Monday, May 21, 2012

Tips & Tricks: Cotton Bandana- The Original Multi-Tool!

The plain cotton bandana is often forgotten as a simple, yet essential, piece of gear in wilderness packs. The vast array of tasks it can perform is only limited by your imagination. Below is a list of some of the things it can be used for:

  • Handkerchief (if you get stuck out in cold weather your nose will run like a faucet!)
  • General purpose rag
  • Hand Towel
  • Emergency toilet paper
  • Neck or Face scarf
  • Tourniquet
  • Bandage/Ace Bandage
  • Patching material for torn clothing or backpacks
  • Strainer for silty water
  • Protection while grabbing hot pot handles
  • Dish rag
  • Bandana (who'd a thunk it?!!)

A typical cotton bandana only weighs an ounce, so for a small amount of weight, you get a lot of function. If you need to clean and re-use it, just rinse it in a stream, lake or river. To sterilize it or to remove grease, boil it in water for a couple of minutes and you're ready to go.

Also, carry your bandana in a zip lock bag or other waterproof container to keep it dry until needed.

About the author
Jason Schwartz is the founder and senior editor of Rocky Mountain Bushcraft. He is a former Red Cross certified Wilderness & Remote First Aid Instructor, and has taught bushcraft and wilderness survival techniques to the Boy Scouts of America, interned with the US Forest Service, and studied wilderness survival, forestry and wildland firefighting at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado. Jason has also written for magazines such as The New Pioneer and Backpacker, including writing the "Tinder Finder" portion of Backpacker's "Complete Guide to Fire," which won a 2015 National Magazine Award (NMA). Email him at rockymountainbushcraft @ (without spaces)


  1. Now that's a piece of gear that doesn't get the appreciation it should...

    I probably use mine most for carrying wild berries and nuts I gather.

    You should start the 101 ways to use a bandana in the woods list. haha


    1. Hmmm, that might be an interesting idea :)I should have added "Mask for robbbing trains in the Old West" as part of it. Maybe it can go on the "Bandana 101 Uses" list?

    2. lol sure. That can the 101 thing listed.


  2. This is a very good post and one that I never really thought about.