull a winter hat over the top. This trifecta of head-layer warmth keeps you going to temps dredging to 10 degrees and below.

buff with hat

–See the full line of BUFF headwear at BUFFusa.com.