Cowboys originally wore bandanas to keep the dust out of their mouths and eyes on cattle drives. That’s not all this historic bit of cloth has been used for though. Companies have used them to advertise and as late as 1952 political bandanas urged people to follow the president, as the picture above shows. You can read more about the history of the bandana here.
So what else can you use them for and in particular what are the survival uses of a bandana? Well we’ve covered the dust mask so let’s have a look at what else this versatile piece of cloth can be used for.
Tuck under your hat to keep the sun off your neck.
Wet and wear as a neckband to keep you cool.
Use as a sweatband/keep the sun off your forehead.
Tie a couple together and use as a belt.
Handy as a makeshift sling.
Wrap a sprained ankle or wrist to provide support.
Hold a dressing in place.
Tear up to use as a bandage, overlap each one and secure by ripping the last one in half for half its length, tie in place.
Ripped into several strips you can secure a splint on a broken arm or leg.
Alert flag…”hello, I’m over here”
Surrender flag…go for white it saves misunderstandings!
Hobble a horse or mule.
Makeshift bridle in an emergency.
Pad backpack straps if they’re chaffing.
Tie on/attach extra kit to your backpack
Vehicle markers when travelling in convoy.
Mark guy ropes for easier spotting at night.
Tie around your neck as scarf/heat retainer.
Emergency repair for broken pack strap.
Rip into small trips and tie together as cordage.
Put a stone in it and tie up then tie to a line as a weight for getting a line over a tree limb for example.
Initial debris filter for water.
A washcloth…dries fast as well.
Small drying cloth.
Bind someones hands.
Fold and use as a dressing for wounds on hands.
General cleaning/drying of utensils etc on the trail.
Cover food to keep flies off.
Tear up and use for gun cleaning on the fly. Maybe add a cord and some oil to the bundle.
Use as an occupied sign on an outhouse.
Emergency filter for coffee, pine needle tea etc.
Tie onto your pack so hunters will see you easier.
Mark luggage when travelling.
Emergency fire starter if there really is nothing else to use.
Tourniquet for severe bleeds on extremities.
Dampen and use as a smoke filter.
Wrap gear in your pack to stop it rattling around.
Fold and tape down tightly to make a pressure dressing.
Law on the grass to soak up dew and get a small drink.
Eye shields – folding and tying tow bandanas around your head at eye level, leaving a slit between them will prevent snow blindness. Also useful for dust storms in a pinch.
Improvised dog collar or short leash.
With a rock tied in one end it becomes an effective weapon.
Sling shot - fold the bandana, place a rock in the middle of the ‘strap’ you have created, pick up both ends and swing it around above your head. Letting go of one end lets the rock fly.
A wick. Torn into strips it will act as a wick for any oil based lamp and stuffed into a bottle full of flammable liquid it’s a wick for a Molotov cocktail…just sayin’
Famine hygiene product replacement.
Toilet paper replacement.
There’s no doubt looking at this list that bandana’s should be included in every pack, bug out bag and car trunk. They are lightweight and versatile and I’m pretty convinced that there are plenty more situations they could easily be adapted for.
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