25 Survival Uses for a Bandana

25 Survival Uses for a Bandana

In the world of survival, versatility is the name of the game. Enter the humble bandana – a small square of fabric with a big bag of survival tricks up its sleeve. Dirt cheap and weighing next to nothing, this multi-purpose piece of cloth belongs in every camping backpack, go bag, and prepper gear stash. From first aid to food prep to sun protection, let's explore 25 ways a bandana can bail you out of a sticky situation.

  1. Water Pre-Filter: Before boiling or treating water with a bunch of debris in it, first strain it through a bandana. It'll filter out leaves, bugs, and sediment, saving you from having to pick or scoop them out. Plus, pre-filtering water can help extend the life of your water filter.

  2. Tourniquet: In a medical emergency, use a bandana to create a tourniquet to slow blood flow from a severe wound. When every second counts, a tightly twisted bandana can be the difference between life and a not-so-happy ending.

  3. Sling: Busted your arm? Fashion a makeshift sling to support and immobilize an injured arm.

  4. Signal Flag: Use a brightly colored bandana to signal for help. Tie it to a stick or wave it to attract attention. You can use a bandana as a flag to help identify your group when hiking or camping in a crowded area.

  5. Sun Protection: Wear it as a head covering or around your neck to protect against sunburn.

  6. Cooling Device: Beyond its SPF power, soak a bandana in water and wear it around your neck or head to help you stay cool in hot weather. It can also be used as a cool compress when someone is feverish.

  7. Makeshift Earmuffs: Fold a bandana, tie it around your head, and use it as temporary earmuffs to protect your ears from cold and wind. Extremities like your fingers, toes, ears, and nose are the first to be affected by frostbite.

  8. Makeshift Scarf: Keep your neck warm in chilly weather by wearing a bandana as a scarf.

  9. Fire Starter: Natural fibers like cotton are flammable and burn quickly and easily. You can also soak it in alcohol or dip pieces into petroleum jelly to make it even more flammable. Finally, you can amp up its fire-starting capabilities by turning it into char cloth.

  10. Bandage: Wrap a clean bandana around a wound to stop bleeding and protect it from dirt.

  11. Cordage: Cut your bandana into cloth strips to braid into a small rope or simply use the strips to tie or lash things together or to secure gear.

  12. Dust Mask: Fold and tie a bandana over your nose and mouth to filter out dust and debris.

  13. Camp Potholder: Fold your bandana in half multiple times until the fabric becomes decently thick and use it to grab your cookpot off the fire.

  14. Sweatband: Keep sweat out of your eyes during a long hike or when working outdoors in the heat by wearing a bandana as a sweatband.

  15. Headband: Keep hair out of your eyes by folding your bandana and tying it around your head as a headband.

  16. Wash Cloth: Sometimes in the wilderness or in survival situations you'll need a good scrub down. Use your bandana as a washcloth to remove dirt or grime. Alternately, use your bandana to spot clean your hands and face when you don't have access to running water.

  17. Towel: Took a wilderness bath in a river or washed your face around camp in a bucket? Use a bandana to dry off.

  18. Dish Rag: Keep your camp cookware clean by using a bandana as a makeshift dishrag.

  19. Pouch - In a survival situation, tie the corners of a bandana together and create an impromptu pouch to carry small items like tinder, foraged berries, or personal belongings. Tie your bundle to a stick and you have a bindle, the official term for a hobo bag.

  20. “Sock” Weapon: Ever hear of the improved rudimentary weapon where you put a rock in a sock so you can swing it at an attacker? You can do the same with a rock or other heavy object tied inside your bandana.

  21. Trail Marker: Take a cue from Hansel and Gretel and leave yourself some bandana breadcrumbs. Simply cut your brightly colored bandana into multiple strips and tie the ribbons on tree branches to guide your way in case you need to backtrack.

  22. Food Wrap: Striking out from camp and need to pack lunch? Wrap your sandwich or bread and cheese in your bandana to keep your food intact and protected.

  23. Create Shade: Tie your bandana between two points to create a makeshift awning or shelter from the sun.

  24. Toilet Paper: Last but not least...and no explanation needed. If you're in a pinch, it's a better option than a leaf you can't identify.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless when it comes to using a simple bandana in a survival situation. It's a very practical (and packable) piece of gear to have on hand. So next time you're packing for an outdoor adventure or preparing for an emergency, make sure to toss in a trusty bandana (or two) – it just might save the day.

Have any other survival uses for a bandana? Please share your ideas with us in the comments below. It's a versatile tool and we know there are more survival uses out there!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.