Incorporating the Simple Living Review, the Preparedness & Self-Reliance Review, as well as the Outdoor & Survival Review

In Praise of the Versatile Bandana

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

A bandana is a very useful piece of equipment. Ideally, if possible, you should always carry one on you, better still two.

The simple bandana has several uses for the camper, hiker, hunter, or anyone who spends time in the outdoors. A bandana cost very little and are worth their weight in gold, not that they are very heavy either.

The bandana is a classic. Yet not an establishment classic. It’s an outside classic. A rebel classic. It works for Hell’s Angels, Outward Bound instructors, rock guitarists and earthy hipsters.

Always carry at least one on you or maybe even two. They weigh next to nothing and when folded up take up little room in your pack or in your hip pocket. In the summer months a wet bandana around my neck while hiking, fishing or hunting will help to keep you cool and it can also help to keep biting insects off your neck.

Simply fold two corners of the bandana over to form a triangle and then fold or roll the entire into a long piece about 2-inches wide. Then dip the bandana into any water source, creek, river, lake, or such, or even, if you can afford the water, use water from your canteen. Wrap it around your neck and tie it in place or use a neckerchief slide to hold it in place. A cool wet bandana used in this manner is a real comfort on a hot day or when in an area where there are lots of mosquitoes and other biting insects. The bandana can also be dampened and tied around the forehead to help keep you cool on a hot humid day.

The bandana can also be tied on top of the head to keep the sun’s rays from baking one's brains. It is then simply worn in the fashion of the pirates head cover, the latter which was nothing else but a bandana or large kerchief.

In addition to that all the bandana also has emergency “first aid” uses too. It can be used as a compress to apply pressure to a cut or wound to help stop bleeding or in the case of a cut artery or amputation it can be tied and used as a tourniquet. The latter though is not longer recommended in First Aid training and may not be carried out by trained and qualified First Aiders. No tourniquets are permitted for use nowadays. But, in the field and when need then a torniquet still is the best and easiest way to stop a bleeding. Either you, if you are the injured person, or your “patient” dies or he may lose a bit of a limb, in the most severe cases. Which is the better, one must judge.
It can also be used as a cold compress on the head in case of fever and if ice is available it can be made into a makeshift icepack in seconds simply by putting ice in the center of the bandana then pulling the four corners up together and tying them.

The bandana can also be used as a bandage or it can be used as an arm sling for an injured limb but in this case two bandanas tied together works better. Bandanas can also be used whole or torn into strips to make ties for splinting a broken limb in an emergency situation. It can also be tied around the head and used as an eye patch. It can also be tied over the nose and mouth in a triangular fashion and serve as a dust mask.

While out camping the bandana also has its uses around camp as a potholder for lifting hot pots and pans while cooking over an open fire. For that purpose fold the bandana into a thick square piece of cloth for this purpose to supply more insulation between hand and the hot handles of the pots and pans. After one has eaten, the same bandana that was used as a potholder could be be used as a washcloth to wash the dishes! A spare bandana could be used to dry the dishes too. Though it would be advisable to keep two bandanas in one's pack for “dishes only” purpose as that is much cleaner and healthier that way.

It can be called upon to be a handkerchief, a napkin, a hat, a headband, a hair tie, a pants tie, a dog leash, an SOS flag – or as an actual bandana.

Carry a bandana everywhere. You’ll never need to harm trees by using paper napkins. Great for bad hair days. You can also use it to disguise yourself or to protect your hands when sliding across a quickly rigged zip line. (All action heroes should carry a bandana.) let’s see, we’ve covered the use of the bandana to “beat the heat” and we’ve covered its use fore emergency “first aid”, so, I guess we have covered about all uses in a short piece here.

I am sure that there are a multitude of other uses for the bandana that we have not covered here, so, therefore, any reader out there wants to add to that please feel free to do so via the comments.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), May 2008

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