23 Ways to Use a Survival Bandana

Simple to Life-Saving Bandana Uses

23 Ways to Use a Survival Bandana

Do you have the simplest, most useful item that can fit in any bug out bag? A survival bandana can replace many other items on your gear list.

It’s small, cheap and folds into a small space. Survival bandanas are rarely added to a bug out bag list, but they should be on all of them. Once you use one for any of the purposes listed below, you’ll be glad you did.

From TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) to a flat tire, a survival bandana can get you out of tough situations.

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Utility Purposes

Carrying: Use the survival bandana to repair a backpack strap. Tie opposing ends together to make a small bag for loose items. Wrap sharp or loud tools before placing them in a larger bag.

Cleaning: Use as a dust rag, dishcloth, napkin, drying rag or cut into squares for cleaning a gun. And, heaven forbid you run out of toilet paper on the trail, your bandana can serve perhaps its final purpose.

Cordage: Do you need an extra foot of rope? Fold the bandana diagonally to utilize the most length then twist it into a narrow but strong cord.

For Emergencies Only: Soak a dry survival bandana in alcohol and use it to light a fire. Bandanas can also be self-defense tools when used to parry blows or thrown into the attacker’s face as a distraction.

Kitchen: Fold and use as a pot holder. Or unfold to strain liquids such as loose-leaf tea. Most backpackers don’t carry colanders; drain pasta through a bandana instead. Dampen and use to open a jar.

Signal: Tie a red bandana onto the end of a long load from the lumber yard. Or flap it to signal for help. Secure to a car antenna so friends can find you in a parking lot. Mark a trail.

Photo by Shelley DeDauw

Clothing Purposes

Unless you’re a small person, a single bandana probably won’t cover more than your face. But if you carry several survival bandanas, you can cover a few important areas.

Apron: If your waist is too large for the bandana to encircle it, tuck the corners into the pockets of your jeans or tie it to your belt loops.

Bikini: Most adults need at least two bandanas for the top and two for the bottom. But they can be pieced together and tied up for lack of a swimsuit. They can even form men’s swim shorts.

Diaper: A thin piece of cloth won’t protect much, but it’s a layer you may need if you already used your child’s last diaper. Fold one or two more bandanas to line the inside.

Dust Mask: Whether hiking in the desert, cleaning up a disaster area, or evacuating a fire zone, tying a survival bandana around your face can protect your lungs.

Earmuffs: Fold the bandana to about three inches thick and wrap around the head, covering the ears to protect them from frostbite.

Hair Tie: Wrap around long hair to hold it back or pile hair on top of the head and tie the cloth over it all.

Neck Gaiter: If you didn’t think to bring a scarf as you bugged out in cold weather, tie a survival bandana around your neck to cover anything your coat doesn’t.

Sun Protection: Tie around your head to keep it shaded. Or attach to an infant carrier to filter out the harsh sunlight.

Sweatband: We all have to work hard, even if it’s not TEOTWAWKI. Keep a bandana in your pocket then fold and wrap around your forehead to keep sweat from dripping into your eyes.

Wet Wrap: Soak the cloth in water and tie around the neck or atop the head to cool down in hot weather.

Photo by Shelley DeDauw

Medical Purposes

Hopefully your survival supply list includes first aid. And if so, you’ve already learned how to use a survival bandana for both minor and major applications. A triangular bandage is essentially an oversized bandana. Some companies sell oversized survival bandanas so they can be used for more medical reasons.

Ankle Wrap: You don’t need an oversized survival bandana to wrap an ankle or wrist. Fold the cloth diagonally, then fold again until the strip is flat and two to three inches thick. Wrap the wrist or ankle to support it and suppress swelling until you can get to safety.

Bandage: Wash the wound and disinfect if you have alcohol or hand sanitizer. Wrap a clean bandana around the wound and secure the cloth in place.

Ice Pack: Encase ice from a cooler, or snow from a winter landscape, inside the cloth, then hold to a recent sprain or break.

Sling: If you don’t have an oversized survival bandana which can support an arm and reach all the way around the injured person’s neck, tie several bandanas together.

Tissue: Use like a good, old-fashioned handkerchief to catch sneezes and sniffles.

Tourniquet: Tying a cloth around a limb to stem the flow of blood is the last resort but may be necessary. Twist the bandana into a rope then secure at the upper arm or upper thigh. Tie two cloths together if you need more length.

Washcloth: Whether soaked in water or disinfectant, survival bandanas can cool burns or clean wounds.

Now that you know many uses for a survival bandana, what is the best way to carry it? If possible, fold into a small square then seal it in a zippered plastic bag to keep it clean and dry. This allows you to use both the bandana and the bag. Place one in your glove compartment, a couple in a first aid kit, one in a purse, and at least one in an EDC bag AKA everyday carry bag. Toss a couple in the cooler when you head out for a day of recreation. Stuff some in your pockets when preparing for a hike so you can either tie one around your head or a sprained ankle.

Have you ever used a survival bandana for a purpose you didn’t expect? Tell us your story!

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