Survival Skills photo

What can’t you use a bandana for? This ubiquitous and option laden piece of cloth is part of so many survival gear lists. But are we using this simple square to its best advantages?

Here are my top 25 most interesting uses for this humble swatch of fabric – in no specific order.

1. Signal – a bright colored bandana can be hung up as a flag over a campsite that might be lost in tight brush or tall grasses, or swing it around on a stick as a signal flag.

2. Bag – tie opposing corners together to make a bag to carry all sorts of loose items.

3. Tourniquet – not so much for snake bites, but for a dangerously bleeding extremity. This is a serious deal, when you have to decide to lose the limb or lose the life.

4. Cordage – tear off strips or use the whole bandana twisted into a cord.

5. Breathing Mask – tie it around your face like a bandit for a sand storm or as a pollen protector. Wet the bandana to help a little more as a smoke filter, if you get caught in a fire.

6. Sun Protection – tie it on your head like a skull cap and leave some cloth hanging down the back of your neck.

7. First Aid Sling – fix up that busted arm by using your bandana as a sling.

8. Cold Compress – from a fever to a sprain, to a venomous bite, wet the cloth down or fold it up with snow or ice inside for a cold compress.

9. Bullet Patches for Muzzleloader – now we’re talking.

10. Washcloth or Towel – wash with it or dry with it; or have two bandanas and you can enjoy both options.

11. Kitchen Helper – whether you need a pot mitt to get your kettle off the fire, or a dish rag to clean up after the meal, the bandana has you covered.

12. Sling – Just a few weeks or months of practice at slinging rocks, and you’ll be hitting the side of a barn (or better). It also helps to imagine that you are David and you’re fighting a giant.

13. Water Filter – just a pre-filter really, but it will improve the clarity of the water, and it can protect your precious water filter from premature clogging.

14. Snot Rag – I remember my grandfather using a hankie, pretty gross if you think about it, but when disposable tissues aren’t an option, there’s your bandana ready for action.

15. Bandage – hopefully it’s a clean, new bandana if you have to slap it on a wound. But if you are out of sterile dressings, your new bandana will be cleaner than the sock you were wearing.

16. Cleaning Patches for Your Firearms – gotta keep those barrels clean.

17. Bikini for Your Lady – there’s supposed to be a way to tie up four bandanas to create a reasonable, modest bikini. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to do some more research on this.

18. Warmth – tie it around your neck for a gaiter, tie it around your ears for muffs, tie it around your face to stave off frostbite.

19. Hat – several ways to tie it for a serviceable head covering. Anyone with long hair can use it as a headband.

20. Mark a Trail – whole or in pieces, mark your trail and then collect the pieces before you bug out of there.

21. Gear Wrap – wrap up your gear in your backpack to prevent it from making noise

22. Napkin – that’s obvious enough.

23. Eye Patch – whether you have an eye injury, or you’re playing pirates with the kids.

24. Fire – if the bandana is cotton, you can soak it in oil for a torch, or use it dry as back-up tinder for emergency fire starting.

25. Toilet Paper – this could be your final use of the bandana, as you gratefully employ it one last time.

Tell us your most creative moment with the versatile bandana by leaving us a comment below.